Choosing Premiere Pro Sequence Settings for HD Video

pproThe main principle behind choosing project and export settings is to limit the number of times you will need to change video formats (and things like resolution and pixel aspect ratio) during the whole video production process. Therefore, you should be aiming to get your project settings to closely match the format of your original video clips. Even if you plan on reducing the resolution of the video when exporting it, you would still want the sequence settings to match the format of the original video clips. You would then reduce the resolution when you export the video after editing.

1. Automatic Method CC and CS6

This method is very convenient, and is especially suitable if all your video clips are in the same format. If you are using Premiere Pro CC (or even CS6), you can have the program automatically select a project setting to match your original video.

When Premiere Pro opens, select ‘New Project’, choose ‘HD Video’, give the file a name, select the location and click ‘OK’.

In Premiere Pro CC, the program will open, and the next step is to import your videos into the project (e.g., select ‘File’ – ‘Import’) and then drag one of these imported videos from the ‘Project’ panel into the Timeline panel. This action will create a new sequence with the sequence settings matching the settings of that video file. The settings are done automatically. If your original video clips come in different formats, you should choose one clip that is in the format that will make up the majority of your video and drag that clip into the timeline.

(In CS6, after clicking OK on the initial project screeen, a sequence settings window will open. Just choose any of the sequence settings and then, when the program opens, import your video clips into the project and drag one of those video clips into the timeline area. A dialogue box will open and you will be asked if you want to change the sequence settings to match the settings of the video clip. You can then select ‘Change sequence settings’ and the settings will automatically change so that they match your clip.)

2. Manual Method

Your project should closely match the format of your original video clips in terms of three main aspects:

  • Resolution (frame width and height as measured in pixels—this is also called frame dimensions) and pixel aspect ratio
  • TV system (PAL or NTSC) and frame rate
  • Scanning method (interlaced or progressive)

I think the information here is already quite complicated, so I won’t bother trying to explain things like scanning method and pixel aspect ratio in detail.

Hopefully, you know the necessary information (resolution, pixel aspect ratio, TV system and scanning method) about your video files already. You can find these details in your camera’s specifications. If necessary, you can download a free multi-media analyzer like Media Info (mediaarea.net/en/MediaInfo) AVIcodec (http://avicodec.duby.info/).

In Premiere Pro CC, after selecting the project name and destination, select OK and the program will open. You would then select ‘File’ and then ‘New Sequence’. In CS4 to C66, there is a two-step process before the program opens: project settings followed by sequence settings).

CS4 to CS6: Step 1: Select Project Settings
Step 1. Select Project Settings
sequence settings
Step 2. Select Sequence Settings (this preset would be suitable for 1920×1080 AVCHD files from most PAL Camcorders)

2.1 Resolution (frame width and height) and pixel aspect ratio

There are five main HD resolutions:

  • 3096 x 2160 (4K)*
  • 2560 x 1440 (2K)*
  • 1920 x 1080 (1080p)
  • 1440 x 1080  – This is called anamorphic video. The pixels are rectangular with a pixel aspect ratio (width : height) of 1.33 : 1. When exporting the video, you may downscale is to 1280 x 820 with a pixel aspect ration of 1:1 (square pixels)
  • 1280 x 720 – The pixels are square.

*Premiere Pro CC can handle all of them but for the two highest resolutions 2K and 4K, you will need a powerful computer. The CS6 version of Premiere Pro will struggle with 2K and 4K video, so if you plan on doing a lot of work with 2K and 4K video, you should upgrade to the CC version.  If your computer or software are struggling and the programme cannot handle such high resolution video, you can convert the files to a standard 1080p format before editing (this is not ideal, though).

2.1.1 Default Selection

When asked to select settings, They have a wide range of presets suitable for HD. You can go through the main categories like AVCHD (for mts video from camcorders) and HDV. There are also presents for DSLR cameras (In CS6, these sequence settings presets sometimes do not show up when the programme opened. If you cannot find them, simply close the programme and reopen it and they should appear).

If there is no suitable default selection, select a preset is similar to the format you are using then click on the settings tab and try to change the settings to match your formt.

2.1.2 Exporting Lower Resolution Video

You might want to reduce the resolution (i.e., the frame dimensions) when exporting. For example, if you are recording in 4K, you might still want to export the video at 1920 x 1080. While editing you would be able to pan and zoom. This is especially useful if there are a lot of problems with the way the shots are framed (weird angles, too much headroom, the subject is too small, a distracting shape is jutting into the frame etc.)

To do this, the best option is to create a sequence that, as mentioned above, matches the original footage and scale it during the export stage.

If you are using 4K vide A RHW c301920 x 1080 as the original and exporting to 1920 x 1080, you can zoom in while editing editing by adjusting the scale anywhere from 100% to 161% while editing. .Just remember that if you use this method, you should avoid adjusting the scale by more than 150% or your exported video will start to look pixelated.

2.2 Interlaced (i) or progressive (p) scanning

You should choose the scanning method (interlaced or progressive) of your video clips as the project setting. Now most consumer camcorders using progressive scanning, but a lot of older camcorders will record with interlaced scanning.

If you are working with interlaced video, choose the presets marked with an ‘i’. You shouldn’t have to worry about choosing the Field Order. For HD video, PAL and NTSC both use an upper-field first order.

If the original videos you will be editing are already ‘progressive’ (i.e., non-interlaced), then choose a ‘p’ setting in your project settings.

2.3  TV system and frame rate

a) If you are working with PAL video clips, you should choose from settings marked PAL or settings where the frame rate is 25 fps (25p) or 50 fps (50p). ; for interlaced formats, you will select 25 fps (50i).

b) If you are working with NTSC you should choose from settings marked NTSC  or settings where the frame rate is 30 fps (29.97 actually). For progressive formats, this is shown as 30 fps (30p) or 60 fps (60p); for interlaced formats, it is shown as 30 fps (60i).

c) If your camera records video at 24 frames per second, that is the speed you are looking for.

2.4 Example

I used to work with video shot with a Canon HG10 camcorder (PAL system, 25 fps, intelaced, 1440 x 1080 anamorphic AVCHD video), so I would choose the preset ‘AVCHD →  1080i → AVCHD1080i25 (50i) anamorphic‘ in Premiere Pro CC .

CS4 sequence settings for PAL (1440 x 1080 with the Maximum Render Quality setting highlighted

My Other Articles on Video Editing


~by longzijun

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Exporting HD Video for YouTube (Premiere Pro)


Page Updated: February 2019
Versions: Premiere Pro CS4, CS6 and CC
if you are using other versions, you may still find the information on this page useful.

Summary of Settings

Here is a summary of the main settings:

  • Format & Container: H.264 & MPEG-4
  • Resolution (Frame Dimensions): 1920 x 1080 or 1280 x 720. If you are working with 4K video that would be 4096 x 2160 pixels, while 2K video would be 2560 x 1440. This article focuses on the most common resolution 1920 x 1080.
  • Pixel Aspect Ratio: Square pixels (1:1)
  • Field Order: None, non-interlaced, progressive (different terms for the same thing)
  • TV Standard: NTSC or PAL (depends on your original footage and/or settings in your video editing program)
  • Frame rate: 29.97 (for NTSC) or 25 for (PAL) or 24 (depends on your original footage and/or settings in your video editing program). You can also choose the higher frame rate options of 60, 50 or 48. These are especially useful if you want to have very smooth action (e.g., in a gameplay video) and your original footage was filmed at that frame rate.
  • Bitrate Encoding: (Updated October 2014) YouTube and Vimeo now recommend Variable Bit Rate (2 pass)
  • Video Bitrate: At least 6,500 kbps for 1280 x 720 , 10,000 kbps for 1920 x 1080 video. . These are the recommended settings for what YouTube calls ‘normal quality’.  For higher frame rates, you can multiply the figures by 1.5.  You can see YouTube’s recommendations here:  Advanced encoding settings.
  • Profile: High
  • Audio Code and Channels: AAC, Channels: Stereo
  • Audio Frequency: 48 khz
  • Audio Bitrate = 320 kbps or 384 kbps

Select Render at Maximum Quality and . Consider selecting Render at Maximum Depth and Frame Blending.

For exporting high-definition video (HD video) using Adobe Media Encoder. In Premiere Pro, this is accessed by selecting File – Export – Media or Media Encoder. However, make sure you have clicked on the timeline first. For earlier versions of Premiere Pro make sure that you have selected all the clips that you want to export (as shown in the following image).

Use the Work Area bar to select all the clips you want to export

Main Workflow Principles

There are two main principles. One is to try to minimize the number of times the format of the original video is altered.  Therefore, the  project settings you choose when you open a new Premiere Pro file and your export settings for creating the final video for uploading are based on the format of your original video.

The second principle is to export your video in a format YouTube handles particularly well; that is, in a format that doesn’t need to be changed very much when being converted.

Three Main Choices

a) Resolution
For HD video on YouTube, there are two main choices: 1280 x 720 or 1920 x 1080 (not counting the 2K and 4K resolutions).

  • If you are working with 1440 x 1080 anamorphic* HD video, it is best to downscale the resolution slightly to 1280 x 720 and change the pixel aspect ratio to 1:1. (*anamorphic pixels are rectangular).
  • If you are working with 1920 x 1080 video, you can keep these larger dimensions for your output or downscale to 1280 x 720 if you want smaller file sizes.
  • If you are working with 1280 x 720 video, just export the video at this resolution.

b) TV Standard
There are two main standards: PAL and NTSC. If you are creating a video for YouTube, just maintain the same video standard through your whole workflow. For example, if your camera produces PAL video, use PAL project settings and export to a PAL video. In HD video meant to be played on computers, the main difference between the two formats is frame rate. The frame rate of PAL video is 25 or 50 frames per second. The frame rate of NTSC video is 30 (29.97) or 60 frames per second.

c) Use of Render at Maximum Quality, (CS4 and CS6), Render at Maximum Depth (CS6) and Frame Blending
CS4 and CS6 feature a maximum render quality setting. This is useful when exporting video with lots of movement, but it will  increase the video rendering time. You can see the difference in the following still images taken from the same timeline.

before_after2
Still image showing video without (top) and with (bottom) Maximum Render Quality selected

The top image is from a video exported without this function enabled. The image on the bottom is with the Use Maximum Render Quality setting enabled.

prem-export-cs6
These three settings are disabled by default

The Render at Maximum Depth setting involves the ability to differentiate between different colours. Enabling this function MAY increase the quality of the video slightly, but it might not be noticeable once your video is uploaded and transcoded in YouTube. Many people leave this function disabled (the default setting).

The Frame Blending function comes into play if you have changed the speed of your video in the timeline (e.g., slow motion) or if there is any different in the frame rate between the project settings, original video clip and export settings. It tries to create smoother movement by blurring some of the frames together. Some people like this effect; others dislike it. If your video has any changes in frame rate, I recommend doing trial exports of a small portion of the video with Frame Blending enabled and disabled and see which one you prefer.

You can enable frame blending while exporting or you can enable it on individual video clips in the project (Right click on the clip then select ‘Clip’ in the toolbar at the top of the screen. Select ‘Video Options’ and then ‘Frame Blending’).

The WMV Option

If you are using PAL settings, you can also create a HD WMV video for YouTube very easily.  Just select ‘Format: Windows Media’ and select the most appropriate preset (the one that most closely matches your video footage) . The video quality will be almost as good as the MP4 file and can play more easily on different versions of Windows Media Player. You don’t need to change any values (but if you are still using CS3, make sure the deinterlace option is checked).

If you have any more information about exporting for YouTube, please let me know. This page is intended for newbies. If there is anything that isn’t clear, let me know so I can improve the page.

My Other Articles on Video Editing


~by longzijun

writing

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