Why should you crop a video in Premiere Pro? There are a few good reasons to use the crop effect in Adobe Premiere Pro when editing your video. For example, there may be a reason to use the crop tool because you don’t want to have a certain part of the video frame to be visible, like a stain or a raindrop you forgot to wipe off the lens. Another reason can be to create a letterbox (cinematic bars) for your cinematic short film to achieve a widescreen aspect ratio. Also, when you want to fit two or more video clips in a split-screen, the crop tool will be your best friend to accomplish this. 

Cropping videos in Adobe Premiere Pro is easy and fast to do when you know which steps you need to take. In this blog you will learn everything about how to crop a video in Premiere Pro. Let’s start with the first step!

How to crop a video in Premiere Pro.

As mentioned in the introduction there can be several reasons to crop your video in Premiere Pro. In the next steps, I will show you how to crop a video clip to get cinematic black bars for a widescreen ratio. Also, I will show you how to fit two video clips in a split-screen.

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Cinematic Black Bars

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Split Screen of 2 video clips

Import your video clips in Premiere Pro

To crop your video clip you need to import your content in your Project panel of Adobe Premiere Pro. Importing your video clips in Premiere Pro can be done in different ways. You can double click in your project panel, hit command i/control i for windows, or choose File > import.

How to add the video effect “crop” to your video clip?

Navigate to the “Effects” in your project panel and search for “crop” or click video effects > transform > crop.

How to use the “Crop Tool” to add Cinematic Black Bars ?

To create the cinematic black bars I advise to make use of an adjustment layer which you place above all video clips in your sequence where you want to apply the effect for. If you need help in how to add an adjustment layer to your sequence, read my other BLOG with the Premiere Pro tutorial on how to do this.

To crop a video in Adobe Premiere for the cinematic bars, drag the “crop” effect to your adjustment layer. Navigate to the effect controls panel and find Fx crop. You want to crop the top and bottom with 12% to realize the cinematic black bars for a widescreen ratio. With this percentage, you create an aspect ratio of 2.39.1 which is a common frame size for films on the big screen in cinemas.

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How to add an adjustment layer to crop cinematic black bars.

Watch the video to see how to add an adjustment layer to crop cinematic black bars.

How to crop a video in Premiere Pro to make a split-screen?

Drag the two video clips you want to split in your project timeline. To assure both videos have the same resolution and frame rate to meet the sequence settings of your timeline. First place them next to each other. In this case we are going to split the screen horizontally. First decide which clip you want to have on top, and which one you want to have at the bottom. Knowing, you have to split the screen between the 2 clips, every clip will cover 50% of the screen.

Be aware of the main subject:

Drag the crop effect on the clip you want to have on the top, and decide which part of the clip you want to show. I always choose to have the main subject of the clip visible. In my case, I want to have the left clip at the bottom and the right clip at the top. The subject (the bridge) from the top video clip is located a bit more at the upper part of the screen. So for this one, I crop the top 15% and the bottom 35%, what makes a total crop of 50%.

How to make a split-screen for two video clips.

Watch the video to see how to make a split-screen for 2 video clips.

Thereafter you move the clip which you want to have on the top, above the other clip in the timeline. In my case (see video above) you will see the top cropped video clip covers the other clip partly. To correct this, select the top clip in your timeline and navigate to the effects control panel. Under motion > Position you can move the clip in the right position. The advantage of not cropping the bottom clip is you can move this one as well to get the subject of the clip in the right position. That’s it, there is your split-screen!

Additional tips for cropping videos in Premiere Pro

The crop effect in Premiere Pro can also be used for removing a stain or raindrop which you forgot to wipe off your lens. This is only possible when the stain or raindrop is located close to the edge of the frame, and doesn’t cover the main subject. Be aware you might loose image quality when you crop the video too much. This may depend on the video resolution. To remain a good image quality it’s advisable to only crop videos recorded in 4K. Especially when you edit on a 1080p timeline you’ll have enough room to crop the video clip and retain good image quality.

Don’t overuse the crop effect when you crop your video in Premiere pro to focus more on the main subject. It’s essential to leave enough space around the subject so it doesn’t look weird or unprofessional. Always remember the rule of thirds and how to frame your shot correctly to maintain a professional look.


Do you want to learn more?

I hope you learned a lot about how to crop a video in Adobe Premiere Pro.  If you still have any questions don’t hesitate to ask me in the comments section!

Do you want to learn everything about videography and how to start making better travel videos? Then you definitely need to check out our HANDBOOK FOR SHOOTING TRAVEL VIDEOS. Discover what equipment you can use. Understand all technical information and let us inspire you how to be creative in making great looking cinematic travel videos!

Do you need more information about Adobe Premiere Pro? Read my other blogs with Adobe Premiere Pro tutorials!

Adjustment layers PREMIERE PRO l Everything you need to know

Learn how to add CINEMATIC BARS in PREMIERE PRO

How to edit a TIME LAPSE VIDEO in ADOBE PREMIERE PRO

How to edit music to your video in Adobe Premiere Pro

Time remapping in PREMIERE PRO l How to make a SPEED RAMP