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What is a Letterbox Video?

Letterbox is a format of video that enables us to see videos of different aspect ratios in screens that do not support the same.

How to identify a Letterbox Video?

Letterboxed videos can be easily identified because of their mattes (black bars). These are placed above and below the video.

Where does the term Letterbox come from?

The origin of the term Letterbox comes from physical letterboxes due to their rectangular shape and that fact that they are wider than their height.

What is letterboxing?

It is an alternate way to transfer a widescreen film image to videodisc or videotape. The standard pan-and-scan transfer can easily delete up to 40-45% of the original video. This happens because it narrows the video by deleting the sides. In some cases, it can even delete up to 75% of the videos.

In letterboxing instead of cropping the video, it is shrunk down till it matches the aspect the ratio of the required screen. This leaves spaces above and below the video which is filled up with mattes. The mattes in most cases are kept symmetrical. The matte below the video is kept wider so that subtitles can be added instead of the image. It is often kept symmetrical even when subtitles are added to the matte but it provides less space.