Wednesday, 22 August 2012

FCE DV widescreen 16:9 workflow for iDVD

Originally published  Oct 19, 2009 @ 22:03

I have edited widescreen video with iMovie HD and burned it using iDVD with no problems, they are designed to work together and both are bundled with every mac as part of iLife.  At some point if you are into video editing and find it as fun as I do you will soon be hungry for a more powerful editing solution.  What I really wanted was Final Cut but I'm not a professional editor and will not be making any money from from my videos, well not yet anyway.

Apple's Final Cut Studio costs £799 and to be fair it contains five products: Final Cut Pro, Motion 4, Soundtrack Pro, Color and Compressor.  I want more than iMovie but don't need as much as Final Cut Studio, this is where Final Cut Express sits.  Final Cut express is a stripped down version of Final Cut Pro but has all the features you require for editing home movies.  It is designed for editing footage captured on consumer camcorders, including HD.  There is no multi camera editing and the colour correction is two way rather than the more advanced three way offered with pro.  I'm not going to go through all the differences there are a lot more but Final Cut Express gives you everything you need to 'Professionally' edit your home movies.  The biggest difference between Pro and Express is the price, FCE is £126 which is reasonable for the features you get and a lot more easy to swallow than £799.

I have recently finished editing my own wedding video (only two years after the event) and wanted to create a DVD that I can sent out to relatives and friends and as I'm using a Mac, it has a great DVD authoring package included with the OS: iDVD.

iDVD allows you to create polished looking DVDs with animated menus, background music, buttons etc and as it's an Apple product it's intuitive and easy to use but there is a problem.  Final Cut express exports 16:9 Quicktime movies in an anamorphic format and iDVD doesn't expect movies in this format and treats them as squashed 4:3 movies.

I found <a href="http://support.apple.com/kb/TS1611" target="_blank">this link</a> on Apples website which describes the workflow to get around the issue which describes exporting the movie in the DVCPRO format and setting the aspect ratio to 16:9 and dimensions to 1024 x 576 which does indeed sort out the aspect ratio problem in iDVD so problem solved, not quite.

The problem with the workflow is that chapter markers which are used to define the DVD chapter points are not exported with this type of export so I had a choice: Correct aspect ratio without chapter markers or squashed video with chapter markers.  A bit more googling provided me with the solution.

Quicktime Pro 7 allows you to change edit the properties of the video track within a quicktime movie.  This only changes meta data and does not re-compress the movie when you save it so no quality is lost.  Changing the Display Size to 1024 x 576 formats the movie in a way that iDVD likes it retaining all the precious chapter markers.

Hopefully future versions of iDVD will cope with anamorphic 16:9 so this fiddling about will not be necessary.

Quicktime Pro is not free, it normally costs £20 but when I installed Snow Leopard I was given the option of installing Quicktime 7 as well as Quicktime X so I did and it appears to be Quicktime Pro.  I'm not sure if this is a mistake and a future update will downgrade it but for now I have a fully functioning version of Quicktime 7 Pro.