Tip #053: Safe Zones

… for Random Weirdness

Tip #053: Safe Zones

Larry Jordan – https://LarryJordan.com

Don’t let key text or graphics get cut off.

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Back in the old days, when TV’s had picture tubes, producers discovered that when a program was broadcast, text which was easily readable in the control room was cut off on most home TV sets.

This was caused by the fact that images back then were generated by scanning a high-voltage electron beam across the inside glass of the picture tube, causing the phosphors that coated the picture tube to glow.

The problem was that the manufacture of these picture tubes was not precise, meaning that edges of the image would be cut off, but it could be a different edge for each picture tube.

So, to solve this problem, directors and graphics designers created two boundaries within the image. While we still need to compose a complete frame, when adding text or other essential graphics we need to pay attention to these two boundaries to make sure all the essential elements safely make it to the home viewer.

  • Action Safe is 5% in from all edges. All essential actors and action need to be contained inside the outer rectangle.
  • Title Safe is 10% in from all edges. All essential text, logos and graphics need to be contained inside the inner rectangle.

Even today, programs destined for broadcast or cable must follow these guidelines. However, for the web, where media is displayed digitally, my recommendation is to keep all essential text and logos inside Action Safe (the outer rectangle).

Why? Two reasons:

  • We are all used to watching this framing on all professionally produced programs. Adopting the same looks says that we are professional, too.
  • You really don’t have any control over where your digital media files will play, Even today, using rear screen or front projection, images get cut off.

There’s no reason to risk losing that critical phone number or URL simply because you put your text too close to the edge.

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