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Pixels, frame size, aspect ratio etc.

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Josh SmithPixels, frame size, aspect ratio etc.
by on Aug 14, 2012 at 7:06:58 pm

Hi everyone,

I'm having a complete nightmare with making graphics in After Effects, for importing into an SD PAL 720x576 (Anamorphic) 16:9 FCP sequence.

Can someone please just treat me like a 5-year-old and tell me what settings I should be using? I'm totally confused about the whole deal with aspect ratio and pixel type. Why is PAL SD in 720x576 (a 4:3 ratio), but plays in a 16:9 aspect ratio? What's the deal with "anamorphic" pixels? I thought widescreen SD is just 1024x576.

Due to this, I've made an animation in AE with a 1024x576 comp size, but when imported into FCP, it's squashed from the top and bottom? It just doesn't like it. It renders out fine, plays fine in 16:9 using Quicktime. But FCP just isn't displaying it like that.

Please help me!

Many thanks,

Josh.

Video Production Essex


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Walter SoykaRe: Pixels, frame size, aspect ratio etc.
by on Aug 14, 2012 at 8:53:24 pm

[Josh Smith] "I'm having a complete nightmare with making graphics in After Effects, for importing into an SD PAL 720x576 (Anamorphic) 16:9 FCP sequence... Why is PAL SD in 720x576 (a 4:3 ratio), but plays in a 16:9 aspect ratio? What's the deal with "anamorphic" pixels?"

Short answer:

If you want to work in anamorphic 16:9 SD PAL, you can use Ae's PAL D1/DV PAL Widescreen composition preset.


Long answer:

Anamorphic is derived from the Greek for "formed again," and this refers to the way an image is reshaped.

When your pixels are square (that is, they are as wide as they are tall, or have a pixel aspect ratio of 1:1, also referred to as a PAR of 1.0), then, say, a 640x480 image is 4:3.

Note that PAL dimensions, 720x576, do not reduce to 4:3 or 16:9. They reduce to 5:4. What explains the difference in aspect ratio? The pixels themselves are not square -- they are rectangular; they are skinny for a 4:3 raster and fat for a 16:9 raster.

Wikipedia has a pretty nice explanation:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pixel_aspect_ratio

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
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