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Pixel Aspect Ratio and Composition Settings

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Paul Mangan
Pixel Aspect Ratio and Composition Settings
on Dec 5, 2009 at 7:32:45 pm

Hi please move this to the basic section if need be.

I've done a search and read through a few threads on the subjects of aspect ratios, square pixels etc but there's still a few things I'd like cleared up.

I am making an animation in AE using illustrator vectors which I intend to upload on youtube and my own website. It's dimensions are 1280x720 (I'm guessing this is an ok size to use as as far as I know it is youtubes current video size) and have selected 24 frames per second (again, wasn't too sure whether to go with 24, 25 or 30 but figured 24 would be more straight forward).

Anyway, my main confusion is regarding the pixel aspect ratio settings. I understand that if I select D1/DV PAL for example, that the layers I import from Illustrator will look differently (ie the dimensions will change a bit) but that this is necessary so that if burned to a DVD it will have it's correct dimensions. I don't initially have any need to burn the animation to DVD so seeing as it will primarily be viewed on computers via the internet would it be better to use Square pixels for this setting?

Alternatively, if I was to choose D1/DV PAL, what is the best way to get the vector layers from illustrator to look as they should for the animation? I know I can view them in their correct dimensions by selecting toggle pixel aspect ratio converter but when I turn the animation into a finished movie and view it on my laptop, it still looks wrong.

Thanks in advance for any advice and apologies for my confusion!

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Ben Heusner Brownlee
Re: Pixel Aspect Ratio and Composition Settings
on Dec 5, 2009 at 10:06:59 pm

You seem to be confusing yourself. Start from the end and work your way backwards.

You want to output to:

i) An HD YouTube clip at 1280x720
ii) A DVD - It looks like you are wanting to go out PAL, so that gives a resolution of 720x576.

If you only want to do one animation for both destinations, then we'll take the larger resolution to start with and create a scaled down version for DVD.

So... 1280x720 is an HD flavour. It uses square pixels. That takes another headache away for you.

If you decide to go out to DVD, create a new composition and use a preset to go out PAL widescreen/anamorphic. Drag your larger comp in, and then scale to fit (Ctrl-Alt-F or Cmd-Opt-F). The preset would have given you the correct aspect ratio, so everything scales nicely.

Bottom line, if you're going computer only, take the square pixel route and read through this a few times ;o) It will make sense eventually.

Hope that helps a bit,
PS If you are going out to a PAL DVD, choose a 25fps framerate to give yourself an easy life later in the process.

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