Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Aspect Ratios Made Simple

Standard aspect ratios: SD, HD and super HD
Aspect ratios are one of the more technical aspects of our business - confusing when you don't understand it.  A basic understanding of aspect ratios is necessary for all digital artists - it's how we configure our work for the screen. When you render your shot, and when you edit your work in Premiere or Final Cut, you will have to make choices as to what aspect ratio to select.  So, to take the pain away, here's a link to an excellent blog post - aimed at digital editors - to explain all these confusing terms and what they mean.  And below is a brief summary of how it all works.

16:9 - Image: Wikipedia
16:9
The main number is need to keep in your head is a simple ratio: 16:9Nowadays, almost all digital outputs follow this basic ratio. It is described by Wikipedia as "universal for high-definition television and European digital television".  In short, it has become the global standard.

What is 16:9?
A 16 to 9 ratio means 16 units across the top (horizontally), and 9 along the side (vertically). Stick to this standard ratio when you are rendering your animation - and you won't go wrong. It's the same size as your laptop, your TV, and also fits YouTube. In short - pretty much everything.
 
HD 720
A 16 by 9 screen. Photo: Wikipedia
HD stands for High Definition. For most purposes, you can render at HD 720. HD 720 is 1280 pixels across the top and 720 pixels along the side.

It is high enough quality to make a good image, but won't produce huge files that will take forever to render and massively slow down your work flow. This is the aspect ratio we recommend our students use for their final renders.

HD 1080
You can also render at HD 1080, or "full HD". HD 1080 is 1920 x 1080, which is broadcast quality. Render times will be much longer but the quality is suitable for broadcast on TV.  

SD
If render time is short, and you are only planning on showing your work on YouTube or some other small screen, try rendering at 720 by 486, also known as "1/2 k", "SD", or "Standard Definition". This will give you a quick result, especially useful if you are doing a test render, and just want to see how your work will come out.

For more detail, see this blog post here:


To find out more about Animation Apprentice, click here for a link to Frequently Asked Questions. To sign up for our next classroom at Animation Apprentice, follow this link. For more information on finding work and surviving in the animation and visual effects business, read our post on how to find a job in the animation industry, and check out our post about what not to do at a job interview. Also see our post on starting your own small animation business, learn how to create an invoice, and see how we are helping our students find work through our film co-operative Nano Films.  Download the free Escape Studios Careers in VFX Handbook. Take a look at how awn.com can help you find a job, and read our piece about how to survive as a freelance animator. Also, find out what Cinesite look for in a student's demo reel, and read our post on setting up your own animation business. Also see our post about freelancers and taxes.  

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