Why Is Widescreen More Cinematic?

By Kevin Graham

What makes widescreen aspect ratios so cinematic?

Well, it all has to do with the way that we’ve grown accustomed to viewing video content over the last several decades.


For a variety of reasons, feature films are generally filmed and displayed in widescreen,

vs the standard 16×9 ratio of television sets and internet videos.

So subconsciously, when we see something in widescreen, even if it’s not a movie, we automatically associate that with feature films, high production value, and a cinematic vibe.

Movies are widescreen because of the format in which they were filmed, but the effect is easily emulated in videos by adding black bars at the top and bottom of an image (or adjusting the dimensions of your editing timeline), essentially cropping it to look like it was filmed in widescreen to begin with.

To put things differently, we’ve simply been conditioned to view widescreen as cinematic because of its close association with movies, from which we get our definition of “cinematic” in the first place.


And the good news is that this effect is easily achievable for any filmmaker who wants a more cinematic look.

Kevin is the Music Director and Lead Composer at Filmpac.

FILMPAC Filmpac is a premium stock footage + music membership library.