Display Action / Title Safe Zones

Posted on by Larry

Action Safe and Title Safe boundaries were invented decades ago to solve two problems with televisions that had picture tubes:

  1. The magnets in the back of the picture tube were not always aligned properly, which meant edges of the image were cropped.
  2. As a TV set got older the magnets would slowly zoom into the center of the image, a process called “pin-holing,” causing increasing portions of the image around the edge to get lost.

Even today, we still need to pay attention to these issues because not everyone has yet upgraded to an LCD TV set. And, when you are digitally projecting an image, overshooting the edge of an image is common.

So, to help us prevent having portions of our image – like the phone number of a sponsor – disappear because the edge is no longer visible, all versions of Final Cut and Adobe Premiere allow us to display two boundaries to help us align our images. This makes sure that essential portions of our image can be seen on virtually all TV sets.

Action Safe: This boundary is 5% in from each edge of the frame. All essential action, and actors, should be inside this outer boundary.

Title Safe: This boundary is 10% in from each edge of the frame. All essential text, logos, graphics, and titles should be inside this inner boundary.

So, now that you know what these are, how do you display them?


Click the Switch in the top right corner of the Viewer and toggle Show Title/Action Safe Zones on or off.

In Final Cut Pro X, the boundaries are shown as yellow rectangles. Action Safe is the outer rectangle, Title Safe is the inner rectangle.


If you are using FCP 7, select either the Viewer or the Canvas and do one of two things:

  1. From the popup menu in the top right corner of either the Viewer or the Canvas, select Show Title Safe – this will toggle the display of the two rectangles either on or off.
  2. Select View > Show Title Safe.

In Final Cut Pro 7, and all earlier versions, Action and Title Safe are displayed as cyan rectangles.


In Premiere Pro, click the small fly-out icon in the top right corner of the Program monitor and select Safe Margins.

In Premiere, the zones are displayed as white rectangles with a small hash mark indicating the vertical and horizontal centers of the frame.


These boundaries are essential for any video going to DVD, cable, or broadcast — in other words, anywhere except the web.

However, I’ve also found that these boundaries are useful for web video as well. We’ve grown up watching video that honors these boundaries, it is ingrained in how we perceive television.

Text that touches the edge of an image creates a very uncomfortable feeling in the viewer; generally, this is something we want to avoid.

So, when I’m creating video for the web, I don’t need the excess protection that Title Safe affords. Instead, I frame all essential text, logos, or composites so that everything is contained inside Action Safe.

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44 Responses to Display Action / Title Safe Zones

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  1. Anish Patel says:

    How to you export video with the title safe and action safe guide as overlay. I need to do this while sharing animatics with clients (not for broadcast).

    • Larry says:


      You can’t. Those guides are display only. The best workaround is to create them as an overlay in Photoshop, then apply that as though it was text at the top layer of your project.


  2. Pandu Aji says:

    i dont know where is it in davinci resolve 16

  3. Zareh says:

    Hi Larry,

    Thanks for this.

    I have an issue with slight vignetting in wide angle shots on an anamorphic 16×9 project I’m cutting. In the past, I would not have been concerned, as they are outside the action safe zone, and too slight to appear on an old TV. However, bearing in mind the web, HD sets, and my sense that digital files when screened tend to show the entire frame, I’ve been cropping those shots in FCPX. I hate doing this, as I know the already SD source material (shot on DVX 100) looses quality.

    Do you agree with this, or do you think I’m playing it too safe? Would platforms like vimeo and video projectors automatically hide these edges, without my having to crop them?

    • Larry says:


      I think you are playing this too safe. When up-resing SD to HD you need every pixel to make your image look even reasonably good.

      Vignetting is how those older cameras processed images. I would NOT crop these images.

      Instead, I would describe the vignetting as a stylistic choice you made to emphasize that you are showcasing historical footage – and stop worrying.


      • Zareh says:

        Thank you! I really appreciate your perspective. The vignetting is such that it only appears on frame left, so it’ll be a hard sell to claim it was a deliberate stylistic choice, but I take your point about the pixels. I’ve been really depressed these days, frankly, as I have projects I’m completing now based on material I shot decades ago on analog video, and it’s just so dispiriting to see it look so miserable on the screen in the HD.

        Anyway, thanks again.

        • Larry says:


          That’s one way to look at it – and I totally understand your feelings.

          But, I look at it another way. Because you took the time and effort to record these images, we have a record of the past that would not otherwise exist. They are impossible to reshoot and, therefore, priceless. I would not be dispirited, I would be deeply grateful they exist – and do everything I could to make them look as good as possible.


          • Zareh says:

            Larry, you made my day/month/year. I really needed a shot in the arm like this and I’m deeply grateful to you for taking the time, and caring enough, to reply in such a positive and encouraging way.

            I’m going back to cutting with wind in my sails!

  4. Mary says:

    what do i do if the safe margins are smaller now and how do i make them return to their original size

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