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Tutorial: How to Make Vertical Video Usable in 1080p Projects

For those instances where you're tasked with integrating vertical source footage into your projects, in this Premiere Pro tutorial, I'll show you how to make the video less jarring and more watchable, and create presets from the positioning, scaling, and blurring adjustments you make to each clip so that the next time you're editing on deadline, and someone dumps a vertical clip in your lap, you can incorporate it smoothly into your timeline quickly without having to start from scratch.

As video shot on mobile devices becomes an increasingly common part of professional productions, more and more editors have had to contend with vertical/portrait-style video that doesn't match well with the other clips in their timelines, and strikes most of us as pretty odious. The problem with video in a vertical orientation isn’t that it’s intrinsically, aesthetically bad; vertical video can have just as much artistic merit as a still image in a portrait orientation. One might even argue that since people, skyscrapers, and waterfalls (as in the video below, which just came my way today) are typically taller than they are wide, it makes sense to shoot them vertically. And if you know that your entire audience is going to watch your videos on a smartphone, I suppose it stands to reason that you might as well shoot vertically, and develop your skills in composing vertical shots.

 

But if you’re producing video for, well, just about anyone who’s going to be watching on a computer monitor or TV, and doesn’t have the luxury of turning their viewing device on its side to watch your video, you need to produce videos in a horizontal/landscape orientation, regardless of how the source footage you're working with was shot. And if you’re putting together a project from a variety of sources that includes some vertical footage shot on a smartphone, you need to figure out a way to make that footage work in your project that’s not unnecessarily jarring to your audience.

Some editors have mastered this task with creativity and artistry. The most common way we see it addressed these days is on TV news programs, where producers increasingly find themselves working with citizen journalist eyewitness video submitted from the scene of an incident--obviously with no hope of re-creating the moment or reshooting it. The typical approach is to put the vertical video in the center of the screen, and flank it on each side with an enlarged and heavily blurred version of the same vertical video that keeps the focus on the video in the center but doesn't otherwise isolate it in a black screen. It's not a perfect solution, but it beats the telltale black bars.

In this tutorial, I’ll show you how to accomplish this quick fix simply and easily in Premiere Pro, and create presets from the positioning, scaling, and blurring adjustments you make to each clip so that the next time you’re editing on deadline, and someone dumps a vertical clip in your lap, you can incorporate it smoothly into your timeline quickly without having to start from scratch.

 

Thanks to Glove and Boots for the borrowed Vertical Video Syndrome footage.