Aspect ratio madness

Television pixels are not square. Photoshop only handles square pixels. This is not a happy combination.

Like all terrestrial TV in the UK for the last couple of years, my current series is shot widescreen. That is, at an aspect ratio of ’16:9′. But this merely reflects how much the TV stretches the image – it’s still exactly the same pixel resolution as conventional 4:3 screens. That is, 720×576 pixels.

The more astute amongst you may immediately have spotted the problem; 720×576 is 5:4, not 4:3. Yes indeed, ‘4:3’ pixels aren’t square either.

So… I have a bunch of logo artwork that’s 720×576. I’m reasonably confident that it’s 16:9… but munging it to heights of 540, 432 and 406 pixels never produces images that look quite right. In the end I’ve gone for 432 as looking least wrong, but it’s a judgement call. My recommendations:

  1. Artwork that involves geometrically accurate squares or circles will never display correctly, anywhere.
  2. It doesn’t pay to get too prissy about precise branding issues

Dang, I fail on both counts.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *