HD vs SD – Decoding Aspect Ratio

When working with digital content, it’s a good idea consider the aspect ratio at which the content will be displayed.

What Is Aspect Ratio?

Aspect Ratio is the ratio of the width to the height of an image or screen. That’s the definition of aspect ratio, but for those of us who are more visual it’s kind of hard to understand. The public became more familiar with the idea aspect ratio in mid 2000s when TV changed from standard definition to high definition. SD TV was recorded and presented in a 4:3 (four by three) aspect ratio. When HD TV was released to the public it was recorded and presented in 16:9 aspect ratio. What does that mean? A 4:3 aspect ratio is a ratio of four wide to three high, an almost square wider than tall rectangle, but 16:9 is a ratio of sixteen wide to nine high, making it a wide rectangle. Thus, HD TVs became known as widescreen TVs.

As you can see the aspect ratio is not a specific measurement, but a relative shape based on the measurements provided. For example, if I have a computer screen that has a resolution of 1024×768 the aspect ratio would be 4:3. If I have a computer screen that is 1920×1080 it would be a 16:9 aspect ratio. Or if I have a display for digital signage that is an HD TV turned on its side you would want to display and create content at a 9:16 or 1080×1920 resolution.

As you can see the aspect ratio is very important when creating content for presentation. When creating content, it’s expected to fill the screen and not letterbox or stretch to fit.  Knowing the aspect ratio of the display it will be displayed on will help you design content that always looks right.

Creating Content

In most presentation, video editing and image editing software, it’s best to set the aspect ratio of the content you are going to be working on before you get started on the project. Why is that? The content you build is based off a specific scale and if you build a 16:9 image and display it on a 4:3 screen you’ll see letterboxing on top and bottom or the sides will be cut off of the content. What happens if you want to change aspect ratio in the content creation software? Normally this means changing a setting in the software to the appropriate aspect ratio, then manually moving text boxes, and any other elements around to make sure they aren’t completely or partially off the screen. This can be time consuming. EasyWorship on the other hand will allow you to set an aspect ratio, or you can use the auto aspect ratio function. Auto aspect ratio is on by default. If you build a song using a 4:3 aspect ratio screen, and display on a 16:9 screen, EasyWorship will automatically scale and wrap the text to accommodate the new aspect ratio. Presentations created in EasyWorship will also scale content to make sure it fits the screen. EasyWorship will present the content based on the resolution of the selected output screen. This is a time saver that will keep you from having to edit every song and presentation to make it fit the screen properly. That’s great, but what if you need to use a non-standard aspect ratio? You can accomplish this two ways with EasyWorship.

Since EasyWorship uses the output monitor for the aspect ratio, you can connect the computer to the monitor you are going to use for presenting content or set a custom position. If that’s not a workable solution and you know you’re always going to use the slideshows or songs in this aspect ratio, go to inspector in the editor, click presentation and change the aspect ratio to custom and type in the aspect ratio you want to use. If you are building content for a tall aspect ratio, build your presentation using a custom aspect ratio like 9:16. When setting up your presentation system, make sure you go to display settings and set the output monitor for your computer to be in portrait mode.

As you can see, aspect ratio is important and if you take it into account before you start your project, you’ll be much happier with the outcome. However, if you do have to change aspect ratio, EasyWorship has you covered and will make the transition much easier.

Rodger King Written by:

Rodger has been helping EasyWorship customers since 2005. He is the Customer Support Team Lead and Systems Administrator at EasyWorship, & Associate Pastor at his local church. He enjoys airplanes, cars, anything mechanical, watching documentaries, and spending time with his wife and two daughters.

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