What Is Aspect Ratio for video?

Check out these different aspect ratios and how they impact the look and feel of your videos.

Trevor Holmes

Creative

What is aspect ratio for video?

Aspect ratio is the proportional relationship between the width of a video image compared to its height. It is usually expressed as width:height (separated by a colon), such as 16:9 or 4:3. The aspect ratio sets how wide a video is formatted and affects how it will fit on your viewing screen.

When it comes to shooting video, the aspect ratio is tied to what resolution your camera records the image size in, with most DSLRs recording in a 16:9 aspect ratio.

This article on aspect ratio is part of our video glossary series. Check it out to learn about more terms in video production.

Common aspect ratios for online videos

The most common aspect ratios for videos on the web are:

  • 16:9 (widescreen)
  • 9:16 (vertical)
  • 1:1 (square)

Here’s a full list of some of the standard aspect ratios for video:

16:9 (Widescreen)

16:9 aspect ratio is the standard widescreen aspect ratio that we see everywhere on the web like YouTube, television shows, and streaming services. It can also be expressed as 1.78:1.

Most DSLRs and camcorders record in this format by default, as well as when recording landscape (horizontal) video on mobile devices like a smartphone or tablet.

What aspect ratio is widescreen? 16:9 is the standard widescreen aspect ratio, and it’s the aspect ratio that smartphones and tablets record in, as well as DSLRs and most camcorders.

9:16 (Vertical)

9:16 aspect ratio is all of the vertical videos we view on our phones. It’s a perfect 90-degree flip of a 16:9 video. This is the ideal aspect ratio to use for Instagram reels and TikTok.

1:1 (Square)

1:1 aspect ratio is a square. Making 1:1 videos is great for Instagram, Facebook and other social media video posts.

4:3 (Fullscreen)

4:3 aspect ratio was the standard “fullscreen” format before widescreen TVs became more common for consumers. Camcorders and video cameras before the 2000s recorded in 4:3 — just a little wider than a square.

21:9 (Cinematic Widescreen)

21:9 is the aspect ratio for ultra-widescreen or cinematic widescreen, often shown as 2.33:1. In filmmaking, it might also be referred to as Panavision, CinemaScope (2.35:1), or Anamorphic (2.39:1), even though each format has a slightly different ratio. This format is often used in filmmaking to create a super cinematic feel.

What is anamorphic widescreen?

Anamorphic is a widescreen picture on standard 35 mm film with a non-widescreen native aspect ratio. Anamorphic can be displayed by a 2.39:1 aspect ratio.

When displayed on a 16:9 screen, you will see black bars (letter boxes) on the top and bottom to accommodate for the wider field of view. Most people associate anamorphic with a cinematic feel.

Film and Television: When you watch movies and tv shows on a streaming platform, they are formatted to fit your TV screen in a 16:9 aspect ratio. If a movie has a more “cinematic” feel with black bars at the top and bottom, the film might be at a 1.85:1 or 2.39:1 aspect ratio, which are common widescreen formats for movie theaters. Documentaries can have a mix of footage clips that are in 1:1, 4:3, 16:9, and 9:16 aspect ratios.
NameResolutionAspect RatioPixel Size
Standard Definition (SD)480p4:3640 x 480
High Definition (HD)720p16:91280 x 720
Full High Definition (FHD)1080p16:91920 x 1080
Ultra High Definition (UHD)2160p16:93840 x 2160
4K UHD2160p*1.9:14096 x 2160

What is video resolution?

Video resolution is the number of pixels (or individual points of color) contained in each frame of the video. It is usually expressed as width x height, such as 1920 x 1080, or simply 1080p.

The aspect ratio and resolution of a video are related but not interchangeable. You could have a 16:9 video, but it might be 720p, 1080p, 1440p, or 2160p. However, if you have one of those resolutions, you can pretty much bet it’s 16:9.

1920 x 1080 (Full HD)

Full High Definition (FHD) is 1080p resolution at 1920 x 1080 pixels, in a 16:9 aspect ratio. By default, smartphones, DSLRs, and most modern camcorders record video at 1920 x 1080.

What aspect ratio is 1920x1080? 1920 x 1080 is a 16:9 aspect ratio. By default, smartphones, DSLRs, and most modern camcorders record video at 1920 x 1080.

3840 x 2160 (UHD)

Ultra High Definition (UHD), 2160p resolution, or 3840 x 2160 pixels is a 16:9 aspect ratio. UHD resolution fits perfectly into a modern widescreen television.

4096 x 2160 (4K UHD)

4K, also known as “DCI 4K,” is a format commonly used in high-end movie production. Its resolution is 4096 x 2160 and its aspect ratio is 1.90∶1, which is slightly wider than UHD or 16x9.

When watching some Hollywood movies on a 16:9 television, you may see some thin black bars (letter boxes) on the top and bottom of your screen.

UHD vs 4K: 4K and UHD are very similar; many TV manufacturers and movie distributors market the terms 4K and UHD interchangeably. However, they are slightly different. Both are 2160 pixels in height, however, UHD is 3840 pixels wide and 4K is slightly wider at 4096 pixels.

Best aspect ratios for social media videos

The best aspect ratios for video content on social media platforms ultimately depend on the platform recommendations. Use the recommended aspect ratio to ensure that your video displays correctly in their video player.

Facebook

For Facebook videos, use 1:1 and 16:9 in your posts. Use 9:16 for Facebook stories.

Instagram

For Instagram videos, use either a 1:1, 4:5, 9:16, or 16:9. For an Instagram story or reels, use 9:16 for portrait-style videos.

TikTok

For TikTok videos, use 9:16 for both portrait and landscape videos.

Twitter

For Twitter videos, use 16:9.

LinkedIn

For LinkedIn videos, use 16:9. For LinkedIn stories, use 9:16.

YouTube

For YouTube videos, use 16:9 and for YouTube shorts, use 9:16.

PlatformResolutionAspect Ratio
FacebookFull HD, UHD1:1 or 16:9 (posts), 9:16 (stories)
InstagramFull HD9:16 (stories/reels); 1:1, 4:5, or 16:9 (posts)
TikTokFull HD9:16
TwitterFull HD16:9 or 1:1
LinkedInFull HD1:1 or 16:9 (posts); 9:16 (stories)
YouTubeFull HD, UHD, FUHD16:9 (uploads); 9:16 (shorts)

While these are the recommended formats for each platform, you can experiment with different aspect ratios to see which ones work best for your content. Additionally, some platforms may support multiple formats, so you may have more flexibility in terms of the aspect ratio you choose.

Guide to Social Media Video

Your friendly neighborhood guide to all things video for social media.

How to change aspect ratio in Premiere Pro

With Adobe Premiere, you can adjust the aspect ratio of any sequence in your project. Here’s how you do it:

  1. When you create a new sequence in Premiere, you first have to choose a preset. This can be a preset you use all the time, like a 1080p preset.
  2. Then, click the settings tab next to the presets and navigate to the frame size. This will be set to 1920 x 1080 if you’re using a 1080p preset.
  3. From here, just change these dimensions to be whatever you want. If you want to edit in a 1:1 aspect ratio, change the dimensions to 1080 x 1080. Then click “ok,” and you will be editing in a 1:1 aspect ratio.
  4. You can also save any edited sequence as its own preset so you can easily start editing in any aspect ratio right away.

Can I change aspect ratio in iMovie?

In the latest version of iMovie, changing the aspect ratio is not supported. iMovie projects by default are 16:9, but you can use a mix of footage within that image size.

Wistia’s Aspect Ratio Calculator

Wistia offers a free aspect ratio calculator to help you determine the resolution and format of your next video. Try it out!

With Wistia, you can upload videos in any aspect ratio. When you edit your video in the video trimmer, Wistia will maintain the video’s original aspect ratio.

Trevor Holmes

Creative

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