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Old June 7th, 2006, 12:12 AM   #1
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Freeware DVD authoring software with 16:9 support?

Without the money for DVD Studio Pro, I've been having endless trouble finding a way to put my DV feature onto DVD. iDVD stretches the MPEG to fit the TV ratio, plus it's not recommended for anything over an hour. So is there a free or cheap alternative software that will help me create a high-quality DVD that retains the proper aspect ratio? Or am I ignoring a more obvious solution? Please help, I have a screening very soon that I need to mail a DVD for.
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Old June 7th, 2006, 06:28 AM   #2
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You can get what you want out of iDVD if you pay attention to what you are producing in your editor.

If you edit footage shot in 16x9, then your editor should be working in widescreen (iMovie) or "anamorphic" (Final Cut) format. When completed, exporting the timeline to a DVD file and importing it into iDVD will result in the video looking squished on a standard definition TV but will be "unsquished" to the right aspect ratio on a widescreen TV.

If you edit footage shot in 16x9 without setting your editor in widescreen or anamorphic mode, then you end up creating a letterbox video that displays in the right aspect ratio on standard definition TVs (with black bars top and bottom). When exported and displayed on widescreen TVs, the 4x3 standard definition video is stretched (bars and all). This might be what you are describing. It's hard to tell.

Think of DVD as a standard definition aspect ratio format that gets stretched by a widescreen TV or not stretched by an SDTV. It will help you understand how to get what you want.

You don't say what editor you are using or which workflow you performed. It's important how you created the video in order to get what you want out of a DVD player.
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Old June 7th, 2006, 06:57 AM   #3
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As far as I know there is no freware DVD authoring solution for the Mac. There is a program that comes bundled with LaCie DVD burners though, called CaptyDVD. It'll do proper widescreen DVDs but, like iDVD, it uses uncompressed audio and wastes disc space for longer movies.

iDVD is your best bet since it's free. You'll just have to put your anamorphic movie in a 4:3 timeline to get letterboxing and hope that whoever views it doesn't use a widescreen TV.
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Old June 7th, 2006, 07:06 PM   #4
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Thanks for the replies. I am using Final Cut Pro to edit, and I've already cut the whole film in 16:9 as opposed to letterboxed 4:3. So is my best bet to open a new project and move my edited timeline into a 4:3 timeline and letterbox it? What's the best way to do this with minimal quality loss? I've never tried it before.
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Old June 7th, 2006, 07:17 PM   #5
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Also, no one mentioned anything about iDVD being iffy on products over an hour long. Is there any way around this, or is it not that big of an issue? I could always make two DVD's, but that seems kind of ridiculous.
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Old June 7th, 2006, 07:52 PM   #6
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John:
I don't know about 16:9, but I've had no trouble putting a 94 minute 4:3 film on DVD using iDVD. I'm not a perfectionist, but I found the quality on a big-screen TV quite acceptable. Which version of iDVD are you using?
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Old June 8th, 2006, 06:29 AM   #7
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You don't want to do letterboxing. That is for putting 16x9 video on a 4x3 screen. I thought you were doing the opposite (4x3 video on a 16x9 screen). There are 2 approaches for formating 4x3 video on a 16x9 screen.

1) Use the Motion tab of the Motion tab in FCP to enlarge the 4x3 video to cover the TV safe area of the 16x9 screen. Pan the video as needed to get the best 16x9 shaped hole out of your 4x3 footage
2) Pillar boxing keeps the original 4x3 shape and fills the 16x9 screen with black "pillars" on the left and right.

In technique 1), you are losing horizontal resolution because you are throwing it away. You are also blowing the image up a little. But, you are filling the screen.
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Old June 14th, 2006, 03:51 PM   #8
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Ernest, I am actually trying to letterbox a 16:9 film to fit a 4:3 frame. And...

Wow, what a mess. I've been spending 3 days nonstop working on this, and it's been a disaster. It's great that the new cameras can shoot in actual widescreen (I shot this film on a Canon XL2) but it's been such a hassle trying to get people to see it unsqueezed. Here is the process I went through, which ended up not working:

1) Exported 16:9 timeline as a Quicktime file with proper aspect ratio
2) Imported 16:9 Quicktime file into new 4:3 project
3) Very long rendering
4) Attempted to save new 4:3 movie over previous 16:9 Quicktime file

It screws up when I try to save the file as itself, but there's nothing else I can do because I don't have another 15 gigs free for another massive Quicktime file.

So now I'm at square one and haven't accomplished anything, and I've wasted a lot of time. Any ideas?
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Old June 14th, 2006, 03:55 PM   #9
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To clarify again, what I'm trying to do is create a DVD that people can watch on a regular 4:3 TV screen, with letterboxing. I have a 16:9 project in Final Cut Pro, and a copy of iDVD, and nothing else.
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Old June 14th, 2006, 06:59 PM   #10
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John here's what you want to do:
1. do a save as so you have a second version of your project
2. Select all in your 16:9 sequence
3. Go to sequence-nest items
4. Copy and paste this new clip (sequence) into a new 4:3 sequence or just change the sequence you are working in to 4:3
5. If your picture now looks squeezed select the nested clip and hit enter to bring it into the viewer
6. Go into the motion tab and twirl down the distort triangle and where it says aspect ratio enter a value of -33.33
7. Then do an export as a Quicktime movie and uncheck the box that says make movie self contained this will create a much smaller movie that points to your original media files. If you want to do an archive check the box to make it self contained because if you mess with any of your original media files the movie won't play anymore.
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Old June 14th, 2006, 08:02 PM   #11
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What version of iDVD are you using? '05 or '06?

Both versions support anamorphic DVD projects[it sets the flag to tell the DVD to letterbox the footage if playing on a 4:3 set]

You might check out the other thread:

http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=69553

And basically, iDVD is "stupid" if your footage is not already "flagged" to begin with so iDVD will set the appropriate flags to tell the DVD player what to do.

And check out that "anamorphicizer" mentioned by Kathryn Dennen.

http://homepage.mac.com/sith33/FileSharing34.html
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Old June 14th, 2006, 08:07 PM   #12
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Wait - The anamorphicizer seems great -- But really, it did some wacky thing with any footage that has people moving fast (ie. running) in it. They look all jumpy and digitized - anyone who is NOT moving too quickly looks fine. Has this happend to anyone else?
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Old June 16th, 2006, 10:23 PM   #13
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Sounds like an interlacing problem. If it only happens on progressive scan monitors, then it probably is. Apply the de-interlacer filter selecting upper.
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