Chapter 6. How Screen Aspect Ratios Work

How Screen Aspect Ratios Work

Originally, all motion pictures were projected on a squarish screen with an aspect ratio of 4:3—which means that if a screen is four units of measurement wide, it’s also three units tall. (Another way to express this aspect ratio is 1.33:1, meaning the width is 1.33 times the height.) When television was first developed, it adopted this same 4:3 aspect ratio.

When the movie industry began to feel threatened by the rise of television in the 1950s, Hollywood responded by producing films in various widescreen formats, which better represented the wide human field of vision. These formats—Panavision, Cinemascope, ...

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