Mathalicious: Letterboxing

How do aspect ratios affect what you see on TV?

When you watch TV, why doesn’t the picture always fit the screen, and what’s up with those black bars?

In this lesson students learn about aspect ratios in TV and film, and how the process of “letterboxing” affects the final image. They’ll also use proportions to find out what happens when you change the ratio on a TV.

If the picture doesn’t fill the screen, should we use the remote to zoom in, and what is lost when we do? Let’s find out.


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Math Topics
Algebra & Pre-Algebra, Ratios, Rates & Percents
Middle School
7th Grade

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