The Complete Guide To Understanding Video Aspect Ratios

When it comes to creating and sharing videos, there are several things that you generally need to put into consideration. You want your audience to be able to enjoy viewing what you have for them, and this means sharing your content in a format that they will be comfortable with. 

To that end, aspect ratios play a very key role here. Your aspect ratio determines the appropriate scale to which your content is placed, and you can’t possibly achieve success without having the right one. 

This article will examine how these ratios work.

What is the Video Aspect Ratio For Video?

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Without further ado, let’s take a look at the topic of aspect ratios to understand what they are and why they play such important roles.

Definition and Explanation of Aspect Ratio

When you see “aspect ratio” when concerning video, you’re talking about a metric that describes the relationship between a video frame’s width and height. The metric is mostly represented by two numbers, which are placed beside each other and separated by a colon. 

So, if you see the 16:9 aspect ratio, you’re seeing a ratio that gives you 9 units of height for 16 units of width. And if you see 4:3, you get 3 units of height for 4 units of width.

Several common aspect ratios resonate with audiences. Most standard video aspect ratio options include 16:9 and 4:3, although there are also unconventional options like 1:1 that work better for square-like orientations like social media and more. 

There is no way to overemphasize the importance of considering your aspect ratio when creating your video. In many ways, some content can be optimized for specific ratios, while others might be better for another option entirely. By selecting the right aspect ratio, you ensure that your audience can easily resonate with what you’re showing. 

Common Aspect Ratios For Videos

aspect ratios

One of the major interesting things about aspect ratios is that they are incredibly varied. You have different options to choose from, and understanding the right number for you will help you find the right format to share your content. 

If you’re looking to create a video, here are some of the major aspect ratios you might want to keep in mind: 

16:9 – Or 1.78:1

Easily the most popular aspect ratio at the moment is the 16:9 ratio. 

The ratio became especially popular in the 90s, and it’s gone on to remain the standard to date. Here, you have an aspect ratio that is popular with everything – TV, computers, streaming services, even LED scoreboards and more. It presents content in a rectangular position, and considering that this orientation has now become the standard, it’s easy to see why the 9 by 16 aspect ratio has also become prominent.

4:3 – Or 1.33:1

Before the 16:9 aspect ratio became something, the 4:3 aspect ratio ruled the airwaves. It was the standard before everyone moved to widescreen content sharing, and it was what most older TV sets were built on. 

To be fair, the 4:3 aspect ratio is still quite popular. There are some contexts where it is the preferred option, so most times, video creators tend to choose between it and the aspect ratio for 16:9.

21:9 -Or 2.33:1

If you’re looking to create something even broader and you feel like the aspect ratio for 16:9 won’t cut it, then the 21:9 aspect ratio should probably be next on your radar. 

Some call it “cinema scope,” while others call it “ultrawide view.” Here, you have an aspect ratio that works best for cinematic content and situations where you need a really broad field of view. Plus, some high-end home theaters and monitor setups make use of it too.

1.85:1

This is another major aspect ratio for cinematic content. It works well for broad screens too, and while there is no specific two-number designation for it, it’s expected to fall somewhere between 2.39:1 and 16:9

2.39:1 

You mostly see the 2.39:1 aspect ratio being used in widescreen, anamorphic films. It makes use of letterboxing to create a cinematic look, with black bars being placed at the top and bottom areas of the frame to be added to the standard screen formats. 

9:16

This aspect ratio takes the classic 16:9 and kind of flips it. While the latter focuses on landscape content, this is more vertical. 

These days, you mostly see the 9:16 aspect ratio in mobile videos. Platforms like TikTok, Snapchat, and Instagram – particularly, the Stories section – make use of it to share short-form content. 

1:1

This is the most square-like aspect ratio available. Instead of being used for films, it tends to work better for mobile and social media content sharing, where content is built for mobile distribution. 

4:5

This is another aspect ratio that focuses on vertical orientations. It is especially prominent in social media platforms, where content needs to be square-based because it is being displayed on phones.

Video Resolutions You Should Be Using Online

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These days, everyone’s developing video content for the internet. There’s been a noticeable content boom for years now, and we’re seeing it live. Thanks to the ease with which you can take a camera and create something, everyone’s pretty much doing it. 

But, which of the resolutions should you work with if you decide to toe this line? Here are the major options you want to consider:

720p (1280×720)

For high-definition content, this is the standard stuff. It mostly works for streaming content across services like Vimeo and YouTube, and it is popular because of its impressive ability to properly balance between quality and size. 

1080p (1920×1080)

Some call it “Ful HD.” But, with 1080p, you get even higher resolutions than the 720 format. Like the 9×16 aspect ratio, this resolution is quite versatile. And, you also get the benefit of enjoying impressive detail and clarity. 

2K (2048×1080)

For a few online platforms and digital camera content, the 2K video resolution is quite solid. It might not be as common as the previous two mentioned, but its resolution is higher and it is very ideal for general online content.

1440p (2560×1440)

This one takes things a bit higher than the 2K video. The resolution is starting to become more prominent among online content creators – especially those working on platforms where higher resolutions are supported.

4K (3840×2160)

Everyone knows 4K video. Like the 16 to 9 ratio, it is becoming the standard for video sharing as well. With the proliferation of services like YouTube, this resolution has picked up. You get optimal detail levels, as well as proper compatibility for larger screens. 

8K (7680×4320):

For the highest levels of attention to detail, look no further than 8K. It is currently the go-to option for most people, but adoption hasn’t also been so high because it takes so much data and bandwidth to operate. Still, for professional video production requirements, this resolution is hugely popular. 

Aspect Ratio vs Resolution: Explaining The Differences 

One major mistake that people tend to make when it comes to videos is thinking that aspect ratios and video resolutions are the same thing. 

To be fair, the two of them are easy to conflate. But, they mean completely different things overall. 

With aspect ratio, you’re talking about the proportion link between the height of your content and the width of the video frame. It directly defines the shape of your frame, showing how wide or tall your content will be when it is displayed to your viewers. 

This is a stark contrast to resolution, which determines the number of pixels that are in your display. Pixels are individual color points, and they give a sense of clarity when added right. Unlike aspect ratios, resolution is defined in terms of multiplications – you have options such as 1920×1080, and the importance of resolution is that it helps to show the level of clarity in your content. 

One major difference between the two is that the aspect ratio tends to be independent of the actual dimensions of your display. Instead, it shares information about relative proportions. Compare that to resolution, which depends on the number of pixels available in the display itself. 

How To Choose the Right Aspect Ratio

film ratio

Like we said earlier, it’s more than important for you to look into the aspect ratio you’re working with when creating content. But, with so many aspect ratios available, how do you know which to choose? 

Here are a few pointers that can help you make the right decision:

Start By Understanding Your Platform

Before anything, you need to be aware and familiar with the platform you’re working with. Take this for example – while YouTube and most other platforms tend to support widescreen videos with the 16:9 aspect ratio, the 4:3 ratio tends to be more in tune with TikTok and other social media channels.

Who Are Your Audience? 

At the end of the day, you also want to make sure that your video is in a format that your audience will enjoy. So, think about their viewing habits. What devices are they likely to watch on? Are they familiar with your chosen aspect ratio? 

What Type Of Content Are You Shooting?

You will also need to consider the nature of your content as it can have a say on the aspect ratio you work with. For instance, broader ratios – even those larger than the 9:16 ration or the 16:9 aspect ratio can work for cinematic films since they provide the right immersive view. But, they might not be perfect for mobile viewing needs. 

Let Your Creativity Decide

Your content is a piece of creative input. And as a creator, you have a story you’re trying to tell with your content. Your aspect ratio fits into this, and you need to be able to incorporate it into what you’re doing. 

If you want to achieve a specific storytelling or artistic output, then it might be worth stepping out of the usual aspect ratios to check something more unconventional. 

You Might Have Collaborative Constraints

If you’re distributing your content through different platforms or collaborating with other creators, then it might be worth looking into their preferred options to see what aspect ratios work better for them. 

Experiment With Your Options

As always, don’t be scared to experiment with different options so you can see which works best for you. Sometimes, you’d be surprised to see that non-standard ratios just might be what you need to do the trick.

Conclusion

Aspect ratios are a very important part of any video content creation process. They determine so much, and they have the power to shape what you’re displaying. 

If you’d like to learn more or would need a consultation on this topic, feel free to reach out to us at NSE LED Cloud.

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