First Look: Auto-Reframe in Adobe Premiere Pro

Adobe introduced Auto-Reframe in the latest update to Premiere Pro CC 2020. What Auto-Reframe does is convert existing clips or sequences into different aspect ratios – automatically. A typical reason to do this is to convert a 16:9 video into a 1:1 snippet to post to Instagram, or convert a horizontal video into vertical to post to a website.

In the past, we could do this manually through cropping, then manually applying Motion keyframes to change the position of the video in the frame. The benefit of the latest update, though, is that this conversion process happens quickly and automatically. Even better, by harnessing the power of AI, which Adobe calls Adobe Sensei, Premiere attempts to keep key action in the frame, even after resizing. Plus, as you’ll see, it also automatically repositions graphics.

NOTE: This process is, essentially, cropping an image. Taking something big and making it smaller will look fine. However, converting a vertical video to horizontal 16:9 will result in very low image quality due to a lack of pixels in the source image.

AUTO-REFRAME CLIPS

We can auto-reframe individual clips or completed sequences.


Footage courtesy: Standard Films (www.standardfilms.com)

To reframe a clip, FIRST, move it into a sequence that uses a different aspect ratio than the clip itself. For example, here’s a 4:3 clip that I edited into a 9:16 project.

Select the clip you want to reframe and go to Effect Controls > Auto Reframe (it’s at the bottom of the window).

Because there is a lot of action with the snowboarder sliding down the mountain, I changed the Motion preset to Faster Motion.

Then, click Analyze. This allows Premiere to determine what it wants to feature in the reframed shot. Basically, it “pans-and-scans” the clip so that the action stays in the frame, even though the snowboarder was moving across the frame from right to left.

If you don’t like the results that Premiere came up with, you can over-ride them using keyframes in Effect Controls > Motion.

NOTE: None of the changes to a clip are permanent.

AUTO-REFRAME SEQUENCES

Unlike clips, when Premiere auto-reframes a sequence, it creates a new sequence, leaving the original sequence untouched.

To auto-reframe a sequence:

NOTE: As with clips, you can over-ride any Reframe settings by applying custom Motion settings. If you need to animate them, use keyframes.

EXAMPLES

Let me illustrate the results. This was the source 4:3 image, with a title added on a higher track.

Here’s the 1:1 version (with the playhead on the same frame). Note the shifted position for the title and that the snowboarder is now centered.

Here’s the 16:9 version. Again, both title and action have changed position.

And here’s the 9:16 version. Notice how the text changed in size and the snowboarder moved to the center again..

SUMMARY

I was impressed with how this worked, especially because all the changes were non-destructive and could be over-ridden using Motion settings. For those of us who need to repurpose projects for multiple platforms, this new feature could save all of us a lot of time.


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One Response to First Look: Auto-Reframe in Adobe Premiere Pro

  1. Thank you for this assessment Larry. This is a very useful feature and I admittedly use another NLE as my primary tool. I’d like to see something like this in both FCP X and DaVinci Resolve. It can be time consuming having to reposition and resize content.

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