How To Set 4:3 Center Cut Safe Title Markers In Premiere CS5

by Harlan Yee on February 23rd, 2012

When I produce widescreen commercials for television, I have to frame or compose everything in a way so that important visual information is not lost on 4:3 television sets. This also applies to shooting in the field and in projects that are solely motion graphics based where I don’t use any video footage. Luckily, the cameras I use have built-in center cut markers so there are no surprises when I view the footage back in the edit room. The software I currently use to edit video also has built-in 4:3 center cut title markers that are easily activated.

The 2 non-linear editors I use the most right now are Grass Valley Edius and Adobe After Effects. Both have 4:3 center cut markers pre-built into their interface. Now that I’ve upgraded to Adobe Production Premium CS5.5, I’m starting to get back into Premiere.

Adobe Premiere Center Cut SD Title Safe

The problem now is that Premiere’s safe title areas are preset for only 16:9 full screen safe areas. When you activate the safe title markers from the program monitor on the right you’ll see what I mean. See image above. I looked all over in the menus to see if there was a 4:3 option but there wasn’t… At least it isn’t labelled or classified as something that is easily recognized. But I’ll show you how to get your markers so you’ll know where to place your graphical information on widescreen projects so they won’t get cut off when broadcasted.

Adobe Premiere Center Cut SD Title Safe

To get 4:3 center cut areas to show up in your 16:9 project, click on Project>Project Settings>General.

Adobe Premiere Center Cut SD Title Safe

At the bottom of the Project Settings menu, change the values of the Actions and Safe Title Areas to the numbers shown in the image above. The top row for Title Safe Area should have 39% horizontal and 20% vertical. the bottom row for Action Safe Area should have 24% horizontal and 0% vertical.

Once your settings look like mine, hit OK.

Adobe Premiere Center Cut SD Title Safe

The new 4:3 center cut markers should show up on your program window on the right (if you have the safe title button activated). If your safe title button is activated but the title markers are still appear to be set for 16:9 safe, click in the program window and it will instantly change to show the new markers.

The above image is what it should look like when you’re done. The inside box is the 4:3 center cut area for titles. The outer lines are the edges of the screen raster for 4:3 resolution. This means anything outside the outer lines will not show up on a 4:3 monitor. This is NOT the the typical action safe guide. I like this configuration because I can easily determine what will and will not be cut off when a television station center cuts my video.

Adobe Premiere Center Cut SD Title Safe

As an added bonus when you change the safe area parameters, you will see these same markers in your title tool which makes it super easy to place your text and graphics. By the way, I was using Premiere CS3 and CS4 before and I know you can do this in those versions also. The process is the same in those earlier versions. So don’t feel left out if you don’t have CS5!

Want to see an example of a commercial I made in After Effects that looks great in both 4:3 and 16:9 incorporating the center cut area, click here. If you think this article might be helpful to others, please use one of the sharing buttons on the left side of the screen!

  1. Robert permalink

    Hi Harlan,
    I m somewhat new to this…but I tried a few editing software before and I’m kind of wondering….I use to play around with Final Cut express and now thinking about stepping up my game to a more professional style editing sofware to maybe get a few gigs and make some money or something. I noticed that you’re not using any final cut or avid software, what’s your take on Final Cut express or Pro…have you ever used it before or just don’t perfer them??? and which one has a faster learning curve???

  2. Harlan Yee permalink

    Hi Robert,

    The main reason I don’t use Final Cut or any of the other versions is because I don’t own a Mac. I’ve heard that when the released Final Cut X that a lot of the professional features had been taken away and a lot of people moved to Adobe Premiere and AVID.

    Most of the editing programs are pretty easy to learn if you’re familiar with editing software. I use the Adobe Production Bundle… and the programs I use the most in that set is After Effects, Photoshop and Premiere. Those three programs are enough to produce professional level video projects. In fact, all my projects are for broadcast television. I use After Effects the most because I focus more on motion graphics these days.

    There are still a LOT of people that use Final Cut but unfortunately I’m not one of them. The Adobe software is available on Mac and PC.. I’m pretty sure that if I were to get a Mac someday, I would stick with the Adobe Production Bundle. Hope that helps!

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