What is Letterboxing?

Letterboxing is a technique used in video editing and filmmaking to maintain the original aspect ratio of a video while displaying it on a different aspect ratio screen. It involves adding black bars to the top and bottom or sides of the video to fit it within the desired aspect ratio without distorting or cropping the image.

Why is Letterboxing Used?

Letterboxing is primarily used to preserve the intended composition and framing of a video when it is displayed on screens with different aspect ratios. It allows video editors, filmmakers, influencers, and YouTubers to maintain the artistic integrity of their content and ensure that it is viewed as intended, regardless of the device or platform used by the audience.

How Does Letterboxing Work?

Letterboxing involves adding black bars to either the top and bottom or sides of a video to fit it within the desired aspect ratio. The black bars fill the empty space on the screen, ensuring that the original image remains intact without being distorted or cropped. This technique is achieved during the post-production phase using video editing software, where the video is resized and the black bars are added to match the desired aspect ratio.

Benefits of Letterboxing

  • Preserves Original Composition: Letterboxing allows video editors and filmmakers to maintain the original framing and composition of their videos, ensuring that the intended visual elements and storytelling elements are not compromised.
  • Enhances Viewing Experience: By using letterboxing, video content can be presented in the correct aspect ratio, providing a more immersive and visually pleasing experience for the audience.
  • Consistent Branding: For influencers and YouTubers, letterboxing can be used to create a consistent branding experience across different video platforms by adding their logo or branding elements to the black bars.
  • Compatibility: Letterboxing makes videos compatible with various screen sizes and aspect ratios, ensuring that the content can be viewed on different devices without distortion or cropping.

Common Aspect Ratios for Letterboxing

Aspect ratios commonly used for letterboxing include:

  • 16:9: This is the standard widescreen aspect ratio used by most modern televisions, computer monitors, and online video platforms such as YouTube.
  • 2.35:1: Also known as “CinemaScope,” this aspect ratio is commonly used in cinematic productions, providing a wider and more immersive viewing experience.
  • 1.85:1: Another common cinematic aspect ratio that falls between 16:9 and 2.35:1, offering a slightly wider frame than the standard widescreen format.
  • 4:3: Formerly the standard aspect ratio for older televisions, this format is now less commonly used but may still be relevant for certain projects or retro stylistic choices.


Letterboxing is a valuable technique for video editors, filmmakers, influencers, and YouTubers to maintain the original aspect ratio and composition of their videos. By adding black bars to fit the video within a desired aspect ratio, the integrity of the content is preserved, ensuring a consistent and visually appealing viewing experience across different devices and platforms.

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