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Cropping a video can be defined as removing unwanted parts of an image. Typically, this is done in a square or rectangular shape.
Premiere Pro comes equipped with a Crop preset effect to make this extremely easy to accomplish.
This article will explore how to use the Crop effect in Premiere Pro, as well as a few samples of how you can use this effect creatively.
How to add the Crop effect to a video clip
The Crop effect can be easily found under the Effects tab in the Project Panel. Next go to Video Effects > Transform > Crop. You can then click and drag the Crop effect onto your clip.
The effect itself is broken down into several parameters. You can mask this effect just as most other effects, you can change the percentage of the crop in any direction, and you can change the edge feathering.
The percentage of the crop is in relation to the size of the screen rather than the video resolution. For example, adding a 50% crop to the Top would look the same for both a 1080 HD video as well as a 4K UHD video.
Here is a before and after example with a 50% crop added to Top:
100% Cropping to any direction of the video will remove it entirely from the screen.
Edge feathering will soften the edges of the crop.
See the before and after photo below with 75 points of feathering added and 25% cropping in all directions:
As you can see, the edges in the after photo are much softer than in the before photo. This is useful when layering images on top of each other. We will use this again later during one of our creative samples.
All of these parameters can be animated as well using keyframes.
For example, let’s create a fake 2.35 aspect ratio letterbox on the video.
I’m going to add a keyframe at the beginning of the clip while all of the parameters are at 0%.
I will then move the playhead forward a couple of frames and change the Top and Bottom parameters to 15%.
As you can see in the image below, the cropping animates to completion between the two keyframes.
This is one example of how to use the Crop effect creatively. Let’s look at three other examples of how to use this effect.
How to create a split screen in 4 easy steps
Creating a split-screen has many different uses. I’ve come to use split-screen frequently when editing interviews from Zoom calls to create a shot of all of the speakers.
Let’s say you are editing an interview from a Zoom call with two speakers, and want to make the video a little more dynamic. An easy way to do that is to use the split-screen technique mentioned above. This can be accomplished in 4 easy steps.
Step 1: Add clips to timeline
Add both of the interview clips of each speaker on top of each other on your main timeline. You should only be able to see the clip on the V2 track in the Program monitor.
Step 2: Position clips
Next, position the clips so that both are roughly centered on their half of the screen. This doesn’t need to be perfect as we will need to make adjustments after adding the Crop effect.
A useful tool to help with this is to turn on the Safe Area guides in the Program window. This will help you estimate the positioning better.
Step 3: Add Crop effect to top clip
Add the Crop effect to your clip on the V2 track. There isn’t a need to add to both clips as the clip on V2 will hide whatever spacing we don’t want. Adjust either the Left or Right parameter to remove the unwanted space of your clip.
Step 4: Readjust clips (if needed)
Last, readjust the Crop parameters or positioning of your clips based on how you want everything to look. Again, use the Safe Area margins to help guide you.
This should be your final result.
How to create a linear wipe transition in 4 easy steps
A linear wipe transition is when the clip’s edge will shift across the screen. Think of the wipe transitions used in the Star Wars movies. Let’s create one of these transitions in 4 easy steps.
Step 1: Add clips to timeline
This effect will require two clips. Place your first clip on the V2 track, and the second clip on the V1 track behind the first clip.
Step 2: Add Crop effect to top clip
Add the crop effect to the top clip. We don’t need to add it to the second clip as the transition will only happen on the first clip.
Step 3: Add keyframes
Next, decide on the direction of the transition. You can do it from left to right, right to left, bottom to top, and top to bottom. For this demonstration, I will do left to right over 12 frames.
Add a keyframe to the Left parameter at 0% 12 frames behind the end of the clip. Next, add another keyframe to the Left parameter at 100% at the end of the clip. You should see the animation happen if you scrub your playhead between the keyframes.
As a bonus, this would be a great place to add Feathering. 10 points of feathering is a great place to start. This is optional.
Step 4: Move second clip under keyframed area
Last, move the second clip on the V1 track under where your keyframes are located. You can do this simply by moving the clip with your mouse. Adjust until you have your desired effect.
The final transition should look similar to the image below.
How to create a text reveal in 3 easy steps
You can also create a unique text reveal using the previous method. Let’s create a text reveal in 3 easy steps.
Step 1: Add text to timeline
Simply create a new text layer by hitting Mac CMD+T or Windows CTRL+T. Write whatever you’d like on the text layer.
Step 2: Add Crop effect
Add the crop effect to the text layer just like in the previous examples.
Step 3: Add keyframes
I want to reveal my text from top to bottom. This will actually be a reversal of the previous example’s keyframes. Add a keyframe to the Bottom parameter at 100% to the beginning of the clip.
Move the playhead a few frames forward and add another keyframe to the same parameter at 0%. We’re doing this because we are creating a reveal rather than removing the image.
Again, this would be another great place to add feathering if you want to create a smoother transition.
The final reveal should look similar to the image below.
As you can see, the Crop effect in Premiere Pro has a lot of great creative uses. There are many more ways to use this effect to create unique shots or transitions in your videos. Play around with this effect and see what you can create.
Alex is a certified Adobe Premiere Pro video editor and independent filmmaker in the US. He is most known for writing, directing, and editing his debut feature film, Cashing Out, which has won multiple awards at film festivals across the US. Currently, Alex is the owner of AWS FILMS and works as a freelance video editor for several large companies and content creators.