Back in 2002 I wrote a widely-publicized article about all churches needing to make the move to 16:9 aspect ratio widescreen. Almost 11 years later, it turns out I was almost right.
The idea that 16:9 aspect ratio allows for the width to type in song lyrics “more like they’re sung” without as many odd carriage-returns is still true today. It’s as if 16:9 was made for church song lyrics, nevermind the change from Standard Definition television to Widescreen TV. But what I didn’t see happening as much as it has is the use of even wider screens than the new 16:9 standard. The creative minds in churches have been adding more impressive display technology as it improves and the price drops. Well beyond 16:9, superwide edge-blended screens and even environmental projection (which 10 years ago was reserved for only churches with massive tech budgets) are a rising trend.
For those churches still in the 4:3 screen mode, here’s some help to show your leadership how 16:9 (or wider) is where you need to be. I’ve included some very basic examples below (thanks to ProPresenter, a favorite of mine) to help serve as visual examples of my now decade-old advice to churches.
Just for grins, I’ve copied-and-pasted part of the original article below, including the very ugly graphics I used to illustrate my point. (Oy vey!)
Excerpt from my original article from 2002.
There is a mindset that the 16:9 aspect ratio is primarily for video. More specifically, that it is for Home Theatres almost exclusively. I wanted to offer my insight on an application where 16:9 should be used nearly all the time: churches.
Probably the most often used function of a projector in church auditoriums today is for song lyrics. I’ve been in literally hundreds of churches and have seen a common problem with the 4:3 aspect ratio for these song lyrics: It doesn’t read the way it sings. Allow me to explain.
While the type of songs and the style of music may be widely different, the basic verse and chorus structure remains about the same. Here is an example:
4:3 lyrics can’t be sung like they’re typed
Now, the same song in 16:9 not only takes one less screen, but the breaks at the end of the sentences are typed like it is sung. For people visiting a church for the first time, a common problem is not knowing the songs, which can make these guests uncomfortable – and may even make them feel awkward for not singing along. With the 16:9 version though, the song “sings” the way it “reads” on the screen thereby allowing someone who doesn’t know a song to join right in with the long-time members in singing along.