Whenever we talk about the ‘aspect ratio’ of a film or a video, we’re simply talking about the shape of the image. It refers to the ratio between the width of a rectangular frame and its height, and is normally written in the form width:height (1:1 is, of course, a perfect square).
Acommon ratio is 16:9, which is the standard profile of modern TV screens; theyare available at various different sizes, but they all have the sameproportions. Occasionally, you might see an aspect ratio described as a singlenumber – in this case, the number refers to the width where the height is 1.For example, 4:3 can be written as 1.33:1 or simply, 1.33.
Image Aspect Ratio Calculator
Terms like widescreen, CinemaScope and Academy Ratio describe specific formats, but aspect ratio also comes into play when we use terms like Standard Definition or HDTV, because they incorporate a screen shape as well as resolution.
Pixels and an aspect ratio of? Would have dimensions of:? Calculate the missing value from two of height, width and/or aspect ratio Aspect Ratio: Width: Height. This calculator helps converting the size and dimension of a screen (in cm and inches) into each other. Trying to figure out the required size for your 16:9 HDTV projection screen? This tool calculates 2 of 3 dimensions for you in cm and inches. Use our Screen Size Comparison to see the differences between various screen sizez and aspect ratios. Use our Foot Lambert Calculator to determine how bright of an image you will get based on projector lumens, screen size and screen gain. Say you have a photo that is 1600 x 1200 pixels, but your blog only has space for a photo 400 pixels wide. To find the new height of your photo—while preserving the aspect ratio—you would need to do the following calculation: (original height / original width) x new width = new height (1200 / 1600) x 400 = 300. The aspect ratio calculation is based on the image width (1920px) and height (1200px). Image number of pixels The image number of pixels is equal to 2 304 000.
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Into the frame
In 1889 Thomas Edison’s assistant, William Kennedy Dickson, devised the first movie film by splitting a reel of 70mm medium format photographic film in two, and pasting it onto a celluloid strip 35mm wide.
Influenced both by the dimensions of the commonly available still photography film, and his own idea of the aesthetics of shot composition, Dickson specified an aspect ratio of approximately 4:3. By 1917, the newly formed Society of Motion Picture Engineers adopted Dickson’s 35mm film, which subsequently became the predominant format used throughout the 20th Century.
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Therewere two big advances in cinema technology during the first half of the 20thCentury that influenced the aspect ratio of the projected images in cinemas.The first was the introduction of sound.
Soundtrackswere either recorded separately onto discs, which were then synchronised withthe projection in the cinema, or the soundtrack was recorded optically on thefilm so that synchronisation was automatic.
As optical soundtracks grew in popularity, the size of the film frame was altered to make room for the audio. The aspect ratio was changed from 1:33:1 to 1.15:1, making the image area slightly narrower and therefore leaving room for the optical soundtrack.
Rectangular peg in a square hole
Thisgave cinemas a bit of a headache because their projection screens were alldesigned for the wider 1.33:1 image. Consequently, cinemas started to use metalplates with a hole cut to correspond to the original 1:33 aspect ratio, maskingoff the top and bottom of the image. When the projector lens was adjusted, thecinemas could fill their screens again.
Thestudios,however, didn’t like movie theatres cropping their films, andeventually the situation was resolved by the introduction of the ‘AcademyRatio’.
TheAcademy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences introduced the film format in 1932,which defined new frame dimensions without affecting the area storing thesoundtrack. By slightly increasing the height of the black gap between frames,they changed the aspect ratio to 1.37:1, which was so close to Dickson’s original1.33:1 ratio that cinemas didn’t need to modify their projection systems.
Althoughthe Academy Ratio’s frame size was physically smaller than before, improvementsin film technology meant that there was no noticeable loss of quality.
Academy Ratio is rarely used in modern filmmaking, but there are notable exceptions. The Grand Budapest Hotel, directed by Wes Anderson, uses three different aspect ratios to represent three different periods of time: 1.85:1, 2.35:1 and Academy Ratio.
The threat from TV
Thesecond technological change to affect film was the introduction of variouswidescreen formats from the middle of the 1950s.
Televisionbroadcast standards originally set the aspect ratio of TV screens to 1.33:1,which made sense, given the wealth of Hollywood content that already existed inthat ratio, plus the fact that film cameras were often used to shoot newmaterial, since dedicated TV cameras were big and bulky.
When the popularity of network television prompted a huge drop in cinema ticket sales, the film industry needed ways to differentiate their offerings. Its first tactic was the move to ‘widescreen’ film formats, presenting an impressive landscape image that TV sets couldn’t compete with.
Earlywidescreen systems used multiple projectors and non-standard film formats,which were expensive and impractical. However, this all changed with theintroduction of CinemaScope in 1953.
CinemaScopeuses an anamorphic lens to compress the image onto 35mm film stock, resultingin a distorted image that’s tall and thin. A single projector then decompressesthe image, stretching it horizontally and presenting a wide, panoramic image.The standard 1:33 frame produced an image with an aspect ratio of up to 2.66:1,which was later reduced to 2.35:1 to accommodate an optical soundtrack.
CinemaScopefilms could still be viewed on a TV, but the conversion clipped a 1.33:1 sectionof the widescreen film, losing imagery on either side. Between the grand vistasexperienced in theatres, and the egregious ‘pan and scan’ TV cropping, it wasgenerally recognised that widescreen movies were best viewed at the cinema, andthe film industry was back in business.
CinemaScope and its derivatives dominated Hollywood for the next 50 years. A variety of different aspect ratios were used – including 1.66:1, which found favour in Europe and Asia – but by the end of the 20th Century, 1.85:1 was the most common format used by film studios.
Aspect Ratio Formula
One ratio to rule them all
Theadoption of 1.85:1 as the aspect ratio of choice for movies is no surprise whenyou realise that it’s very close to the 16:9 (or 1.77:1) ratio that has beendefined for widescreen televisions. The 16:9 ratio was chosen by SMPTE in theearly 1980s because it was close to an average between the major widescreencinema formats of the time.
Since2000, however – and perhaps as a response to TVs increasing dominance – therehas been a shift in moviemaking, from the standard 1.85:1 to a wider 2.35:1 or2.39:1 aspect ratio. The wider frame is now by far the more dominant format,especially among the top-grossing blockbuster movies.
Dozens of different aspect ratios have been used over the years, but the majority of digital video content is still consumed at 16:9 and 4:3, although the latter is increasingly rare. TVs, smartphones and computer monitors are mostly formatted for 16:9 viewing, albeit with a few exceptions. These include ultrawide monitors and Sony Xperia smartphones, which have 21:9 screens (2.33:1) that can show widescreen movies in their full glory.
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