MacMost Now 440: DVDs Are Not HD

A short video explaining a common misconception about DVD quality. DVDs are standard definition, so HD video will not look as good on DVD as it does on your Mac.
Video Transcript / Captions
Closed captioning for this video is available on YouTube: MacMost Now 440: DVDs Are Not HD.

Hi, this is Gary with MacMost Now. When you're on vacation like I am now, you may want to take video with a new, high-definition camcorder. There are many consumer models on the market. And when you get home you may want to make a DVD with that footage, but then you may wonder why the DVD doesn't look as good as the video does on your Mac. In this episode I'll explain why.
See, the confusion comes in video resolutions. You see, high definition is either 1080, which means it's 1920 x 1080, the exact resolution of the new 21" iMac; or it's 720, which is 1280 x 720. However, standard definition video is either 640 x 480, or sometimes 720 x 480.
Now, standard definition is exactly what DVDs are. See, DVD existed way before all this high definition camcorder stuff, way before the current line of Macs. In the early '90s, they basically had to play on standard definition TVs, so you get the standard definition resolution.
Now, if you look at a 640 x 480 video, the number of pixels is less than a quarter of the number of pixels you get even at 720. So, well you just don't have much of a choice if you want to make a DVD; a DVD is just standard definition. That's all a DVD does; it doesn't upgrade, you can't get a new type of DVD player because those types of DVDs wouldn't work in older ones. So you're stuck with standard definition video.
Now, if you do want to watch high definition video you can continue to watch it on your Mac, you can even upload it to sites like YouTube and any video sharing site will take high definition video.
Another thing you may want to do is consider getting a new Mac Mini. That allows you to put high definition out from the Mini to your television, and that's one option for viewing high definition vacation video.
Now, if you're thinking well why not make a Blu-ray, well you can't just make a Blu-ray. There's all sorts of licensing involved. You need a Blu-ray recorder. You need professional Blu-ray making software. So making a Blu-ray high definition disk is just not an option.
Of course, if you are going to make a DVD which is handy to show in just about any living room, you still want to make sure to keep the high definition video around.
So, hope you found this useful. Until the next time, this is Gary Rosenzweig with MacMost Now.

Comments: 6 Responses to “MacMost Now 440: DVDs Are Not HD”

    9 years ago

    Very interesting, thank you for this!

    8 years ago

    Thank you for this info on how videos may be HD but DVDs are still SD. This explains complaints that I have seen elsewhere that the video looked great on the computer but not as well after it was burned to DVD. Some blamed the iLife programs for this. You are the first one I have found to deal directly and clearly with the reason.

    As a result I will not upgrade to an HD camcorder for my yoga videos which I sell on DVDs.

    Thank you very much,

    Pam Taylor
    8 years ago

    Thank you for your very clear explanation. I have another question: which DVDs should we be using in the Mac? DVD-R or DVD+R? I know one goes around one way and the other goes in the opposite direction. Does it make a difference in the quality of the DVD?
    Also, in the future are there any DVD’s that will be able to record high definition? Thanks. Pam

      8 years ago

      Most modern Macs (last 2-4 years) will use either type of DVD. Quality-wise they are identical (it is digital video, so bits are bits). Much older Macs worked only with DVD-R. But that way years ago.

    8 years ago

    I have a problem when making a Imovie. All my horizontal photos look great but the vertical ones crops in and the whole photo is not shown. How can I change that??? Have a great weekend.

      8 years ago

      You need to set the cropping. Select the photo in the project area and press C.

Comments Closed.