The main principle behind sequence 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’). Once you have imported the files, they should appear in the Project panel. Choose one of the clips and then drag (hold the left mouse button down) that clip from the Project panel into the Timeline panel (as shown below).
The sequence is created and you will then see three things: (A) The newly created sequence appears in the Project panel, (B) the sequence name appears in the Timeline panel and (C) the video clip appears in the timeline panel.
The settings are done automatically. You can check them by selecting ‘Sequence’ – ‘Settings’.
This is what that setting panel shows after I added dragged one of my videos from the project panel into the timeline panel.
You can change the name of the sequence by double clicking on the existing name in the project panel and typing in the new name.
If your original video clips come in different formats, when you are choosing which clip to drag into the Timeline, you should choose a clip that is in the format that will make up the majority of your video (unless you have a lot of low resolution clips and a few higher resolution ones, but want the final video to be in higher resolution. If this is the case, you would choose one of the the higher resolution clips.)
2. Manual Method
I highly recommend the automatic method, but if you are using the manual method, the main principle is that your sequence settings 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 (these two things go together)
- 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).
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): This is the most common one at the moment.
- 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 it to 1280 x 820 with a pixel aspect ration of 1:1 (square pixels)
- 1280 x 720
*Premiere Pro CC can handle all of them but for the two highest resolutions 2K and 4K, you will need a powerful computer. 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 selecting settings, there is 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 opens. 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 that is similar to the format you are using then click on the Settings tab and change the settings to match your format.
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, 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 video at 3096 x 2160 as the original and exporting to 1920 x 1080 for the final video, you can zoom in while editing by adjusting the scale anywhere from 100% to 161.25%. Just remember that if you use this method, you should avoid adjusting the scale by more than 161.25% or your exported video will start to look pixelated. If you are going from 2560 x 1440 to 1920 x 1080 the maximum you should zoom in (i.e., increase the size) is 133.33%
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. Nowadays most consumer camcorders use 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’. If you are using HD video, 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 rate you are looking for.
I used to work with video shot with an old 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.
Here are the settings for a newer camera. The pixel aspect ration is ‘Square Pixels’ and the frame rate is 50 frames per second and the scanning method (under ‘Fields’) is ‘No Fields: Progressive Scan’.
My Other Articles on Video Editing
- Exporting HD Video for YouTube: Premiere Pro
- Exporting Standard Defintion Video for YouTube: Premiere Pro
- Exporting Video for Nico Nico Douga: Recommended settings
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