An aspect ratio is a number that encompasses how wide your video is. It’s the proportional relationship between a video’s width and height. Here are some examples: 1:1, 16:9, and 4:3. When you break it down:
- 1:1 = square
- 16:9 = widescreen
- 4:3 = standard
The aspect ratio is what your camera records in, with most DSLRs recording in a 16:9 aspect ratio.
The most common aspect ratios are 16:9 or 9:16, 4:3, 1:1, and 2.4:1.
- 16:9 is the standard widescreen aspect ratio that we see everywhere on the web.
- 9:16 is all of the vertical video we view on our phones. It’s a perfect 90 degree flip of a 16:9 video.
- 4:3 is what a lot of TV and film was produced in back in the '80s and '90s. Camcorders and video cameras from this time recorded in 4:3 — just a little wider than a square.
- 1:1 is a perfect square, and it’s the aspect ratio for Instagram or Facebook video.
- 2.4:1 is ultra widescreen or an anamorphic aspect ratio. It’s often used in film to create a super cinematic feel.
16:9 is the standard widescreen aspect ratio, and it’s the aspect ratio that smart phones and tablets record in, as well as DSLRs and most camcorders.
1920 x 1080 is a 16:9 aspect ratio. By default, smartphones, DSLRs, and most modern camcorders record video at 1920 x 1080.
Anamorphic is a widescreen picture on standard 35 mm film with a non-widescreen native aspect ratio. Anamorphic is displayed by a 2.4:1 aspect ratio. It’s very close to a 16:9 aspect ratio, but the top and bottom are a little cropped, giving shots a wider, more cinematic feel.
Generally, if you’re seeing a movie in a movie theater, it’s probably 16:9. Most feature lengths are shot in 16:9 at resolutions of 4k (3840 x 2160) or higher. If not 16:9, it’s most likely an Anamorphic aspect ratio 2.4:1. Movies are shot in one of these two aspect ratios, but a lot of documentary films can have mixed aspect ratios. You could see a documentary that has a mix of 1:1, 16:9, 4:3, and 9:16.
With Adobe Premiere you can edit at any aspect ratio. 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.
In the latest version of iMovie, changing the aspect ratio is not supported; iMovie is locked to a 16:9 aspect ratio.