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Exporting Letterbox without Bars

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Robert Gilbert
Exporting Letterbox without Bars
on Jul 9, 2019 at 3:02:37 pm

Could anyone please advise me on how I could export a video shot with letterbox, eliminating the black bars? My specs are: Panasonic DVX , DV PAL, SD upscaled from 720 x 576 (1.4587) to HD 1344 x 1080 (1.4587). I'm on Windows using CS6 (but I could try to do it on CC if that's necessary).


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Jeff Pulera
Re: Exporting Letterbox without Bars
on Jul 9, 2019 at 8:27:41 pm

Hi Robert,

The 1.4587 part of the equation refers to the PAR - Pixel Aspect Ratio. By making the pixels wider than they are tall, that is how widescreen video is "faked" with DV recordings. When converting to HD, you want to always use square pixels with 1.0 PAR.

720p video would be 1280x720 (1.0) or you could do 1080i or 1080p at 1920x1080. Not sure how well interlacing would convert from SD to HD and you might have to flip the field order possibly if using 1080i. Probably best to avoid an interlaced result, since any computer or web viewing should always be progressive anyway.

Any time you upscale SD to HD, it has the possibility to get ugly since there was not much resolution to begin with, so without specialized hardware or software for upconversion, you are just "blowing up" the image and it's not going to look like HD, will be soft in comparison. To minimize the damage, maybe limit yourself to 720p since it will only look worse the more you blow it up.

Basically, start a New Sequence using a 720p25 preset, then drop your SD clip into that sequence, and use Motion > Scale to expand until it fits the frame. Now export as 720p and you have your HD version, no letterboxing.

What is the desired end result - how will video be viewed or distributed? Please note that a DVD player with hardware upscaling (via HDMI output) will provide superior results to blowing up to HD in Premiere. In that case, just make a DVD and be done. If you want to view on computers/online, then you can make the 720p digital file to share as .mp4 for example.

Thanks

Jeff Pulera
Safe Harbor Computers


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Robert Gilbert
Re: Exporting Letterbox without Bars
on Jul 10, 2019 at 12:12:35 am

Thank you very much, Jeff!

I tried the 720p sequence like you said but it came out with black bars above and beneath. I chose HDV 720p for the sequence (I usually use the DV PAL) and for the export I chose YouTube HD720p25. Didn't work. Please tell me if you know why.

The video is destined for film festivals which accept either uploads or links to YouTube. I'd appreciate very much if you have another method.

BTW I tried this too:



But it didn't work for me either.

Could you please advise me further?

Robert


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Ann Bens
Re: Exporting Letterbox without Bars
on Jul 10, 2019 at 10:46:20 am

If it is for festivals just export with black bars. YT will add the black bars anyways and so will probably the equipment use during the festival.

-----------------------------------------------
Adobe Certified Expert Premiere Pro CS2/CS6/CC
Adobe Community Professional


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Jeff Pulera
Re: Exporting Letterbox without Bars
on Jul 10, 2019 at 2:02:32 pm

Your post said the video was "shot with letterbox", but based on the pixel aspect that should be DV Widescreen, so the letterboxing should not be part of the recorded file. Perhaps you are working in a 4:3 sequence and that is adding the black bars from the start of the process?

Please provide a screen grab of the Export Settings panel, as this will also show the Sequence settings and that will tell us a lot.

Thank you

Jeff Pulera
Safe Harbor Computers


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Robert Gilbert
Re: Exporting Letterbox without Bars
on Jul 10, 2019 at 3:11:52 pm

Thanks, Jeff!
Here it is.
I noticed that the encoder gave me 720 x 576 which seems wrong ( I upscaled it a long time ago) but when I tried to move it up to 1344 x 1080 the encoder wouldn't accept it, no matter what profile and level I tried it with.


I shot this using the "Letterbox" setting on a Panasonic DVX in PAL progressive. I was later told that that's a fake 6/19 inside a 4/3 frame, so I'm hoping the extracted image (i.e., no bars) will be an acceptable aspect ratio for YouTube.

The Sequence setting for this trial clip (shown above) is D1/ DV PAL Widescreen 16/9. The sequence setting for the entire film is D1/ DV PAL. Which should I be using?


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Jeff Pulera
Re: Exporting Letterbox without Bars
on Jul 10, 2019 at 3:44:05 pm

I see nothing wrong with the image you posted - you have a DV Widescreen source in a matching sequence and there are no black bars. A perfectly lovely widescreen image. Are you saying that if you simply try to export as 720p25, that the resulting file has black bars then? And if you create a 720p25 sequence, and drop your DV clip into it, and maybe right-click and "Scale to Frame" that you still somehow end up with black bars? Can you post a screen shot of what happens, because this is not making sense.

And just to be clear, 720p HD is 1280x720 pixels and I apologize for even having to mention that, but you wouldn't believe how many folks I deal with that think SD video (720x480 or 720x576) is "720p" because of the "720" in the size. Always look at the number on the right.

The reason the 1344x1080 doesn't work is that one, it is not an acceptable/standard size for a video clip, and two, encoders can be kind of funny about what numbers they will accept due to the way video is compressed in blocks of pixels. If the encoder doesn't like the math of the dimensions, it won't work. As discussed earlier, the shape of the pixels (PAR) plays a role as well. Your source is anamorphic widescreen, the wide image being created with rectangular pixels rather than the image dimensions being 16:9 which they are not, but when you go to HD that uses square pixels (1.0) and then you do want the dimensions to be 16:9, and that works out for 1920x1080 or 1280x720 which are both a 16:9 ratio, and certainly not the case for 1344x1080.

Also as mentioned earlier, blowing up SD to HD doesn't always look so great, so maybe what you really need to do is encode the video as SD with 1.0 PAR and try that for YouTube. Try this - start with an H.264 DV PAL Widescreen preset, and modify as follows:

  • 1024x576
  • 1.0 PAR
  • Fields = Progressive/No Fields


You never want to put interlaced video (480i, 576i, 1080i) online since computers don't do well with displaying interlacing which was meant for old TV sets. So anything you export for computer/web should be progressive.

How do we arrive at 1024x576? Divide both sides by 64 and you get 16:9 exactly. Widescreen video dimensions. When putting video online, you want to stick with 1.0 square pixels, because a lot of software video players do not look at the PAR and just assume square pixels, so if you encode a widescreen source at 720x576 with the very wide 1.4587 rectangular pixels, but then the player assumes the pixels to be 1.0 aspect square, your widescreen video gets squished in from the sides and will look more like 4:3 in the player.

Resources -

https://helpx.adobe.com/premiere-elements/using/aspect-ratios-field-options...

http://www.miraizon.com/support/info_aspectratio.html

Jeff Pulera
Safe Harbor Computers


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Jeff Pulera
Re: Exporting Letterbox without Bars
on Jul 10, 2019 at 3:47:24 pm

I've been going on and on about interlacing and now realize your source is already progressive, so that is good, stick with progressive on all exports as well. Sorry for the oversight

Thanks

Jeff

Jeff Pulera
Safe Harbor Computers


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Eric Santiago
Re: Exporting Letterbox without Bars
on Jul 10, 2019 at 7:52:22 pm

One of those topics that drove me nuts especially with features at 2:35 etc...
In the end, I was told the black part, the projectionist uses to frame during playback.
I have not experienced this ever so please don't take my word for it.
I just output what I'm told ;)


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Robert Gilbert
Re: Exporting Letterbox without Bars
on Jul 10, 2019 at 4:35:31 pm

Thank you, Jeff.
* I tried the HDV 720p Sequence setting but the footage was rejected by the pop up. Seems like I need the PAL setting.
* I tried exporting using the settings you gave for the encoder but got the black bars.


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Jeff Pulera
Re: Exporting Letterbox without Bars
on Jul 10, 2019 at 4:50:22 pm

What pop-up rejects the footage, and WHERE specifically are you seeing these black bars. In what player, or YouTube, or where? What if you IMPORT the exported clip back into Premiere, how does it appear then?

Without seeing a sample of what you are exporting, hard to figure this out. In the Export Settings screen grab you posted, the image in the output window looked like a full-size widescreen image with no bars, and what that preview shows is what should get exported as well. So where do the black bars show up?

Thanks

Jeff Pulera
Safe Harbor Computers


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Robert Gilbert
Re: Exporting Letterbox without Bars
on Jul 10, 2019 at 11:03:50 pm

The pop up appears over the timeline when I try to drag in footage that's not compatible with the sequence settings. I tried to override it but the results were bad.

The black bars appear on VLC Video LAN player, but also everywhere else, including re-importing into Premiere.

Here once again, after the encoder showed a perfectly trimmed Output image, the export came out with bars:



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Jeff Pulera
Re: Exporting Letterbox without Bars
on Jul 11, 2019 at 4:09:54 pm

Assuming you are getting a proper widescreen clip exported without black bars, if you are trying to place that new clip into the old anamorphic DV sequence, that might explain why it doesn't look right.

Try this - import the exported clip into Premiere, then right-click and select New Sequence from Clip. How does it look now? Post screen grab of Sequence > Sequence Settings please. And make sure Program window is set to FIT so that nothing funny is happening on that end.

What export settings did you use, the 720p or what?

Thanks

Jeff

Jeff Pulera
Safe Harbor Computers


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Robert Gilbert
Re: Exporting Letterbox without Bars
on Jul 11, 2019 at 4:43:49 pm

BTW there's nothing anamorphic here. The camera created this monster because I was told to shoot in Letterbox mode, which creates a fake widescreen in the 4/3 camera lens.

I re-imported the original SD footage and I did the "new sequence from clip" at FIT (all new to me) and there are no black bars on the monitor. I was going to export it now but I think I need to change the dimensions in the encoder, because it says 720 x 576 which would be the overall 4/3 dimensions which would never come out as 16/9. What dimensions should I type in?

These are the settings generated by my clicking "new sequence from clip":



As for my export settings I've tried just about every combination I could think of!


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Jeff Pulera
Re: Exporting Letterbox without Bars
on Jul 11, 2019 at 4:11:43 pm

And what does the image of smoking woman represent, what stage of workflow are we looking at because no black bars on that, where did that grab come from?

Thanks

Jeff Pulera
Safe Harbor Computers


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Robert Gilbert
Re: Exporting Letterbox without Bars
on Jul 11, 2019 at 4:52:11 pm

Yeah, I noticed the black bars disappeared when I uploaded that smoking woman photo to the Cow. What might that imply? I think I snapped that shot of her from a test clip on VLC.
Also: one of my test clips, at first played without bars on vlc, but when I enlarged the vlc screen the bars appeared.


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Jeff Pulera
Re: Exporting Letterbox without Bars
on Jul 11, 2019 at 5:08:55 pm

Let's back up and recalibrate, and review what we've discussed so far. I might need to make clearer the pixel aspect ratio business.

DV video (NTSC) is 720x480, regardless of whether shot as 4:3 or 16:9, and one might say "How can that be?" (and in your case for PAL, it is 720x576). The widescreen version simply uses pixels that are defined as wider (rectangular) so even though the dimensions are the same between the 4:3 and 16:9 recording, the pixel shape changes the output. So widescreen video derived from just changing the pixel aspect and not the dimensions is "anamorphic" widescreen, or basically "fake" widescreen.

Please see this blog I wrote a million years ago - http://blog.sharbor.com/blog/2010/07/anamorphic-widescreen-understanding-pi...

The reason I had previously suggested NOT using the anamorphic export settings is because different players will interpret the footage in different ways and may not correctly display your clip since PAR is maybe not considered. Therefore you want to export a 16:9 image using square pixels, with an actual 16:9 ratio between width and height.

Like 1920x1080 or 1280x720 for HD or in the case of SD PAL then 1024x576. You said the latter did not work for you, but I wonder if some other factor is messing things up, like the player or whatever? With NTSC, I have exported SD widescreen as 864x480 with 1.0 PAR to get widescreen playback and works great, not sure why the PAL version of 1024x576 would not provide equally good results for you to create a true 16:9 widescreen file for playback? Maybe you are misinterpreting what you are seeing in the player, with player just adding a border for some reason?

Jeff Pulera
Safe Harbor Computers


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Jeff Pulera
Re: Exporting Letterbox without Bars
on Jul 11, 2019 at 6:22:17 pm

Re-reading your original post, you wanted help in re-exporting the 1344x1080 clip. Just want to make sure you know that all of my suggestions are based on using the original 720x576 source clip and that the 1344x1080 clip should be discarded, that one is a mess and I hope is not still being used for any of this process as that would cause issues.

Thanks

Jeff Pulera
Safe Harbor Computers


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Robert Gilbert
Re: Exporting Letterbox without Bars
on Jul 11, 2019 at 10:23:01 pm

Thank you for helping me, Jeff. Maybe I should say more about this project. I shot this film years ago. I think I can safely say that the black bars don't depend on the playback.

I recall struggling with importing the raw footage. I had to capture it in Final Cut, then bring it into Premiere. I think I had to conform it to square pixels (if i remember correctly). At the present, I have reopened the old project and imported the upscaled version of the finished film for the sole purpose of adding subtitles to the upscaled version. I'm doing this in order to be able to enter festivals and to have a nicer HD version on the web. I can replace the upscaled version with the SD version in the timeline, as you said I should and work with that.

Please note that Ann Bens said that even if I succeed in removing the black bars, YouTube will put them back anyway and the film festival projection will do the same. That would mean I'm wasting my time, but I assume that would only be the case if the finished cropped aspect ratio was not 16/9. Can I really crop it to a perfect 16/9? If Ann is right then I'm wasting my time. Please advise me on that!

BTW I've been using the word footage to mean the two versions of the finished film. I don't have the raw footage with me.


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Jeff Pulera
Re: Exporting Letterbox without Bars
on Jul 12, 2019 at 3:03:38 pm

I pulled your lady pic into Photoshop and it comes up as 1050x576, which is close to the 1024x576 I had suggested for a widescreen image. I'm confused about comments of YouTube adding black bars - if the content you upload is HD widescreen, no bars are getting added to anything. But that is dependent on the upload being an acceptable video format sizing and not some odd dimensions.

This would be infinitely easier to resolve if I could see or have a sample of the footage you are working with, since it is apparently not the original DV footage. Can you possibly put a short sample of a few seconds into DropBox or similar so that I (and/or others) could actually run it through Premiere and refine the proper workflow to get the desired results?

Thanks

Jeff Pulera
Safe Harbor Computers


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Jeff Pulera
Re: Exporting Letterbox without Bars
on Jul 12, 2019 at 3:12:00 pm

Let's make this really easy. Import the footage you have into Premiere, is that the 1344x1080 upscale version?

Right-click and New Sequence from Clip. Put the playhead on a desired frame in timeline, and then export a still image using the camera icon. This will save a still from the timeline in the exact resolution of what's there (black bars and all, if those bars are part of the actual video source clip). So I don't need VIDEO to work with, a proper STILL will do. But then also provide a screen shot of the Sequence Settings from that same setup. That will verify resolution, frame rate, pixel aspect that is being worked with so I can duplicate here. Having that information, and the still image, is all I should need to get this fixed finally.

Thanks

Jeff Pulera
Safe Harbor Computers


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Jeff Pulera
Re: Exporting Letterbox without Bars
on Jul 12, 2019 at 3:40:10 pm

"Can I really crop it to a perfect 16/9?"

Absolutely!! Since you want to submit this to festivals, you will need to use a proper video format. Going to suggest 720p for that since you are close already with the dimensions you have in the upscale version. When you provide a proper sample of the upscale footage you are working with, I can then decide how to best get it to 1280x720 as 16:9 with no bars in the image. Hopefully, without cropping or stretching width or height, to be determined when I see what you are working with. I think the lack of resolution to the issue so far is due to not knowing precisely what you are working with there, not having a sample of the actual material. Should have been resolved many posts ago 😉

Thank you

Jeff Pulera
Safe Harbor Computers


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Robert Gilbert
Re: Exporting Letterbox without Bars
on Jul 13, 2019 at 12:07:13 am





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Robert Gilbert
Re: Exporting Letterbox without Bars
on Jul 13, 2019 at 12:19:15 am






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Robert Gilbert
Re: Exporting Letterbox without Bars
on Jul 13, 2019 at 12:24:36 am

Dear Jeff,

The first two images are from the SD version (Silver car and Settings)
The second two are from the HD version (Close up and Settings)
They were not squashed in premiere


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Ann Bens
Re: Exporting Letterbox without Bars
on Jul 13, 2019 at 1:28:36 pm

Post a screenshot of an original clip analyzed in Mediainfo in TREEVIEW.
All your settings look incorrect.


https://mediaarea.net/en/MediaInfo

-----------------------------------------------
Adobe Certified Expert Premiere Pro CS2/CS6/CC
Adobe Community Professional


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Robert Gilbert
Re: Exporting Letterbox without Bars
on Jul 13, 2019 at 4:19:56 pm

Thanks.


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Jeff Pulera
Re: Exporting Letterbox without Bars
on Jul 15, 2019 at 2:18:25 pm

Hi Robert,

Thanks for the images, now I am more confused as to why the suggestions I have put forth have not worked for you.

I imported the "car" image into Premiere and it came in as DV PAL (4:3), which is to be expected since a still since image does not respect PAR. So I right-clicked image in Project Bin, and used Modify > Interpret to set Pixel Aspect to DV PAL Widescreen. I then did New Sequence from Clip and got a proper widescreen image from timeline.

From that timeline, I then did Export and set to H.264 > YouTube 720p HD

NOTE - you will need to set Scale to Fit in output settings to remove very narrow black edges which come from slight math differences in converting DV wide to HD wide.

Please see attached the Output Settings, which also shows source (sequence) settings, for how I arrived at a good 720p HD output, and also added a final still image pulled from the 720p .mp4 I created.





Jeff Pulera
Safe Harbor Computers


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Robert Gilbert
Re: Exporting Letterbox without Bars
on Jul 15, 2019 at 3:51:40 pm

Thank you, Jeff. What did you use for the Output "aspect"? I did just what you said using square pixels (because that was there by default). Then I tried it again with DV PAL widescreen as the aspect. Neither of the two attempts worked. I set it to 1 pass to save time. You wrote "scale to fit" but the settings photo showed "scale to fill", so I tried both but nothing worked. Please advise me further.


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Robert Gilbert
Re: Exporting Letterbox without Bars
on Jul 15, 2019 at 3:53:18 pm

I didn't use the cropper in the Encoder.


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Jeff Pulera
Re: Exporting Letterbox without Bars
on Jul 15, 2019 at 3:58:29 pm

Sorry for the typo, SCALE TO FILL is desired if output preview shows any black edges

"nothing worked" doesn't give me anything with which to help you. HOW didn't it work, what was the result?

No offense, but this has to be user error of some sort that we are overlooking. What EXACTLY did you do this time around, and what was the outcome?

And for starters, please do NOT work with that 1344x1080 abomination of footage, please begin with the 720x576 clips and ALL HD output attempts should be 1.0 PAR

Thanks

Jeff Pulera
Safe Harbor Computers


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Robert Gilbert
Re: Exporting Letterbox without Bars
on Jul 16, 2019 at 12:17:17 am

It worked!

Dear Jeff,

Thank you so much for all your help!

It was my oversight. I was using only VLC to check the output. VLC wasn't automatically sizing it's screen to hug my widescreen movie, so it naturally produced black bars to fill in the oversized (4:3?) screen (even though I had tried the various aspect ratio options). I only realized this when I tried to play my clip on QuickTime, which did adjust it's screen to hug the widescreen video!

I did a test upload to YouTube and found only a hairline of black at the bottom. Could you please suggest the best method of removing that line?

And could you please suggest the best settings for a version that I can upload directly to Film Freeway?


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Jeff Pulera
Re: Exporting Letterbox without Bars
on Jul 16, 2019 at 1:45:54 pm

So glad you finally have success! Regarding VLC, I had mentioned to check exports back in Premiere, that is the only way to truly know what you have.

If after exporting using Scale to Fill, you still have any black (I think I saw the same hairline) try using Motion Effect to manually scale image up a few percent in timeline before exporting.

Found this at Film Freeway:

FilmFreeway accepts all major video formats in full quality HD up to 10 GB. We transcode videos for playback compatibility and performance and recommend that you use settings close to our output settings:

Maximum video bitrate: 2200 Kbps, H.264, mp4
Audio: 128 Kbps, AAC, 2 channel stereo
Aspect ratio preserved; maximum video height of 720 pixels

Jeff Pulera
Safe Harbor Computers


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Robert Gilbert
Re: Exporting Letterbox without Bars
on Jul 20, 2019 at 2:24:41 pm

Dear Jeff,
I wanted to check everything well before closing the thread. It all looks good! I should have asked your advice years ago! May God bless you and make you happy here and hereafter! Thanks so much.

Robert


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Jeff Pulera
Re: Exporting Letterbox without Bars
on Jul 22, 2019 at 2:24:47 pm

Hi Robert,

Glad I could help, sorry we could not resolve this more quickly, that was a lot of posts 😉

Thanks

Jeff

Jeff Pulera
Safe Harbor Computers


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