I just spent 6 hours today re- rendering new mpeg2dvd's out of AE and started a whole new Encore project file from scratch.
Just a tip: when troubleshooting bassic functionality test only one movie, or better yet, test a very short segment. In the test I describe below, I created a 10 second AE composition. I went from AE to a new EN project to a test on the DVD folder on computer, burned a disk and tested on two TVs in about 20 minutes. I describe this below: bottom line it worked fine. Reminder; I'm CS3 on PC.
Even though I always render out for widescreen for my .m2v's, whenever I right click on my .m2v's in Encore its defaulted to "Use the Asset's Pixels Aspect Ratio: Square Pixels (1.0)". Even after switching the option to conform to 1.2 and making sure everything in Encore is 16:9, it still does not burn correctly.
Four issues: 1) your AE project and render/export; 2) confirming your m2v par (really dar - display aspect ratio); 3) what Encore seems to be saying about the par via the interpret footage box, and 4) whether your DVD players are set correctly. I'm not saying you're doing anything wrong, but something is wrong, and I think you should be able to fix it. But I don't know Macs and can't guarantee there's not a bug.
I would double check that your AE project has the correct par (I believe you have told us it is, but I'd double check.) More importantly, I'd check that the par is correct (and when doing the runs I would double check it for every render - in my test it was 16:9, then for the next test, the default came up 4:3 - no idea why, I'm sure I picked a slightly different preset to start from).
You do not appear to have done this, but I urge you to get MediaInfo (or an equivalent), and confirm the par of your m2v(s). Here is the link for Mac versions. http://mediainfo.sourceforge.net/en/Download/Mac_OS. I cannot, of course, guarantee this works for you version, but see what you can learn. Encore has no "properties," for the file, and the interpret footage does not appear to tell us correctly what we have. (MediaInfo confirms I had a 16:9 export from AE; Encore interpret footage claimed it was 1.0 - encore did correctly handle it, since I was not actually reinterpreting the footage.)
If I can't figure out this issue I'll have to move to a different authoring program, because it has been a month now.
Have you tried this in iMovie?
By the way, when I tested (looking for what errors might cause such symptoms), I rendered out my 16:9 AE composition as 4:3. It WAS 4:3, but looked like 16:9 on the computer and on some TVs, because the AE 16:9 rendered as 4:3 was letterboxed inside the 4:3 movie.
Okay so I bought DVD Studio Pro not too long ago and created my project with that.
I noticed on my dvd players, I was getting the same aspect ratio problem so it no doubt had to be the dvd player/tv
On my two dvd players I saw they were set to 16:9 and it was on a 4:3 tv. I set it to 4:3 letterbox and it fixed.
The only issue is I don't understand how all commercial dvd's default to being perfect.
I'm not concerned about my own viewing but for others. People watching my dvd aren't going to know how to fix their dvd screen setting or that they can or that they even should.
Commercial dvd's have a perfect aspect ratio from the start without even playing around in the settings. My one dvd player was confusing and I actually spent 5 mimutes just to find the menu and figure it out. So for a random person on their player not even knowing they have to adjust anything or how to is a bummer.
Commercial ones work the same way: I just put a widescreen commercial DVD in a player hooked to a 4:3 TV. (For the test, it has to be a widescreen.) If I set the DVD to a 16:9 TV, the TV distorts the picture and shows it full screen. If I set the DVD to a 4:3 TV letterbox, it letterboxes the picture (and it looks correct.
That's why I provide the instructions I do to customers (see post 26).