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Full Guide on Video Resolution & How to Choose the Right Size


Full Guide on Video Resolution & How to Choose the Right Size

Video resolution can make a big difference to the overall quality of your video content, allowing you to produce crisp, clear videos that show off your skills as effectively as possible and enhance your filmmaking reputation. 

By understanding the power of video resolution, you can start to make informed choices. With the right skills on your side, you can select highly effective video creation software tools and improve your video quality. In no time, you’ll achieve great professionalism and start creating studio-quality content!

Regardless of whether you’re a novice video creator or a skilled and experienced producer, you can use resolution to improve your content quality. Here’s what you need to know to get started now.

What is video resolution?

A video’s resolution describes the number of pixels included within each video frame, arranged by the frame’s dimensions. In basic terms, video resolution relates to the clarity and crispness of video content. The more pixels per frame of video, the clearer and more realistic-looking your video will be.

What are pixels?

Used to describe visual clarity in videos and still photographs, pixels are the tiny squares of light that make up a digital image. A pixel is the smallest unit of a digital display, with a single frame containing up to a million pixels.

The more pixels that are present in an image, the more individual units of light are shown or displayed. This means that frames with more pixels produce clearer images than those with fewer pixels present. 

What is an aspect ratio?

A video’s aspect ratio refers to the relationship between the height and width of a video frame, represented by two numbers separated by a colon. An aspect ratio describes the shape or dimensions of a video clip and its frames.

While a video’s aspect ratio may not directly affect its quality, it will influence pixel count, which can increase or reduce visual clarity. Your video’s aspect ratio can also affect publishing destinations and options, so it’s a worthy consideration to be aware of early on in the production process. 

Two types of resolution

While the above refers to the generalized definition of video resolution, there are actually two distinct resolution types or classifications you need to understand if you want to navigate video resolution with confidence. 

Spatial video resolution relates to the height and width of a video frame–or the video’s aspect ratio. Due to space restrictions, this will affect the number of pixels present, ultimately having an impact on the resolution and subsequent video clarity.

Temporal resolution, on the other hand, refers to the video resolution as it relates to the frame rate, or the number of times frames change per second. This metric measures resolution over time as the video progresses. 

Why is video resolution important?

Video resolution can have a profound effect on your content results, making it an essential consideration in video production.

Aside from influencing the visual quality of your video, resolution can impact your video file’s publishing suitability.

In many cases, a high video resolution is the best choice, allowing you to produce a sharp image. But in some cases, you may need to select a lower resolution to accommodate the file compatibility of a video-sharing platform, like TikTok or YouTube.

The more you know about video resolution, the better you’ll understand how it works. You’ll be well-equipped to make informed filmmaking decisions that take all factors into account, from quality goals to production tools, distribution requirements, and everything in between.

Ideally, it’s best to make a video resolution decision as early on in the production process as possible. This can help to ensure that you capture content as you need it while remaining aware of where your content creation journey will take you next. You’ll be prepared for publication while saving time and stress down the road! When in doubt, it’s best to record content in higher resolution and adjust later. This provides you with better editing flexibility.

Video resolution sizes

There are a number of standardized video resolution sizes and aspect ratios. Check below to find out what they are and what they mean for your video content.


In terms of resolution, SD stands for “standard definition.” This is a basic standard for simple videography. SD videos are measured as 480p with an aspect ratio of 4:3. With lower-quality visual elements, SD videos are most often used for basic videos shared online when high quality is not wanted or needed. Despite their low clarity, SD videos can offer some benefits, as they also have a low bit rate, reducing the need for buffering with slow internet speeds.


In video production, HD stands for “high definition.” This provides a clearer picture than SD video size. HD videos are measured as 720p with an aspect ratio of 16:9. HD videos can be displayed on a variety of devices, including TVs and computers. These videos aren’t excessively demanding for playback but still provide superior clarity when compared to SD. 

Full HD

Full HD, or full high-definition, videos are at a higher level than their HD counterparts. Full HD videos are measured as 1080p with an aspect ratio of 16:9. Like HD videos, full HD content can be shown on a TV, computer, or LCD monitor. Some television shows may even use this video resolution.


2K videos offer a higher resolution value again, therefore providing a clearer picture. 2K videos are measured as 1080p with a pixel resolution of 2048 x 1080 and an aspect ratio of 1:1.77. In many arenas, 2K videos are the most common. They are frequently used for television and computer displays, able to be accommodated across a wide range of platforms while still offering improved video quality. 


4K videos offer studio-quality results while still being supported by most non-commercial channels such as YouTube. Crisp and clear, 4K videos are measured as 4K or 2160p with an aspect ratio of 1:1.9. Increasingly, 4K videos are becoming a popular resolution, offering four times the resolution of full HD content. 4K videos are great for providing realistic, unpixelated television and computer displays.


8K videos are the highest resolution, still relatively new to the market but expected to achieve fast popularity. 8K videos are measured as 8K or 4320p with an aspect ratio of 16:9. They supersede the resolution of full HD video by eight times. 8K videos are most often reserved for movies and other professional videography projects.

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How to choose an optimal video resolution

When choosing a video resolution, it’s important to consider a variety of factors. This way, you can ensure that you achieve the best visual results while maintaining a usable file size that is compatible with major publishing avenues.

Often, the best way to choose your video resolution is by deciding how you’d like to publish your content and referring to the guidelines provided by your preferred video-sharing platform. 

Recommended video resolution for YouTube

On YouTube, the standard aspect ratio for videos is 16:9. In fact, if your video is not this size, the YouTube system will change its dimensions to align with platform and device requirements. 

YouTube recommends choosing one of the following resolutions:

  • 240p
  • 360p
  • 480p
  • 720p
  • 1080p
  • 1440p
  • 4K
  • 8K

Recommended video resolution for Instagram

On Instagram, most videos are shared as reels. The best aspect ratio for an Instagram reel is 9:16, generally with a 1080p resolution.

Recommended video resolution for TikTok

Similarly, on TikTok, videos are designed to fit the app’s full-screen viewing model. The best aspect ratio is 9:16 with a video resolution of 1080p. 

FAQs on video resolution

Still unsure about video resolution and how you can make the right decisions for your digital content? Here are our answers to a few frequently asked questions. 

What do 480p and 720p mean?

These both relate to different video sizes and resolutions! 480p videos offer an aspect ratio of 4:3 and are commonly referred to as standard definition, or SD, videos. 720p videos have a 16:9 aspect ratio and are known as high-definition, or HD, videos. 

What is 1080p resolution size?

1080p videos can fall into two separate categories. With an aspect ratio of 16:9, a 1080p video is generally referred to as full HD. Conversely, a 1080p video with a 1:1.77 aspect ratio is considered a 2K video. 

What is 1920 x 1080 screen resolution?

Videos with 1920 x 1080 pixel dimensions have an aspect ratio of 16:9. These videos are classified as 1080p or full HD. 

Here at Riverside, we pride ourselves on providing user-friendly studio-quality software that makes it easy for you to create excellent video content. Using Riverside, you can create videos with up to 4K resolutions to suit any content plan.

Are you ready to get started with better videography? Give Riverside a try today!

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