iMovie/iDVD-prepared movie cut on sides when played on TV set

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by michal.pakula, Dec 29, 2009.

  1. michal.pakula macrumors newbie

    Dec 29, 2009
    Hi all,

    Recently I prepared a couple of movies with iMovie + iDVD and all of them have the same issue - when I play them from a stand-alone DVD player on a standard TV set the video is cut on all sides (i.e., top, bottom, left and right). It does not seem distorted (i.e., stretched or squeezed), it just looks like if the whole video did not fit into the TV screen and only internal part of it was displayed. I've tested these DVDs on a couple of different players and TV sets and the result is always the same. Of course, when I play a movie preview in iDVD it looks just fine. Any ideas how to overcome this issue?

    A couple of details, which might be useful:
    - All movies were originally recorded with Panasonic MiniDV camcorder and imported to my MacBook Pro with iMovie (latest version of MacOS and all apps)
    - Movie editing done in iMovie, than export to iDVD
    - Authoring done in iDVD, with all standard settings and "standard" theme (don't remember its name right now), PAL system
    - All steps done in 4:3 format

  2. treehorn macrumors 6502


    Aug 21, 2007
    This is normal, I'm afraid, which is why when you shoot and add titles, etc. you need to keep in mind 'safe zones'

    Long story short, TVs vary from model to model what gets displayed due to internal mechanics and external elements (like bevels) so you never know 100% what will be displayed when you broadcast/play something on a television.

    It looks fine on your computer because the image is not usually blown up full screen (and monitors are usually calibrated so that image is within the visible area of the screen). Which is why one can never trust that what one sees on a computer will appear on a TV with 100% accuracy.

    Thus one needs to keep the outermost area of the video as a 'safe zone,' knowing that what is there may not be visible (so nothing important should be there).

    Here's a link with more info:
  3. michal.pakula thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 29, 2009
    Thanks treehorn!

    The link you posted refers to NTSC and I'm on PAL, but I assume that pretty much the same rules apply, correct?

    Now, since the reason is known:
    - Is there a way to “zoom” a movie slightly to increase the size of the “safe zone”? My movies will be mainly displayed on just a couple of TV sets and I could try to optimize it to those specific models. It would be ideal if such option existed in iMovie (or iDVD at least)
    - If such “zooming” is not possible, can I at least change the default location of text boxes, which can be added in iMovie? Text causes me most trouble since its displacement is most visible. Of course I can adjust each text field manually, but it would be great if I could modify the default placement / properties

  4. treehorn macrumors 6502


    Aug 21, 2007
    Yes, the physics apply to both PAL and NTSC

    Zoom wouldn't do you any good - you'd actually want to shrink the size of your video 5-10% and have a black band around it (various parts of which would be visible on TV and all would be visible on computer)

    Don't use IMovie or IDVD much but I remember all those elements as being movable when I used it.

    I can't imagine the default putting them at risk of being in 'unsafe' areas, though - usually they err on the side of overly cautious.

    Are you moving the text boxes, or having the text itself extend all the way to the edge of the screen?
  5. martinX macrumors 6502a


    Aug 11, 2009
    In iDVD you can go to View -> Show TV Safe Area to get an idea of where the cutoffs are. FCE and FCP have similar settings. Not sure about iMovie.
  6. michal.pakula thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 29, 2009
    Thanks again. I didn't have a chance to play with my Mac yesterday but I'll do some tests maybe today and let you know the results.

    And yes, I've seen the option in iDVD to show the "safe area", which is better than nothing but still would be nicer to have it in iMovie where I can still make some adjustments before going through a bit lengthy export process to iDVD.
  7. michal.pakula thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 29, 2009
    One more thing - do you know if iMovie has an option to show the size of a movie BEFORE exporting to iDVD? As I mentioned before the export process is quite long and it's quite frustrating when you wait for an hour or longer just to find out that your movie is slightly too large to fit on a DVD and you need to go back to iMovie, cut just a couple of minutes and go through the export again.

    After a couple of movies I already know that I should try to limit to about 1 hour and in the worst case I can also change encoding settings in iDVD to make the movie fit into DVD if it turns out too large in "Best performance" encoding, but still would be nice to have somewhat more precise size estimate before exporting.

    Another thing is the size of a DVD. iDVD allows two sizes: single layer with 4.2 GB and double layer with 7.5 GB, but when I look at various DVDs they all say that SL is 4.7 GB and DL is 8.5 GB or so. I know that the disc size specified in the packaging is usually larger than actual, but I read somewhere that e.g., SL DVD has actual capacity of about 4.3 GB - not 4.2 as iDVD says. That's a small difference but sometimes helps - e.g., one of my recent movies was 4.22 GB according to iDVD and the application didn't allow me to burn it due to 4.2 limit. Is there a way to adjust the disc capacity limits used by iDVD?
  8. michal.pakula thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 29, 2009
    Ok, so I checked these things on my Mac and no good news :(. iMovie doesn't have the option to show safe area. It also doesn't allow to move text fields around (not to mention changing their default position), so the only option is to format text manually (i.e., by adding extra spaces or centering). Tough luck ...

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