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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