Quickly Change Resolution & Aspect Ratio in Premiere Pro (in 1 Min)

beginners approach aspect ratio resolution premiere pro

One of the fundamentals of editing is knowing how to change your image’s resolution and aspect ratio in Premiere Pro.

You should know the frame size (resolution) and shape of the frame (aspect ratio) before starting a project (even before shooting).

This is essential for your final delivery -like YouTube, Vimeo, Instagram, Film Festival, Cinema Projection, etc.

Resolution and aspect ratio are tightly interrelated.

Today we’ll see how to quickly change the aspect ratio and resolution quickly inside Premiere Pro…

…For brand new and existing sequences.

Without wasting time…

Let’s get started!

You can change the resolution:

1. While creating a new sequence – when you are going to start a new timeline for editing.

2. For already existing sequence – when you are in the middle of editing.

How to Change Resolution in Premiere Pro For a New Sequence?

  • Create a new Sequence by going to “File” -> “New” -> “Sequence”. (Shortcut for new sequence is “Ctrl + N” or “Cmd + N”).
  • The “New Sequence” window will open up.
  • Click on the “Settings” tab (next to the “Sequence Presets”).
  • Select “Editing Mode” to “Custom“.
  • Against “Frame Size“, change the horizontal and vertical resolution to, say, “3840” and “2160” for a 4K UHD project.
  • Click on the “Ok” button.
  • You have successfully changed the resolution!

How to Change Resolution in Premiere Pro For Already Existing Sequence?

  • In the “Editing” workspace, go to the “Project Panel“.
  • Right-click on the sequence that needs to be updated and select “Sequence Settings”.
  • “Sequence Settings” window will be displayed.
  • Against “Frame Size“, change the “horizontal” and “vertical” resolution to, say, 1920 and 1080 for a 1080p HD project.
  • Click on “Ok“. Done!

In order to make a 1920 x 1080 video in Premiere, you need to set the “Horizontal” and “Vertical” values to “1920” and “1080” respectively, against “Frame Size” in the “Sequence Settings” window.

(To get the sequence settings, right-click on existing sequence and click “Sequence Settings” or go to “File” -> “New” -> “Sequence”, for a new one).

You can update the resolution in the middle of your editing through the above steps.

How to Change the Video or Frame Size in Premiere Pro?

To change the frame or video size, create a new Sequence by going to “File” -> “New” -> “Sequence”. In the “New Sequence” window click on the “Settings” tab. Select “Editing Mode” to “Custom“. Against the “Frame Size“, change the horizontal and vertical resolution to, say, “1920” and “1080” for an HD project.

(Changing the video size or the frame size or the resolution – all mean the same thing.)

Changing resolution of your timeline is easy. The next thing you should know is the aspect ratio.

You must know what aspect ratio is needed for your final delivery.

Why Aspect Ratio is Important?

Aspect ratio determines the shape of your video – square, rectangle, vertical, wide, extreme wide, cinemascope, etc. You must know in what shape you will deliver. Knowing this before shooting will help you frame your important action accordingly and set the right resolution while creating a new sequence in Premiere Pro.

How to Determine Aspect Ratio from your Footage?

To find the aspect ratio of your footage, divide the height from the width of your footage resolution. If your resolution is 1920 x1080p HD, then 1920 divided by 1080 is 1.78. In aspect ratio terms, it is called 1.78:1 (also called 16:9 / landscape / wide, etc.)

This is how your camera, smartphone or screen recording captured your footage.

Next, you’ll have to determine the aspect ratio for your final delivery (cinematic widescreen or vertical YouTube Shorts or square videos). This is something you should know yourself or get the information from your client.

After you know the aspect ratio, let’s say, 2.35:1 which is a cinema widescreen, the next step is finding the height (or vertical value) of the frame size with respect to the width (or horizontal).

How to Find Height or Vertical Value Based on Aspect Ratio?

Width (or Horizontal) value divided by the aspect ratio gives you the height (or vertical) value for your video.

Let me explain.

If your footage was originally shot at 4K UHD 16:9, which is 3840 x 2160…

…and you plan to deliver in widescreen cinema standard, say, 2.35:1…

…then to find the required height, divide 2.35 from 3840, that is, 3840/2.35 = 1634.

Width/Aspect Ratio = Height

Therefore, your resolution should be horizontal – 3840 and vertical – 1634 to get the wide screen cinema look of 2.35:1.

Refer the below table for different aspect ratios according to your final delivery or look.

(The resolution – width & height – is just for giving you an example. Each aspect ratio could have multiple resolutions based on source footage and final delivery. The important thing is to find the height by dividing the aspect ratio from the Width)

Final Delivery LookAspect RatioAspect Ratio
(in Decimal)
Old TV Look4:31.33:119201443
Common Wide Look 1080p16:91.78:119201080
Common Wide Look 4K UHD16:91.78:138402160
Common Wide Look 8K UHD16:91.78:176804320
35mm Motion Picture Standard – Hollywood Movies for 4K UHD1.85:138402075
Widescreen Cinema Standard – Hollywood Movies for 4K UHD2.35:138401634
IMAX for 4K UHD1.43:138402685
Square Look1:11:110801080
YouTube Shorts, Instagram Stories – Vertical Videos9:160.56:110801920
Source: Wikipedia, Lynda Courses

How to Change Aspect Ratio in Premiere Pro?

To change aspect ratio in Premiere Pro, go to “File” -> “New” -> “Sequence”, and click on “Settings” tab. Under the “Video” section, update the “vertical” value, which should be “horizontal” value divided by your aspect ratio, say, 2.35, for a wide cinema look. Horizontal/Aspect Ratio = Vertical. Aspect Ratio can only be updated by altering the vertical (or horizontal) value of your footage.

This holds good when you are going to create a new sequence.

What if you built a sequence and are in the final stages of delivery and would like to modify the aspect ratio?

There is an efficient way for that as well, which will be discussed in a few seconds.

What Should I Put in Horizontal and Vertical Frame Size Values for an Aspect Ratio of 1.85:1 in Premiere Pro?

To get an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, for a 4K UHD delivery, enter “3840” in “Horizontal” and “2075” in “Vertical” and for a 1080p HD delivery, enter “1920” in “Horizontal” and “1038” in “Vertical” in the “Sequence Settings” in Premiere Pro.

What will Happen If I Drop a Footage on a Timeline with a Different Aspect Ratio in Premiere Pro?

When you drop a 16:9 aspect ratio (or 1.78:1) footage onto a timeline with 2.35:1 aspect ratio with the same resolution, then Premiere Pro will throw a “Clip Mismatch Warning” pop up. Click on “Keep exiting settings” to follow the timeline aspect ratio (as defined in the “Sequence Settings”).

At the same time, there will be no black bars at the top and bottom (also known as letterboxing). The video will be zoomed in to fill the wide screen.

What will Happen If I Drop a Lower Resolution Footage on a Timeline with Higher Resolution with Different Aspect Ratios?

When you drop a lower resolution footage of 1.78:1 aspect ratio on a higher resolution timeline with 2.35:1, then obviously the footage will be surrounded with black bars from all sides. Right click on the footage in the timeline and select “Set to Frame Size”.

This will introduce black bars in the left and right (called as pillar boxing). Zoom the video further in to fill the screen until there are no black bars.

If you want letterboxes or black bars on the top and bottom for a cinematic look, do the following:

How to Add Horizontal Black Bars to Multiple Clips in Premiere Pro?

  • Go to the “Project Panel” and click on the new item from the bottom right.
  • Click on “Adjustment Layer“. Let the resolution be the same as the timeline resolution.
  • Drag the adjustment layer and drop it on top of your clip in a different video track.
  • Go to “Effects” and search for “Crop”. It will be under “Video Effects” -> “Transform” -> “Crop”.
  • Drag and drop the effect on the adjustment layer.
  • Now go to the “Effect Controls” panel.
  • Change the “Top” and “Bottom” crop values to, say, 12% to get the cinematic letterbox look. (You can play with different crop values to get the look you want).
  • Drag the adjustment layer to multiple clips!

Can I Change Aspect Ratio in Middle of Editing in Premiere Pro?

You can change the aspect ratio of your timeline in the middle of editing in Premiere Pro. You have to make use of Premiere Pro’s feature called “Auto Reframe Sequence” which provides different aspect ratios to choose from, like square 1:1, vertical 9:16, horizontal 16:9, and custom.

If you want cinema wide screen then you will have to choose “Custom” option.

How to Change Aspect Ratio in Middle of Editing in Premiere Pro Instantly?

  • From the “Project Panel”, right-click on the required sequence which has your timeline, and select “Auto Reframe Sequence…
  • Select the “Target Aspect Ratio” to your required one, say vertical 9:16.
  • Let the “Motion Tracking” be at “Default”.
  • Let the clip nesting be at the default value.
  • Click on “Create“.
  • Premiere Pro will analyze and create a duplicate sequence with the updated aspect ratio automatically!
  • Now go through the clips. Premiere Pro does a very good job of keeping the main action in the frame.
  • You can still go ahead and click on individual clips to adjust the framing using “Motion” parameters in the “Effect Controls” panel.

The “Motion” effects might be disabled due to “Auto Reframe Sequence”. Simply click on the “fx” to enable the effects.

Now go ahead and play with the “Position” and “Scale” parameters to adjust the framing.

There are movies like Interstellar, Transformers, etc., which have more than one aspect ratios.

And if your project demands multiple aspect ratios in the same timeline, then there is a work-around for that.

How to Have Multiple Aspect Ratios in the same Timeline in Premiere Pro?

  • Create a timeline with an aspect ratio that the majority of the clips share.
  • Then choose which clips need different aspect ratios.
  • Go to the “Effects” panel and search for “Crop“. (It will be under “Video Effects” -> “Transform” -> “Crop”).
  • Now go to the “Effect Controls” panel.
  • Change the “Top”, “Bottom”, “Left” or “Right” crop values to get letterbox or pillarbox (vertical bars on the sides) black bars.
  • Follow the same method for clips that need different aspect ratios.
  • Done.

You may be also interested in the below posts:

7 Reasons Why Premiere Pro is GOOD for Audio Editing

Is Premiere Pro Good For YouTube? (For Beginners)

Can Premiere Pro Record Screen? (Quick Tips & Techniques!)

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.