Display portrait and landscape format picture in equal size using a video projector

Do you also feel that this is the big disadvantage of modern picture projection compared to the old-fashioned slides: portrait format is really handicaped because you have two big black bars on the left and right hand sides. Video projectors have an aspect ratio of 4:3 or even 16:9 compared to the squared display size of old slide projectors.

I thought about that and came up with the following solution:

  • If you could get a video projector with a squared display size everything would be fine. It would signal to the Mac/PC a squared screen (e.g. 1024 x 1024 or even 1200 x 1200) and if you would display the pictures on that screen portrait format would have the same size as landscape format pictures, each having black bars on top/bottom or left/right. But there is no such device.
    So, let’s cheat a little bit. On the Mac there is a utility called SwitchResX. With that you can define a new custom resolution for the video projector connected. I defined 1200 x 1200 with 60 Hz. You have to reboot to make this new resolution available and the nice thing is that you do not need SwitchResX any more once the custom resolution is defined. I believe there are similar utilities for the Windows world available.
  • My video projector (a quite nice Epson with WUXGA resolution) accepts that new resolution without a problem although the picture is not quite squared yet. I had to fiddle around a little bit with display width and zoom (I had to adjust „pace“) but finally: voilà, the display is squared. Now the silde show really makes fun even with a lot of portrait format pictures. Of course you loose quite a bit of the native resolution of the video projector since you do not use all pixels of the row but that’s ok for me.

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