Monitor Dimensions vs. Video Playback Dimensions

Posted on by Larry

[ This article was first published in the April, 2008, issue of
Larry’s Final Cut Pro Newsletter. Click here to subscribe. ]

Eric J. writes:

I just wanted you to know that PERHAPS, in a next tutorial, it would be good to have a recap on all the video formats!


I was just watching Apple’s demo on the MacBook Air and I realize that their format is 320×200 for iPods (this 200 seems weird) and their “large” format is 848×528…(can’t figure out what’s the “medium” size).




These formats are NOTHING I have learnt about in any of the tutorials or books I’ve read. How comes everything is so crooked and weird like that Larry? I wish I could have a few figures that make sense!


If I’m not the only one to ask, please, please, think about making a short tutorial one day about “All the things you’ve always wanted to know about video formats but were afraid to ask”!!!!


These figures are not presets in Compressor either! Arrggghh!

Larry replies: Eric, before you start jumping in front of large moving trucks, relax…! It’s not as bad as you think.

You are confusing monitor size with video playback size. All Apple monitors currently support an aspect ratio of 16:10. This allows the playback of a 16:9 movie with room for a menu bar at the top.

320 x 200, 848 x 528 are all 16:10 dimensions.

Standard HD video frame sizes use 16:9 aspect ratios:

* 1920 x 1080
* 1280 x 720

If you are displaying HD to a TV set, you must use one of these two 16:9 sizes.

However, when compressing a video for the web, you can use any size you want; as long as the aspect ratio of the compressed movie matches the aspect ratio of the original source.

So, for 16:9 source material, any of these sizes (and many others) would work:

* 160 x 90
* 320 x 180
* 480 x 270
* 640 * 360

… and so on.

Hope this helps slow your heart rate down!


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