VIDEO ASPECT RATIOS: AN EASY GUIDE FOR 2021

Want to ensure your video marketing grabs as much attention as possible? Then it’s time to understand how video aspect ratios work — and which format works best for your content!

Knowing about video aspect ratios is important for anyone that is (or plans on) posting video content or running video marketing campaigns online. At Blueprint Film, we regularly optimise our video content for sharing across our different social media channels. And we have experience producing and editing our clients’ content to fit certain requirements and formats.

So here’s a handy little guide to video aspect ratio on social media — updated with 2021 requirements!

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • 1:1 (Square) Video Aspect Ratio: Great all-rounderfor social media video content.
  • 16:9 (Landscape) Video: For video-sharing platforms like YouTube and Vimeo, panoramic shots, landscape shots, and cinematic content.
  • 4:5 (Portrait) Video: For in-feed portrait content on platforms like Instagram and Facebook.
  • 9:16 (Vertical) Video: For Instagram & Facebook stories, and mobile video apps like TikTok.

1:1 (SQUARE) ASPECT RATIO

Recommended for:

  • Facebook (in-feed content, video & carousel ads)
  • Instagram (in-feed content & ads, carousels)
  • Twitter (in-feed content & ads)
  • LinkedIn (in-feed & square ads)
  • Pinterest (in-feed & promoted videos)

The 1:1 (Square) video aspect ratio is a great all-rounder for social media content. And probably the most effective ratio for boosting a video’s reach.

Using square video can result in 30–35% higher video views and an 80–100% increase in engagement. This is also how videos appear natively in the feeds of most social media platforms. Square videos (1:1) take up 78% more real estate in a person’s mobile newsfeed than landscape video (16:9). So it’s a sure-fire way to get a video message across to your audience.

HOW TO USE THE 1:1 RATIO

Filling the square ratio with content is important.

If you’re filming content directly for social media then this isn’t quite as much a problem. After all, you should be filming things with the square frame in mind. Apps like Instagram will crop your content into the square anyway. Reformatting existing content can be where some people slip up. Pretty much all video content gets shot in a wider ratio. This looks great for professional, long-form viewing.

But what if you want to adapt existing video? Nowadays it’s easy enough to re-upload a video to Facebook or Instagram, and have it play in its native widescreen ratio. But reformatting to a square ratio is incredibly beneficial.

It’s not as simple as just cropping the content to a 1:1 ratio (although if you’ve filmed existing footage with this in mind, it can be).

The better video content will have subjects framed well consistently. This might mean cutting up an existing video shot by shot and reframing each shot to keep things framed well. With most mainstream platforms allowing autoplay of videos, uploading square content guarantees better viewership all-round.

16:9 (LANDSCAPE) ASPECT RATIO

Use on:

  • YouTube (default video ratio)
  • Facebook (landscape in-feed videos & ads)
  • Twitter (horizontal videos)
  • IGTV (landscape videos)
  • Instagram feed (profile grid crops to 1:1)
  • LinkedIn (horizontal videos & ads)

Although the square ratio is universally recommended, there is still a place for the more traditional, wider frame of a 16:9 video.

Up until recently, platforms like Instagram would only allow square content on a users feed. There’s a reason why platforms like Instagram opted for a square-only feed for so long. Uniformity just looks a little more pleasing from a UI standpoint in-app.

But nowadays, you can post wider footage without the fear of a platform cropping the frame natively.

Depending on the footage you have or plan to create, you’ll know what will or won’t look better in a wider format. But generally, the 16:9 ratio works well for video content that makes full use of the frame. Think panoramic shots, landscape shots, or maybe just shots with a lot of movement in them. Any footage that would lose too much action if cut down to a square.

FITTING 16:9 INTO A SQUARE (LETTERBOX VIDEO)

There’s still a way to fit a widescreen video into a square crop — the letterbox format.

Place the full widescreen frame into a white square box. The result will be a square video where the black bars above and below the footage have been replaced with white ones.

It might not seem like a huge difference. But the white space above and below the image looks much smarter when scrolling down a feed.

Many photographers and videographers opt for this format when showing off their work.

4:5 (PORTRAIT) ASPECT RATIO

The 4:5 (portrait) video ratio sits between the square and fullscreen 9:16 portrait ratios.

4:5 is as far as you’ll be able to push portrait content in most social media feeds. It’s a great option for those images which might have a little more detail in the top and bottom of the frame that you might not want to crop out. The 4:5 “portrait” ratio applies more so to Instagram’s sizing restrictions. It is also a good option for Facebook and maybe even Twitter. Although it’s worth noting your image will be cropped slightly in the feed thumbnail view before a user clicks onto the image with the latter platform.

When it comes to video, we’d still recommend the 1:1 square format. But there are certain situations where the extra header/footer space might be beneficial — maybe for use of subtitles, or dividing up multiple images/video into one frame.

BONUS: 9:16 (VERTICAL) ASPECT RATIO

Use for:

  • Facebook & Instagram Stories
  • Twitter (portrait video & ads)
  • IGTV (vertical viewing)
  • Snapchat & TikTok
  • Pinterest (vertical in-feed & promoted videos)

We can’t forget the 9:16 video aspect ratio (a reverse of the 16:9 horizontal video format).

Sure, you won’t see it appear much in most mainstream platform’s feeds. Rather, the 9:16 format tends to live in the “Stories” feature of platforms such as Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat. It’s also popular with short-form video apps such as TikTok and Instagram Reels.

The benefit of the 9:16 ratio is that it fills a viewer’s phone screen without requiring viewers to rotate their devices.

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This article was originally posted on the Blueprint Film blog.

Film Production Company | London + Lincoln Studios | Commercial, Charity and Event Video Production Services | Feature Films