The History of Aspect Ratio in Cinema

Do you know why 16:9 is the current standard in film aspect ratio? Do you remember the transition to the current flat screen TV size from the old CRT 4:3 aspect ratio? Remember wondering why all the shows were letter-boxed either top and bottom or left and right? Or even worse, some people would watch it stretched or squeezed so it filled the whole TV screen. There is a lot more history to aspect ratio and the business decisions as well asĀ aestheticĀ decisions behind each transition then one might expect. This video walks you through the transition and reasons behind the multiple frame sizes in cinema history in an entirely entertaining way. Grab some popcorn and check it out!

The Changing Shape of Cinema: The History of Aspect Ratio from on Vimeo.

John Hess traces the evolution of the screen shape from the silent film days through the widescreen explosion of the 50s, to the aspect ratio of modern digital cameras.

This lesson is part of the FilmmakerIQ course: “Everything You Need To Know about Aspect Ratio”