Compressing 16:9 Widescreen Video for the Web and Maintaining Aspect Ratio

by Harlan Yee on December 16th, 2009

Have you ever run into an aspect ratio problem when you convert your 16:9 widescreen video for email or the internet. A lot of times, I see rendered video that is squished or stretched after conversion. And isn’t it frustrating that when you choose 16:9 or widescreen encoding settings for export, your video, it still ends up looking squished when viewed in Windows Media Player or Quicktime Player? Here are some examples of what I’m talking about:

Encoding-Wrong-Aspect-Ratio-WMV

Widescreen video with wrong aspect ratio shown in Windows Media Player.

 

Encoding-Correct-Aspect-Ratio-WMV

Widescreen video with correct aspect ratio shown in Windows Media Player.

 

Encoding-Wrong-Aspect-Ratio-Quicktime

Widescreen video with wrong aspect ratio shown in Quicktime Player.

 

Encoding-Correct-Aspect-Ratio-Quicktime

Widescreen video with correct aspect ratio shown in Quicktime Player.

 

Computer Monitors Use Square Pixels

I’m won’t explain things like square vs. non-square pixels, bit rates or codecs here… You can read all about that in a Google search. But suffice it to say that we will be working with square pixels here. I’m about to give you square pixel dimensions that I’ve found very helpful and I get the results I want when encoding for the web or sending out video drafts for client approval. The following numbers are invaluable to me in my everyday work and I have them posted in front of every computer I use.

 

16:9 Square Pixel Dimensions

864 x 486
640 x 360
480 x 270
320 x 180
240 x 135
160 x 90

The key is selecting square pixel aspect ratio when using one of the dimesions listed above. In some editors, it is called “Square Pixels”, in others it might be labelled “1.0” or “1:1″. In all cases, those settings tell your encoder to use square pixels for the final render. Here are some screen shots from various editors that I use to render web size video.

Encoding-in-Premiere-CS4

In Adobe Premiere CS4, use the “1.0” pixel aspect ratio.

 

Encoding-in-Vegas-6

In Sony Vegas 6, use the “1.000” pixel aspect ratio.

 

Encoding-in-Edius-5

In Grass Valley Edius 5, use the “1:1″ pixel aspect ratio.

 

Encoding-in-Final-Cut-6

In Final Cut Pro 6, use the “Square” pixel aspect ratio.

 

As you can see, each software platform uses different terminology for the square pixel aspect ratio. Hopefully this information will take some of the guesswork when finishing your project so you can concentrate on the fun stuff!

From Tutorials

Leave a Reply

Note: XHTML is allowed. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS