Aspect Ratios: A Primer

I have a pet peeve, and it has to do with aspect ratios.  I’ve been wanting to put together a lesson for my faithful readers.  For those who don’t know, aspect ratios are the shapes that TV/movie screens and the programs they show have.  There are 3 standard ratios in my mind:


This is the ratio that a lot of movies are shot/rendered in.  It’s the wider screen you get at the theaters.


This is the ratio of standard definition TVs.  Most TV programming was done in this ratio, and still is for the most part.


This is the ratio of HDTVs and some movies.  This was chosen as a good medium between CinemaScope and SDTV.

My examples are going to be from Star Wars, because its awesome, and Adywan’s color-corrected version, because its more awesome.  I chose this particular image because it was the scene I saw in theaters where I first noticed the difference between aspect ratios.

Star Wars and other movies are filmed like this:

This is what was seen in theaters.  But how do you see Star Wars at home?  There are two ways: “widescreen” or “fullscreen”.

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