> “You will have to shoot it the way Birdcat suggested by
keeping your main subjects and titles within a 4×3 space.”
No you don’t. Not if you author your DVD properly.
“The only way (that I know of) to view a 16:9 source on an SD (4:3) device without letterboxing is to crop (i.e. – “This film has been modified to fit…”) – Do you know of another way?”
All cropping does is enlarge the image to block off the unwanted regions hence the resolution loss mentioned by XTR. All authoring does is put all of your content into a format suitable to be viewed and controlled via DVD. All these decisions have to be handled before the authoring process begins. Letterboxing is the way to go in this situation because it adjusts the widescreen image down to a standard format size without distortion. When the same letterboxed image is shown on a widescreen there is slight distortion but not as noticable because it was shot widescreen in the first place.
As for ‘manually’ letterboxing a project, I’d avoid that since any serious nle program since 2005 will have settings that will automatically do it for your (and better than you can.) Vegas Pro has those settings and I used them on our latest film to accomodate both formats so I know it works. Now we tested in on a 720p HDTV and it looked just fine in standard and widescreen modes. I haven’t had access to a 1080p set so I can’t comment on how the technique works at that size.