Widescreen Menus in iDVD

I just finished a nice widescreen movie from my sister’s wedding and I figured, if the movie is widescreen I might as well make the menu widescreen as well. I only have a standard 4:3 TV, but am used to watch widescreen movies with a letter-box, i.e., black bars on top and bottom. Naturally I expected the menu to also be letter-boxed, alas, that’s not the case.

Instead my TV crops the menu to 4:3 size such that half my menu is missing (not literally half, but too much to be able to use it). Why is that? Does it have to do with how menus are rendered/encoded? Does it have to do with my DVD player? It seems to me that this has to do with the DVD creation process because the TV correctly switches to letter-box mode when displaying the actual movie.

Now, why can we not get a letter-boxed menu? Sure it may look weird, but that sure is better than an unusable menu. If it was letter-boxed, I could burn a wide-screen DVD and use it on both 16:9 and on 4:3 TVs. This way, I first have to figure out what kind of TV the intended recipient has before setting up the DVD. Of course I could simply opt to only make old fashioned 4:3 aspect ratio menus but that defeats the purpose of being able to create widescreen menus in the first place.

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