Firstly, some provisos...
The finished disc worked perfectly with the Panasonic Blu-ray player and HD projector used by Huddersfield Film Makers Club. However when tried at home with a cheap DVD player and widescreen TV, the 4:3 videos did not display correctly; they were scaled up to fill the width of the frame and therefore the top and bottom portions were cropped somewhat. I suspect this is a function within the DVD player but there were no options to adjust it. So this is not a foolproof method but it does work with our club's display equipment.
How to do it
If you've already exported a high bit-rate file of your video, feel free to skip the first step.
- Export your videos from your editing software. Export using the ‘Current settings’ that you edited with -- don't worry about making any changes to the frame aspect at this stage. If you have the option to ‘Make movie self-contained’, un-check this box. The editing software will now make a small reference movie file which does not contain any media but points to your captured media that is already on your hard disk. (Note: to learn more about reference movies and how they can be useful, see this Larry Jordan article.)
- Open iDVD from the Applications folder and create a new DVD project. From the menu choose Project > Project Info and make sure the project is set to 16:9 frame aspect ratio (see below). After setting this you may be asked to reload the project theme or choose a new theme. You will notice the DVD menu screen is in widescreen format, if it wasn't already.
- Find the reference movie that you created earlier, and drag the file icon directly into the iDVD project. A button will appear on the DVD menu (usually a text button showing the filename of the reference movie). iDVD will start encoding the video, either immediately or when you ask to burn the disc.
- Add any other movies that you've prepared. Whether they are 4:3 or 16:9 they don't need any special preparation, just drag them straight into the DVD menu.
- When you burn the disc, iDVD will finish encoding and then write to your blank DVD disc. When it's done play the disc and check the results. The 4:3 videos should appear in their proper frame aspect, displaying black borders on the sides to fill the widescreen frame.