Add black bars to 4:3 video to add to 16:9

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    • #40066

      I want to combine 2 different aspect ratios into 1 project. I use studio 9 plus. It will allow me to add both into 1 project however it will strech the 4:3 or squash the 16:9. I want to use the 16:9 but do not want to strech my 4:3. Is there any way to add black bars to the sides of my raw 4:3 footage so studio thinks it is 16:9. I have been shooting video for many many years and havelots of 4:3 video (even 8mm film) but also have lots of 16:9. Is there a software that will do this or is there a way to trick studio into thinking it is 16:9 footage. How does pinnacle know it is 4:3? Also All the editing software I read about does not give much detail about their products so I have no idea what reasonably priced software will work. Thanks for your help!!!

    • #172353

      Okay, everyone knows I’m a bit a a Sony fanatic. But I know that Sony Vegas Movie Studio Platinum 8.0 will do the task with ease. To see if it will work for you, download the 30 day free trial. Here’s the link,

      If you have any problem combining your 4:3 and 16:9 footage, I can walk you through the process (along with tons of other folks.)

      Good Luck and Happy Editing

    • #172354

      I wouldn’t recommend exporting a 16:9 timeline that has 4:3 footage with the black bars on the sides. It’s ugly. I think it looks better to work with a timeline set up for 4:3. This way the footage will either completely fill the canvas or have the black bars on top and bottom when you view the 16:9 footage.

      Now, I know what you mean when you say the 16:9 gets squashed, but when I’ve done this in Final Cut Pro, there is a parameter to adjustlabeled “aspect,” and you can each clip individually. It might be labeled differently in your program though, but I’m not sure because I’ve never worked with it. I would recommend doing it that way.

      If you can’t figure it out in your program, then go with the link BarefootMedia provided and try that program. No matter what program you use though, I’d still recommend a 4:3 timeline with 16:9 footage rather than a 16:9 timeline with 4:3 footage.

      Good luck

    • #172355

      Hmmm. If you are looking for a graphic of the black bars you can get one here.

      I guess you could lay the graphic in the timeline and stretch or crop the footage to overlay inside the graphic to fit.

      Like Vegas, MAGIX movie edit pro 14 Plus will do what you are saying too. Free trial here: (

      I’ve never tried it though. I would assume Studio 9 will do it too, but like Robgrauert said, I wouldn’t guarantee the results.

      Something else to consider would be to put your 4:3 footage in a “picture in picture” box inside the 16:9 area. You could then title text to either side. Or make a 16:9 graphic with a 4:3 hole in it to layer the 4:3 footage inside, keeping it’s ratio. The graphic could dress up the image and fill in the area around the 4:3 footage.

      Interesting question. This gives me an idea for a “product” someone could invent. As we move more into the wide screen ratio of 16:9 and away from 4:3, more producers are going to need to incorporate their older footage into this new format.

      Suppose someone invented something like Digital Juice’s Jumpbacks, Background images in the 16:9 format. However these 16:9 backgrounds would have a 4:3 “hole” in them to place your older footage. It could be done as a alpha channel or just a simple 4:3 green screen hole or area to place the older footage. This way you don’t have to stretch or crop the 4:3 footage, it could maintain it’s aspect ratio and would layer into the 16:9 background motion graphic.

      Of course you can make these yourself, but a ready made product just might sell. LOL

      Anyway… sorry, I got off on a tangent. Look around Studio 9, I bet there is a way to do what you want in there somewhere. 😉


    • #172356

      I knew I’d read an article about several ways of using 16:9 with 4:3 footage (and vise versa.) It is on the ArtBeats web site under the resources tab. Check out the PDF “Going Wide” in the “Tips & Tricks” archive. They have a great description of the problem and the pros & cons of several alternate ways of putting the video together.

      By the way, all of the articles ArtBeats provides are excellent, very detailed and easy to understand. I highly recommend them.

      And to Aspyrider, you can use any of of the JumpBacks & animated (or static) backgrounds already. Just cut out your alpha channel using Juicer 3. It works like a charm.

      Good luck, however you decide to go.

    • #172357

      Thanks for everybody help out there. Unfortunately A lot of what you guys are explaining to me is over my head. At this point and time I do not want to switch software. I finally have pinnacle studio 9 plus figured out and dont have many problems with it. There is a software called AVS video converter at

      I think this may do what I want but I am not sure how to set the parameters. If anybody has tried this please let me know. 1 other thing, Idownloaded a program that would give the information of my video file, so I loaded some 4:3 and 16:9 and it said both were 720X480. How can this be if 1 is 16:9 and the other is 4:3? Thanks again for all the help and advice!!!!!!!!! Any additional information would be a great help for this beginner!

    • #172358

      As we all expected, Pinnacle Studio 9 Plus will not let you mix 16:9 and 4:3 videos without “converting” one kind to the other. No matter how much you love your program, it is not going to do what you want. AVS Video Conterter will not help in the least since you’re not trying to change formats. There is no 16:9 video codec (read format.) Codecs generally don’t care about aspect ratios. So far as I’ve been able to confirm, video files have a “wrapper” that tells the codec how to display the video data. Your program that reads the video format sounds like it doesn’t read the “wrapper.” Your NLE does read the “wrapper” but CANNOT mix aspect ratios on your timeline.

      I have copied a couple of quotes from your manual that tell you exactly that. Your experience proves they are right. (Odd, the manufacturer being correct about what it will actually do.) If you want to mix the aspect ratios on a single timeline, YOU HAVE TO USE ANOTHER NLE. Now I’m to lazy to find out if you can upgrade to a Pinnacle product that does allow mixing aspect ratios. Well not so much lazy as I don’t care. If you insist on onl;y using your current NLE, we can provide no advice as to how you can mix aspect ratios. However, we know of dozens of NLE’s that take this stuff in stride.

      Here are the quotes from your software manual. Believe what they tell you.

      Studio does not allow you to mix footage of different
      aspect ratios in the same movie. If you want to add
      16:9 footage to a 4:3 movie, or 4:3 footage to a 16:9
      movie, you must first use whichever Aspect Ratio
      command is needed to bring the Album scenes into
      conformity with the movie. The new clips will be
      squeezed or stretched as needed to match the movie.

      Because any given movie can be in only one of the
      standard 4:3 format and the widescreen 16:9 format,
      Studio does not let you mix frame formats in the Movie
      Window. The first video clip you add to a movie
      determines the movies frame format, and later clips
      must conform to it. Use the Aspect ratio commands on
      the Album menu to convert scenes from one format to
      the other. (See “Video aspect ratios on page 42 for
      more information.)

      When you are convinced you cannot do what the manual tells you that you can’t do, you can get our help in selecting an easy to use NLE that does let you mix aspect ratios in a single timeline. Or you might be able to use the interface you are familiar with by upgrading to another Pinnacle NLE.

      If you are having difficulty in finding the Pinnacle NLE that will do what you desire, I’m sure the forum members can provide that information. Good luck and happy editing.

    • #172359

      Adding Black bars to a video without stretching is very simple and it doesn’t need any software like sony vegas and sonnyboo. to add black bars to a 4 : 3 video just make a jpg image by photoshop or flash (sothink swf easy will create it in a minute ) . the image contains two black bars in top and bottom. the middle background should be in green colour.


    • #172360

      If you’re on a windows, which is what I’m assuming, you could always use Windows Movie Maker. If you set that project ratio to 16:9 and put 4:3 footage in it, black bars will be added. You can then simply export those certain clips you require.

      Sometimes, it’s those simpler free softwares that provide the best solutions.

    • #172361

      Hey mikilbob!

      I recommend using any of the above techniques whether sonnyboo, Vegas, Movie Maker or the jpeg idea from “arpittailang”. Any of these will work.

      You mentioned that some things mentioned were above your head. I hope at least one of these makes sense to you and if not, someonecan explain it in simpler terms.

      I feel for you, since I recently used Pinnacle Studio 11 Plus and found it to be a piece of junk. The one way I KNOW will work is the Vegas way, originally suggested by Barefoot Media. All you need is a free trial from Sony’s website. This will mean learning a new NLE, but I think Vegas is the best out there and is a much better purchase than anything Pinnacle. But this may not be for you.

      The easiest way is the Movie Maker way, but Pinnacle will also work. Put all your 4:3 footage through but make the format 16:9 and you’ll have black bars. Then put your new 16:9ed footage in your project and it should defiinitely work.

      Good luck! Hope Pinnacle works for you.

    • #172362

      I don’t know what our other posters have actually tried, but here are the facts.

      Let’s start with Windows Movie Maker. I’m using Windows XP and my pre-installed version of Movie Maker will not add black bars to any video, no matter whether you start out in 16×9 or 4×3. Video in the other format will be stretched or squeezed to fit the format you have selected. Now this may not be the case with Movie Maker on Vista, I have no way of knowing. But in the help files of my version, it clearly states it cannot mix video aspect ratios without stretching or squeezing one to fit the format of the other.

      So far as the version of Pinnacle Mikibob says he has, the manual clearly states it will not add black bars to alter the aspect ratio, It will simply do the same as Movie Maker (on the XP) and stretch or squeeze the video to fit the preselected format. The manual for his version of Pinnacle confirms Mikibob’s actual experience.

      And for the people who don’t actually read the question (or can’t understand what they read) Mikibob doesn’t want black bars on his video. He wants to use 16:9 and 4:3 video on the same timeline without distortion of either aspect ratio. And he thinks that he can change a setting to cause the NLE to add black bars to either the 16:9 or 4:3, depending on what the timeline is set to. But he couldn’t do it with his NLE. So he asked what settings to change to make it possible. But it doesn’t matter how he sets up the NLE or how he imports the video, his NLE won’t allow the mixing of two aspect ratios without stretching or squeezing one or the other to match what the timeline has been set for. Please refer to my last posting for the direct quotes from his NLE’s manual.

      Now he could use something like Vegas to take the 4:3 video and use it to create an new video file with the 4:3 video in the center of black bars, converting it to 16:9 video. Then he can load his original 16:9 footage along with the freshly converted video into his NLE timeline with the aspect ratio set to 16:9. Or he could invert the process and use the other program to change the aspect ratio of the 16:9 to 4:3 by adding bars across the top & bottom of the video.

      I know Vegas Home Studio can do this because I’ve used it to do exactly that. I mixed 16:9 and 4:3 video into one format. While I didn’t add black to the wider video (I cropped the 16:9 video into 4:3 video) the NLE would easily have done that, more or less automatically. But with the resources Mikibob said he had at his disposal, he cannot do what he wanted to do, which is mixing 16:9 and 4:3 video in the same program without distortion in either format.

      So good luck with your future productions, all of ya’ all.

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