>Tutorial: How to Preview the Size of Text and Graphics for Broadcast and Film

>Do you want to preview how big the text and graphics will look on a TV while still working on your computer? Here’s how!

1. Create a document with the same height in pixels as your output format. Most software nowadays have presets that also includes the so called safe areas that shows you how much of the standard TV image is masked by the TV.
2. Make sure you are viewing the document at 100% in your graphics program of choice.
3. Then use a common ruler to measure on the screen according to the table below.
4. Multiply this distance by 2 for film shown at movie theatres/cinemas, 4 for standard TV (SD) and by 6 for HD TV, and place your eyes at this distance.

TV system

Document height Measure this on your screen
Standard definition PAL and SECAM: 576 pixels 518 pixels inside the “safe area”
Standard definition NTSC: 540 (square) pixels 486 pixels inside the “safe area”
HD TV 720p / 720i: 720 pixels 720 pixels (all pixels are shown on the HD TV)
HD TV 1080p / 1080i: 1080 pixels 1080 pixels (all pixels are shown on the HD TV)

Example: You’ve created a document for NTSC and want to preview how big your text will look.
Zoom your document to 100% magnification. Grab a ruler and place it on your monitor. Measure the distance inside the safe area. In this case it turns out to be 10 inches, so therefore you should put your eyes at 60 inches away from your computer monitor.

Here’s the theory behind this method:
European viewers tend to sit approx. 2.6 meters (8.5 feet) or six times the picture height from their standard 32” widescreen TV. This distance can be described as 6H.

When the viewer upgrades to a new HD TV, the perceived picture will be bigger (unless the viewer redecorates the living room, tears down a wall and moves the sofa further away from the set.)

The viewer will therefore sit four times the picture height (4H) away from the HD TV, no matter what HD TV format is used (720i, 720p, 1080i and 1080p.)

At the movies / cinemas the viewing distance is of course very dependant on if you sit up front or in the back, but the general rule is that the viewing distance is around 2H.

Stay tuned for a tutorial on how much you must increase/decrease the size of your text and graphics when you go from a SD to an HD TV production.

Thanks to Lars Haglund and Gunnar Kihlander at SVT for the concept!

– Jonas

4 Responses to >Tutorial: How to Preview the Size of Text and Graphics for Broadcast and Film

  1. Joseph

    >About HDTV and Broadcast safe. Not all HDTV show every pixel. There are CRT HDTV’s out there that still overscan.

  2. Jonas Hummelstrand

    >I’ve heard that too, but I’ve never seen one. I’ve actually never seen a CRT HD TV. Do they really sell those?

    Isn’t it ironic that even though HDTV could have been a fresh new start without interlacing; without overscanning; without non-square pixels; without competing national standards, resolutions and frame-rates, it still turned out to be the same mess as SD?

  3. Anonymous

    >never mind that, there are top of the line 1080p TV sets that crop the image over HDMI (but strangely not over Component???) grrrr

  4. Gladys Wickerbottom

    >How can I try this?

    DJ Perth Drop by and visit us some time..