26 Replies Latest reply on Aug 14, 2012 1:14 PM by Greg Baber

    Aspect ratio question


      I am a video production teacher and we just switched this year from FCP to Premiere Pro.


      We have to change all of our video to 4:3 (for our community access ch).


      I use Canon HF R32 cameras. They only record in 16:9.  In years past, we would use Clip Wrap and convert the video to 4:3, .mov.


      Now, in Premiere Pro, I don't think I need to convert the video. Premiere reads AVCHD files.


      But they are 16:9. How do I change or setup the sequence setting so the video is 4:3? 


      What I have tried so far, only zooms in on the video and if I export it 4:3, there are black bars across the top and bottom.


      What am I missing?





        • 1. Re: Aspect ratio question
          josephs51576386 Level 3

          Is the footage you're shooting HD or SD?


          Well if you edit in 16x9 and then export to 4x3 you're going to end up with black bars on the top and bottom that's just the way it goes. The only way you can avoid letterboxing is by

          editing the 16x9 footage in a 4x3 sequence and then basically center cutting everything. By this I mean it will only keep what's in the center because since 16x9 is wider than 4x3 it will cut off the sides.You have to plan for this while shooting though.

          If your footage is SD then you can just make sequence like what I am showing in this picture. Then just don't scale the footage down at all unless you don't mind letterboxing.






          However if you're just wanting to make a 4x3 sequence then you can just simply make a new sequence and set the settings to 4x3 then put the 16x9 footage in the timeline. Then edit as I have suggested.

          • 2. Re: Aspect ratio question
            Jim_Simon Level 9

            Edit in a sequence that matches your source footage.


            When you go to export, choose the specifications you need.  Then you have one more choice to make.  In the Export Settings dialog you will choose either Scale to Fit, which will give you a letterboxed version, or Scale to Fill, which will crop off the sides and give you a Full Frame version.


            Scale Options.png

            • 3. Re: Aspect ratio question
              josephs51576386 Level 3

              Good solution I hadn't ever done it that way. I've always just edited the 16x9 footage inside a 4x3 to do that. Glad to learn something new too. It's good to know multiple ways. Thanks a lot Jim

              • 4. Re: Aspect ratio question
                bbarnholdt Level 1

                Thank you for the help.  ComputerNovice, I do use the sequence setting you mentioned in the photo.  And you are correct, I was getting the black bars. 


                Jim, thank you.  I tested your advice, and it worked!  Thank you!  That is what I am going to teach them to do. 


                The only problem I see myself running into is when the students shoot an interview and they have their subject on a third, it might cut off the back of their head.  I am going to look to see if there is a setting on the camera to help compensate   

                • 5. Re: Aspect ratio question
                  josephs51576386 Level 3

                  Most cameras do indeed allow you use 4x3 markers even though you're shooting in 16x9 mode. So basically it will show you where everything will actually be cut at. That way nothing ends up being cut off. Although honestly

                  I have always just prefered the letterboxed look. Although I realize not everyone feels this way. I just find though that your shots end up coming out better as far as framing and everything if you just letterbox instead of

                  cutting off the sides.

                  • 6. Re: Aspect ratio question
                    bbarnholdt Level 1

                    I agree with you.  I love the letterbox look, and it doesn't cut anything off, but our entire studio is set up 4:3.  So we would record our anchor ins and outs in 4:3 and cut to a package in 16:9.  I think it would look strange.  I will test it though and see what it looks like.


                    Thanks again,



                    • 7. Re: Aspect ratio question
                      josephs51576386 Level 3

                      I didn't realize that, I now see your dilemma. However if you watch several networks you see that stuff all the time. But I do agree it would most likely be better if everything matched.

                      But like you said it's worth a shot.

                      • 8. Re: Aspect ratio question
                        Jim_Simon Level 9

                        I do agree it would most likely be better if everything matched.


                        I disagree.  Keep everything the way it was originally shot.  Don't mess with it.


                        But, if you want to keep everything matched, then making it ALL High Def is the better way to do that.

                        • 9. Re: Aspect ratio question
                          josephs51576386 Level 3

                          You totally missed what I meant. I meant it would be better IF everything matched, but everything doesn't match since it's shot 16x9 and has to be made 4x3 either by cropping or letterboxing. So I think you may have misunderstood what I meant.  However I do see how you took it that way now that I read how I wrote it again.


                          So actually we do agree 100%.

                          • 10. Re: Aspect ratio question
                            Steven L. Gotz Level 5

                            Personally, I find that editing HDV (16:9) in a SD frame (4:3) allows me to use the very best part of the HDV frame.Scale it down - or don't! Scale it down and place it in the center (which cuts off the sides) or use it at 100% and you can pan around in the frame.


                            I used to do that all the time when the only way to distribute my HDV was cut down to SD.


                            Now that Vimeo can be played on my Roku at a decent quality in a 1920X1080 frame, I have to be a lot more careful when I shoot! I want to use the entire HDV frame. Or HD from my SmartPhone. I have yet to write a BluRay disc. I suppose I should watch a few before I try to write one.

                            • 11. Re: Aspect ratio question
                              bbarnholdt Level 1

                              Thanks again for all your help on this topic. 


                              Last night, I found this video:




                              In the tutorial, they teach you that you can actually set the SD bars, so you select where the video is cut off on the sides. 


                              I looked on my Canon camera, there are no SD markers for the view finder. 


                              Do you know if Premiere Pro has an SD marker?  Similar to a title-safe marker?  That way when my students are editing, they would know what it cut off.


                              Does that exist?

                              • 12. Re: Aspect ratio question
                                bbarnholdt Level 1

                                I think I might have just asked a question that I already anwsered. 


                                If I turn on the "Safe Margins," the inside box matches what would be cut off if I export in 4:3.


                                Would you agree?

                                • 13. Re: Aspect ratio question
                                  Steven L. Gotz Level 5



                                  However, figuring out the exact margins is kind of a hassle. I think the ones you are looking for look like these:


                                  screen shot safe margins.pngscreen shot safe margins settings.png

                                  I am not 100% sure that I got the exact percentages right. I think so, but ...


                                  I created a 720X480 (0.91) red image in Photoshop. I put a white matte on the sequence with the red image on top. At 25%, the margins are right on the edge of the red. So, an additional 10% and 20% greater than 25% seemed to be correct. Which means that 35% and 45% seem right to me.


                                  There might me some more technical folks with TV Broadcast experience that might have a better recommendation. Or you could just test it out on a number of televisions yourself, to see if it is apprpriate for your system.


                                  My only real skill is figuring out how to do stuff. The "why" and "where" kind of questions I try to leave to people with actual talent.


                                  By the way, I suggest that you create a title with black bars to put over the sequence before you export, just so you can watch the video in the Program Monitor and really see what is going to be exported. I know that is a hassle because it will need rendering, but I believe that it will be worth it.

                                  • 14. Re: Aspect ratio question
                                    josephs51576386 Level 3

                                    This is actually why I always used to just edit 16x9 stuff in a 4x3 seqeunce because then you see exactly what it will look like before you export it without having to do anything. You actually see exactly what it will look like right there in your timeline.

                                    • 15. Re: Aspect ratio question
                                      Jim_Simon Level 9

                                      That does then beg the question, if you're delivering in full frame 4:3 (rather than letterboxed), why on earth are you then shooting in 16:9 in the first place and creating this type of mismatch?


                                      Ideally there will be no cropping of original material.  If you shoot 16:9 and need to deliver 4:3, you letterbox it.  If you you need to deliver 4:3 full frame, just shoot in SD.

                                      • 16. Re: Aspect ratio question
                                        josephs51576386 Level 3

                                        Once again you didn't understand. I USED too, when clients would bring me 16x9 stuff then say "it needs to be 4x3 but I don't like letterboxing".  I even said earlier I prefer the letterboxed look.

                                        • 17. Re: Aspect ratio question
                                          Jim_Simon Level 9

                                          Ah, clients.


                                          I assumed you were also doing the shooting.

                                          • 18. Re: Aspect ratio question
                                            josephs51576386 Level 3

                                            Clients tend to do strange things. Lol


                                            Currently where I work we are having to shoot everything in 1080i and then export to 720x480i 4x3 letterboxed since our server only plays 4x3. However I have two clients which bring us stuff that has already been shot and then I end up having to edit their 16x9 stuff but at the same time, cause no letterboxing since they don't like the black bars. But with everything we shoot and edit for the content that I have control over we currently letterbox. Because I prefer the look of that vs. center cutting everything.


                                            Luckily though in two weeks we are getting our HD playbox airbox server and I won't have to deal with such headaches any longer.

                                            Because finally at this point we will just be able to air our clients 16x9 content in it's original aspect ratio.

                                            • 19. Re: Aspect ratio question
                                              bbarnholdt Level 1

                                              I wish that either my classroom studio equipment recorded 16:9 or my new Canon hf r32 cameras recorded in SD. That would solve all my problems. I tried to use a 4:3 sequence, but the video was zoomed I'm, way beyond the cropping I experienced, when I export.


                                              Thank you agian for the help. The 220 student I will get on Tuesday will appreciate it. 

                                              • 20. Re: Aspect ratio question
                                                bbarnholdt Level 1

                                                I do have one more question. I have a "Student and Teacher edition" of the Adobe Suite. I got it through Abode, from a contest one of my students won last May. I put the program on two computers, installed them the exact same, and ran all the same updates after installation.


                                                My cameras shoot AVCHD/MTS files.  When I import on one computer, my mts files have audio.  On my second computer, I don't have any audio.  Am I missing a codec?  When I check my sequence presets, I am missing several presets, including the AVCHD preset. 


                                                Is there a solution for this problem?  Is there an update I missed?  How do I get the AVCHD preset loaded into my sequence presets?  I have a licencse to run it on three computers and I am not running a trial version. I don't understand.

                                                • 21. Re: Aspect ratio question
                                                  Harm Millaard Level 7

                                                  Try deactivating, rebooting and activating again. Often that helps retrieve the missing codecs.

                                                  • 22. Re: Aspect ratio question
                                                    VHC-CO-IT Level 1

                                                    [Personal comments deleted]


                                                    Unfortunately, every version of Adobe products I've seen don't support "repair" operations in Windows so you can't drop in an in-place reinstall of the program to attempt to fix missing parts like codecs that were never installed or registered.  So, you might have to try deactivating then uninstalling and reinstalling Premiere, BUT, I have to ask first, under which circumstances does the audio not play?  Is it within Premiere or while playing the encoded file in another program?  Because those are 2 vastly different problems.

                                                    • 23. Re: Aspect ratio question
                                                      bbarnholdt Level 1

                                                      VHC, you are correct, I just tried to deactivate, unistall, reinstall, and reboot Premiere Pro and the codecs still are not there. 


                                                      What I mean when I said the "audio will not play" is that on the sequence presets, the AVCHD preset is not there.  So, when I import an AVCHD/MTS file, it has video, but no audio.  The audio file is not imported. I have installed Premiere on two computers and on one computer, it has the AVCHD presets and I can see and hear the MTS files.  On the other computer, I can only see the files and the AVCHD presets are missing.


                                                      I am not sure what to do.  I searched "missing sequence presets" and it sounds like this is a problem several people are having with the program.


                                                      Thanks for the help!

                                                      • 24. Re: Aspect ratio question
                                                        Greg Baber Adobe Employee

                                                        Is this computer connected to the internet when going through first launch after install?  If you are doing an offline activation, this is important information to have.

                                                        • 25. Re: Aspect ratio question
                                                          bbarnholdt Level 1

                                                          The computers are offline.  I don't have an internet connection to them.  Does that make a difference?

                                                          • 26. Re: Aspect ratio question
                                                            Greg Baber Adobe Employee

                                                            That's good to hear -- that may help me resolve your issue.


                                                            When reinstalling, on the first launch, follow the offline activation process. It's very important that you complete the offline activation process before anything else. If you continue to use Premiere before the activation has been completed, you may run into this problem again.