Video Editing

What is native resolution in film and video?

Posted April 29, 2021

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Noticed that the same video looks different on different devices? 

The videos we watch every day differ on a lot of factors like the device we watch it on and even the creator’s original video file. A video that you watch on your smartphone will appear different on your friend’s smartphone. This is because of the difference in the native resolution of your smartphones. But, what exactly is native resolution? 

What is native resolution?

The native resolution of a screen is the physical number of pixels present both horizontally and vertically. It also denotes the dimension and aspect ratio at which the display runs. 

A higher resolution will have more details and provide crisper quality image output. 

The native resolution of a display will be different across devices and product types but few classifications will help you understand resolutions better.

Exploring native resolution across mediums 

Different native resolution on different devices

Native resolution and aspect ratio in films

Previously, the native resolution of films was a standard aspect ratio of 4:3. Most films used to be in a box format compared to the widescreen format that we’ve adopted lately. 

The aspect ratio is the proportion of the height and width of the image you see on the screen. We would often find black bars on the left and right of the screen if we would play an old movie on our new screens. These movies were shot on film and the ratios also impacted the televisions. Older televisions used to be shaped like a square box and suitable for watching 4:3 ratio movies.  

Recently, films have adopted a widescreen format and the video we see on screen has widened with the help of anamorphic lens. This has helped create a more immersive experience. 

Sometimes filmmakers use different aspect ratios in the same film to communicate and distinguish between different periods or moods in a film.  

This is evident in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises where the aspect ratios keep shifting between the scenes including 35mm IMAX of 1.43:1  and the standard 2.40:1. 

Regardless of how films are shot today, most cinemas have a native resolution of 2k that is 2048 x 1080 pixels along with 4k that is 4096 x 2160 pixels. 

Native resolution and aspect ratio on TV screens

Similarly, a TV screen’s native resolution has also evolved with technological advances. New resolutions have popped up as TVs get bigger and better, such as:

  • Standard Definition or SD TV screens: 720 x 576 pixels 

  • High Definition or HD TV screens: 1280 x 720 pixels 

  • Full High Definition or FHD TV screens: 1920 x 1080 pixels

  • Quad HD  TV screens: 2560 x 1440 pixels 

  • Ultra HD TV screens: 3840 x 2160 pixels

  • 4k TV screens: 4096 x 2160 pixels 

Most modern-day televisions and monitors have a native aspect ratio of 16:9. 

Comparison of resolutions up to 4K Ultra HD

Native resolution and aspect ratio on smartphones

Smartphone screens with their native resolution and aspect ratios have reached a point where no one could’ve predicted. Most of the smartphones today are at least HD (1280 x 720 pixels) or FULL HD (1920 x 1080 pixels). 

While these are promising resolutions for a smartphone screen the output depends on the material of the screen like LCD or AMOLED.  

Social media platforms have been an influencing factor in the way videos and the smartphone screen have evolved. 

The consumption of vertical format videos inspired smartphone manufacturers to create 16:9, 18:9, and 21:9 screens with mind-boggling pixel density. 

When these native resolutions of the screens across mediums match the video resolution of the video files, the output produced is pixel-perfect!

How to change the aspect ratio for a social media video?

You can easily change the resolution for your social media video by using a video editor that allows you to export multiple aspect ratios from the same video. 

Here’s how to use Clipchamp’s video editor to change the aspect ratio of any video: 

Want to learn more video production lingo? 

Check out our Clipchamp glossary of terms to learn about camera terms, video editing terms, and other video production definitions.

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