What are aspect ratios, and what can they mean for visual storytelling?
As Fandor demonstrates, the power of aspect ratio is that the screen’s dimensions can tell us anything from the time period of the story it frames, to the mood of the characters and the action it’s our window onto:
StudioBinder also looks to examples to help answer this question about Aspect Ratios in Film: How to Choose The Most Cinematic Aspect Ratio:
Pan & Scan
Different shows and different screens don’t always match dimensions. Whether it’s YouTube versus Instagram, landscape versus portrait, or widescreen cinema versus television, images are often cropped to fit different formats, and moved around to show the most important part of each frame. This technique is called pan & scan – and, as Patrick H. Willems explains, often you may be seeing only part of movies you watch:
Next time you’re watching a “remastered” version of an older movie or TV show, check whether the “upgrade” is actually a downgrade:
If your project’s final delivery is to different formats – say, both “horizontal” for YouTube, and “vertical” for Instagram – or if you’re simply not sure and want to maximise options for deciding in post, perhaps your camera offers an open gate recording option. DP Review explains what it is, and how and why you might use it:
Delving deeper into the mechanics of capturing true “widescreen” footage – specifically, at an enthusiast or prosumer level – is Anamorphic on a Budget‘s detailed explainer, “The Effects of Sensor Size and Focal Reducers“: