Posting a video to social media often means doing three edits for different social media platforms: horizontal, square and vertical.
Our team is no stranger to spending hours resizing and reframing separate video clips, adding motion keyframes and adjusting embedded captions. We knew there had to be a better way to resize videos for social media, or at least some tool that could help us out. Last year, Adobe announced Premiere Pro was adding a new feature called auto reframe that could easily resize videos for various social media platforms. In late 2019, Premiere Pro launched auto reframe.
Auto reframe uses machine learning technology to identify and track movement in a video, optimizing a video for different devices and social media platforms. So, instead of adding your own motion keyframes to track the subject of each clip, auto reframe does it for you. In theory, one click of a button should turn a horizontal video into a vertical video without losing track of the most important movement in each clip.
Here’s a video that explains how it works much better than I ever could.
How to use auto reframe
When I first heard about auto reframe, it sounded too good to be true. Will it actually work? Well friends, I decided to give a shot. I’m happy to report: It works!
Let me start by saying I am no video editing expert. My skills are pretty basic. I can create a new video, import footage, trim and arrange the clips in the order I want them, add some text/captions, slap on an end card and music, and export the video. So for me, auto reframe would be successful if I could figure out how to use it with limited frustration. Premiere Pro delivered. Using auto reframe is easy…for the most part.
Here’s what I did:
First, I edited my horizontal video the same way I always do.
Once my video was finished, I highlighted the sequence in the timeline and right-clicked to find the auto reframe button. Wrong. This doesn’t work. You can auto reframe an entire sequence in one of two ways:
- Highlight the sequence in the timeline, click on the “Sequence” menu at the top of Premiere Pro, click on “Auto Reframe Sequence.”
- Or, highlight the sequence in the timeline, right-click on the sequence in the project panel (typically the panel on the bottom left side of Premiere Pro), click “Auto Reframe Sequence.”
Either way you do it, a box will pop up that allows you to change the target aspect ratio (square, vertical, horizontal), as well as the motion preset. The motion preset allows you to tell Premiere Pro how much action is in the video so it can better track the motion. For example, if you were editing footage of a Formula 1 car, you would probably choose faster motion. If you were editing footage of a person sitting in a chair talking to the camera, you would probably choose slower motion. Or, you can just leave the “Default” preset and see how Premiere Pro does.
The last thing to change is clip nesting, which I had to Google (again, basic skills). If you edited a video horizontally and added keyframes to track a person or object, and then used the auto reframe tool, you would want to select “Nest clips,” so your keyframes stay in the video. Otherwise, auto reframe will replace all your hard work. I didn’t nest.
After you click “create,” Premiere Pro will analyze your footage for a few seconds, and then bam! You’re (mostly) done. I played back my video to make sure the video tracked what I wanted it to track. My video was pretty short, around 30 seconds long, so I didn’t have any major motion tracking issues. If some of your clips don’t turn out how you want them, select the clip in the timeline, and then edit the keyframes in “Effect Controls.” (Warning: Keyframes take some time to get comfortable with.)
Adjusting text on screen
What took me the longest to figure out was how to get the auto reframe tool to adjust the size and placement of the text on the video. For video pros, this will sound like a rookie mistake, but hopefully this helps anyone new(ish) to Premiere.
When I first used auto reframe, none of my overlaid text adjusted with the video. After spending a bit of time Googling, I learned it was due to how I created the text. I was using Premiere’s “Legacy Title” to create my text on screen. (File ➡️ New ➡️ Legacy Title.)
However, auto reframe can only adjust text created through Premiere’s graphics panel. To open the graphics panel: Window ➡️ Workspaces ➡️ Graphics
Once I created my overlay text through the graphics panel, I was in business.
It isn’t perfect
Auto reframe is like magic, yes. However, how you film still matters. If you film a wide shot of two people sitting at opposite sides of the room, auto reframe won’t work. Try to keep the most important subjects near each other while filming and allow for a lot of space around them. Filming in 4K can also help eliminate this problem.
Auto reframe also isn’t perfect (understandably). You will likely have to edit some of the keyframes to ensure your subject is always within the frame. But, it will still cut your editing time down drastically.