TV-Safe Graphics for HD Commercials

Now that many local TV stations accept HD files for local commercial “insertion,” editors and crews-of-one are started to bump up against the mind-bending issue of ensuring that the text and graphics in their 16:9 aspect ratio commercials won’t be cut off on the old, 4:3 aspect ratio TVs still used by many viewers.

I recently created the following graphics for a client, and I suspect that many folks will find them useful.

Here’s a 1920×1080 (full HD resolution, 16×9 aspect ratio) image showing the title safe area in an HD image. If you were preparing, say, a corporate video that would be shown on an HD screen, you’d want to make sure that all your text and graphics stayed in the shaded area in the middle. This way, in case the projector/TV cropped or offset the image slightly, no important information would be lost.

However, if you’re doing a TV commercial, infomercial, or other project that is intended for broadcast, you need to make sure that your text not only fits inside the image shown on a 4:3 TV (the gray box) but that it is within the SAFE zone of the 4:3 TV image. Many older TV cabinets physically covered the edges of the screen, and others have drifted off-center over the years.

The easiest thing to do is click on these images to see them full-screen, then download them to your computer and use them as guides for any graphics you need to build. If you have Photoshop (CS3 or later), you can download a PSD that contains all these elements in separate layers here.

13 Replies to “TV-Safe Graphics for HD Commercials”

    1. Glad you like it! I use this thing for every project I do. Especially now that I’ve started working in Premiere Pro, which doesn’t have default “safe zone” guides like FCP does.

  1. I have learned so much from this site. I can’t thank you enough for your time and effort. I’m doing some Ford commercials right now for “daylight savings specials” this template saved my ass. Look for any Ford 2013 daylight saving commercials and feel all gooey inside.

    1. Thanks, Myles! I’m looking forward to 4×3 safe graphics being phased out, and I’m sure you are too. I’ll keep an eye out for the commercials!

    1. HDV uses non-square pixels, but the picture still *looks* 1920×1080, even though it’s actually 1440×1080. If you drop this template onto an HDV timeline, your editing software should scale it automatically, so that the guides will be in the right place.

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