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Back when TVs were first made different manufacturers used different processes to create an image (variations of a cathode ray tube ‘CRT’). As a result anything being broadcast made sure that key titles or action was kept in ‘safe zones’ to ensure things weren’t missed. Cut forward to today – this discrepancy doesn’t matter anymore so do we still need safe zones?

The History

Back when screens were fairly square action safe was 90% of the screen and title safe was 80%. Whatever the screen these guides showed the limit of what was going to be visible (as a guarantee).

Although we now live in an age of more rectangular screens (a ratio of 16:9 as opposed to 4:3) title safe and action are safe are still required by broadcasters. Although the limits are now closer to 93% for action safe and 90% for title safe.

safe zones

Image from Adobe Help

Do safe zones still matter for TV?

The simple answer is yes. This is for two reasons:

  • Broadcasters still require all titles and action to be within these guidelines.
  • Different TVs still handle different ratios and sizes in varying ways. This means the only guaranteed way to ensure your content is visible is by sticking to the guidelines.

But I don’t create content for TV – is it necessary for online video?

Whether you need to adhere to safe zones for online video is another question. The truth is that if your content is going to be watched on a desktop / laptop (full sized) computer safe zones are not as relevant. If that is where your audience are going to watch your content then put titles as close to the edges and corners as you like.

On mobile however it is a different story. Video on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter and every platform you can imagine comes in all sorts of shapes and sizes. When you watch them in full screen on your phone or tablet, as many people do, they expand to fill as much of the screen as they can. Often though they don’t completely fill the screen leaving black lines where the screen isn’t being used.

This isn’t a problem. The issue is that often people like to zoom in on the video to use all of the screen. The downside is that this can cut text or action off as it is cropped.

In order to guarantee that this doesn’t happen the simple solution is… stick to the safe zones.

For more information about Smarter Video take a look here.

Please get in touch and let me know what you would like to learn or read about.

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