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DVD Catalyst Newsletter 108 - XBOX One vs PS4 - Remove black borders




Thank you for reading DVD Catalyst Newsletter 108.

After weeks of technology-drought, this week made more than up for it with 2 big technology conferences. Apple held its WWDC and of course the rest of the tech companies found their moment at E3.
For Apple, the new stuff was mainly software-based, but the new Mac Pro does look really appetizing for a new system, but the big news this week was of course the battle between Microsoft's XBOX One and Sony's PlayStation 4.

More about the gaming system battle further down, but lets start with the other tech news.


Tech News:

Apple iOS7.


The operating system that runs the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch is getting a major overhaul. A few newsletters ago (https://www.tools4movies.com/dvd-catalyst-newsletter-106/), I wrote a short comparison on the (lack of) visual differences between iOS3 (iPod Touch 1) and iOS6 (iPod Touch 4), and it seems Apple has taken notice. iOS7 has gotten a major overhaul in the graphics department.


Last year's Kickstarter success, the Ouya (http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/ouya/ouya-a-new-kind-of-video-game-console) has been shipping to developers and backers for a little while, and is getting closer to public release by the day.
The idea behind the device was quite interesting, a cheap, powerful game system with yearly hardware updates in order to support the latest and greatest Android games, but maybe I'm looking at things incorrectly, but it feels a bit too late.

While the ability of playing Android games on your TV seems great, with many games, I believe it is missing the point.

One of the reasons why Angry Birds became such a success is that its design is perfect for touch-screen. It is a little easier with a controller, but sling-shotting a bird by pulling your finger back just makes it a bit more fun.

Visually stunning shooter games like Dead Trigger and NOVA can hold themselves up to many of their big console counterparts, and are designed to be used with a controller, but ones you would want to play on your TV are only a handful.

And then there is the fact that the games you play on your phone or tablet are ones that are a perfect for doing on the side while watching a TV show or a movie. Turning them into the main event is something quite different.

But the worst thing for Ouya is that, despite the amount of support and funding it received through its Kickstarter campaign, quite a few companies followed suit:





Tools4Movies News:

As mentioned in last week's newsletter, I am working on updates for both DVD Catalyst 4 and MovieGallery. I was hoping to release the update for MovieGallery this week, but due to some personal things going on, I wasn't able to finish it up, so I'm planning for next week.

The DVD Catalyst 4 update includes some new features, with one in particular being really exciting (and unique to DVD Catalyst), but details on it will come in the release notes. Hopefully this update will be out within the next week or 2 as well.



XBOX One vs. Playstation 4.

From all that has been floating around on the web, Sony's PS4 appears to be the winner. I already had my suspicions, but it seems the reason why Sony was quiet about the PS4 all this time was to let Microsoft take the hits with its new policies, making it easier for Sony to counter and come out better.

If you have been following the newsletter, or anything game-related on the web, you have seen the writings about Microsoft's new policies.

The XBOX One needs to be online at least once every 24 hours, games are tied to an account, and can not be sold off or rented easily, and Microsoft hopes to integrate the XBOX One deeper into the living room by enabling some TV-like functionality.

Sony keeps things simpler by focusing on just games and making it a bit more "social", and as a result the PS4 is $100 cheaper.

Of course Microsoft's new policies made a lot of people angry and disappointed, and, with no online requirement and a cheaper price, a lot of XBOX users, including me, are now thinking about moving over to the other side.

It seems like a clear-cut choice. Get a gaming system, or pay $100 more and get more hassle than that it is worth.

For me, it's not such an easy choice though.

Sony as a company has a habit of doing things a bit differently, without showing much appreciation towards its customers.

For example, I remember the music CD root-kit fiasco from a few years ago:

DVDs that were released by Sony that don't play on some of Sony's own DVD players:

of advertised functionality from the PS3:

and one of their user agreement updates:

Before actual release, it is already starting with the PS4 as well.

During E3, Sony released this video on how their game-sharing system works:


Simple, no hassle, just hand the disc to a friend, and they can play the game. A direct counter on Microsoft's policy.

But a day later, one of Sony's CEO's described something different:


A policy not much different as what Microsoft has in place !

And this is what worries me. The "Microsoft-slamming" PS4 video has almost 12 million views, and articles on just about any website that mentions technology once in a while mentions it, but that the system has the ability to block used games depending on what a developer chooses isn't as widely publicized.

But blocking used games is good or bad isn't the issue here though, the thing that matters to me is that on one day, Sony mentions, loudly, that used games are not restricted, and the next day, quietly, it is something completely different.

That, combined with their track record of customer treatment is what worries me. Sure, now the PS4 looks like the more favorable system for games, but what if some hacker found a way to get a little deeper into the PS4 using the social stuff on it. Would Sony turn that part off in an update? Because this is what it did with the OtherOS on the PS3.

Most people back then didn't complain (many did though) because they were not using it at the time, but if you do have a PS3 and are getting a PS4, sticking Linux on it to turn the PS3 into a computer would be quite handy now.

So for me, it is still a toss-up between the XBOX One and the PS4.

On one side you have the (seemingly) more restrictive system, more expensive, more (unneeded) functionality, and on the other side you have a cheaper system that is being sold by politicians. At least with Microsoft I have the feeling that they are being up-front with it.

The new used-game policies are not that big of a deal for me. I don't have that much time for games, and my interest for them is also limited to just a few titles anyway.
The internet requirement on the XBOX One is also a non-issue for me, but, all the extra stuff is wasted on me. I don't want/need TV functionality in an XBOX and I don't see myself talking or waving at it either.

I'm waiting this one out for a while. I'm leaning towards the PS4, especially with its Remote Play functionality on the Vita being a requirement for developers, but it all depends. I'm sure over the next couple of months, more information on both systems will come out that will sway the scale more to one or the other side, and I'm sure after release even more will happen, but as of right now, I'm holding off on the pre-order.

The other side of consoles:

While Sony and Microsoft are aiming for the big screen with high-profile entertainment content, and companies like Mad Catz and Ouya utilizing the popularity of portable games for the living room, other companies are heading in a completely different direction.


Thanks to some of the bigger games, and of course game-system emulator apps, people have been looking into ways of hooking up game controllers to tablets and smartphones.

The MOGA, a new Bluetooth controller with a phone-holder is aiming for the existing smartphone market (http://www.slashgear.com/moga-pro-controller-for-android-review-18278441/), and sure looks like it will take the world by storm, and then there is nVidia with its Shield device, a game controller with an integrated (small) Android tablet with the ability of playing high-profile PC games directly from a gaming rig.

For me, this is the right direction for gaming. Playing games on the big-screen TV in the living room is of course a unique experience, but unless your family/roomies are into it as much as you are, it will be a lonely experience. But, being able to watch something together in the living room, while doing something casual on the side, similarly as you would use a tablet to browse the web/email while watching a show, would work a lot better.

Some of the Wii-U games can be played without a TV thanks to the tablet-controller, and with the PS4's (supposedly) mandatory support for Remote Play on the Vita, both Nintendo and Sony are on the ball in this area as well. I hope Microsoft will do something more with SmartGlass in this area as well.

The Shield is very specific in nature. nVidia tries to market it as an Android device, but for me, the only reason why I like it so much is because of its ability to stream from a PC and the integrated controller.

I use an XBOX controller with my Surface Pro, and it works well, but it is cumbersome. The controller, while wireless, requires the use of a USB dongle, and aside from having the one USB port filled, the dongle itself is just annoying. Not a setup you grab easily and use at a different location.

With the Shield, its one device, the same size as the XBOX controller, with a flip-up screen. It doesn't get easier than that.
Something else to keep in mind is that since both systems use PC hardware internally, upon release both the XBOX One and the PS4 will already be surpassed in capabilities by high-end PC hardware. Sure, the $500-$600 is considerably lower than if you would pick up a gaming PC ($1000+), but, both the XBOX One and the PS4 have to last about 7 years until the PS5 and XBOX Two are being released.

To put that into perspective, the first iPhone was released 1 year after the PS3, and 2 years after the XBOX 360, and since then, a lot has changed.


Confusion on black border removal.

Earlier this week, someone contacted me in regards of making videos full-screen for the Kindle Fire HD 8.9.

By default, DVD Catalyst 4 removes borders from the actual video if it has them, leaving the video portion itself un-touched, but with a single settings-change, documented in detail here:


it will automatically convert everything to play full-screen for the selected device.

For some reason, aside from selecting the incorrect border-removal option, additional changes were made, so this person was unable to get it to work correctly.

I'm sure there are other people who are interested in making their movies full-screen, so for this week's tip I'll try and explain how it works in a more understandable way.

First, let me explain what types of black borders there are (2 different ones) and why they are there.

* The first "Black border" type found in videos is one that is actually part of the video itself.


Even though movies released in movie theaters were designed for widescreen display, when the official DVD standard was created, wide-screen TV's were quite rare.

Prices were ridiculously high, so it wasn't sure if it would catch on, so as a result, the standard itself was developed for the common "square" TVs.

For many years, theater movies released for home media such as VHS and DVD were cropped ("Modified from the original version"), but with some people moving towards wide-screen TVs, DVDs started to come out in 2 versions, full-screen and wide-screen edition, sometimes even on the same disk.

In order to comply with the official DVD resolution standard, the wide-screen edition movies, had black padding added to the top and bottom of the video.

* The second "Black border" type is because of screen and video resolution differences.


If you play an older full-screen (square) movie on a wide-screen device or TV, or, a wide-screen movie on an older "square" TV, the video playback device or application will scale the video to fit within the display, and the part that isn't covered is displayed as black borders. So, even if the video itself doesn't have them, depending on the screen type you use to watch the video, you still have black borders.

By default, DVD Catalyst 4 removes black borders from the video if it has them:

leaving the entire video portion itself in-tact. Of course during playback on a screen that has a different size than that of the video the video player will add black borders:


The reason for this being the default behavior in DVD Catalyst 4 is because the only way to make all your videos full-screen on your device is either by stretching:

which will change the way the movie looks (people end up being taller or wider),

or by cutting off part of the video to make it the same size as the screen:

which, depending on the screen and the video, results in parts of the sides being cut-off from the movie.

Since both options change the way the movie looks, and, because these changes basically lock the video to one particular device type (an iPad has a screen size considerably different from that of a Kindle Fire), I leave the video unmodified in DVD Catalyst 4 by default.

Removing borders if the video has them doesn't affect the video itself, but it does enhance the viewing experience tremendously, because if they are not removed (most other conversion tools leave them in by default) the video comes out with borders on all sides, the ones of the video itself, and the ones added by the player:


But, if you want your movies to play full-screen on your device, of course it is possible to have DVD Catalyst 4 do that automatically.

Because (removing) the black borders is directly tied to the screen size of the device, it is important to make sure that that is set correctly first. In DVD Catalyst 4, it is a simple as selecting your device using the "video player device" dropdowns, since selecting a profile automatically sets all the settings correctly.


Then the only thing left to do is selecting the border-removal option.

Enable the "Power User" checkmark, and go into Global Settings. This is all the power-features and functionality is located.


From the tabs on the right side, select the "Borders" tab and select the "completely remove from device" option.

And that is it.

Now, whatever you convert with DVD Catalyst will end up playing in full-screen on your device. No need to make manual adjustments or calculations as other conversion programs require you to do, just this one change and no matter what you convert, it will look great.



And that is it for this week's newsletter.
Thanks again for reading, and see you next week.



About DVD Catalyst:

DVD Catalyst 4 is the easiest and most affordable software available for converting and optimizing your movies and TV shows from DVD and for converting popular (AVI, MKV, ISO etc) video files into the right file format for PCs, smartphones and tablets.


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