Video Proportions Matter 16:9

At Blue Sky, we produce numerous high quality videos each year for our clients – but sometimes clients miss out on getting the best from their video investment, because of gaps in technical knowledge or time to research new developments in this fast changing field.

We are always on tap to help our clients, but to improve things more widely – here is the first in a monthly series on tips, tricks and pitfalls, for anyone with video on their mind.

Wrong Video Player Dimensions

4:3 Players

Back in the day, videos were generally produced in 4:3 proportions – that is, the height measurement was 3/4 of the width measurement.

This produced a rectangular image that was deep and narrow – like the squarish TV set that sat in the corner of your gran’s living room.

16:9 Players

Nowadays, video is nearly always produced in 16:9 proportions, so the height is 9/16 of the width. This produces the shallower and wider rectangle that creates the ‘widescreen’ look we see everywhere today.

This all sounds straightforward, so what is the problem?

Lingering 4:3

Well, despite the fact that video shot in 4:3 proportions was phased out over a decade ago, 4:3 online video players can still be found causing problems on a surprising number of websites.

How to spot a 4:3 Player

When you embed a video shot in the usual 16:9 proportions into a 4:3 player, this it what happens:

Unwanted Black Bands

4:3 Video with black bands

Because the video doesn’t fit this player properly, two unnecessary black bands appear above and below the video. This can produce an untidy looking layout to your webpage, wasting space – and to those that know what has happened here, it can give the impression that the content manager doesn’t know what they’re doing.

Occasionally, you might wish to present your video framed with upper and lower black bands as an artistic choice, but this should be a conscious decision and rather than an accident.

Missing Image Margins

4:3 Player with missing image margins

Video projection can also fall foul of 4:3 issues, spoiling a carefully prepared presentation. If your presentation computer or project are set to 4:3 proportions, you may experience margins being sliced off the edge of your video image.

It’s particularly easy to get caught out with this when your video looks great on your own computer, but then you find that the computer and projector at your presentation venue are set up using different screen proportions –  so it’s always worth checking and giving your videos a run through before any presentation.

If you compare the above video player 4:3 with the video player below 16:9, you can see that in the one above, the girl in the background on the right hand side has been almost completely cropped out.

When your video was filmed, your camera operator would most likely have been looking at the scene through a 16:9 viewer. So the composition of the shot can be ruined when cropped to 4:3 proportions. The overall effect is that your video will appear second best and just won’t look as good as it was made to be.

Correct 16:9 Video Player

Here we have a 16:9 video sitting perfectly in a 16:9 player – no cropping and no deep black bands top and bottom.

Video Player Correct Proportions

How to change an online video player to 16:9 proportions

If you find yourself with a video player in the wrong proportions, it’s easily put right.

Decide how many pixels wide you would like your video player to be on your web page – say 800 pixels. Then do this calculation:

800 pixel width divided by 16 = 50

50 x 9 = 450

So for a 800 pixel wide video player the height should 450 pixels.

Now change the width and height numbers in your website embed code and your video will be presented in the right proportions

Video Embed with 16:9 Player Proportions