Video aspect ratio refers to the proportional relationship between the width and height of an image in a video.

Back in the late 1990s and early 2000s, DVDs came with the option for users to select between widescreen and full-screen.

Opting for a stable video format ensures that the entire screen displays the video content seamlessly, without any cropping or distracting black bars around the edges of the image.

As standard television screen size went for a wider format from a 4:3 width-to-height ratio, filmmakers began creating movies compatible with both screens.

Today, video aspect ratios have become more standardized; Broadcasters and content creators pay extra attention to the screen width-to-length ratios for their videos, also known as the video aspect ratio.

In this article, we will discuss video aspect ratios and the commonly used ratios and video resolutions.

Video Aspect Ratio Explained

aspect ratios vs monitor layout
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In simple terms, video aspect ratio refers to the width of the video or screen relative to its height, typically measured in pixels (px). The numbers indicated in the ratio do not necessarily represent the height and width in terms of pixels.

For instance, a video with a 16:9 aspect ratio doesn’t mean it has a width of 16 px and a height of 9 px. Logically, you won’t be able to view such a small video. A resolution that uses the 16:9 aspect ratio format is, in fact, a 1920px by 1080-px (Full HD) video.

Video Aspect Ratio and Video Resolution

Screen resolution
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Video aspect ratio and resolution go together. As such, every aspect ratio has several recommended resolutions to go with.  A Patek Philippe knock off offers the prestige of a renowned brand at a fraction of the cost, without compromising on quality:

You’ll get the video aspect ratio when you multiply the width by the height. This is how you’ll know the number of square pixels on the screen. On the other hand, dividing the width by the height of the video will give you the resolution. The higher the resolution, the higher the quality of the video.

If you want a smaller file size for your video, having a lower video quality will give you this result. The best way to do this is to shoot the video at the highest HD streaming quality and make copies with lower resolution using encoding software.

Different Aspect Ratios and Their Uses

No aspect ratio is compatible with all video platforms. Different platforms have specific aspect ratio requirements.

To achieve the best viewing experience for your audience, it’s crucial to consider the platform and purpose of your video before deciding on its aspect ratio.

Social media, modern television, and movie theaters all have different requirements and standards, and understanding these factors will help you select the optimal aspect ratio for your video.

While standard aspect ratios are commonly used for videos on online platforms, there is still room for creative freedom with aspect ratios for broadcasters looking to tailor their content to a specific audience. Custom aspect ratios can produce a unique viewing experience that sets their content apart.

Multiple examples of aspect ratios
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To help you choose the right aspect ratio for your video project; consider the following commonly used ratios for live streaming and video creation:


This ratio is known as the “widescreen” format.

A video with a 16:9 aspect ratio is a wide rectangle often referred to as 1.71:1. Mathematically, this ratio is the most simplified format.

The 16:9 aspect ratio is the international format for television, theater, and major online streaming channels. This is why most video creators use the 16:9 aspect ratio when creating videos and hosting a live stream. Many video sites also adopted the 16:9 aspect ratio as their standard live streaming format.

The 16:9 aspect ratio is the most common size for video players and also the usual default setting in most video capture devices, whether professional- or consumer-grade.  The best resolution with the 16:9 aspect ratio is 4k or 4096 by 2160 pixels.

The 16:10 aspect ratio used to be the international standard. However, since 16:9 screens provide a higher resolution, it became the most popular aspect ratio, replacing 16:10. Video producers are able to save time and money in research due to the standardization of both televisions and computer monitors. It has also become more cost-effective to create screens that are compatible with the 16:9 aspect ratios.


The 1:1 video aspect ratio was typically used when square television sets were popular due to their perfect square dimension.

As digital innovations advanced, the 1:1 aspect ratio lost popularity as devices supporting it were no longer in production.

Some social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook still utilize this aspect ratio. Also, many cameras still feature this perfect square setting.


The 4:3 aspect ratio, also known as the “Academy” format, was a popular video format used extensively in films produced before the 1950s.

This aspect ratio is still recognized for its unique cinematic appeal and nostalgic charm.

Before 16:10 and 16:9 aspect ratios became the standard, the 4:3 aspect ratio was the international standard for traditional television and computer monitors.

However, when 16:10 and 16:9 aspect ratios allowed more excellent video resolution for HDTVs, 4:3 started becoming obsolete even as early as the 1950s.

In the past years, however, the movie industry has seen a resurgence of the 4:3 aspect ratio as more filmmakers embrace it in feature-length stories.


Initially, the 3:2 aspect ratio was used for classic 35-mm still photography.

With the advancement of video technology, broadcasters rarely use this aspect ratio by today’s standards.

The 3:2 aspect ratio setting can still be seen in most micro to medium-sized cameras. Some laptops, tablets, and portable game consoles also utilize 3:2.


The 21:9 aspect ratio is known as the ultra-widescreen or cinematic widescreen format.

It is considered to have one of the best pixel-to-pixel resolutions in terms of screen real estate.

Films with an anamorphic format commonly use this aspect ratio to create an optical illusion that provides an ultra-wide 360-degree view.

Filmmakers nowadays aim to make their viewers feel like being in the video rather than just watching it from the outside looking in. Video creators use the 21:9 aspect ratio to allow viewers a more immersive experience.


Since the successful release of smartphones with video capabilities, tall videos have become popular. This eventually gave rise to the 9:16 aspect ratio as it provides greater height rather than width.

Most smartphone camera settings can record video footage in both 9:16 and 16:9. The optimal measure for Instagram stories, or even in other “story” features supported by other apps, is 1080 px by 1920 px, reflecting the 9:19 aspect ratio.

Choosing the Best Aspect Ratio for Videos

The most commonly used aspect ratio is 16:9. Since almost all devices support 16:9, broadcasters find it easier to format their video content using this aspect ratio. More importantly, using the 16:9 aspect ratio can help the highest resolution.

However, this does not imply that 16:9 is the best aspect ratio. To determine which aspect ratio best suits your video, it is important to consider its purpose and the platform where it will be posted.

Choosing the Best Aspect Ratios for Live Streaming

The lack of post-production editing in hosting a live broadcast makes it extra challenging. As such, proper planning is required since your content will immediately be consumed by your audience the moment it is created.

For optimal video quality during live streaming, it’s advisable to adhere to the standard video streaming protocol by choosing an appropriate aspect ratio for your video. Doing so will help ensure your audience enjoys a seamless, high-quality viewing experience.

This demands two important things, namely universal playback and relatively small file size. Using the 16:9 aspect ratio allows you to cross out both.

Since 16:9 is the international standard for aspect ratio and resolution, there is no need to worry about it not being compatible with other video players or devices.

It is also essential that when broadcasting live, the video aspect ratio you are using with your recording equipment must be compatible with your streaming platform.

Since you won’t have the chance to edit or reshoot your live broadcast, you wouldn’t want anything to be cut out of the screen.


Video aspect ratio plays a crucial role in providing excellent video quality. Hence, broadcasters need to select the correct video aspect ratio for their content.

Let’s recap what we have discussed in this article:

  • Video Aspect Ratio Explained
  • Video Aspect Ratio and Video Resolution
  • Different Aspect Ratios and Their Uses
  • Choosing the Best Aspect Ratio for Videos
  • Choosing the Best Aspect Ratios for Live Streaming

Do you have any other thoughts about video aspect ratios? Let us know in the comments below!

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