When you’re making a video that will be shown on TV, there are a number of factors to consider. There’s the content, of course. And if you are paying for airtime, you’re almost certainly concerned about length. But what might be a less obvious concern is image definition.
When creating a video, most of us want to work in HD and create a file with the highest possible quality. And why not? If you’ve worked hard crafting powerful messaging, designing images to engage viewers, and selecting audio that adds an emotional arc to your story, it makes sense that you would want the image quality to be as high as the quality of the rest of the production. But when you are creating content that will be viewed on TV, you have to account for TVs of all shapes and sizes.
Since high-definition television (HDTV) became available to consumers for home viewing, many networks have started broadcasting in HD. But while HDTVs have proliferated, many viewers still own standard-definition TVs. Additionally, some people who own HDTVs still watch in standard definition. Surprising, but true!
And that’s where the term center cut safe comes in. Unfortunately for those of you reading this on your lunch break, center cut doesn’t have anything to do with steak. Rather, center-cut Safe refers to a video created to fit standard definition 4:3 screen ratio, even if it was filmed or created in HD.
Here are few basic things to know about center cut safe video:
- First things first- Know your product. What is the resolution of your video file? Is the ratio 4:3 or 16:9?
- During production, whether you are working with film or animation, you should try to keep all of your content within the center 3/4 of the screen.
- Critical content (this means things that are key to understanding like most text and major graphic content) should be centered within the center 2/3 of the screen.
- Various websites offer templates and generators, but they all have mixed reviews. Your best bet is to follow the guidelines we’ve listed, or work with someone who is an expert on creating center cut safe video.
Technology is still moving in the direction of HD, but as long as a considerable percentage of the population is watching broadcast TV in Standard Definition, knowing about image definition and using center cut safe will be critical to successful TV content.