I was wondering if it was possible to put a background picture/video/ have some kind of blur effect going on in that black space, so make things a little more exciting and filled out.
Put your main videos on Video 2, and your background on Video 1. Add whatever effects or transformations to the background clip on Video 1.
However, If I have an audio track and three video layers, how to I fade them all at once? Putting in pen marks and lining them up is very tedious.
Cross fades (audio) and cross dissolves; they're transitions. Those are the defaults, so just park over the edit points of your clips, and go to Sequence > Apply Video Transition or Apply Audio Transition. You can also use the keyboard shortcuts that map to those commands. Tweak the durations as you like.
Just watched two more of themediamoguls videos on youtube and figured it all out! Thanks very much for your reply- I can see the program is quite intuitive once you get to know it.
Cheers! (I'm sure I'll be back)
This ARTICLE might prove useful, when working with portrait orientation material. The example is for portrait oriented stills, but the technique applies with Video, as well. It also goes into a few more steps, for getting TO an "abstract background," and you might not need that.
I see great use of an "abstract background" often on FoxNews, where the footage provided is 4:3 and their broadcast is 16:9. They take that footage, and Scale it to the broadcast Frame Size, then Blur it greatly, with lightening and contrast reduction in Levels. The 4:3 footage is then placed into the middle of the 16:9 Frame, as a PiP. The footage on Video Track 1 acts as a background, and with the Blur and Levels Adjustments, is not at all distracting.