You can choose to output movies in standard (4:3) aspect ratio, widescreen (16:9) aspect ratio, or a custom aspect ratio.

If you are making a movie for DVD, you can choose either standard (4:3) or widescreen (16:9). If you are making a movie to be shown on an High Definition TV, you should choose widescreen (16:9).

Sample widescreen movie frame

An anamorphic video is one that is stretched. For instance, you can produce a 16:9 aspect ratio video but fit it into 640x480 pixels (4:3). The video will appear to be squished horizontally when played on a regular television. Some widescreen televisions will unstretch the video for you and allow you to view it properly as widescreen.

Sample anamorphic movie frame

If you want to produce a widescreen DVD that will only play on televisions capable of playing anamorphic video (that is, televisions that can unstretch the video), render to Full Quality DV and burn a DVD anamorphically with Toast or iDVD and let the TV fix the aspect ratio. You will have to view the DVD on a TV that supports anamorphic video.

Sample letterboxed movie frame

If you want to produce a widescreen DVD that plays with black bars on top/bottom when viewed on a regular television and plays widescreen on a widescreen television, you must use a sophisticated DVD burning software package such as DVD Studio Pro. It will play with black bars on the top and bottom on standard televisions and play widescreen on widescreen televisions.