Setting DVD Studio Pro Tracks for 16:9 Video

Posted on by Larry

[ This article was first published in the January, 2010, issue of
Larry’s Final Cut Pro Newsletter. Click here to subscribe. ]

David Scott writes:

I’ve decided to begin creating my shows in 16:9 SD (heretofore they’ve all been 4:3). I’m assuming that most folks by now have acquired 16:9 TVs. My question is this: Do I need to worry about anamorphic settings in FCP? I’d like the DVDs I distribute (prepared in FCP in 16:9) to fill the 16:9 screens of my recipients and, preferably, appear letter-boxed when viewed on a conventional 4:3 set.

Larry replies: This is a multi-step process. Here’s the short version. Provided you maintain a 16:9 aspect ratio throughout shooting and editing, all recent DVD players will properly display 16:9 video on both 16:9 and 4:3 TV sets.

(And, yes, you need to worry about the anamorphic setting – see the answer above. All widescreen SD video needs the anamorphic setting turned on.)

The specific production steps are:

1. Shoot your video using 16:9 settings on your camera. These are often called wide-screen or anamorphic. While these two terms don’t mean the same thing, they are often used interchangeably.


2. Create your sequence in FCP using anamorphic settings. For example, for DV footage, using DV/NTSC 48 kHz – Anamorphic. All HD video is always 16:9 and doesn’t use the anamorphic setting.


3. Export your finished movie using File > Export > QuickTime Movie, set to Current Settings. DON’T worry about how your video looks in Quicktime – it will probably look squished. This is normal.


4. Compress the file in Compressor and be sure the Geometry tab is set to an Aspect Ratio of 16:9 (see my Compression article earlier in this issue.)


5. Import the compressed file into DVD Studio Pro.


6. Create a new track in DVD SP. Select the track and make sure the Display Mode, in the Inspector, is set to 16:9 Letterbox. (See the preceeding answer for the screen shot.)

Following this procedure will display your video as 16:9 on flat panel displays and letter-boxed on older 4:3 TV sets.

Trent Anderson asks:

I am exporting a 16:9 video project from FCP, using Compressor. No problem, it sends the M2V video and AIFF audio file to a source folder.


Then, I import the assets into DVD SP and drag them into the Track Editor. Then, in the Outline Viewer I click on the Track 1, and it brings up a Track box on the right, where I can select Display Mode, and choose either 4:3, 16:9 Pan Scan, 16:9 Letterbox, or 16:9 Pan Scan & Letterbox. This is for a trade show video, and the client will be playing it in a DVD player onto a wide screen TV, e.g 42″. Which of those three settings would be the best one to use, so that it will properly fit the screen?

Larry replies: Assuming you are using SD video, as DVD SP does not support HD, and assuming, also, that you are exporting your moive in 16:9 format, you would set the track in DVD SP to 16:9 Letterbox.


NOTE: The Pan-and-Scan formats require pan-and-scan data generated by software that is not included in Final Cut Studio.


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