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16 February 2017

Can I watch 4:3 content on a 16:9 display?

Sure! It’s awesome you want to to make the full leap from 4:3 to the 16:9 widescreen aspect ratio. But how do you go about it?

Today, the media display format that is most common in homes and businesses is known as "widescreen." For techs, this means 16:9, which is 78% wider than it is tall compared to its outdated counterpart.

The concern for the correct aspect ratio isn’t so much with video formatting; it’s rare to shoot video at the older 4:3 aspect ratio today. It’s fitting 4:3 presentations into the 16:9 ratio.

Before widespread adoption, 16:9 was considered to be exclusive to HD content. Event organiserswould fit SD (standard definition) into this aspect ratio using letter boxing (or pillar boxing) to centre 4:3 media in the middle of the widescreen display. Otherwise, you distort your presentation if you stretch to fit. 

Stop designing slide decks at 4:3!

Most event spaces and AV have thrown out the 4:3 screens and replaced with 16:9 sizes along with projector upgrades that support HD (and beyond). And you don’t want to wind up with your content shrunk into a square in the middle of the screen. You want people to see and experience your content.

PowerPoint 2013 defaults to 16:9 when you open a new session. Need an overhaul of a previous template? Talented techs at your event partner (like those at Magnetic Storm) can reformat your presentation templates to widescreen dimensions, allowing you to take full advantage of the 16:9 content space.

Unfortunately, it is not as simple as just hitting a "reformat" button. Often your presentation content needs to be rebuilt to fit the widescreen format without distortion. You can do this from scratch on your own, or work with your event partner to ensure your presentations will look as good on the projection screens as they do on current widescreen LCD displays.

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