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Thursday, April 25, 2024

How to choose an aspect ratio for your videos

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When watching videos on different gadgets, we never give a thought to the fact that the size of screens varies, yet the quality of the video stays the same. This changeable characteristic is called an aspect ratio, and it is important for both technical and aesthetic reasons. If you are developing your career in vlogging, the knowledge of aspect ratio is fundamental, as it helps to broadcast correctly all the other things you are carefully planning – the lighting, the location, the visuals, etc. Let’s start with the basics.

What Is The Video Aspect Ratio?

The video aspect ratio is a proportion of the video width to height. Basically, it will show how wide the picture is. The ratio is measured in pixels, however, it is just a simplified view of the metric.

Oftentimes, the ratio and resolution are considered to be one and the same due to the “pixels” being used for their description. However, these measurements are responsible for different characteristics:

  • Video resolution defines the number of square pixels in the video, providing quality for the picture you show.
  • Aspect ratio shows the form and orientation of the video.

For example, the 16:9 ratio: 16 stands for the width, and 9 – for the height. Its resolutions can be 720p, 1080p, and 2160p. Thus, while having the same shape, the number of pixels, and the quality of the picture, will differ.

The Influence of Aspect Ratio on the Viewing Experience

The aspect ratio defines how the same video content will appear on specific platforms and devices, and therefore, impacts the overall viewer’s experience.

The aspect ratio can also be used to set the proper mood for the video and emphasize its composition. For instance, wide aspect ratios like 16:9 or 21:9 typically add depth and scale to the picture, thus they will benefit the landscape video content. The narrower video aspect ratios like 4:3 can add a vintage feel.

If you don’t follow the rules, the video will be distorted or have black bars on the side, which doesn’t benefit the viewing. Besides, social media platforms have different requirements regarding aspect ratio sizes and may not accept your creation.

As a rule, online editors, like 123apps video editor, offer clues to help you choose the right fit, however, for a more professional approach, you need to know the basics as well.

The most common aspect ratios

21:9 aspect ratio

The 21:9 ratio adds depth to the picture, creating the feeling of immersion in the scene. Initially, it was mainly used for cinematic videos, yet now it gains popularity due to the landscape mode while watching videos on smartphones. This aspect ratio is a perfect fit for YouTube videos.

16:9 aspect ratio

The 16:9 aspect ratio is ideal for HD cameras. It displays high-definition and distortion-free images, and it is used for most computer and TV screens, online video platforms, and video conferencing

9:16 aspect ratio

The  9:16 aspect ratio is used for vertical “tall” videos, due to the popularity of smartphone-style videos. Such a ratio is mainly used for Instagram stories, Reels, YouTube shorts, and TikTok videos.

4:5 aspect ratio

The 4:5 aspect ratio stands for an almost vertical video and is often taken as a portrait size, and used for in-feed posts.

1:1 aspect ratio

The 1:1 aspect ratio isn’t as popular as others, yet is still in use. According to the numbers, it represents a perfect square form. As a rule, Twitter and Instagram are their common users.

How to choose the aspect ratio for a platform?

  1. YouTube requires a landscape mode, with a perfect ratio of 16:9, or 21:9.
  2. Facebook gives a few options – vertical dimensions of 4:5, 9:16, or landscape mode of 16:9.
  3. Instagram accepts multiple options: 16:9 for landscape, 1:1 for square, 4:5 for in-feed posts and ads, and 9:16 – for Instagram Stories, Reels, and IGTV.
  4. Twitter recommends 1:1 as the best-looking option, however, accepts 16:9 for landscape or 9:16 portrait.
  5. LinkedIn generally requires 1:1 videos, claiming its multi-device compatibility.

The aspect ratio dimension is an integral part of the positive viewing experience, as it provides optimal video visibility across various platforms. Every time when editing a video it is important to double-check the requirement of the platform, to ensure the best quality for your viewers.


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