LetterBox Masks

Letterbox masking basically "simulates" different video resolutions. Some cameras actually already film in those resolutions and change over time but most consumer cameras only film in two basic aspect rations. Standard 4:3 and widescreen 16:9.

Most standard DVR cameras such as the Panasonic dvx100b and the canon gl1 and 2 film in 4:3 and simulate 16:9. Most HD cameras including the DSLRís like the famous Canon t2i and 7D shoot only in 16:9.

There are a lot of aspect ratios out there that have changed over the years due to the evolution of cameras and the modernization of television, computer and movie screens. I'm not going through all of them because they start from 1.15 to 1.33 to 1.37 to 1.43 and so on up to 2.76 to 2.93 to 3.00 to 4.00 and finally 12.0 which is the Circular 360 degree screen mostly seen in Disney. Guess what, that was less than half of them. Anyways, let's look at the most commonly used in US cinema and television.

Original ( 16:9 Widescreen )

2.39:1 Anamorphic

2.75:1 Ultra Anamorphic

4:3 Standard Definition

1.33:1 is basically 4:3 Standard and 1.77:1 is basically 16:9 Widescreen. Nuff said.

An easy way to remember is to always look for the top number devised by 1. The higher it get the larger the width and shorter the height of the video is. for example, 3.00:1 is wider that 2.39:1 and so on. Come to think of it 4.00:1 seems kind of crazy rightÖ what about 12.0:1? Sometimes I think Hollywood gets bored and does crazy things.

PS: Most people confuse 16:9 widescreen with HD. 16:9 only means that the video is larger than tall. HD usually starts when the height of the video reaches between 720 pixels to 1080 pixels. So, your video can be less than 720 pixels and still be 16:9 widescreen as long as it respects that ratio.

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