video aspect ratio

What is Video Aspect Ratio? Most commonly used Aspect Ratios.

5 min read

In this article, we’ll walk you through what is video aspect ratio, the different standard aspect ratios, how aspect ratios and resolutions differ.

Vaibhav Rathod
Vaibhav Rathod

30 June 2022

What is Video Aspect Ratio? Most commonly used Aspect Ratios.

In this article, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about video aspect ratios, the different standard aspect ratios, how aspect ratios and resolutions differ, and finally - how you can go about changing the aspect ratio of your videos.

Video aspect ratios keep changing depending on the screen or the platform where the video is viewed. As a result of this, it is important to know about different aspect ratios, along with which aspect ratios are more suited for which use cases, in order to offer a perfect viewing experience to users regardless of their platform or device.

What is video aspect ratio

In simplest terms, the video aspect ratio can be taken to describe the precise relationship between the height and the width of a video on any given screen. It is denoted by 2 numbers separated by a colon sign and is extremely important to determine the necessary proportions required for the best visual outputs in the context of specific devices or platforms.

Video aspect ratio is generally denoted in the form of width: height. So, the first number corresponds to the value for width, whereas the second number to the right of the colon sign corresponds to the value for height. So, if the aspect ratio is 4:3, 4 refers to the width and 3 refers to the height. So, in essence, for a video with an aspect ratio of 4:3, the ratio of its total width and total height should be 4:3. Another important thing to keep in mind is that if your video with 4:3 dimensions is presented vertically, the aspect ratio would change to 3:4, but the numbers will keep referring to the same dimensions. So, now, 3 will refer to the width, and 4 will refer to the height.

Clearly, aspect ratios play an important role when you have to decide the playability of your videos on different platforms or devices. However, there is another term that is equally important - and that is resolution. People are often confused between these two terms - aspect ratio and resolution - and tend to use it interchangeably, albeit wrongly. Let’s quickly check out how these two terms differ, and when you should be using which term.

Aspect ratio and resolution

As we have mentioned so far, aspect ratio takes care of the ratio of an image’s width to its height. This ratio is expressed in the form of a:b and differs with different images, platforms, computers, devices, and so on. Any modifications or changes that you do to your video’s or image’s aspect ratio will have a direct result on the image’s viewing output.

Unlike aspect ratio, resolution refers to the total number of pixels being displayed on your screen. So, for a resolution of 1200*800, you have 1200 pixels in columns, and 800 such columns, so you have a total of 1200*800 pixels on your screen. Evidently, the greater the number of pixels, the better will be the picture quality. So, generally, the greater the resolution, the better the display output of the image or the video.

With that settled, let’s look at some more key differences between aspect ratio and resolution to ensure that you never get confused between the two:

Aspect Ratio Resolution
Definition Aspect ratio refers to the ratio of an image’s width to its height. It is represented as a ratio of two integers. This refers to the total number of pixels being displayed on your screen.
About OAR - Original Aspect Ratio - and MAR - Modified Aspect Ratio - are the dimensions in which your video is originally altered to fit different screens. Resolution is all about spatial resolution, pixel resolution, temporal resolution, spatial resolution, and such.
Commonly used Most commonly used aspect ratios include 16:9, 4:3, 1:1, 9:16, and so on. Most common display resolutions are 800x600, 1280x1120, 1024x768, and so on.
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Most commonly used video aspect ratios

Now that we have understood what video aspect ratio means, how it differs from video resolutions, and how important it is to the final viewing output of the video, let’s now check out some of the most commonly used video aspect ratios that you must be aware of:

4:3 - Standard

The 4:3 aspect ratio is wider than the 1:1 ratio. This was the standard aspect ratio for most of the 80s and 90s movies and TV shows. This aspect ratio offers extensive visual experiences, but the usage of this aspect ratio continued only till the birth of HDTVs.

HDTVs encouraged new and better aspect ratios like 16:9 and 16:10 and put 4:3 to the backseat. Today, the 4:3 aspect ratio can be mainly found in SDTV and computer video displays. This aspect ratio is also found on larger handheld devices such as the iPad series by Apple, and the likes.

16:9 - Widescreen

The 16:9 aspect ratio is most commonly used and is recognized asa the global format for fils, television, mobile devices, camcorders, DSLRs, online streaming platforms, social media platforms, and more.

It is the go-to aspect and is considered perfect for landscape viewing. Some of the best resolutions for this aspect ratio include 720P, 1080P, and 4K ultra-HD (UHD).

1:1 - Square

This aspect ratio comes in handy when you want to use square or post-boxy videos. 1:1, 4:3, 4:5 are all square-like aspect ratios, with 1:1 being the perfect square.

9:16 - Vertical

This aspect ratio has grown in popularity and has become mainstream since the widespread usage of smartphones and handheld devices with video capabilities. The 9:16 aspect ratio follows the vertical display of videos. Essentially, this aspect ratio allows users to play the videos even while holding the phone vertically, in an upright position. The 9:16 aspect ratio is the perfect flip of a 16:9 video and works well for all social media platforms, video streaming platforms, and devices.

How to change aspect ratio of a video

Now that you have an idea of the commonly used aspect ratios, you understand which aspect ratios are suitable for which screens or devices. Now comes the next concern - how to change the aspect ratio of a video.

To begin with, the best way out is to know the different devices and platforms that you are targeting with your video. That way, you will be able to shoot videos in proper aspect ratios from the beginning itself. However, if you wish to change the aspect ratios of your already shot videos, there are numerous online tools that you can use to resize and change the aspect ratio of a video. However, in doing so, you should ensure that you don’t mistakenly clip out the important elements from the video.

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In conclusion

In this article, we understood what we mean by aspect ratios and we also looked at some important aspect ratios that are widely used today. This information will be useful for you whenever you’re looking to find out which aspect ratios you should use in your videos.

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