What's the Difference Between Resolution and Aspect Ratio?
By Jordan Tomkins
What's the Difference Between Resolution and Aspect Ratio?

If you’re just getting started with designing content, or just want to understand it a bit better so you can converse with designers and video technicians, it’s important to get the basics right. Two very important terms you may have heard are ‘resolution’ and ‘aspect ratio’. But what is resolution? What is Aspect Ratio? Let's find out...


Resolution refers to the number of pixels that make up the image on a screen. In simpler terms, it is the number of dots that form the picture you see. A higher resolution means more dots or pixels, which results in a sharper and more detailed image. For video content, a higher resolution can be especially important, as it can make the difference between a blurry and unclear image, and a crisp and professional-looking one.

You may be familiar with terms such as ‘HD’ and ‘4k’. These are actually referring to the resolution of the content. For example, a ‘4k’ image is one that is just over 4000 pixels wide (4096 to be exact). HD content is generally accepted to be 1920x1080 pixels. Resolution is always written as width x height.

Your production provider will usually suggest a screen resolution that is appropriate to the application and technology available. Content can usually be ‘scaled’ to the screen size you are using, however to prevent stretching or warping, needs to be made at the correct aspect ratio.

Aspect Ratio

Aspect ratio refers to the ratio of the width to the height of the screen. It's often expressed as two numbers separated by a colon, such as 16:9 or 4:3. A 16:9 aspect ratio, for example, means that the width of the screen is 16 units for every 9 units of height.

Most modern TVs are 16:9 aspect ratio. Older TVs and projectors were 4:3 aspect ratio, and when 16:9 was introduced it was referred to as ‘widescreen’. There are now other generally accepted standards such as ‘ultrawide’ 2:1 and ‘IMAX’ 1.33:1.

Aspect ratio is important to consider when displaying video content because it can affect the way the video is displayed on the screen. For example, if you have a video with a 4:3 aspect ratio but you're displaying it on a screen with a 16:9 aspect ratio, you may end up with black bars on either side of the image. This is sometimes referred to as ‘pillarboxing’. On the other hand, if you have a video with a 16:9 aspect ratio and you're displaying it on a screen with a 4:3 aspect ratio, you may end up with the top and bottom of the image cut off. This is sometimes called ‘letterboxing’.

To avoid these issues, it's important to choose a screen with an aspect ratio that matches the aspect ratio of the video content you'll be displaying. If that's not possible, you may need to adjust the video content or the screen settings to ensure that the image is displayed correctly.

If you’d like more guidance on screens and content for your event, get in touch with our team who’d be happy to help!