DvdMaker and a little widescreen love

I've always been a little frustrated with applications that don't support 16:9 content or don't support it very well. Many applications have traditionally started by assuming that video fits within a 4:3 area and then 16:9 content gets letterboxed within that area (or in worse cases just stretched).

Not so for Windows DVD Maker. We've made sure that 16:9 content is a first class citizen. You'll see from the screen shot below where I've added a 4:3 video file and then a 16:9 video how the 16:9 thumbnail shows up as expected as a nice widescreen thumbnail. It gives me a warm glow inside to see all those extra pixels 🙂

You'll also notice that all our DVD menu styles fully support 16:9 as well.

Comments (14)
  1. steven says:

    Interesting. I’m a little worried, though. AFAIK, the AVI format does not provide for an aspect ratio field. Does DvdMaker base it’s decisions on the resolution? If so, can it be overridden? (As I believe DVD source material is normally in 704/720×576 [PAL, full resolution], which is 5:4 or 704/720×480 [NTSC, full resolution], which is 3:2). That source material may always use all pixels and the widescreen/fullscreen display is determined by the aspect ratio flag in the MPEG header (as I understand it, though I could of course be wrong).

  2. PapaJohn says:

    Hi Dean,

    In my recent newsletter #93 about Vista features, I commented that the Windows DVD Maker had an option in its settings for standard or widescreen aspect ratio. I had the feeling from it that I might not be able to mix videos on a disc with the two different ratios. If it can mix and match, why the setting?

    I made a disc with 6 videos, some standard and some widescreen, and all the thumbnails looked the same in Vista’s DVD Maker… but I was using WMV files, so I  thought that maybe it works differently for them than it does for DV-AVI. I see that both of yours are AVI.

    The same set of 6 WMV files in MyDVD 8 showed thumbnails that varied, some widescreen and others standard…. very different than the same set of files in Windows DVD Maker.

    … this week I’ve been looking at the Vista option of HD 1080 VC-1, which gives a WMV file of 1440×1080 regardless of wether the setting in Movie Maker is standard or widescreen…. similar to a DV-AVI file always being 720×480. Will the tag in the file be passed to MyDVD and Windows DVD Maker so I can expect either standard or widescreen to be viewed appropriately, or is the VC-1 option only for standard mode.

    Thanks for your blogs and posts…

  3. Dean Rowe says:

    For video files that are added we look at the display aspect ratio of the frames in the file to automatically determine whether it should be rendered as 4:3 or 16:9.

    You can create a single disc with different video files of varying aspect ratios. In my screen shot above if I had burned the disc, the first video title would have been 4:3 and the second video title would have been 16:9 as you would expect.

    PapaJohn, if you add WMV files that are 16:9 then you should get a widescreen thumbnail. I know we did have some bugs around 16:9 WMV files not being rendered as 16:9 video on the actual DVD, but those have been fixed for the upcoming Beta 2 release of Vista.

    I believe that for VC-1, yes you’re right the frame resolution is 1440×1080 however the display aspect ratio will be 16:9 (this should show up as the aspect ratio value in MovieMaker’s publish dialog)

  4. PapaJohn says:

    I’m looking at a clip I took in widescreen mode in my camcorder, with Movie Maker set to 16:9 and rendered to a WMV HD-1080-VC-1 file.

    Importing the rendered file into Movie Maker.. I don’t see any file properties that say ‘display aspect ratio’, Movie Maker has it looking like 4:3 with black side borders…

    WMP11 plays it without the side borders at 4:3, and I don’t see the feature to read it’s properties.

    I guess I’m still learning, and need to wait for the next release…. until then the 4:3 versus 16:9 displays are not what I expect.

    Thanks for the info.

  5. Dean Rowe says:

    Certainly in that case you would expect everything to be rendered as 16:9. However I know there were some aspect ratio bugs in the build of Vista that is out, these should all be fixed for the beta2 release. Did you try copying the file to an XP machine and see if it played correctly there?



  6. Blaine says:

    In my recent test burn, I took 6 widescreen WMV files (using a custom profile from PapaJohn) and tried to burn them to a DVD using DVD Maker and the ‘Performance’ style.  I noticed that the rendered opening screen cutoff the sides of my video slightly.  Also, the scene select page ended up with only 2 chapters, not 6 and one was shown far in the foreground (lower left) instead of aligned with the first…  Am I missing something about how chapters are created and rendered?  I thought it was a one-to-one correspondence between files, but maybe there’s another algorithm?

    Also, will there be a capability to specify what part of each clip will appear in the motion menus?  For example, I might *not* want the first 5 seconds, but instead want to showcase a different part of the scene later in the clip.  Will that be possible or are you going for simplicity over power?

  7. Dean Rowe says:

    Hi Blaine,

    Are you talking about the video introduction to the menu? If so then we’ll zoom the video to fit the screen that you see within Performance. This is only on the menu so we figure it looks nicer than having black bars. When you play the video you should see the entire video though of course.

    If you add multiple files you should see a button for each file within the scenes menu, so you would expect 6 in this case, so it sounds like you ran into a bug. I suspect we were trying to generate six but only two showed up. This could be that we ran into a problem with video memory and your graphics card. Which video card do you have? I know we should do a lot better in this area when Beta 2 comes out.

    Also for Beta 2 we will automatically choose different parts of your files for the menu background, it won’t just be the first 5 seconds or so.



  8. PapaJohn says:

    yes Dean, I took it to XP and it plays there also in WMP10 as 4:3….

  9. Rehan says:

    Hi Dean,

    Well done on the good work and improvemrnts you guys have been making.

    From the picture posted in the blog I have spotted a bug in the thumbnail creation… The 4:3 thumbnail has incorrect aspect ratio. Its 4:3 area includes the filmstrip border… The actual thumbnail gets squashed to near 1:1 ratio. On the other hand the 16:9 thumbnail is correct and the border is extra.

  10. Dean Rowe says:

    Hi Rehan.

    Thanks for the comments and well spotted on the thumbnail ratio. I’ll get a bug entered.



  11. I’ve always been a little frustrated with applications that don’t support 16:9 content or don’t support it very well. Many applications have traditionally started by assuming that video fits within a 4:3 area and then 16:9 content gets letterboxed withi

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