Aspect Ratio Visual Essay

20 Feb

The term aspect ratio refers to the proportional relationship between an image’s height and width. Cinematographers and projectionists and now video producers are often confronted with a range of sizes and aspect ratios. This video from Criterion Collection deftly explains different aspect ratios in relation to the classic film On the Waterfront. The film was shot at a time when the widescreen format was being promoted by the studios, and cinematographers had to shoot knowing that the film might be projected in the classic aspect ratio (1.5:1 (3:2)) or widescreen ratios (1.66:1 (5:3) and 1.85:1). Each aspect ratio reveals different parts of the frame and image creating a more naturalistic composition in the classic aspect ratio or a more horizontally elongated frame with widescreen both of which can be used for different effects by the cinematographer or director.

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