Video Editing Tips - How I Create Vertical-Format Video Reels Using HD Footage.

If youíre a visual-media creative youíre probably on Instagram and have worked out that you want to start using Reels because, well, everyoneís doing it now so Iíd better join in. Thatís exactly what I thought so I threw myself in to this latest popularity contest. I do like Reels and some of the content is great so I was happy to dip my toe in this new medium.

I think part of the joy of it is the full-screen video experience on the mobile (or cell depending on where you are in the world) so I could see this was a great way to show lots of clips from my archive by incorporating them in to my Reels. There was though one little snag, my video is at least 1920 x 1080 so much wider than the screen size that Reels uses. How then could I use that video on that mobile screen?

I did some experimenting and found that I can create a Reel in 1920 x 1080 format but when I load it up to Instagram, the app only takes the central portion of the video to fit the width of the screen. Itís important to note that the height of the video is still 1080px. What this meant was I had to edit my Reel ignoring all of the outer edges and working only with the central portion that Instagram sees.

Example template used for creating Reels. Now that I knew thatís how this works I created a template (shown here with the white area in the centre would be clear but for the purposes of this is shown white.) that I load as an overlay at the start of every video edit session that outlines the dimensions of the Instagram video space and blacks out the edges that Instagram removes. I use this template as the top-most layer during the video edit so that all other layers sit beneath it so I can see exactly the space that Instagram uses as I put the new Reel together. The template is actually a .PNG file which is 1920px x 1080px, all black and with a section removed from the central portion to view the content.

Now youíre probably ahead of me here and thinking well how do I see the bits of the video that are hidden by the black part of the frame? You have two options, you can either shrink the video to fit the viewable dimensions or only view a certain part of the video where the important bits are. I like the latter option because shrinking the video to fit leaves borders above and below with nothing going on and remember itís that full screen video experience that looks great.

example of vertical_format video overlayed on a HD format image You can see in the example here the vertical-format space you have to work with as it's laid over the top of an image with 16:9 HD dimensions. It isn't a lot but it's still possible if you have the right footage.

This means that some videos you want to use perhaps arenít suited to Reels format. Iíve found that video where the interest is located centrally works best. I also use an option within my video editing software that lets me move the video clip left or right to keep the interesting part within the viewable area. This relies on keyframes to mark where the video clip should be at certain times as it plays. This might be something you want to try as you create your own Reel. It will certainly give you more options.

This concept should work for any app where you want to upload vertical-format video like Reels but you'll need to experiment to see how this works best for you.

If you want to see my Reels, you can find me on Instagram by clicking here.

This is my experience and I wanted to share this with those who are looking to understand how video can be used in this way. Your experience and results may differ depending upon many factors so there's no guarantee or warranty that this method will work for you. I do though hope you found this useful. Good luck with your project.

Uploaded March 2021. Copyright 2021 Peter Hatter Photography Ltd.

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