Visualize cinematic aspect ratios in your camera when shooting.
As mentioned before, just putting black bars on top of your video doesn’t mean it looks cinematic. There are so many factors that affect the cinematic feel and look of a video. Factors like, camera settings, light, composition, different camera angles, music, sound effects and of course storytelling. Most cameras shoot video in a 16:9 ratio which makes it harder to compose your shots correctly for the wider aspect ratio 2.35.1. With the 16:9 aspect ratio, you will have more space (in height) to frame your shots. When adjusting the 16:9 footage to 2.35.1, it may result in poor composition, because of the crop.
The best way to avoid this is by activating “video guidelines” for cinematic aspect ratios on your camera. Not every camera has this, but most mirrorless 4K cameras do, like the Sony A7Siii we’re using to produce our videos. This setting will add guidelines on the camera’s LCD screen to mark the desired aspect ratio. With these guidelines its way more convenient to compose your shots correctly for the wider aspect ratio. In case your camera doesn’t have this setting I advise to compose your shots with more space taking into account the crop when adjusting the aspect ratio in post-production. Or, you can simply tape the black bars on your LCD screen to help to compose your shots properly.
Video guidelines for cinematic aspect ratio 2.35.1 on the Sony A7Siii.
Adding cinematic bars using PNG images.
To be honest, I personally not recommend using PNG images for adding cinematic bars to your video. You will literally put an image over your video which can cause several downsides. First of all, it will increase your video file unnecessarily. Second, when rendering in a low(er) bitrate the black bar will lose detail and it won’t look black anymore. Adding cinematic bars in Premiere Pro in this way is quite easy. Just download the given PNG image for the right resolution and drag it into your timeline on top of your video. Thereafter reposition your shots to fit the wider aspect ratio and you’re done! You can google for “PNG images cinematic bars or black bars” to find some websites which providing them.
Watch the video to see how to create cinematic bars with a PNG image.