Resolutions, Aspect Ratios and Orientation

Content files and screens used in digital signage networks have their aspect ratio and resolutions set to a fixed format. Broadsign Core can manage content in order to use the maximum screen size available without stretching or distorting the images on the screen.

Pictures and video files come in a variety of formats and aspect ratios.The screens that play these media files also come in various aspect ratios.To make informed decisions on the aspect ratio of content to be used, a review of common standards is a useful step.

With proper display and content management you can avoid stretching the content and ensure you have the content to match your screen layout without adding black bars on the top or bottom of the screen. The presence of black bars is called the “pillar boxing” or “letter boxing effect”. See Adjusting Content Size.

A list of common dimensions can be seen below (the ratio represents width-to-height ratio of the image, video, or screen):

Resolution (pixels) Ratio Format
640 x 480 4: 3 VGA
720 x 480 3: 2 DV NTSC / VGA
768 x 576 4: 3 PAL
800 x 600 4: 3 SVGA
854 x 480 16: 9 LCD/PDP TV displays
1024 x 576 16: 9 XGA
1024 x 768 4: 3 XGA
1152 x 864 4: 3 Wide Aspect PC screen
1280 x 720 16: 9 720p HDTV
1280 x 960 4: 3 SXGA
1366 x 768 16: 9 Wide XGA
1920 x 1080 16: 9 1080p HDTV

Broadsign Core will re-size an ad copy without modifying its aspect ratio in order to achieve the best fit within the frame. For example, when 4:3 content is played on 16:9 screens there will be two black bars that appear on either side (pillar boxing), conversely when 16:9 content plays on 4:3 screens Broadsign Player will add two bars on the top and bottom of the screen (letter boxing).

Letter Boxing vs. Pillar Boxing

This ensures that your ad copies are never distorted or stretched as the image below depicts:
Stretching vs. Scaling

Bundles allow the user to place different resolution ad copies, for different screen dimensions and aspect ratios, in a digital signage network.

Display and Ad Copy Matching
Bundled Content with Various Displays

When you use a 16:9 anamorphic screen, with 1024 x 768 resolution, it may lead to distorted image files. You can correct these distortions by creating content in anamorphic 1024×768 format.

Anamorphic Content


Screens can be setup in a portrait or landscape orientation. The player will display content on screen as the image below depicts.


If you are still experiencing difficulties, ensure you are using the maximum screen size available.

In order to display at the correct setting, the following resources must be properly configured:

    • Frame within Display Unit/Day Part: Ensure that your targeted frame is setup as full screen so that the entire physical screen is used. This will allow you to rule out frame sizes while you’re debugging any screen parameters related to display incidents. In your desired frame/day part ensure that only 1 frame is created and it uses 100% width and height with the “In Pixels” option unchecked.
    • Ad Copy size: The Ad copy’s actual size needs to be verified that it is actually the expected dimensions (W x H) by using any image editing software.
    • Player PC: Ensure that the PC’s video card can actually display the expected resolution (W x H). This can be verified in the Display Settings by right-clicking on the desktop.
    • Monitor Resolution: In the Monitor settings, ensure that the resolution is correctly configured. When 4:3 content is played on 16:9 screens there will be two black bars that appear on either side (pillar boxing). Its not enough for the physical size of the monitor to be W x H, the monitor’s settings must also match this W x H value. Another possibility is that the video card cannot send a W x H signal that is compatible with the display. You can verify this by looking at the Windows desktop and seeing if it is being truncated in the same way as the image in the player.