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Choosing Video Aspect Ratio – Widescreen vs. Standard TV Format

Standard Aspect RatioWe do not want to get too technical on you guys, but I am sure maybe some of you do not know what an aspect ratio is, and what exactly is widescreen. We have been hearing a lot about widescreen in the last couple of years. We have widescreen monitors and widescreen televisions. We go to the cinema to see movies in widescreen. But what exactly is widescreen and how is it different from the almost square version of the movie we see when we are watching it on our older television set at home.

Intro to Video Aspect Ratio

The standard TV format is what we would refer to as full screen and widescreen is the format we are use to with the non-picture portions above and below the actual video. The first DVD releases usually included both formats and you could choose which to buy, I guess depending on the set you had at home. These terms – fullscreen and widescreen – refers to the aspect ratio of the video, this is in essence, the ratio between the width and height of the frame. Full Screen or TV format, usually has a width of four (4) units and a height of three (3) units, thus a 4:3 ratio. Widescreen can refer to a range of aspect ratios but is usually a width of sixteen (16) units to a height of nine (9) units, thus a ratio of 16:9.

Choosing Video Aspect Ratio

You may wonder which aspect ratio to use in your own video. This may seem like a tricky issue but, widescreen is almost the standard today as most television sets can now accommodate this setting. Many people have abandoned their television sets for their personal computers, notebooks, smart phones and tablets. Most of these devices come with the ability to view widescreen video formats.

Knowing the above, there is no reason to not try widescreen or even to keep your video as full screen format. Fullscreen makes the centre of the video the focal point and provides less range. Widescreen on the other hand can show a wide view of the scenery and can take into account more of the background, thus showing the directors view of the scene.

Some directors have chosen to use 2.39:1 film stock, to shoot their video. This provides more visual space for scenery, acting, background and any other thing they want to capture in the scene. Choosing the aspect ratio can be the decision of the director. But ultimately it should be guided by you, the client, and the devices the video will be viewed on.

We are very knowledgeable in all these areas at Kicker. Be sure to speak to us on any concern you have on using any format.

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