By Scott Bates | October 09, 2008
With the prevelance of flat screens and digital transition, it's time to stop worrying about 4x3. That statement might seem a bit lame, as many of us have already migrated to HD work where 4x3 SD really isn't our concern any more. However, when it comes time to distribute our work, documentaries, shorts, bah'mistzva's, whatever they may be, the good old DVD is still the most feasible means of distribution. The mandatory AACS fees for Blu-ray will keep legitiamte distribuion on BD out of reach for 95% of us (oh how I miss the, HD-DVD). So until the cost of blank BD media drops into the realm of sanity (likely still 18-24 months away) at which point you could distribute duplicated discs which dont require AACS, you are left bring your HD project back down to an SD world.It's happened a number of times now for me in the past year where I've had my head in HD and then sit down to design some nice DVD menus for a project and forget all about 4x3 title safe. So I've started forcing "16x9, 16x9 Letterbox" only for my DVDSP projects. For the feature this is not a big deal at all, but for menus and subtitles it has an impact.When a 16x9 project is displayed as native 16x9, the DVD player typically just spits out the 720x480 (or 720x576 for you PAL kids) anamorphic pixels unadultered, and lets your TV stretch out the composited image for so it appears correctly. However, in letterbox mode, the player will vertically squeeze the video by 25% and center it in the 480 frame. The issue arises that this squeeze is done to the video layer, not the composited image, so it happens before any graphics were involved. So if you have button overlays or subtitles, the video underneath them just shifted and thus they no longer line up in the correct position any more.