Video Formats & Aspect Ratio

Frame Size Aspect Ratio Description (note these are only the most common formats)
1920x1080 16x9 1080p/i
1440x1080 16x9 1080i (Most HDV use this format)
1280x720 16x9 720p
852x480 16x9 480p
720x480 4:3 DV NTSC (when the pixels are square it is actually 3:2)
720x480 16:9* DV NTSC / Anamorphic* / Wide Screen (non square pixles)
720x576 5:4 DV PAL
640x480 4:3 a ration suitable for square size pixle multimeida video.
640x360 16:9 a ration suitable for square size pixle multimeida thats widescreen.
480x360 4:3 Multimedia large (480x360 : 75%(640x480))
480x270 16:9 Multimedia Large (similar to Apple's large move trailer standard 480x272) (480x270 : 75%(640x360))
320x240 4:3 Multimedia Large
320x180 16:9 Multimedia Large / Wide Screen
240x180 4:3 Multimedia Small
160x120 4:3 Thumbnail
1600x1200 4:3 Computer Display
1280x1024 4:3 Computer Display
1152x870 4:3 Computer Display
1024x768 4:3 Computer Display
800x600 4:3 Computer Display

Aspect Ratio

The ratio between the length and width of video images. NTSC, PAL, and Secam formats use a 4:3 aspect ratio. Newer, more advanced formations such as HDTV (High Definition Television) use a much wider aspect ratio of 16:9.

  • Television is 4:3
  • Widescreen TV 16:9
  • 35mm Film 1.85:1
  • 70mm Film 2.0:1


The "Audio Interchangeable File Format" used in Apple operating systems.


Originally an excerpt from a movie. A clip now also refers to individual movie or audio files.


Using more than one footage clip or excerpt in a production. Clips are often layered in this process.


When footage is converted to digital format, you have a lot of data to deal with. This data must be compressed before your computer can actually play the footage. Generally, the less the data is compressed, the higher the quality of the resulting playback; greater compression equals greater quality loss. The amount of compression applied is called the "compression rate". MPEG, M-JPEG, and JPEG compression are three of the more common rates.


"Digital Video" is often stored on Mini-DV or Digital 8 Tapes.


Frames Per Second. Standard unit of measurement for moving film.


The basic unit of information in television, video, and QuickTime movies. A frame is essentially one picture or "still" out of a video. Measured in frames per second, or fps.


Joint Photographic Experts Group. JPEG is a standard rate of compression for digital video.

Looping, loopable

Looping, in footage terms, means connecting the last frame of the clip to the first frame of the clip, so the movie plays endlessly. Technically, all films are capable of being looped this way. But "loopable" films, are designed so that there is a seamless "join" between the first and last frames of a clip, and your eyes do not detect any gap in the action.


Motion JPEG. A video compression method where every fram gets compressed individually, creating a series of JPEG-compressed single frames. See also JPEG.


A standard compression method most commonly used for the compression of data for full-motion footage. While MPEG can compress each frame individually as M-JPEG does, it can also examine and compress a sequence of images at the same time. This results in more efficient compression of video sequences.


National Television Standards Committee. The organization that sets the American broadcast and videotape format standards.


Phase Alternating Line. The European color television standard.


Apple Computer's software designed to simplify the task of working with a wide range of digital media, including sound and video.


SMPTE stands for Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers. This timecode format is used to display time and frame rates. Measured in hours : minutes : seconds : frames.


The "waveform" audio file format used in Windows operating systems.

DTV standard

The DTV standard used in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico is named ATSC, after the Advanced Television Systems Committee, the industry-led group that originated it. ATSC allows resolution as high as 1080 by 1920 pixels, but only in an interlaced format. (


Interlaced video means the picture is scanned in two passes, or “fields,” each lasting 1/60th of a second. The first pass leaves blank spaces between lines, which are filled in by the second pass. Because each field takes 1/60th of a second, and there are two of them, 1080i actually needs 1/30th of a second to convey a full frame—it is a 30-frames-per-second medium. (
Interlacing is a method of displaying images on a raster-scanned display device, such as a cathode ray tube (CRT). The method causes less visible flickering than non-interlaced methods. The display alternates between drawing the even-numbered lines and the odd-numbered lines of each picture. (


Progressive scanning is a method for representing moving images on a display screen, where every pixel is represented in each frame. This is in contrast to the interlacing used in traditional television systems (progressive-scanning devices are sometimes referred to as non-interlaced). ( & (