What is an Aspect Ratio? Understanding and Common Aspect Ratios

7 min read
August 10, 2023

Have you ever wondered why some videos effortlessly catch your eye while others seem slightly off? The secret lies in the often-overlooked world of video aspect ratios. These unassuming numbers play a crucial role in shaping the way we perceive videos in the realm of virtual communication and video platforms.

Whether you're scrolling through your favourite social media platform or engaging in a video conference, aspect ratios quietly influence your visual journey.

Table of Contents

  1. What is the video aspect ratio?
  2. Common aspect ratios
  3. Aspect ratio and resolution
  4. Best aspect ratios for social media videos
  5. What is the best aspect ratio for your video?
  6. How to change the aspect ratio of a video?
  7. Final thought

In this article, we'll unravel the mysteries of aspect ratios and delve into their significance across different digital landscapes.

What is the video aspect ratio?

The aspect ratio acts as a video's genetic code, defining its dimensions. Simply put, it's the width-to-height ratio of a video frame crucial for shaping visual composition. It’s usually expressed as width: height ratio, such as 16:9 or 4:3. Aspect ratio determines how wide a video is formatted and how it’ll be displayed on different viewing screens.

Why is it important? The aspect ratio determines how videos appear across devices, affecting user experience. Adapting videos to their optimal ratios helps improve compatibility, aesthetics, and the feel of the video.

Common aspect ratios

Video aspect ratios have evolved over the past few years with the diversification of devices. The most common aspect ratio for video content on the web is 16:9 for widescreen display, 1:1 for square display and 9:16 for vertical display.

Let’s explore the different aspect ratios for video creation.

So what is an anamorphic widescreen?

Anamorphic widescreen is a picture on standard 35 mm with a non-widescreen native aspect ratio. It can be displayed by a 2.39:1 aspect ratio. However, when displayed on a 16:9 screen, you’ll notice black bars on the top and bottom that accommodate a wider field of view of the display screen.

Aspect ratio and resolution

In the realm of video, aspect ratio and resolution operate in sync, shaping how your video appears. While aspect ratio defines proportions, resolution governs pixel density, affecting clarity and detail. Consider a 16:9 aspect ratio video in Full HD versus 4K UHD – the latter showcases unmatched sharpness.

The display device also determines which aspect ratio and resolution will be displayed. For instance, your device could display a 16:9 aspect ratio in 720p, 1080p, 1440p or 2160p. Aligning the aspect ratio with the specific screen size ensures seamless playback without black bars or cropping.

1920 x 1080 (Full HD): crystal-clear detail

This resolution packs 1920 pixels horisontally and 1080 pixels vertically in a 16:9 ratio. It's a baseline for quality, offering clear visuals for various platforms. By default, smartphones, DSLRs and modern camcorders record videos at 1920 by 1080.

3840 x 2160 (UHD): ultra clarity

Next, we have 3840 x 2160, also called Ultra HD (UHD) or 4K UHD. This resolution displays incredibly sharp visuals best suited for large screens, 16:9 widescreens and interactive screens.

4096 x 2160 (4K UHD): cinematic precision

Lastly, we have 4096 x 2160, or the cinematic 4K UHD resolution, which in most cases has a 1.90:1 aspect ratio. It’s widely used for filmmaking since it captures the small and intricate details and vivid colours, making the video content visually appealing.



Aspect ratio

Pixel size

Standard Definition (SD)



640 x 480

High Definition (HD)



1280 x 720 

Full High Definition (FHD)



1920 x 1080

Ultra-High Definition (UHD)



3840 x 2160




4096 x 2160


Best aspect ratios for social media videos

The optimal video ratio sizes for video content on social media platforms vary according to each platform's guidelines. Sticking to their recommended aspect ratios guarantees your video appears flawlessly within their player interface.



Resolution aspect ratio



Facebook posts

Full HD, UHD

1:1 or 16:9

Facebook stories

Full HD, UHD




Instagram feed

Full HD

1:1 or 4:5

Instagram stories and IGTV

Full HD




TikTok Short-form

Full HD

9:16 or 1:1

TikTok Ads

Full HD

9:16, 1:1 or 19:6 (but 9:16 looks best)


Twitter video posts

Full HD

16:9 or 1:1



LinkedIn posts

Full HD

1:1 or 16:9

LinkedIn stories

Full HD




YouTube uploads



YouTube shorts




As illustrated in the table above, different social medial platforms offer various video aspect ratio sizes. To ensure that you provide your audience with enhanced visual appeal, it’s important to experiment with different ratio aspects to make sure your video content works well with the social media platform you choose.

What is the best aspect ratio for your video? 

16:9 is the most popular and common video aspect ratio, but it’s not a “one-size-fits-all” case when it comes to choosing a video aspect ratio. Different platforms offer flexible aspect ratios that allow you to configure the aspect ratio to match the type of video content you want to share.

 As such, although 16:9 aligns with HD TVs and major streaming platforms like YouTube, Netflix and TikTok, the “best” aspect ratio varies. To determine the optimal aspect ratio for your content, think about its intention and broadcast platform.

Factors to consider when choosing an aspect ratio

Selecting the perfect aspect ratio harmonises your message with its medium, ensuring your video resonates with viewers across their preferred platforms and devices.

How to change the aspect ratio of a video?

In the realm of video production, aspect ratio holds immense importance. But altering it post-filming presents challenges. Two methods exist: adding black bars or cropping.

  1. Cropping, precision challenge: While possible, post-filming alterations have downsides. Cropping, requiring capable video editing software, risks omitting vital elements.
  2. Adding black bars, aesthetic compromise: Alternatively, black bars maintain video integrity but sacrifice aesthetics.
  3. Tools for aspect ratio transformation Consider these tools:
  • Professional video editors: Adobe Premiere Pro and Final Cut Pro offer control.
  • Free and open-source alternatives: Blender and Shotcut suit budget-conscious creators.
  • Online converters: Quick fixes via online video converters and compressors.

Remember, the right aspect ratio ensures your video's message resonates. Broadcasting platforms often auto-adjust aspect ratios – YouTube's 16:9, for instance.


What is aspect ratio?

Aspect ratio is the proportional relationship between a video's width and height.

What video ratio is 1920x1080?

The video ratio of 1920x1080 is 16:9, a widescreen aspect ratio commonly used for high-definition television and computer monitors.

What is the best aspect ratio for video?

The best aspect ratio varies; however, 16:9 is widely used and compatible.

Is 1080x1920 the same as 9x16?

Yes, 1080x1920 is the same as 9x16, representing a vertical orientation.

What is the difference between 16:9 and 4:3 video ratio?

16:9 is wider, modern standard; 4:3 is more square, classic format.

What is an anamorphic widescreen?

Anamorphic widescreen is a technique to fit a wider image onto standard film stock.

What is video resolution?

Video resolution refers to the number of pixels displayed in width and height.


Final thought

As we wrap up our exploration of video aspect ratios, let's delve deeper into their technical impact on video production. Embracing diversity in aspect ratios and resolutions offers you a canvas of innovation to experiment and enhance your content's visual narrative.

When it comes to Digital Samba, the intricacies of aspect ratios vary across platforms and devices. The adaptable nature of these ratios, such as the standard video aspect ratio, 16:9 and traditional 4:3, underscores the importance of compatibility.

For video conference participants seeking precision, Digital Samba's VPaaS tailored approach ensures your content resonates flawlessly with the platform or device you’re using. It's more than just ratios; it's about making technology work seamlessly for your creative vision. 

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