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Final Cut Pro Quick Tip #13

When is title safe, not title safe? By Stephen Schleicher
I received a somewhat frantic email the other day from an editor who has discovered that the title safe boundaries in Final Cut Pro have a slight error; "I discovered that FCP's
title and action safe areas are not correct. Instead of 5/10 percent borders all the way around, it calculates 5/10 percent on the width and provides a uniform border all the way around. Do you know any way to change the title and action safety dimensions in FCP?"
While there isnt a way to change the dimensions in Final Cut Pro, this Bakers Dozen FCP Quick Tip should help clarify some issues, and give you some information to pass along to your graphics department.

First of all, what are the Action Safe and Title Safe regions of a screen? While televisions are capable of displaying nearly all of the information being recorded, because of the bezel around the screen, NTSC and PAL monitors dont display the full area of information (called the overscan). Instead, the resulting image is somewhat cropped (called underscan), and what you think you captured is not always displayed. This can cause issues when composing a shot, as well as when you are creating graphics during post.

If you want to insure that specific elements in your video image are seen, you need to compose the shot for the Action Safe region. This is a region roughly 5% in from the edge of the overscan area. Most video cameras give you the option of turning on a safe region display in the viewfinder.

Because of variations in bezel size, more or less of the final image area may be displayed. If you are creating titles and a portion of the bezel clips off some of your text, you could be in serious trouble.

Imagine a car commercial that advertises a new BMW Z4 for $23,000, and because of the size of the bezel covering the screen, what the home audience sees is 3,000. While it is sure to get a lot of people into the showroom, they are going to be greatly disappointed when they find out the true cost.

To prevent these types of errors from occurring, the Title Safe region was "developed" which is roughly 10% smaller than the overscan area.

If anything falls within the Title Safe region (image, text, etc.) it will be seen by all viewers.

With these terms defined, lets address what the editor was concerned about.

He is absolutely right, the width proportion of the Action and Title Safe areas in Final Cut Pro are based on the width of the image, and does not take into account the height. You can see this for yourself in the following images.

In the figure below, I have created a solid layer in Adobe After Effects that matches After Effects Title Safe boundary.

When the image is saved and imported into Final Cut Pro, you can see that the width amounts are correct, but the height of the box extends outside the range of Final Cut Pros Title Safe region. This is not a square v. non-square issue, as the After Effects Composition and the Final Cut Pro sequence are matched.

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Related Keywords:Final Cut Pro, After Effects, Title Safe, Action Safe, Schleicher, underscan, overscan, graphics, text


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