DCNC - Appendix #7 - Projector Aspect Ratio

The Projector Aspect Ratio (“F“, “S” or “C“) indicates the pixel array size at which the projector should be set.  It does not necessarily indicate the aspect ratio of the image — or theatre masking instructions — since often times content such as trailers may be letterboxed or pillar-boxed.  The choices are: 


= Flat (1.85:1)  Pixel array size: 

1998 x 1080 = 2k

3996 x 2160 = 4k


= Scope (2.39:1)  Pixel array size: 

2048 x 858 = 2k

4096 x 1716 = 4k


= Full Container (1.90:1)  Pixel array size: 

2048 x 1080 = 2k

4096 x 2160 = 4k


Digital Cinema projectors are designed to project Flat or Scope images.  Occasionally product is packaged with Aspect Ratios other than 1.85 (Flat) or 2.39 (Scope).  For example, an older 1.33 Aspect Ratio film may be packaged as a 1.85 Flat package with black pillars on the sides to “pad out” the 1.33 image to 1.85.  (The top and bottom of the 1.33 image would be in the same place as the top and bottom of 1.85.)  Similarly, older wide formats such as 266:1 might be packaged inside a Flat or Scope container with horizontal black bars on the top and bottom to “pad” the image up to the top and bottom of 1.85 or 2.39.  (The 2.66 would be “common sides” with the 2.39 or 1.85.)  In order to alert theatres that these are intentional black bars or pillars around the edges, the Aspect Ratio Field can be modified to clarify what the theatre is getting.

For example:

F-133” would indicate a Flat package with a pillar-boxed 1.33 image inside it.  “S-266” would indicate a Scope package with a letterboxed 2.66 image letterboxed within the 2.39 etc.  The theatre would have the option of adjusting its masking to block the black pillars.

Never use this labeling device with Trailers!

Trailers are almost always produced in both Flat and Scope versions regardless of the aspect ratio of the feature advertised.  Quite often, the “non-native” format of the trailer is letterboxed or pillar-boxed.  These “cross aspect ratio” trailers should never be identified using this method (F-239 or S-185) since theatres should not be encouraged to change masking for a single trailer on the playlist or this could inadvertently spoil the needed masking for the feature.  (Changing masking from trailer to trailer is not practical.)

In the Composition Playlist


The Aspect Ratio is listed at //Reel//MainPicture[1]/ScreenAspectRatio or //Reel//MainStereoscopicPicture[1]/ScreenAspectRatio:




          <ScreenAspectRatio>133 1</ScreenAspectRatio>





The Pixel Array Size of the projector is listed at //Reel[1]//MainPictureStoredArea:

<CompositionMetadataAsset xmlns=”http://www.smpte-ra.org/schemas/429-16/2014/CPL-Metadata”>


     <MainPictureStoredArea> <!– Total screen area for “F-133” at 4K –>







The Pixel Array Size of the content in the DCP (a function of pixel array size and aspect Ratio) is listed at //Reel[1]//MainPictureActiveArea:

<CompositionMetadataAsset xmlns=”http://www.smpte-ra.org/schemas/429-16/2014/CPL-Metadata”>


     <MainPictureActiveArea> <!– Active screen area for “F-133” at 4K –>







Additional Notes:

  1. 2D content uses the MainPicture element; 3D content uses the MainStereoscopicPicture element (and they are placed at different locations within the Reel.
  2. The CPL doesn’t have an explicit indicator of 2K or 4K content; it can be inferred from the dimensions recorded in MainPictureStoredArea.