Television Aspect Ratios

CBS Television Distribution Syndication Bible

 

This information is subject to change and was last updated 07/17/07. THIS PAGE IS IN PROGRESS.

 

This section is intended to illustrate the different television aspect ratios (picture sizes) depending on 3 factors: aspect ratio of the original program, the size of the TV screen, and whether or not the image has been modified to fit onto a different size TV screen. This is especially relevant when dealing with the available HD masters that have been created from older, evergreen series.

 

Older TV sets have a 4x3 screen size, which matches an aspect ratio of 1.33 to 1. Older programs were almost always produced in 1.33:1, so they provide a Full Frame image on 4x3 sets. 1.33:1 programs airing on a 16x9 TV will not fill the entire screen unless the picture is altered.

 

Newer sets (whether High Def or Standard Def) have a wider 16x9 screen size, which matches an aspect ratio of 1.78 to 1. Many recent and current programs are produced in 1.78:1, so they provide a Full Frame image on 16x9 sets. 1.78:1 programs airing on a 4x3 TV will not fit into the screen unless the picture is altered.

 

The following images were taken from an aspect ratio chart created by ADS. It is limited to television production aspect ratios. The more complete ADS chart, which also includes various theatrical feature aspect ratios, can be found at http://www.adshollywood.com/images/resources/aspect_ratios.pdf.

 

1) This set of 3 images is for a program originally produced in 1.33:1 aspect ratio for a 4x3 TV set.

 

 1a) Full Frame: This is how the unaltered image appears on a 4x3 TV set.

 images\img00001.gif

 

 1b) Pillar Box: This is one way to alter the image for a 16x9 TV set. All of the original image is displayed, leaving black mattes on the left and right of the screen.

 images\img00003.gif

 

 1c) Tilt & Scan: This is another way to alter the image for a 16x9 TV set. Using Tilt & Scan, portions of the image at the top and the bottom have been cropped. This is usually a manual process for older shows produced in 1.33:1, since framing will change enough from scene to scene that a single setting will crop titles, characters or other necessary picture information.