I have some content recorded in hdv, which is anamorphic. I only recently came to understand what that means exactly. Concerning the video size, it is 1440 x 1080, but the pixels are not square; they are wide. The effect is that the video displays the same as full HD 1920 x 1080.

I currently don't have a need for these particular videos to be in HD. Standard DVD definition is suitable. I also prefer that they are cropped to full size frame, instead of widescreen. So I would like to convert them to 640 x 480.

I have used handbrake to try and accomplish this but I am not sure how to make the best settings for this. Here's what I have come up with, but I am not sure what exactly I am getting out of it:

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I don't necessarily mind if the video is anamorphic or not as long as it consistently displays 640 x 480. I don't know if it makes a difference, but this will be web videos in an HTML5 player. Currently, the player is designed to declare only the video width, so the height is whatever the ratio-correct number should be. I honestly don't know if this works for anamorphic videos.

All I really want here is the best settings to convert this HDV to an Mp4 that will be shown in an HTML5 player with the full screen aspect ratio at a maximum resolution of 640 x 480.

1 Answer 1


Whenever you publish something to end-users you ALWAYS want square pixels, everything else WILL make problems.

So just convert your anamorphic video to a square pixel aspect ratio. Handbrake should automatically handle that, the settings you have right now should output a video with square pixel aspect ratio. Just add the vertical resolution.

Is there any reason why you would want to crop your video to 4:3? A down-scaled 16:9 square pixel resolution would equal to 640x360 for a "SD" resolution (bare in mind there are several different DVD standards) and I would suggest you to use that resolution and don't just crop your video unless you have an artistic reason for that.

If handbrake is unable to handle the non-square pixels you will have to reside to use either a full fledged video editor or alternatively FFmpeg.

  • I can't seem to enter a value in the vertical pixel box. Don't know why. Yes, the reason for cropping is functional/artistic. They are lectures given mostly from a podium, so there is a lot of unused space on either side which can be better used in the player for functions, slides content, etc.
    – user3643
    Jun 25, 2014 at 8:00
  • Unless you want to automate the cropping and conversion I'd recommend using a video editor so you can choose where to crop the video, an even crop on both sides isn't always the best solution, sometimes the action isn't fully centerd and you might end up cropping something useful. Nearly all decent NLE's will also correct the pixel aspect ratio for you.
    – timonsku
    Jun 25, 2014 at 14:57
  • I put in height 480 and crop on either side at 180 and it works great. Thanks for the help. You've helped me understand anamorphic video a bit more.
    – user3643
    Jul 3, 2014 at 5:18

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