How to Add Black Bars to a Video?

About: VSDC is a free video editing software for Windows PC

When you watch Hollywood movies shot for widescreens on your TV, you may often notice so-called "black bars" at the top and the bottom of the screen. Because of that, many of us have a strong visual connection between these widescreen bars and a high-quality film.

So it's not surprising how many video editing enthusiasts search for a way to add black bars to a video and make it look more cinematic.

In this tutorial, we'll show how to do that using free video editing software called VSDC. It works on Windows OS, so if you're on Mac, you'll need to use iMovie video editor instead.

Why we used VSDC Free Video Editor for this how-to

Two reasons. First, it's a completely free program with no watermarks or other limitations. Second, the way you can add cinematic bars in VSDC is much easier than other software suggests. According to various tutorials, for adding black bars to a video, you typically need to use masking which requires advanced editing skills.

In VSDC, you can literally do it within few clicks and you don't need any editing experience.

Let's go ahead and see how it can be done.

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Step 1: Install VSDC and Import Your Video

If you haven't done it, first you'll need to download VSDC on your computer. It's always better to do it from the official developer's website. The page will suggest a 32-bit and a 64-bit versions. Choose the one that corresponds with your OS. If you're unsure about the Windows version you're using, it's always better to opt in for the 64-bit version.

Then install VSDC and launch the program. You'll see the start screen - choose the "Import content" button to upload your video to the program.

Note: the Pro version banner may pop up when you launch the editor - simply close it using the X button.

Step 2: Add a Rectangle to the Scene

Once you have your video imported to the working area, go ahead and create a rectangle object using the left-side menu as shown in the illustration above.

You can adjust the size of the rectangle manually, but there is also an automated way to set the right size.

To make the bar of the same width as the video file, use the "Coordinates" settings in the "Properties" window on the right. Simply click the "Set the same size as the parent has" button - and the rectangle will automatically take up the entire working area. Next, just grab the upper side of it and drag down until you achieve the desired height of the bar.

Note: if for some reason you don't see the Properties window, right click on the rectangle object and choose "Properties".

Step 3: Paint the Rectangle Black

Stay in the same Properties window to quickly fill the rectangle with the color and finally make it black.

Scroll down a little bit to the "Brush" section of the menu. Click the "..." in front of the "Color" as illustrated above. Choose black and click OK. The color filling will instantly be applied to the object.

Step 4: Duplicate the Rectangle to Add Two Black Bars to Your Video

Now that you have a perfectly sized, perfectly shaped and a perfectly placed rectangle, all you have to do is duplicate it and place another one on the opposite side of the scene.

To do that, right mouse click on the rectangle and choose "Duplicate" from the menu. The new object will be pasted exactly over the first one, so just grab it with the mouse and drag it to the opposite side - in this case to the top of the video. Use automatic red lines to align the placement with the borders of the scene.

Step 5: Export Your Video

This is it!

You now have a cinematic video with black bars and you only need to export it.

Go to the Export project tab and choose an export profile that will meet your requirements. For example, if you're planning to upload the video to Facebook, Instagram, or Facebook, choose Web and the corresponding option in the output format menu.

If you need to have the video in a particular format or codec, go ahead and choose it among the available options. VSDC offers quite flexible export settings, and you can change practically every parameter of your video including its quality, resolution, width, height, framerate, and more. Use the "Edit profile" button to make those changes.

Once everything is set up the way you want, click the Export project button on the top menu. If a Pro banner pops up, that means the program suggest upgrading to export the video faster using hardware acceleration. If you want, you can decline the suggestion by clicking "Continue".

Enjoy the result!

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