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Pixel Aspect Ratio

Nov 03 2006 Posted by in multimedia | Comments Off on Pixel Aspect Ratio

I’m new to video/dvd and I need to make some video in Final Cut, then import it into iDVD Studio. I need to make some graphics in Photoshop for the DVD menu. What resolution should I save them out as and on what canvas size? I’m making a NTSC dvd in 4:3 aspect… Please help!!!

This a very common issue, and you’ll get a variety of confusing answers online. But here’s the logic behind it so that you can figure it out yourself case-by-case.

Digital video pixels (except for HD – a topic for another day), unlike computer pixels, are not square, they are slightly taller than wide. Any time you’re working in a non-video-specific graphics application that likes to use square pixels (Photoshop, After Effects, etc.), factor in a ratio of 90% on the pixel height. So if you’re mixing the graphics with DV that’s 720×480, create graphics at 720×534, then scale the finished graphic to 720×480 (it will distort), then import it to your editor. for D1 at 720×486, use 720×540, and for widescreen, use 854×480 – all of them scaled back down to 720×480 for video.

A few years ago, most of these apps started including an optional “pixel aspect ratio correction” feature so that video pixels don’t appear “fat” when displayed square, but you also lose a bit of working preview quality.