Adobe Premiere Pro CC - Essentials Training

Cinematic Bars Letterbox cinema effect envelope in Premiere Pro

Daniel Walter Scott

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"When I first started…" Hey everyone, this video, I am going to show you how to put these black bars, top and bottom. They're totally fake, they are just here to add a little bit of cinema effect. Some people call it black bars, letterbox, the envelope, cinematic bars. I think I've already called it that, but they are just black boxes that go into the top and the bottom. Purists hate them, because it's fake, it's not real cinema, so be careful, but because it's just me and you, I give you full permission to play around with them. If you don't tell anybody about my vignettes, I will not tell them about your black bars. Let's jump in and I'll show you how to make them. 

So we're going to need a new layer, or a new track. So I'm going to right click anywhere, in this kind of random dark space over here, 'Add Track'. We're going to find our Essential Graphics panel. If you can't find it, 'Essential Graphics', and with nothing selected, just click anywhere, hit the little turned up page, click 'Rectangle', and we want to snap it to the top. Make sure it's set to 'Pin to Video Frame', so that when we do, like align it to the top, it snaps to the top, and then just drag it out so it covers, at least goes out the sides there. How big should it be? There's some actual Math you can do to get kind of a real mock, but there's more than one size. I'll talk about why they're there in a second. Let's just jump in and actually make them. 

So I figure, if we're faking them we can fake them any size we like, but there is some Math to work out the official sizes. What I want to do is make sure it's not too big, because I don't want to have to re-crop too much of my footage. So I've got this one, I'm going to duplicate it, right click it, 'Duplicate', so I've got two of them. This one here is going to snap to the bottom, and there's my black bars. I'm going to make sure it covers the entire film, and there's some…

"…blowing my mind that some people can jump so far." Cool, huh? Adds a really cool effect. Now just remember, like I said at the beginning, you'll get in trouble, like there is so many websites saying, "Do not do this, stop adding black bars," but if your output is YouTube there's nothing really stopping you, and it's effect, so many things are effects, but if you're at a conference with other videographers, you don't mention the black bars. Let's talk about why they're there in the first place. 

So a cinema is just a different size screen. So most cinema screens are a different ratio. There are these kind of crazy, there it is. It is 2.35 : 1, I should know that off by heart, but it's really wide, you can tell your TV is not that shape. So when it gets onto your TV, that's it at the cinema, and this is what it ends up looking like in your TV, because there's none of this area. 

Now the other thing to note is that they don't just crop it themselves, they shoot on cameras using special cameras and lenses, to be able to capture that really wide cinema style footage, and you might be working in that industry, but for me I end up with lots of stuff that's stock library from online, stuff I've shopped myself for my camera, so I add black bars. 

One thing though with the black bars, is that you are cropping, there's stuff underneath it, but it's best to probably add these. If you do plan on doing it, do it right at the beginning, because you are adding it at the end, you might have to reposition lots of videos, and it's easy to do once you're kind of doing your rough cut. So in here you might decide, actually, with this selected, 'Effects Controls', 'Position', I'm going to just drag it down a little bit, for that whole video, just so that, that part's in there, because you just, yeah, you might as well throw them in the beginning, so that you are editing for the right composition. 

So that is cinema bars, or the cinema effect, or the letterbox, the envelope, or the black bars, the fake black boxes, whatever you want to call it. They look cool, I give you permission to use them, but note that if I do see you out in public, and you point at me and say, "Hey, there's that guy, there's Dan, he said I could use black bars in all my footage," I will deny it, 100 flat deny that I said that. So just be aware it does offend some people, not me though. That' awesome… "…blow my mind that some people can jump so far." All right, I'll see you in the next video. "I realized that…