If you’ll excuse me a moment while I throw on my film buff hat—I am the Hollywood Novelist, after all—I’d like to share an awesome video I came across on the history of the aspect ratio.
If you’ve ever wondered why film and video come in different sizes (or aspect ratios: the numerical relation between the image’s height and width), various technical and business developments explain why we have so many. This second facet of business competition interests me most because it applies to today’s publishing environment.
The book hasn’t changed much in 500 years—really since the invention of the printing press. You have words on the page, and you’re done. It’s only recently with the emergence of e-books that various formats and multimedia additions have become possible. We have the Kindle format versus EPUB; iPads versus e-readers; and now we have smaller competitors such as Snippet and Wattpad.
If all this name dropping sounds overwhelming, don’t worry: it is. What this all boils down to are companies vying for the best way to deliver content to you, the consumer.
That’s what studios fought over while they hashed out the ideal aspect ratios to exhibit movies and TV to viewers. It’s a fascinating history to see which configurations survived. With publishing, as it was for film, only time will tell which formats have staying power.
If you’re so inclined, FilmmakerIQ also produced a video on “The Origins and Formatting of Modern Screenplays.” Pretty interesting stuff.