16x9 Screen Size Calculator

Building Your Own Home Theater
Evan Powell
ProjectorCentral.com

16x9 Screen Size Calculator Free

Calculate optimal viewing distance from screen size For a screen that is ( in cm ) diagonal and ( 4:3 16:9 21:9 ), the optimal viewing distance is between and, ideally around (based on screen height (4H-8H,6H)). 16×9 Pixel Dimension Calculator This entry was posted on Thursday, February 11th, 2010 at 9:54 am and is filed under 16x9, Aspect Ratio, Resolution. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.


Choosing the Right Aspect Ratio
The first and most important decision you can make about your new home theater is this:
What screen aspect ratio do you want: 16:9 or 2.4?

What is aspect ratio, you ask? Aspect ratio is the ratio of the width of the screen to the height of the screen. Essentially, it describes the shape of the rectangle. Today the most popular aspect ratio for consumer video display is 16:9, which is the standard HDTV format. The numbers mean that the picture is 16 units wide for every 9 units in height.

Sometimes you will see the 16:9 aspect ratio referred to as 1.78:1, or simply 1.78. Why? Because 16 divided by 9 = 1.78. But it means the same thing. A 1.78 screen is 1.78 units in width for every unit of height.

If you are going to use a flatscreen HDTV for your home theater, you are stuck with the 16:9 format for better or for worse. Though they come in a wide variety of sizes, they are all 16:9 aspect ratio. But if you are planning to use a projector and screen, you have another option, which is 2.4:1, commonly known as the Cinemascope format. This is a wider format than standard 16:9. Many people prefer it because it matches the aspect ratio of a lot of movies being produced today.

Think about the black bars

Here is a simple fact of life: Videos and movies are made in a variety of different aspect ratios. There is no standard. So no matter what aspect ratio your screen is, you will always end up with black bars at the top and bottom of some material, and black pillars at the sides of other material. The only time you don't get black bars is if you are viewing video or film shot in the format of the screen you are using--either a film done in 1.78 displayed on a 16:9 screen, or a movie shot in 2.4 on a 2.4 Cinemascope screen. In both of those cases, the screen frame will match the picture precisely, and no black bars will exist.

(By the way, we're assuming you want to see the material you watch in its correct original aspect ratio, as the director created it. If you don't, there are several ways to stretch, manipulate, or crop video images to get them to fill a 16:9 screen and eliminate the black bars.)

So in choosing between a screen aspect ratio of 1.78 vs. 2.4, you are really deciding how the various film and video formats will appear on your screen. For example, if you select a 16:9 screen, all of your 2.4 format movies will have black bars top and bottom. If you select a 2.4 screen, all of your 16:9 material will be 'pillar-boxed' in the center of the screen with black columns on each side.

So 16:9 must be best for HDTV broadcast, and 2.4 Cinemascope must be best for movies, right?

Well, not so fast. Many people assume that all modern films are being done in the super widescreen 2.4 format. They aren't. A few, including some new and popular titles, are done in plain ol' 16:9 (1.78). As examples, here are some movies that are either done in 1.78, or have been modified to 1.78 for Blu-ray...

Avatar
Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland
The Hurt Locker
The Godfather
The Godfather II
The Shining
Blade Runner (1.66)
Finding Nemo
Toy Story
Up
Beauty and the Beast
The Little Mermaid
The Shining
A Clockwork Orange
Charlie and the Choc. Factory
The Pelican Brief
Planet Earth
(documentary)
Michael Jackson's This is It

But beyond some films and all of the HDTV broadcast programming that are done in 1.78, many live music concerts on Blu-ray are in 1.78. Once you get into 1080p home theater, many people like to experience music concerts in HD on the big screen. Some of the concerts on Blu-ray that are done in 1.78 include...

Roy Orbison, Black & White Night
B.B. King Live at Montreaux
Eric Clapton/Steve Winwood
Diana Krall Live in Rio
Chicago/Earth, Wind & Fire
Elton 60

And in addition to 1.78, there is 1.85

Another format that is very close in aspect ratio to 1.78 is 1.85. This format has been popular for a long time, so there is a huge library of 1.85 films on the market. Examples of movies done in 1.85 include....

Saving Private Ryan
Scent of a Woman
Good Will Hunting
Rain Man
The Big Lebowski
Fargo
The Silence of the Lambs
Jurassic Park
Edward Scissorhands
Back to the Future
Shrek and Shrek 2
Dead Poets Society
Risky Business
My Cousin Vinny
The Verdict
Sleepless in Seattle
Pretty Woman
Sideways
Rising Sun
Ice Age
Sherlock Holmes
The Bucket List
As Good As It Gets
Lost in Translation
P.S. I Love You
The Wedding Singer
Monsters Inc.
District 9
Sex and the City
Goodfellas
The Exorcist
The Blind Side
The Shawshank Redemption
Rocky
Raging Bull
The French Connection
North by Northwest
Psycho
Vertigo
Chicago
A Beautiful Mind
Serpico
Good Morning Vietnam
The Dirty Dozen

Not only are there scores of movies on Blu-ray in 1.85, but live music concerts appear in this format as well. A few examples include...

Eagles Farewell 1 Tour
Diana Krall Live in Paris
Led Zepellin
Willie Nelson/Wynton Marsalis play Ray Charles

So, the bottom line is that when planning your home theater, it is a good idea to anticipate you will be viewing a reasonable amount of video and film content in either 1.78 or 1.85, as well as the wider 2.4 format.

How do you fit 1.85 movies on a 1.78 screen?

There are two ways to watch 1.85 material on a 1.78 screen. The first option is to set the projector's lens so it just fills the 1.78 screen with a 1.78 image. When it is set this way, all 1.85 movies will be shown with very tiny black bars at the top and bottom. On a 120' diagonal screen, the black bars would be about one inch each at the top and bottom. Many people think this is no problem, so they set it up this way so that 1.78 material fits the frame perfectly.

The alternative is to set the projector's lens so that a 1.85 movie fills the screen vertically. When you do this, you cause the picture to overshoot the screen surface. Those tiny black bars fall onto the screen's frame top and bottom, which is good, but you lose a bit of the picture on the sides. Meanwhile, 1.78 material overshoots the screen surface on all four sides. But if you can live with the small amount of edge cropping, you end up with all 1.78 and 1.85 material filling the screen with no black bars. You lose about 2% of the image on the sides for 1.85 material, and 2% on all four sides for 1.78. In situations were you must see the 1.78 image 100% full frame, you can adjust the projector's zoom lens to reduce the image to get it entirely onto the screen. For many people this is an acceptable compromise.

As a side note, if you like the idea of living with minor edge cropping to get rid of the tiny 1.85 black bars, a better alternative would be to have your screen cut to 1.85 instead of 1.78. When you do this, all 1.85 films will fit perfectly without those tiny black bars. Meanwhile, material in 1.78 will slightly overshoot the top and bottom edges of the screen, but will remain fully visible on the sides. On a 120' diagonal screen, about one inch of the top and bottom of the 1.78 image would fall onto the frame, which is less than 2% of the image on both edges--not much of a sacrifice. On occasions where you absolutely must see the entire 1.78 image, the projector's zoom can be adjusted slightly to reduce the image size, resulting in small black columns on each side. But this set up eliminates both black bars and image cropping on 1.85, and limits cropping on 1.78 to just the top and bottom, rather than all four edges.

Which of these options is the better choice depends on what you watch most frequently. If you watch a lot of HDTV broadcast content, you will probably want to see it full frame. Assuming the tiny black bars on 1.85 are not a concern, the 1.78 format screen will be the best choice. If you don't watch much TV, and your primary objective is seeing 1.85 movies full frame without edge compromises, then the 1.85 format screen is the better choice, at least between these two very similar formats.

16x9 Screen Size Calculator

Okay then, what about the 2.4 films?

Obviously, most films today are done in the wider format 2.4 Cinemascope. Part Two of this article will focus on the display of 2.4 movies, and the selection of the 2.4 format screen as an alternative to conventional 16:9.

16x9 Screen Sizes

100 16x9 screen dimension

Continue reading Part Two, The 2.4 Cinemascope Option

This was a very interesting and well written piece.
However, I need to point out that the movie 'SE7EN' is not 1.78:1 as stated on your first list, but is 2.4:1. (I have this in my Blu-ray collection as it is one of my favorite films.)
This is true. Also Forrest Gump,Invictus and all the Harry Potter movies were 2:35.
Evan Powell, Editor Posted Oct 27, 2010 12:11 AM PST
Thanks Stephen and William, not sure how those titles got miscategorized, but I corrected it. Thanks for the feedback.
If you want to have the biggest screen possible inside your room. A lot of time, a major limitation (in additional to money) you encounter is your ceiling height or image height allowed.
At the same ceiling/image height, you can fit a much bigger 2.35 or 2.4 aspect ratio screen than a 16:9 screen inside your room.
For your information, Philips has a wonderful 21:9 LCD TV! (link deleted)
This will be my next buy when my current HDTV is up for replacement.
Dear Evan, Soon I will purchase a JVC DLA HD-250. My question is if I purchase 2.35 screen, I have already purchased a 16x9 portable, and watch 2.35 without having to purchase an anamorphic screen? My setup requires portable as much as I would like fixed.
Part of me says spending as much for a lens as the camera might not be good at this point, maybe later... Great articles regarding screen size and preference, thanks.
ALL THING ARE RIGHT BUT ORIGINAL WATCH 'CINEMA' MOVIES WATCH IN 2:40.1 SCREEN IT'S ORIGINAL THEATER SCREEN, AND 16:9 IS ONLY TV 'aspect ratio' NOT A HOME THEATER SCREEN...............
Blade Runner was actually filmed in 2.35:1 35mm and released also in 2.2:1 70mm - not 1.85:1 or 1.78:1 format.
Calculator
Thanks! Very helpful & insightful! :)
Not very clear. I didn't understand what is 1.78:1, 2:35.1 etc. A draw would be nice.
I am really confused. 16:9 and 4:3 would seem to be the same ratio as would 158:118.5 Maybe I need a picture to understand.
How about 16:10 which is on my tablet. Which projector do you recommend if I want to watch movie and play games
It is often argued that 21:9 is to remove the black bars on whide-format movies - which is rather subjective of nature, and very visual.
There is in fact another view, which is more quantitative and 'scientific'. On a 16:9 screen to watch the movie in the same size, whide-format movies are down-scalled, or rather the source is down-scalled and black bars are inserted. Meaning the optimal sitting distance changes when you change movie-format. You have to move closer when watching a down-scaled movie ( when watching Cinemascope material ).
If you consider a 50' 21:9, it is often argued why not get a 60' 16:9 instead - well, apart form the problem of space, there is the old problem of optimal viewing distance - on the 60' 16:9 content will be blown up to a huge format, giving less picture quality and you have to move further back to get an optimal viewing distance each time you change format.
On a 21:9 TV set, there is no up- or down-scalling of either 21:9 or 19:9 contents, the viewing distance is the same on both formats. Then you of cause instead have the black bars at the sides - but on the positive side you can streach the 16:9 content if you like - you have the option.
So its about angle of view ;-)
B lade Runner was filmed in 2.4, not 2.35.
I'm sorry your revision omits the 'old' 4:3 format for TV screens, which we have at home and everything looks fine on it (with Verizon FiOS cable). On vacation recently we were in a flat with 16:9 TV, and all, ALL!, the images were disturbingly fattened sideways. All, ALL!, the people looked very stout or fat - tolerable for football and baseball players, maybe, but not for ordinary people on screen. The TV did not allow the format to be changed, either, so we were stuck. Long live 4:3 screens!
Good article, Evan. Seems to me a straightforward approach is simply to match screen aspect ration to the native resolution of the projector. That way, you'll be seeing the best the projector can do with any given content. An HD projector will fully fill a 16:9 (1.78:1) HD screen with HD content (sat or cable HDTV, Bluray). Sure, standard-def (DVD) content will display in a more narrow image, with black pillars on the sides. But that's to be expected, as are the minor top and bottom bars that result from showing ultra-wide-screen movie content with an HD projector. As you point out, trying to make black bars go away forever involves either significant picture compromises, or expensive projector lenses/automation. Or post-display tweaking (e.g. screens with variable masking).
'What screen aspect ratio do you want: 16:9 or 2.4?' Thank you for a very well written article on the subject matter. There is a lot of useful information here. I built my dedicated home theater 13 years ago. It is now undergoing the upgrade number 3. Affordable HD projectors made all the difference when it came to enjoyable watching of the movies. One thing that I have not been able to avoid are those 'black bars' on the 16:9 screen. Everybody calls them black bars when in fact I can only see dark grey at the best of times. Since I watch only movies in my theater, I would love to have a projector with the native 21:9 aspect ratio. I can't get one! Changing the screen is an easy problem to solve. But projector... Your article gives pros and cons of various aspect ratios of the screen. It appears that the amount of the real estate of the screen surface was an important issue. For some people it may be so. The widest possible 16:9 screen in a room may produce the largest screen area and a wow factor. However, I fail to see how a huge 16:9 screen is going to improve the quality of the image with the current crop of projectors. I am talking about the loss of vertical resolution here of course. By the way I dislike the usage of an anamorphic lens. My argument is: The vast percentage of the movies are released on DVD/BD in original theatrical aspect ratios, so why no projectors to cater for this format. 16:9 screens do nothing for the quality of the image.(good for TV sports etc.) I would like to see 21:9 projectors available, or somehow force movie studios to release all Blu-Ray discs in 16:9 aspect ratio. I'll keep on dreaming. Regards, Ben
please help me change aspect to 2.4
I recently bought a Sony blu ray player and feel that some of the videos I purchased were a rip off as the screen size aspect is not highly visible. I wish they would print Wide Screen in large bold letters and the exact aspect ratio in small print at the bottom of the packaging
Size
We need to abolish the 16:9 standard and move to the golden 16:10.
Once movies are in 16:10, TV's, projectors, tablets, phones, and computers will follow suit.
16:9 is a really awkward aspect ratio for devices, and switching to 16:10 would make a huge difference. Most of us would be a lot more productive with a 16:10 laptop then with a 16:9 one.
But it starts with movies. Shift to 16:10. 2.4:1 can remain, but please move from 16:9 to 16:10.
What's all the fuss about the black bars at the top and bottom of the screen. OR on the sides when showing a 3x4 program. Who cares? It's much to do about nuttin'.
I say have all the program material be transferred in the proper aspect ratio, let the view make the choice as to what they want on their screen. Black bars or no black bars. Just so long as you don't make the choice for me.
Like back in the beginning of all this nonsense, where the TV stations broadcasting the film chose to do that crop pan and scan fiasco. Where in a wide two shot of a 2.35:1 movie you wound up with two talking noses, and the bodies were chopped outside the viewing screen. The station could have shown a letterbox version inside the 3X4 viewing screen. So what, if there was black at the top and bottom. At least I'd see the two people talking instead of just their noses.
Now they're doing the same thing with the 16X9 HD stuff. They're cropping the 2.35 films to fit l.78 screen. WHY DO THEY DO THAT? Gee's, it just drives me up the wall.
Show it the way it was mean to be seen. All of it! To the people that don't like the black bar, there's a button on your remote to fix that, use it.
Can someone just make a projector or blu ray player with good crop/stretch options? I have two screens, 1.85 and 2.4. and they are both borderless. So overspill is just not an option for me. I hate when a film is 1.78, 2.35 or 2.37. It just always bothers me to see those side bars. I know VLC software does this very well. But I don't want to use my computer to watch a movie. And VLC doesn't play some blu rays.

2015-10-13
Updated to include full range of resolutions up to 8K UHDTV.

In an effort to enhance the knowledge of the video-making community, I have compiled a list of all true 16:9 video resolutions, including their associated standard when applicable, as well as when the resolution is divisible by 8, which is useful for limited video encoders. The table goes up to 1080p and includes common resolutions like that of a typical 27 inch 16:9 computer monitor and Super Hi-Vision.

Note: If you’ve ever worked with SD content, you’ll notice that no resolution here fits the DVD standard. That’s because DVDs were originally made to comply with the NTSC broadcasting resolution, which is a non-square pixel standard using the resolution of 720 by 480 pixels, stretched to accommodate either 4:3 or 16:9 content, never producing a true 16:9 resolution.

WidthHeightCommon names and standardsDivisible by 8
169
3218
4827
6436
8045
9654
11263
12872Yes
14481
16090
17699
192108
208117
224126
240135
256144Yes
272153
288162
304171
320180
336189
352198
368207
384216Yes
400225
416234
432243
448252
464261
480270
496279
512288Yes
528297
544306
560315
576324
592333
608342
624351
640360Yes
656369
672378
688387
704396
720405
736414
752423
768432Yes
784441
800450
816459
832468
848477
864486
880495
896504Yes
912513
928522
944531
960540
976549
992558
1008567
1024576Yes
1040585
1056594
1072603
1088612
1104621
1120630
1136639
1152648Yes
1168657
1184666
1200675
1216684
1232693
1248702
1264711
1280720720p / HD readyYes
1296729
1312738
1328747
1344756
1360765
1376774
1392783
1408792Yes
1424801
1440810
1456819
1472828
1488837
1504846
1520855
1536864Yes
1552873
1568882
1584891
1600900
1616909
1632918
1648927
1664936Yes
1680945
1696954
1712963
1728972
1744981
1760990
1776999
17921008Yes
18081017
18241026
18401035
18561044
18721053
18881062
19041071
192010801080p / Full HD / BT.709Yes
19361089
19521098
19681107
19841116
20001125
20161134
20321143
20481152Yes
20641161
20801170
20961179
21121188
21281197
21441206
21601215
21761224Yes
21921233
22081242
22241251
22401260
22561269
22721278
22881287
23041296Yes
23201305
23361314
23521323
23681332
23841341
24001350
24161359
24321368Yes
24481377
24641386
24801395
24961404
25121413
25281422
25441431
25601440WQHDYes
25761449
25921458
26081467
26241476
26401485
26561494
26721503
26881512Yes
27041521
27201530
27361539
27521548
27681557
27841566
28001575
28161584Yes
28321593
28481602
28641611
28801620
28961629
29121638
29281647
29441656Yes
29601665
29761674
29921683
30081692
30241701
30401710
30561719
30721728Yes
30881737
31041746
31201755
31361764
31521773
31681782
31841791
32001800Yes
32161809
32321818
32481827
32641836
32801845
32961854
33121863
33281872Yes
33441881
33601890
33761899
33921908
34081917
34241926
34401935
34561944Yes
34721953
34881962
35041971
35201980
35361989
35521998
35682007
35842016Yes
36002025
36162034
36322043
36482052
36642061
36802070
36962079
37122088Yes
37282097
37442106
37602115
37762124
37922133
38082142
38242151
384021604K UHD / UHDTV1 / BT.2020Yes
38562169
38722178
38882187
39042196
39202205
39362214
39522223
39682232Yes
39842241
40002250
40162259
40322268
40482277
40642286
40802295
40962304Yes
41122313
41282322
41442331
41602340
41762349
41922358
42082367
42242376Yes
42402385
42562394
42722403
42882412
43042421
43202430
43362439
43522448Yes
43682457
43842466
44002475
44162484
44322493
44482502
44642511
44802520Yes
44962529
45122538
45282547
45442556
45602565
45762574
45922583
46082592Yes
46242601
46402610
46562619
46722628
46882637
47042646
47202655
47362664Yes
47522673
47682682
47842691
48002700
48162709
48322718
48482727
48642736Yes
48802745
48962754
49122763
49282772
49442781
49602790
49762799
49922808Yes
50082817
50242826
50402835
50562844
50722853
50882862
51042871
51202880Retina 5KYes
51362889
51522898
51682907
51842916
52002925
52162934
52322943
52482952Yes
52642961
52802970
52962979
53122988
53282997
53443006
53603015
53763024Yes
53923033
54083042
54243051
54403060
54563069
54723078
54883087
55043096Yes
55203105
55363114
55523123
55683132
55843141
56003150
56163159
56323168Yes
56483177
56643186
56803195
56963204
57123213
57283222
57443231
57603240Yes
57763249
57923258
58083267
58243276
58403285
58563294
58723303
58883312Yes
59043321
59203330
59363339
59523348
59683357
59843366
60003375
60163384Yes
60323393
60483402
60643411
60803420
60963429
61123438
61283447
61443456Yes
61603465
61763474
61923483
62083492
62243501
62403510
62563519
62723528Yes
62883537
63043546
63203555
63363564
63523573
63683582
63843591
64003600Yes
64163609
64323618
64483627
64643636
64803645
64963654
65123663
65283672Yes
65443681
65603690
65763699
65923708
66083717
66243726
66403735
66563744Yes
66723753
66883762
67043771
67203780
67363789
67523798
67683807
67843816Yes
68003825
68163834
68323843
68483852
68643861
68803870
68963879
69123888Yes
69283897
69443906
69603915
69763924
69923933
70083942
70243951
70403960Yes
70563969
70723978
70883987
71043996
71204005
71364014
71524023
71684032Yes
71844041
72004050
72164059
72324068
72484077
72644086
72804095
72964104Yes
73124113
73284122
73444131
73604140
73764149
73924158
74084167
74244176Yes
74404185
74564194
74724203
74884212
75044221
75204230
75364239
75524248Yes
75684257
75844266
76004275
76164284
76324293
76484302
76644311
768043208K UHD / UHDTV2 / Super Hi-Vision / BT.2020Yes