Aspect ratio – the shape of things


Aspect ratio matters. Imagine these films in another ratio. They don’t work.

Big Lebowski   |   1.85 : 1
1280 x 692


Ghost Dog   |   1.85 : 1
1280 x 692


Moonrise Kingdom   |   1.85 : 1
1280 × 692


Apocalypse Now   |    2.35 : 1
1280 × 545


Ex Machina   |   2.35 : 1
1280 × 545


Mad Max – Fury Road   |   2.35 : 1
1280 × 545


Casablanca   |   1.37 : 1 (“Academy ratio”)
986 x 720


Grand Budapest Hotel   |   1.37, 1.85, and 2.35:1


And Beyonce’s Lemonade:

“Beyonce’s Lemonade Video is an Aspect Ratio Orgy”

1.22:1 (fake security camera footage)
1.33:1 (mostly used for archival/home video)
1.78:1 (half of Lemonade used 16×9 framing, typically color)
2.20:1 (only seen once, at the beginning)
2.39:1 (“standard” widescreen was used once for an entire song)
2.67:1 (typically black and white)
2.85:1 (spotted once)
3.50:1 (color footage interspersed through the film)



Sometimes you want the effect produced by true W I D E  S C R E E N, wider than the 16:9 default of iMovie or most cameras (Filmic Pro, however, gives you many wide screen aspect choices). One way to do it is to film in 16:9, keeping the wider aspect in mind — you can even put painter’s tape across the top and bottom of your viewfinder screen to help you visualize the narrower height — and then do the actual crop in post.

Just use HandBrake. Window > Picture Settings > crop 96 pixels off the top and bottom (or whatever numbers work for you):

HandBrake letterbox crop


DaVinci Resolve

High-powered cross-platform film editor – free and premium versions. Includes waveform syncing of multiple clips. Description from Macintouch:

DaVinci Resolve is professional, cross-platform video editing and production software from Blackmagic Design Pty. Ltd. with a powerful collection of features, including “Hollywood’s most advanced color corrector.” Editing features include various edit types (overwrite, insert, ripple overwrite, replace, fit to fill, append at end etc.) and styles “from drag-and-drop to the timeline, to three-point precision editing driven by customizable keyboard shortcuts”, multicam/multisource playback in a gridded window, finishing tools, VFX support and far more. The new version integrates Fairlight audio tools for recording, editing, mixing, sweetening, finishing and mastering, including 3D audio support. Resolve also includes multi-user collaboration features with individual logins, media management and support for specialized hardware control panels.
DaVinci Resolve 14 public beta 3 is available as a free download for OS X 10.11 and up, plus Windows and Linux. Resolve 12.5.5 is available as a free download in return for registering name, address, phone and email information, while DaVinci Resolve Studio 12.5 is priced at $299:

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