Changing the aspect ratio of a video in Premiere Pro is something I find to be a fundamental skill for any video editor. Aspect ratio, which is the width of an image in relation to its height, varies based on the platform or device you’re targeting. Whether it’s the traditional 16:9 widescreen format, the vertical 9:16 for platforms like TikTok, or even cinematic widescreen ratios like 2.35:1, knowing how to make these adjustments is crucial to ensure my videos look right on any screen.

How to Change Aspect Ratio in Premiere Pro 02

I often start by creating a new sequence in Premiere Pro specifically tailored to the aspect ratio I need. I have more detailed instructions on that below but the process is straightforward: selecting the right sequence settings is a breeze, I simply adjust frame size settings to match my desired aspect ratio.

Throughout my time video editing, I’ve learned that using the right aspect ratio can dramatically impact how viewers perceive my work – and Premiere Pro makes this transformation a pretty smooth process.

How to Change Aspect Ratio in Premiere Pro

If you quickly need to change an existing project, here’s how to set up and change aspect ratios in Premiere Pro. To change the aspect ratio in Premiere Pro, simply:

  • Click: File > New > Sequence and click on the Settings tab. 
How to Change Aspect Ratio in Premiere Pro
  • Then under the Video section, you need to update the Vertical value. This should be a horizontal value divided by your aspect ratio. 
  • Horizontal Value divided by Aspect Ratio = Vertical Value. 
  • The Aspect Ratio can only be updated by altering either of your footage vertical or horizontal values.

Setting Up Your Project

Before you dive into editing in Premiere Pro, you’ve got to set the stage by creating a new sequence with the right settings to match your project’s needs. Let me break down how to open a fresh sequence and tweak those settings for your aspect ratio.

Creating a New Sequence

To kick things off, I head up to the File menu, select New, and then click on Sequence. This is the foundation of where my video will take shape. Here’s a quick rundown:

  • Go to File > New > Sequence or use the shortcut Ctrl+N (Command+N for Mac users).
  • A dialog box pops up where I can choose from various presets or create my own custom settings.

Tailoring Your Sequence Settings

Once I’m in the New Sequence dialog box, I make my way over to the Settings tab. This is where I can really fine-tune how my video will look. Here’s what I focus on:

  • Frame Size: I enter the width and height for my video. The numbers depend on the aspect ratio I am aiming for.
    • For instance, 1920×1080 is the standard for a 16:9 aspect ratio.
  • The Resolution: It’s key. A higher resolution like 4K (3840 x 2160) makes my video super crisp, but it also takes up more computing power and storage.

Remember, these settings determine the visuals of my timeline and, ultimately, my final video, so I make sure they’re exactly what I need before I start editing.

Selecting the Aspect Ratio

Selecting the right aspect ratio for my project is crucial. It’s about matching the content with the platform I’m targeting, be it YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, or TikTok.

What are the different types of aspect ratios?

Here’s a brief overview of the different types of aspect ratios and what they’re used for.

  • Widescreen (16:9) – used for online videos, documentaries, and films.
  • Vertical (9:16) – commonly used on mobile phones.
  • Fullscreen (4:3) – this was used before widescreen was introduced.
  • Square (1:1) – this is currently used for social media. 
  • Anamorphic (2.35:1) – used in the movies and gives your footage a cinematic feel.

Choosing Preset Aspect Ratios

I usually start by checking out the preset aspect ratios that Premiere Pro offers. For standard widescreen videos, like those on YouTube, the 16:9 preset is my go-to. This translates to a resolution of 1920×1080 (1080p). But if I’m targeting social media platforms like Instagram or Facebook for square videos, the 1:1 or 4:3 ratio presets come in handy. Vertical videos, popular on TikTok and Instagram stories, often work well with the 9:16 preset.

Custom Aspect Ratios

Sometimes, the presets don’t fit my vision, and I need a custom aspect ratio. It’s pretty easy to set this up in Premiere Pro. In the New Sequence dialogue box, under the Settings tab, I manually enter the frame size — width and height. This is where I can get creative.

If I want a cinematic look, I might go for an Anamorphic 2.35:1 aspect ratio by inputting custom resolutions like 1920×817. For custom square or vertical videos, I just ensure the width and height reflect the aspect ratio I need, like 1080×1080 for square or 1080×1920 for a vertical video, paying attention to the orientation—width goes first.

Editing Techniques

When I’m working on optimizing the aspect ratio in Premiere Pro, my focus is usually on ensuring that every clip looks its best for its destined platform. Here’s how I tackle the editing process, specifically adjusting clip size and positioning and using Auto Reframe for various platforms.

Adjusting Clip Size and Position

When I need to tweak the size and position of my video clips, I often use the “Scale to Frame Size” feature. This convenient option ensures that clips fit into the sequence frame without distorting. Here are my quick steps:

  1. Select the clip: In the timeline, I click on the clip I want to adjust.
  2. Open Effect Controls: With the clip selected, the Effect Controls pane shows options for that specific clip.
  3. Adjust Scale and Position: I’ll manually change the scale by tweaking the value, or click and drag directly in the Program Monitor for position adjustments.

Sometimes, I also apply an adjustment layer if I want to apply consistent scaling or positioning to multiple clips at once.

Using Auto Reframe for Different Platforms

Switching aspect ratios for different social platforms can be time-consuming, but Auto Reframe Sequence is a lifesaver. Here’s what I do:

  1. Right-click on the sequence I want to adjust.
  2. Select “Auto Reframe Sequence” from the context menu.
  3. Choose a preset or custom aspect ratio geared towards the target platform, be it portrait, landscape, or square.

Auto Reframe analyzes the clips and applies motion tracking to keep the important action in the frame, which is particularly useful when I’m dealing with dynamic content. If I need to, I can always fine-tune the results afterward.

Throughout this editing journey, I keep an eye out for any necessary trims or transitions that might be needed to ensure the video section flows smoothly after the adjustments. Remember, the goal is to keep the audience focused on the content, no matter what platform they’re on.

Fine-Tuning and Exporting

Before hitting that export button, I make sure every visual element looks just right. This means no unintended black bars and ensuring the video meets platform-specific requirements.

Removing Black Bars and Letterboxing

When I adjust my sequence settings to my target aspect ratio, sometimes I still see black bars on the top, bottom, or sides of my video. This is known as letterboxing and can happen if my footage doesn’t exactly fit the new aspect ratio. I use the ‘Scale to Frame Size’ option to enlarge the footage slightly without distorting it, under ‘Effect Controls’ > ‘Motion’ > ‘Scale’. If the footage quality drops or looks stretched, I opt for pan and scan techniques where I animate the position over time to focus on the important parts of the video.

Export Settings for Various Platforms

Different social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, or YouTube might need different aspect ratios:

  • Facebook: 16:9 for landscape, 1:1 for square videos.
  • Instagram: 1:1 for square posts, 4:5 for portrait, 9:16 for stories.
  • YouTube: Primarily 16:9.

In Premiere Pro, I head to File > Export > Media to open the export settings. I make my choices in the ‘Basic Video Settings’ to ensure my aspect ratio is correct. For example, a 16:9 aspect ratio needs a resolution like 1920×1080. Playback speed can be adjusted if needed under the ‘Time Interpolation’ settings. I make sure to review all settings twice; a wrong export means redoing this step all over again, and nobody wants that.

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