Video Playback Aspect Ratio

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Media Center offers several features for customizing the aspect ratio of video playback. These features are useful in several scenarios, including:

  • You wish to crop black bars baked into a video
  • A video has an incorrect aspect ratio due to incorrect encoding
  • You use an anamorphic lens on your projector
  • A television broadcast has artifacts encoded into the very edges of the video

Changing Settings

Aspect ratio controls are available from the right-click menu on a playing video under the 'Window' sub-menu.

Aspect ratio controls are also available from the 'Aspect Ratio' portion of the OSD. The options available in the OSD are a subset of the options available in the right-click menu. Left / right will toggle through several common configurations (but not all).

Aspect Ratio Mode

The program will use one of the following aspect ratio modes when positioning video:

  • Preserve Aspect Ratio: makes no changes to the aspect ratio, and shows black bars when necessary (the default mode)
  • Crop: fills the screen with video by cropping away the portion of the video that does not fit
  • Stretch: fills the screen with video by stretching, so the aspect ratio can be distorted

Crop Black Bars

It is common for black bars to be encoded into a video. Crop Black Bars zooms into the good / non-black-bar region of the movie. The aspect ratio is preserved.

Using the 'Crop Black Bars' menu, select the aspect ratio of the video within the black bars. It is common with DVD and BD for the aspect ratio of the video inside the black bars to be 2.35.

The option 'Crop Sides of Video to Fill Screen' determines if it should zoom in until the black bars at the top and bottom are totally gone, even if it means losing a little of the sides of the video.

Crop Edges

This crops a little bit of the edges of the video. It is useful for HDTV broadcasts that contain visual artifacts at the very edge of the screen. This is common with ATSC broadcasts in the United States.

The amount of edge cropping can be configured in Options > Video and defaults to 2%.

Override Aspect Ratio

Sometimes a video may display with an incorrect aspect ratio. This can happen for a variety of reasons like a bad encoding, a display that stretches unexpectedly, etc.

In these cases, you can tell the program to force the aspect ratio to a particular value. If the option names don't make sense, just try each aspect ratio until one makes the video look better.

Aspect Ratio Correction (non-square pixels / anamorphic)

You may have a display that uses non-square pixels, or be outputting in a different aspect ratio than the display. In these cases, you can apply an 'Aspect Ratio Correction' in Options > Video > Advanced. This setting will be applied to all videos played in that zone.

If you have multiple displays with different settings, you can create a playback zone for each display and configure and use the zones independently.