Film Format Nomenclature - Adobe Photoshop

Although easier to calculate, normalized ratios are a bit misleading.Generally, movies are shot on 35-mm film stock; the width is common and the height is reduced. In reality, when a widescreen movie is shown in letterbox on television(pixel resolution aside), the movie is not squeezed to fit the screen, but rather the film had been masked in the first place.

This is a better depiction of the ratios. Notice the Common Top Line. This allows the filmmaker greater flexibility in determining the aspect ratio and makes the editing easier by keeping consistent headroom

filmmaker greater flexibility in determining the aspect ratio

As you can see, each of these ratios sharesa common width. The height is cut out to create its espective aspect ratio. Also notice there are no lines for the soundtrack depicted in this diagram. This type of film is called Super 35. Sometimes directors film with Super 35 to give leeway for shifting in the editing process, though the camera operator frames the picture with all of the action within a 2.35:1 rectangle. Of course, not having space for the soundtrack changes the aspect ratio of Full Aperture. Academy Full Aperture is1.37:1 due to the sound strip on the film, but Super 35 Full Aperture is 1.33:1.

Table below associates common names to their aspect ratios. As you can see, often several names are associated with a singleaspect ratio. You can’t deduce what ratio is associated with a name. You can copy this table and emorize them, but luckily, most people refer to the aperture numbers rather than the film format names(or at least follow up the name with its respective ratio).

Film Aspect Ratios

Film Aspect Ratios


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