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ATPM 11.06
June 2005



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How To

by Lee Bennett,

Widescreen in iDVD 5? Almost, Not Quite

The Setup

A big feature of iMovie 5 and iDVD 5 is the ability to work with and prepare 16:9 widescreen content. All’s well until you actually burn your finished iDVD project. Pop the completed DVD into your player, and your pretty 16:9 picture suddenly has everyone looking like stick people, having stretched it (or squeezed it, depending on your point of view) to 4:3.

Did no one on Apple’s iDVD development team take the time to actually burn a DVD from the beta versions of iDVD 5? The widescreen preview works just fine when you check your finished project within iDVD. The problem only happens when you either burn a project or save it to an image.

The Problem

The reason this bug is present is because iDVD incorrectly sets a single binary value to 1 instead of 0 in the .IFO and .BUP files that correspond to widescreen .VOB titles. If this value is set to 1, it instructs a DVD player to prohibit shifting to widescreen mode, even though another binary value that specifies the 16:9 format instead of 4:3 is properly set.

The Solution

The simple translation of how to fix it is to open the .IFO and .BUP files, change the value (you do it in hexadecimal, which means it changes from 4F to 4E), save, then burn to DVD.

The reality is, it’s a bit trickier because you have to first copy iDVD’s disk image to your hard drive, change the read-only permissions on both the files and the VIDEO_TS folder to permit writing, save the changes, then run the whole folder through DVD Imager which saves a new disk image to burn that will be recognizable by DVD players.

The Elaboration

David C. Althoff Jr.—someone who knows a lot more about this kind of stuff than I do—wrote a complete storyline on his examination of the issue. If you want to get straight to the instructions, they’re at the very bottom of the page, but this “cookbook” is missing the part about changing the 4F to 4E that I described (and is mentioned up higher on Althoff’s page). Althoff also doesn’t specifically mention anywhere on the page that you’ll need to change the permissions on the files and the enclosing folder before you can save your edited files. He only alludes to it.

In addition, the first step involving Anamorphiciser can be skipped if your movies originated in iMovie 5. This step is only needed if you’re taking 16:9 clips directly from a raw file into iDVD 5.

The Wait

So that you’ll know how much time you’ll be facing, I’ve just completed burning a DVD with a bit less than 90 minutes of widescreen content. My computer has been chomping on the various rendering, copying, importing, etc. tasks for nearly 15 hours. Perhaps just under an hour of this time could have been saved if I hadn’t needed to re-import part of the video back into iMovie to correct my own goof, but the time also includes the conversion of two DivX AVI files to DV format, which then had to go through conversion once again as iMovie turned those DV files into something it could chew on.

But all this doesn’t mean I’ve been busy for 15 hours to get the DVD made. The majority of it was simply unattended processing while I caught up on some movies and TV shows, paid some bills, and did a load of laundry. My actual babysitting time was no more than an hour—probably only about a half hour.

So there you have it—whether you’re converting HD DivX files (ffmpegX is a great tool for doing this task) or working with 16:9 content from your own DV camera—until Apple fixes this goof in iDVD 5, you now know what you’ll be in for to get a true 16:9 picture to show up on your television.

Also in This Series

Reader Comments (33)

Brian McHale · June 17, 2005 - 16:32 EST #1
I just got a DV camcorder that can do 16:9, so thought I'd do a quick check to see if iDVD and iMovie would support a widescreen project.

After a bit of playing around and research on the internet, I came upon the following set of steps:

1. Open new iMovie project.
2. In window that pops up, select DV widescreen (or DV 16:9, not sure and I'm not at home to doublecheck).
3. Import WS footage from camcorder.
4. After editing footage in iMovie, create a DVD from iMovie.

The result was a perfect anamorphic widescreen DVD (as far as I could tell). When I mounted the disc image, it played as widescreen on my Mac. When I played it back on my WS TV, it played perfectly as an anamorphic movie. I then set my TV up for 4:3 mode (gray bars on the side) and told my player to use 4:3 Letterbox mode and I got a nice letterboxed widescreen image inside the 4:3 window.

The only thing I haven't tried is to import a WS video file into an existing iDVD project, though I suspect it would work just fine.

My only complaint about the final product is that the menu was not widescreen and the photo I put there was horizontally stretched when I had my TV in FULL mode.

I'm using OS 10.4.1 with the latest versions of iMovie and iDVD. Did I miss something, or have I accidentally stumbled onto a different way to create a WS DVD?

Brian McHale · June 20, 2005 - 14:12 EST #2
Just a quick follow up to my previous post...

I found that I could also add widescreen iMovie projects to my iDVD project by doing an IMPORT. This results in good anamorphic widescreen clips.

Guess I'm curious as to why there seems to be some thought that this doesn't work properly.

Lee Bennett (ATPM Staff) · June 20, 2005 - 14:28 EST #3
Brian - It does work in preview mode within iDVD. But when the DVD is burned and the disc is taken to a standard DVD video player connected to a 4:3 television, the image is not in letterbox format. Instead, the 16:9 is stretched to fit the 4:3 screen. The same occurs for me if I create a DVD disc image instead of burning a physical disc, then mount and play that image in Apple's DVD Player application.

The fact that you are using a 16:9 television—even though you say you tried setting it for 4:3 mode—is the only thing I can figure that is making the difference for you.
Dave Sharpe · September 5, 2005 - 05:07 EST #4
Changing 4F to 4E works great for NTSC but you need to be aware that for PAL it involves changing line 200 of the .ifo from 5F to 5E (and the .bup if you can be bothered)
Daniel Rogers · October 16, 2005 - 00:50 EST #5
I've written a perl script to fix iDVD created DVD images in a single step. It is covered under the GPL. It is available here:

Feel free to send comments or fixes to the address given in the readme.

And, reading the rest of these comments, my script fixes the BUP files and also works for PAL dvds.
Lee Bennett (ATPM Staff) · October 16, 2005 - 22:30 EST #6
Thanks, Daniel. I hope many people benefit from this.
Daniel Rogers · October 19, 2005 - 09:48 EST #7
There is an updated version of idvd-ws-fix. It fixes some bugs, and now requires only a few kilobytes of temp space (instead of the whole discs worth).

It is now available at
R Carr · November 12, 2005 - 14:32 EST #8
A quick note to Brian ... it seems that for whatever reason, if you import widescreen iMovie HD content into iDVD the resulting DVD will be in anamorphic widescreen, as expected.

The problem is when using widescreen content outside of iMovie. It seems to always make a SD 4:3 disc by streatching the content.
Brian Lackey · December 3, 2005 - 00:27 EST #9
How about if I am using Final Cut Pro 5 and iDVD. I don't "get" DVD Studio Pro. I export to .mov and then import into iDVD. The 16:9 gets stretched like you all say. I don't use now what?
Lee Bennett (ATPM Staff) · December 3, 2005 - 20:29 EST #10
Brian - see the paragraph in my article about Anamorphiciser.
Bob Dean · January 23, 2006 - 21:09 EST #11
Unbelievable. Just bought iLife '06. I'm thinking they would obviously fix this bug, right? No such luck. iDVD 6 has the exact same issue as 5. It even says in a main bullet point on the box (as if they knew of the issue in 5) "Widescreen DVD's!" The real drag is, I had drop $140 to upgrade to "Tiger" just to drop $90 to upgrade to iLife.
anna · February 10, 2006 - 18:10 EST #12
I tried to fix using the solution provided but cannot find what you describe as 'line 200' with 5F in it! (I am working in PAL)
Also I don't know how to run a Perl script from 10.4.4 - do I need to install Perl first? I am very sorry to be such a newbe and pain but I really need to fix the widescreen aspect of the DVD I need to courier tomorrow!!!
many thanks for help!
Daniel Rogers · February 10, 2006 - 19:06 EST #13
No, but you do need to use a terminal window to run a perl script (perl is already installed).

It's not line 200 it is byte 0x200, where 200 is base 16 (hexadecimal). You need to use a hex editor.
anna · February 10, 2006 - 20:15 EST #14
Thank you, I've tried doing it using idvd-ws-fix in Treminal window, no it comes with the following message:

Copying VTS files to temporary directory.
Found no .IFO files to work with. Exiting. at /Users/anna/Desktop/idvd-ws-fix-1.1/idvd-ws-fix line 121.

what should I do?
Thank you for your patience!
anna · February 10, 2006 - 20:50 EST #15
and if I try to do it using HexEdit, what am I looking for - which line/cell I need to correct - sorry, I really don't understand it! please explain it if possible!
anna · February 11, 2006 - 10:24 EST #16
Sorry could not make the HexEdit and idvd-ws-fix work for me - I know too little to find the cell to fix using HexEdit :((( and idvd-ws-fix kept coming back saying it couldn't find IFO files to work with.

Almost despaired - but thankfully another search yielded myDVDEdit which easily did the job!!!!

Would be interested to know, though, why idvd-ws-fix did not work, and where on earth is this 0x200 cell...
Dave Sharpe · February 11, 2006 - 13:36 EST #17

These are the instructions I wrote for myself to use idvd-ws-fix and it works every time:

Place idvd-ws-fix and mkisofs in a folder in apps

Mount the disc image to be fixed

open terminal

drag idvd-ws-fix onto terminal window

paste --output=my-new-disc.img "/Volumes/MY_BROKEN_DISC" after text created by previous operation

change MY_BROKEN_DISC to name of disc image

hit return

wait and watch

look for my-new-disc.img

Just so you know where it is in HexEdit (I am not going into file permissions and saving etc)

Mount the disc
Open HexEdit
from HexEdit open a .IFO on the dvd
down the left of HexEdit look for 00000200 and you should see 4e, 4f,5e or 5f as the first entry.
If not try "Find" "Go to address" enter 200
Still a problem check that "Options" "Use decimal address" is not ticked
Still a problem, try a different .IFO file
If still a problem, give up and get some sleep. You are not cut out for this sort of thing.
james Ludtke · March 9, 2006 - 23:21 EST #18
I am just about ready to plunk down the money to get iLife 06. Before I do, it would be nice if anyone could answer this question:

In what format does iDVD 6 burn wide screen movies? 720p? 1040i? 1040p? Or does it just stretch 480 pixels.

I am trying to make a movie of digital images that play on my HDTV (native resolution = 720p). I would use images of 1080x720, 1920x1080, or 3008x1692.

Lee Bennett (ATPM Staff) · March 10, 2006 - 00:19 EST #19
James - hate to burst any bubbles you may have, but unless you're talking about HD DVDs (and I assume you're not), NTSC DVDs are all 480p. A common (though dwindling, fortunately) misconception is that playing a DVD to an HD television produces an HD picture. It does not.

Granted, 480p (progressive) is better quality than 480i (interlaced) television, but it's not HD. Your HD television will upscale the resolution to fill the screen.

(By the way, just FYI, you probably meant 1080i and p, not 1040.)

Some more to consider is that I don't expect you have a 1080p television. They exist, but not very common and very expensive. Most HD sets available today are 1080i which, in some respects is virtually the same resolution as 720p. Regardless, to get the best resolution of your pictures to your HD television, you'd want to connect your computer to a TV's DVI jack and run the slide show to it just like it was a secondary computer display.
Howard Wright · April 27, 2006 - 01:24 EST #20
Just ran into this problem myself with iDVD6. The easiest way (far easier than the script) is to use the free myDVDEdit app. There is a walk-through on the app's forum (Google it), that walks you through the two minute process.

What isn't covered though, is how to easily save the edited VIDEO_TS files (since you can't easily write to a disc image). The easy way I used was to simply copy the VIDEO_TS folder from the disc image to a folder on my drive. I could then use myDVDEdit to edit the files and save them (although you might have to change permissions on the VIDEO_TS folder and contents first so you can write to it). Lastly, I used Toast to make the DVD using its "DVD-Video from VIDEO_TS" setting. Drag the adjusted folder to Toast and burn, baby, burn! Works well.
Klaus Bogstad · May 1, 2006 - 17:22 EST #21
Thanks to your post Howard, I can now achieve exactly what you describe!

Many thanks!

I wonder how much longer it will take Apple to update iDVD 6 to actually do what it says on the tin.
kevin John Gilmeister · March 31, 2007 - 12:42 EST #22
good info on HD formats, #19 Lee Bennett cut to the chase for answer I needed. I guess there is NO way to burn an HD DVD at this time. Must drive display from Mac
Tory Salvia · January 19, 2008 - 13:02 EST #23
I just updated to iDVD 08

I have anamorphic 16x9 QuickTime .MOV files I created from my Final Cut Pro project file. These do not appear as widescreen in a WS iDVD project. That started all of this.

I've created a new copy of the video using Anamorphicizer -- no luck

When I run idvd-ws-fix from terminal,
I created an image file from iDVD and mounted the image file as TEST_DVD. In terminal I ran the script:
/Applications/idvd-ws-fix-1.1/idvd-ws-fix --output=my-new-disc.img "/Volumes/TEST_DVD"
Copying VTS files to temporary directory.
/Applications/idvd-ws-fix-1.1/mkisofs: Warning: -follow-links does not always work correctly; be careful.
2.95% done, estimate finish Sat Jan 19 11:11:00 2008
5.90% done, estimate finish Sat Jan 19 11:10:43 2008
The script ran fine and created my-newl-disc.img in the applications folder where I had stored the script folder.

HOWEVER, when I mounted the new image and played it in the MAC DVD player, my anamorphic video was still crushed to 4x3. Very frustrating.

I then opened a .IFO file form the new image TS_VIDEOS directory in HexEdit. When I look at 00000200 all I see is a row of zeros.

Next, I mounted the image again and copied both TS directories into a test directory. I changed permissions in both AUDIO_TS and VIDEO_TS directories to read & write, apply to everything (requires your user password to confirm).

I opened the VVIDEO_TS directory in myDVDEdit. I edited: VMG Menu; VTS Menu 1; and VTS 1. In each case, using the VMG or VTS menu tab, I changed Aspect from Auto pan Pan&Scan Letterbox to 16x9 for both VMG Menu and VTS Menu; and from 4x3 to 16x9 for VTS 1. myDVDEdit stated that the video aspect ratio is not the sasme as the stream one. Do you want to correct the VOB files? I hit CORRECT.

When I opened the VIDEO_TS folder in DVD player, my anamorphic video finally played wide screen.

I ran this test again from a new disk image created from iDVD. I mounted the image, copied the TS directories in to a second test folder, changed permissions on both TS directories, then opened the new test directory in myDVDEdit. I made all the changes noted above and hit SAVE.

I opened the new test VIDEO_TS directory in DVD player and my anamorpohic video played wide screen.

I believe I had tried this before with no luck because I failed to change VTS 1 to 16x9.

Next I burned a DVD from the image file using Disk Utility.

When I played it with DVD player -- back to square one! The anamorpohic video played squished as 4x3. Did the same when I played it on my setup DVD player attached to a 4x3 crt TV.

I opened the VTS_01_O.IF, in HexEdit, scrolled down to 00000200 and found the first entry was 4F. I changed this to 4E and saved the file. Did the same for BTS_01_0.BUP. I left the VIDEO_TS.IFO file set to 00

I then burned a new DVD. No luck.

Please add your findings to this thread.
Lee Bennett (ATPM Staff) · January 19, 2008 - 20:10 EST #24
Tory - I welcome anyone's discussion on this topic. There is very likely a lot different in the newest versions of the software which probably make this original article obsolete. Do note, it was published in mid-2005! :-)
Roland Musolff · February 6, 2008 - 09:52 EST #25
Hi folks. I found this thread when searching for the widescreen-problem with IDVD I had - same as described.

Finally the following link helped me out.

Rachelle Harris · July 30, 2008 - 00:51 EST #26
i had a similar problem as listed here. I also could not achieve a 16:9 looking file when i put my .mov (made in FCP) into idvd6, it would squish it down to 4:3 even though the idvd menu would be 16:9. To fix this i exported the file out of final cut pro in quicktime conversion instead of quicktime, and ticked the box for 16:9, and then idvd recognised that it was a 16:9 file.
So that solved that problem for me.
But then when i burn the dvd and play it on a 4:3 tv, the tv cuts off the sides of the picture although the aspect is right. i want it to be letterboxed when played on a 4:3 tv. When i burn this file in toast, it letterboxes the file for a 4:3 tv but then the menus are not great. i want to be able to get a letterboxed 16:9 dvd from idvd. Any help??
Lee Bennett (ATPM Staff) · July 30, 2008 - 01:13 EST #27
Rachelle - Does the disc from iDVD show widescreen mode if you play it in a DVD Player window on your computer? If so, then that's a strong indication that your problem is not with iDVD, but with either your TV, DVD player, or both. Check your settings on each and look for adjustments to choose whether a 16:9 program is shown in letterbox mode or in pan and scan mode. My suspicion is that it's set for pan and scan. Thinking more on this, I believe this is probably a DVD player setting and not a TV setting—at least not on 4:3 televisions.
Rachelle Harris · July 30, 2008 - 02:24 EST #28
Hi lee -yes it does play widescreen on dv player on my mac, just not the tv. i will do a test and fiddle with the players settings tonight to see if i can change it to letterbox, and see if that fixes it.
R Jore · November 20, 2008 - 05:18 EST #29
Thanks for the article, good to know!
Right now I've run into a problem that looks different but might be related: a DVD made with iDVD 5 in 4:3 and played back to a 16:9 TV is being displayed full-width, but cut off at top and bottom. I take it that "pillarboxing" is what I'm after. Is that a parameter of the DVD as well and if so, where would I need to look?
Thanks in advance for any hints!
Greendave · November 20, 2008 - 05:38 EST #30
I suggest you check the settings on both your DVD player and TV before you start changing iDVD or the .IFO and .BUP files. The problem in this thread is displaying 16x9 encoded iDVDs on 4x3 TVs. You should not have a problem the other way round. Also, if you can't fix the problem using you DVD player or TV settings, test the DVD on another system before messing with iDVD settings and files. You can correct the problem by creating a widescreen iMovie with your 4x3 pillarboxed (conversion can take a long time for a big movie) and then burn a widescreen DVD but you will loose quality and it will not playback properly on a 4x3 TV.
Lee Bennett (ATPM Staff) · November 20, 2008 - 11:33 EST #31
If a DVD is in 4:3 mode and it's showing up stretched on a 16:9 television, the problem is most likely with the TV or DVD player, and not the DVD. On my DVD player, there is a setting to tell the player whether it's outputting to a 4:3 or 16:9 TV. It was defaulted to 4:3 so it would try to fill the TV screen, even if it's 16:9. Change this DVD player setting to 16:9 and when it detects a 4:3 signal on a DVD, it should put the "pillarboxing" on the sides.

Alternatively, you may possibly need to check a similar setting on the TV.

Also keep in mind this article was for 2 prior versions of iDVD. I haven't perceived a need for the above information in the latest version of iDVD 7.
R Jore · December 5, 2008 - 06:49 EST #32
Thanks Greendave and Lee for your comments.

Let me first say that I don't even have a TV, or a DVD player outside my computer for that matter. (And I am still running iLife 5 on Tiger as I didn't see the need or incentive to upgrade, rather the opposite.)

I occasionally burn DVDs documenting events, that are then handed out to a number of people. Which means that I don't have any control whatsoever over their TV or DVD player setup.

For that reason it also doesn't help me to burn my DVDs such that they run fine on either 4:3 (which they did) or 16:9 displays, they need to function on both.

When I recently got the feedback that my DVD did not play properly on a widescreen TV (it was not squeezed, by the way, but the top and bottom were cut off), I thought it reasonable to assume that 4:3 DVDs are still common enough that if people complain to me about mine not working, it's probably a problem with my DVD rather than with playing 4:3 DVDs on their setup in general. The latter is of course possible, just not very likely IMHO, as the people would probably have encountered the issue earlier and not complained to me about my particular DVD.

So I decided to do some research but didn't find anything. On a hunch, and because iMovie has a setting to "allow automatic letterboxing/pillowboxing", I then instead searched for letterboxing problems and came across this post. And then thought that the problem described in it sounded awfully similar to mine, even if experiencing it from the "opposite direction".

Who knows, perhaps it's even both governed by the same bit in the end?

So I created a disk image, changed the appropriate bits to allow automatic letterboxing and disallow pan/scan, burned a DVD, handed it to the complainant, asked them to try it out on both of their TVs (one widescreen, one 4:3), and waited. Which explains why I'm only getting back to you now, because I only heard back from them about an hour ago.

And guess what: it works.
So the same bit that allows or disallows automatic letterboxing does the same for pillowboxing. Who would've thunk? (Apart from me, I mean... ;-))

Apologies for the long post, I just thought it appropriate to explain my thinking behind posting here in the first place, and why I thought my question might not be as off-topic as some seem to think.

And hoped that someone might have been able to answer my question off the bat - playing a 4:3 DVD on a widescreen TV to me doesn't seem like such an unusual thing to try to do.
Never mind, I hope this information is of use, or at least of interest, to someone.

If you still think I'm off topic then please accept my apologies. I'll be gone in a moment and also have something to offer that is definitely on topic:

When editing my .IFO (and .BUP) files, I found that the lines starting at offset 0x200 contained all zeros. However the value I was looking for (in my case 0x53) could be found at offset 0x100.

Another close look at the IFO file description shows that this is totally correct. If looking at "VTS" files (right column, named "VTS_xx_n.IFO"), the Byte in question resides at offset 0x200; while in "VMG" files (left column, named "VIDEO_TS.IFO"), it's at 0x100. (Another easy way to tell them apart is that VTS files start with the string "DVDVIDEO-VTS" and VMG files with "DVDVIDEO-VMG".)

Might well explain why some posters here were unable to find the Byte, and why the "idvd_ws_fix" perl script also failed to work for some - it only works with VTS files. (Which also contain a "VSTM_VOB" video attributes Byte at 0x100, whatever that is good for.)
R Jore · December 9, 2008 - 02:22 EST #33
Um, "pillow" -> "pillar"...

As for handling the DVD image, after some tedious and unsuccessful attempts with writeable images and all that I just converted the original image file into an uncompressed one and opened that with HexEdit.

Then just search for "DVDVIDEO-" and depending on whether that's followed by "VTS" or "VMG", check the 256th (0x100) or 512th (0x200) Byte after the initial "D".

Not the schoolbook method, for sure, but it works, and rather painlessly.

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