In this post, you are going to lean how to add black bars in Premiere Pro in 8 simple steps. When you’re watching a blockbuster in the cinema, you see those cinematic black bars that scream cinematic marvel. It adds another layer to your film. That, paired with the perfect color grading, adds that next level of authenticity to your creation. Let’s get started!

How to Add Black Bars in Premiere Pro

Letterboxing produces an ultra-wide setup for your audience, and in this guide, we show you how to add black bars in Premiere Pro, let’s check it out below!

How to Add Black Bars in Premiere Pro

What is Letterboxing?

Letterboxing is the process of adding cinematic black bars to the top and bottom (or sides) of a video frame, resulting in a wider aspect ratio. It’s used by filmmakers for a few reasons:

  1. To preserve the original aspect ratio of a film: Many films are shot in wider aspect ratios than the standard 16:9 (or 4:3) aspect ratios of most video screens. By letterboxing the film, the filmmaker can preserve the original aspect ratio and present the film as intended.
  2. To create a cinematic look: The wider aspect ratio created by letterboxing can give a video a more cinematic feel. This is because many films are shot in wider aspect ratios, so viewers may associate the look with the movies they watch in theaters.
  3. To focus the viewer’s attention: By adding black bars, the filmmaker can draw the viewer’s attention to the center of the frame. This can be useful for directing the viewer’s attention to specific details or characters in the video.

Overall, letterboxing is a technique that can be used to enhance the visual presentation of a video and provide a more immersive experience for the viewer.

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Why would you add black bars in Premiere Pro?

It allows you to create a cinematic feel to your video footage. It allows people to watch your video footage back in a cinema-style way.  Whether it’s your first short film or you’ve ventured out into the world of feature films, adding black bars to your footage will give it a cinematic look in Premiere Pro.

This, combined with decent color grading, will give you the cinematic feel your footage deserves. Here’s how to add cinematic black bars in Premiere Pro:

How to Add Black Bars in Premiere Pro

Here’s our simple to follow step by step guide on how to add cinematic bars in Premiere Pro. To begin, simply:

  1. Import your footage into Premiere Pro and drop it onto the Timeline
  2. Now, open up the Essential Graphics panel and then click the New Layer icon.
  3. Choose the rectangle in the list of drop-down shapes. 
  4. In the Appearance tab, click the Fill Button and change it to black.
  5. Adjust the shape and size of the bar by clicking the Selection Arrow
  6. Now, right-click on your black bar layer in the Essential Graphics panel and click on Duplicate to creatine an identical copy of the black bar. 
  7. Now you’ve duplicated the black bars. Click and drag the edges so that your black bars appear for the duration of the video. 
  8. Finally review, and ensure any key areas are covered, and the black bars are covered accordingly to create the cinematic crop.
how to add black bars in Premiere Pro
how to add black bars in Premiere Pro

And there you have it, that is how to add black bars in Premiere Pro. As simple as that, turn your video footage into a cinematic marvel. 

Video: Add Black Bars in Premiere Pro

Here’s a quick video on how to add black bars to your video while editing in Adobe Premiere Pro.

How do I make black bars in Premiere Pro without cropping?

To get the black bars or letterbox feel without cropping any video footage, make sure you use a cinematic aspect ratio when you film.

Additional Premiere Pro Resources

If you are looking for more tutorials, walkthroughs and troubleshooting on Adobe Premiere Pro, here are some additional posts to consider:

A Brief History of Letterboxing

The practice of letterboxing dates back to the early days of cinema, when films were shot in various aspect ratios that did not necessarily match the dimensions of the screens they were projected onto. To address this, projectionists would mask the top and bottom of the frame with black tape to create the illusion of a wider screen.

In the 1950s and 1960s, widescreen formats like CinemaScope and Panavision became popular, further increasing the need for letterboxing. These formats required a wider aspect ratio than the standard 4:3 aspect ratio of televisions at the time, so films shot in these formats were often letterboxed to fit onto a TV screen.

In the 1980s and 1990s, as home video became more popular, letterboxing became a common way to present films in their original aspect ratios on TV screens. This was done by adding cinematic bars to the top and bottom of the frame, or sometimes to the sides, to preserve the original aspect ratio of the film.

Today, letterboxing is still used by filmmakers and video editors to create a cinematic look or to preserve the original aspect ratio of a film. However, with the rise of widescreen TVs and the popularity of streaming services, the need for letterboxing has decreased somewhat, as many films and TV shows are now shot in wider aspect ratios that match the dimensions of modern screens.

We hope this guide on how to add black bars in Premiere Pro was useful to you. Let us know your thoughts down below in the comments; we love to hear from you. Scroll a little further to see our latest Premiere Pro tutorials. 

Happy editing!

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