Join Todd Kopriva for an in-depth discussion in this video How do I get rid of black bars around my movie?, part of Premiere Pro: Frequently Asked Questions (2011).
Frequently asked questions about Premier Pro. Why do I have black borders around my movie? Frequently, when people see that they have black borders at either the top and bottom. Or the left and right of their movies they wonder why. Well there are several different reasons this could happen, let's look at these in a little bit of detail. First let's talk a little bit about Image Aspect Ratios. Here in the project panel we can see information about each of our footage items. We can see how many pixels wide and tall it is.
In this case this movie is 1920 by 1080. The number in parenthesis gives the Pixel Aspect Ratio. 1920x1080 is a ratio of 16:9. 16:9 is a very common Aspect Ratio for High Definition video. Let's look at another example, this video. Is 720 by 480. This is a different ratio than 16 by 9. This means that if you put this 720 by 480 pixel movie into a sequence that is set up for High definition television. If you scale this movie up uniformly, both in width and height, it won't exactly fit the frame.
And that is really the primary problem that we have when we see these black borders. A movie with one Aspect Ratio. One ratio of width to height is being used in a frame that is intended for a movie of another Aspect Ratio. This comes up very often when we have a 4:3 Aspect Ratio, as in this sequence. But the movie within it is 16:9. In order to fit a 16:9 rectangle into a 4:3 rectangle, so space has to be left at the top and the bottom.
So, what does this mean to you practically? If you see that you have black borders at the top and the bottom of your movie it could be for a number of very specific local reasons. In this example here, let's right-click, or Ctrl Click on Mac OS. And choose Reveal In Project. And we see that this movie actually has an Aspect Ratio of 720 by 480. And it's in a sequence that is 720 by 480. So you'd think that this movie wouldnt ahve any black bars.
Let's cancel out of the Sequence Settings dialog box. So what can be the issue? Well let's go ahead and open this movie up. In the Source monitor. And we actually see looking at this movie in the Source monitor that the black bars are actually part of the original source footage. So the problem is not that Premier Pro is putting black bars onto the source footage. It's that the black bars are actually here in the first place. So that's reason number one you could have black bars in Premier Pro. Its that the black bar are actually in your source footage this is not uncommon. When people creat 4 by 3 movies that contain 16 by 9 content, they often use letter boxing as we see here. Let's look at another possible reason.
In this movie, right-click or Cmd Click on Mac OS, Reveal In Project, we see that this is a 1920 by 1080 movie. And let's look at it's Sequence Settings. Sequence Settings are 720 by 480, so in this case if we open this in the Source panel. We'll see that the actual source does not have the black bars but the program does, and that's because the source is 16 by 9. And the source is fitting withint a 4 by 3 frame. If you don't want the black bars in this case, you do have some alternatives. You could use the Motion Effect and scale the movie up so that the black bars go away from the top and the bottom.
But this means that you're losing information on the left and the right. Or you could determine that you should change your Sequence Settings. And instead of using a sequence that has a 4 by 3 Aspect Ratio. Instead, work in 16 by 9. It depends on what you'll be outputting to. Let's look at another example. This example, we have borders on the left and the right. And if we right-click or Ctrl+ Click on Mac OS to Reveal In Project. To look at the properties of the clip, we see that it's 1920 by 1080, which is good.
Because we see that this looks like a 1920 by 1080 or 16 by 9 frame. Let's go ahead and check the Seqence Settings to make sure. Sequence Settings, 1920 by 1080. So, what could be wrong? Well, notice this sequence has square pixels. And I'll cancel out of the Sequence Settings dialog box. Yet, this clip according to the project panel is currently being interpreted as having pixels that are non-square, 0.9091. Pixel Aspect Ratio is the ratio of width to height of a pixel.
Some pixels are tall and skinny and some pixels are short and fat. 1920 by 1080 High Definition television is usually square pixels, so, this is wrong. We can fix this by interpreting the footage, go to Modify > Iinterprete Footage. Then for Pixel Aspect Ratio, tell it to use the Pixel Aspect Ratio from the file. Which is 1.0 or you could manually match it to 1.0 here. Click Okay, and then everything's fine. So those are the three primary ways you're likely to be getting black bars in Premiere Pro.
Point number one, is that the black bar is actually appear in your source footage. In which case you could crop them out and scale them away. Or, it could be, that you are using footage of one Image Aspect Ratio in a sequence of another Aspect Ratio. Again, the solution there, you can either change the Sequence Settings. Or use Scaling to make the black bars go away. Or it could be that your Pixel Aspect Ratio is being interpreted incorrectly. In which case you just have to interpret it correctly. .
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