What Is Aspect Ratio?
Check out these different aspect ratios and how they impact the look and feel of your videos.
January 5, 2023
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.
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 is the aspect ratio for widesreen video 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.
9:16 is the aspect ratio for 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 is the aspect ratio for square video. Making 1:1 videos is great for Instagram, Facebook and other social media video posts.
4:3 was the aspect ratio for 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.
|Name||Resolution||Aspect Ratio||Pixel Size|
|Standard Definition (SD)||480p||4:3||640 x 480|
|High Definition (HD)||720p||16:9||1280 x 720|
|Full High Definition (FHD)||1080p||16:9||1920 x 1080|
|Ultra High Definition (UHD)||2160p||16:9||3840 x 2160|
|4K UHD||2160p*||1.9:1||4096 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.
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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.