Aspect Ratio – What is It And Why Do We Care
Aspect Ratio is something we hear a lot about. One camera uses one aspect ratio while another uses something different. Then depending on where the film or video will be broadcast the aspect ratio might change based on the broadcast method. Is it planned for a cinematic release or perhaps television or online?
Chances are you have seen these number such as 4/3rds or 16:9. But what do they mean? Being able to communicate on set with your director of photography, camera crew, or even distributors will help reduce situations of misunderstanding.
Aspect ratio is the relationship between the width and height of an image. It describes the size of the image or video that the audience will be seeing. Such as how high and how wide is it.
35mm film is a 3:2 aspect ratio. Even though this is something not used for filmmaking anymore, it was the primary format for movies back in the era of black and white films. But as television was brought to market and wide screens were manufactured for cinemas to now where people watch movies on the big screen to phones we have even more choices for formats to broadcast in.
The aspect ratio is 4:3 or 4/3 4:3. This was the aspect ratio used by standard definition (SD) televisions. Since few people have SD TVs any more television and movies are no longer shot in this aspect ratio. But since previously movies and shows were made with this aspect ratio and you will see this when watching an older film, with black boxes on the side of the screen.
Panasonic offers the Lumix a mirrorless camera that has a micro four-thirds sensor and popular among no-budget filmmakers.
2.35:1 and 2.55.1
Known as Cinemascope this format became popular in the 1950s as the development in anamorphic lenses improved over what they could film. This also led to the development of 70mm film that allows the expanding of the image.
This is currently the most popular aspect ratio for independent filmmakers and high-definition television. Most TVs now are sold using the 16:9 aspect ratio as this is what shows are being filmed in.
1.85:1 and 2.39:1
This is the wide-screen standard in cinemas. Modern big budget movies such as anything release by Disney, MGS, or one of the other major studios uses this format.
There are other aspect rations in use and available. These are some main ones worth knowing.