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Why Are Aspect Ratios So Important? A Video Agency's Perspective
Written by
Noel
Published on
23.3.2024

Why Are Aspect Ratios So Important? A Video Agency's Perspective

When making a video for your company/product, certain decisions have to be made to ensure that your video is perfect. Every step of the process, from shooting the scenes, to the post-production work, is important when making a high-quality video. Aspect Ratio is a part of the video that is often overlooked by businesses when creating it. In this article, we will go through the meaning of Aspect Ratio, various types and what Aspect Ratio different platforms use.

What is Aspect Ratio?

The Aspect Ratio of a video is simply: the literal size of your video. It is the ratio between the height and the width of your video. It is normally written in an X:Y format, the X being the width and Y being the length. For example, your video could have an aspect ratio of 16:9. Mixing up resolution and aspect ratio is a common mistake that is made. Resolution is the number of pixels in the video, the greater the number of pixels, the higher the quality. They are not the same, but the resolution of your video can be used to find it’s aspect ratio. A video with a 1280 x 720 resolution has an aspect ratio of 16:9 as ¹²⁸⁰⁄₇₂₀ is the same as ¹⁶⁄₉.

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Vertical Videos

Advantages

Vertical aspect ratios increased in popularity significantly, when modern smartphones were invented over a decade ago. At present, people all around the world use phones and tablets to consume content in a vertical format. Most apps on your phone are designed to avoid the hassle of rotating your phone horizontally, for the sake of accessibility. When viewers are scrolling through social media, the vertical video allows them to access the video instantly, without making them switch the format just to watch it.

It is clear that vertical videos grab viewers’ attention and keeps them engaged, as they are gaining millions of views on every platform. They work wonders for social media videos, platforms are starting to embrace the vertical format: YouTube Shorts and Instagram Reels were released shortly after the success of TikTok. These video platforms understand that these vertically oriented videos that are short and concise, compel the audience and make them want more. You can use this to your advantage by releasing product videos, that are reasonably short, aesthetic and easily viewable.

Disadvantages

However, vertical videos are at a serious disadvantage when it comes to perspective. Humans don’t naturally see the world in a vertical format, our field of vision is of a horizonal orientation. Vertical videos are not parallel with our peripheral vision, resulting in a loss of relatability and authenticity.

When it comes to conveying information through text, vertical videos are at a disadvantage due to the smaller screen size. They are restricted to quick and snappy clips that give bite sized amounts of information. They can only be used for very specific types of videos.

They also create limitations in terms of shooting the video. Although convenient for viewers, a vertical aspect ratio comes with the issue of limited space for your video. It is harder to show the full picture and context of a shot vertically and the amount of visual information that can be put in, is substantially lower than what can be put in a horizontal video.

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Horizontal Videos

Advantages

Horizontal Videos have been the most common video format for decades, and it definitely isn't going anywhere any time soon. It is the most common format with laptops, TVs, cinemas etc. all having a horizontal orientation. There are countless reasons filmmakers opt for this format over vertical video for certain mediums. Horizontal videos are great for artists who hope to exhibit their work. Music videos are usually shot horizontally due to the format’s engrossing cinematic feel. Our sight is horizontal naturally, so we usually prefer this format as it doesn’t feel artificial. This Aspect Ratio is a more suitable option for displaying more things in a frame and replicating what we see with our eyes. Due to this fact, drone videos tend to work extremely well in the horizontal format, as the wide frame and aesthetic visuals, create an engaging and visually stunning watch for viewers.

The Horizontal Format is also ideal for longer videos. They give a more immersive viewing experience to the audience than a vertical video. It shows the viewer the whole picture, without making them feel like they are missing something. They are perfect for corporate videos where you may choose to present your business’ goals through infographics and other visual means. Horizontal videos look more appealing and increase engagement when they are viewed on larger screens, such as televisions or computer monitors: nobody wants to watch a movie vertically.

Disadvantages

Horizontal videos are not the ideal when viewing on a phone. Many users decide not to watch a video that requires them to turn their phone sideways, as it takes too much effort. If a user does decide to watch the video without rotating their device, the video appears smaller which makes the viewer prone to missing key information.

Many of the popular social media platforms encourage users to use a vertical format. For example, Instagram Story Ads do not support horizontal videos. Snapchat Video Ads also operate the same way.

Aspect Ratios that are Commonly Used

16:9

16:9 is an aspect ratio for horizontal videos. This is normally used in television and it is the most common aspect ratio for videos on YouTube. Most sites support it, including Facebook, LinkedIn and Vimeo. The wide format allows for a greater amount of content to fit on the screen.

4:3

This aspect ratio is almost like a square, but not quite. It was the default aspect ratio for early television screens. Recently, it is arising in fame again as it is a popular creative choice for film directors and TV shows. It is rare to see corporate videos using this format.

3:2

The 3:2 aspect ratio is most common in the photography industry. It is similar to the 16:9 format, but the width is shorter and the height is greater. This aspect ratio is also increasing in popularity for laptop screens.

1:1

The videos using this aspect ratio are in a square shape. It is perfect for Instagram and Facebook posts. It is a good fit for both vertical and horizontal screens and can fit a reasonable amount of information.

21:9

The 21:9 aspect ratio is also known as the ultra-wide aspect ratio. It is most frequently seen in monitor screens and ultra-wide TVs. On YouTube, videos with this aspect ratio have black bars on the top and bottom, giving it a cinematic look.

9:16

This is a vertically oriented aspect ratio. It became widely used after smartphones were invented and it is the optimal format for most social media apps used on phone. It is actually the complete opposite of the 16:9 format.

What Aspect Ratios are used on Different Platforms?

What aspect ratios does YouTube support?

YouTube supports a range of aspect ratios. It is a solid platform to post all types of videos, whether its corporate videos, advertising videos or even music videos.  The main aspect ratio that YouTube uses is 16:9, however, you are not limited to just this format. If your video has another aspect ratio, the YouTube video player will change to the optimal size to match your video.The space that your video does not cover will be occupied by black bars.

What’s the perfect video size for Instagram?

The perfect aspect ratios for Instagram videos are 1:1 and 9:16. Instagram posts have a default square size; most photos and videos are posted in this format. However, the 9:16 aspect ratio is the ideal option for Instagram reels, same as TikTok. A well-crafted product video thrives on social medias like Instagram. You can also post versions of a horizontal video that are cropped to match Instagram’s aspect ratio limits.

Does your video size work with LinkedIn?

LinkedIn video ads support vertical (9:16), horizontal (16:9) and square (1:1) aspect ratios. These are videos that are based on another website and not posted directly onto LinkedIn. Native videos are published directly to LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a good place for corporate videos, event  videos and testimonial videos.  The recommended aspect ratios for these are 1:1 and 4:5, so that they suit both desktop and mobile.

Conclusion

Aspect ratios are often not considered and discussed when planning a video. The wide variety of video sizes are used for different types of video content. The size and shape of your video varies on the different platforms that your business uses. They play a major role in the conveyance of messages and the visual representation of information. We hope this article has helped to shed some light on them and broadened your understanding of them.

Written by
Noel
Published on
3.23.24

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