Editing Vertical Video in Blender

Just set the “Properties” to 1080×1920, right?

Wrong. The video clip I brought in was weirdly cropped and distorted instead.

I wouldn’t have thought this would’ve been difficult. I tried a few things and nothing was turning out quite like I had expected.

But thankfully, there are generous people on the internet who make things, answer questions, and are all-around good people. I did a fair amount of snooping and testing before sorting out what I think is probably the easiest way to edit and render a clip shot vertically using Blender.

Here’s what I settled on.

How to Edit and Render Vertical Video in Blender.

  1. Download the VSE Transform Tools add-on script for Blender.

    The original project hasn’t been updated in a while, so this fork is the one that worked for me.

    To get the right downloadable ZIP file for your system, go to the releases page and look for the release that matches the version of Blender you’re using.

    Important: double-check your Blender version. I’m on Ubuntu and could’ve sworn that I was using the 2.8 branch of Blender. I hit an error message with the add-on and eventually checked my Blender version and found that I was actually on the 2.79 branch. Oops!

    Make sure to download the .zip file named “VSE_Transform_Tools.zip”

    Huge thank-you to Daniel Oakey for updating this script and of course to kgeogeo for posting the first version.

  2. Install the VSE Transform Tools add-on

    Launch Blender and go to File → User Preferences and then click “Add-ons”.

    Click the “Install Add-on from File…” button and browse to the .zip file you downloaded in step 1. Once you’ve clicked the filename to select it, click the “Install Add-on from File…” button.

    Now click the check mark next to “Sequencer: VSE Transform tools” to activate the add-on.

    Note: here’s where I got an error message the first time. It was because I had installed the latest “Release” of the add-on and it turned out that I wasn’t yet using the 2.8 branch of Blender. That meant I had to remove the add-on (since it wouldn’t activate anyway) and go back and download an earlier “Release” of VSE Transform Tools and install it instead.

  3. Save your user settings if you plan to edit vertical video in the future.

    The add-on is active for your current Blender session. Before you close the “Blender User Preferences” dialogue box, click the “Save User Settings” button to make sure the new add-on will be active every time you launch Blender in the future.

  4. Set the vertical aspect ratio in the “Properties” of the Blender Video Sequence Editor.

    If the “preview” window in Blender still shows a horizontal layout instead of a vertical layout, then you’ll need to set the aspect ratio.

    Note: the remaining steps assume that your source video clip was shot in HD at a resolution that would’ve been 1080p if your camera hadn’t been rotated to shoot vertically.

    View the “Properties” for the Video Sequence Editor just like you would if you were about to render your clip.

    Go to the “Dimensions” panel and find the “Resolution” section.

    Since I usually edit at 1920×1080, my values were set that way. If yours are like mine were, simply swap the X and Y values so that they read:

    X: 1080
    Y: 1920

    Again: if your source video was shot at a different resolution, you’ll need to use values that match your clip.

    Now’s a good time to go ahead and set the slider underneath those values to 100% if yours defaults to 50% the way mine does.

  5. Rotate and Scale Your Video Strip

    Thanks to these instructions, I found it very simple to rotate the video and get it scaled correctly.

    If you haven’t already done so, add your source video clip to the Video Sequence Editor in Blender.

    Select your video strip in the timeline by right-clicking on it. Be sure that just the video strip is selected and not the associated audio strip (assuming you have one of those).

    Press “t” on your keyboard. This creates a transform effect using the add-on we installed.

    Move your mouse to the “preview” window and press “r” on your keyboard. This activates the rotation tool. You can try to rotate it with your mouse, or you can type “90” on your keyboard to get an exact 90 degree rotation.

    With your mouse over the “preview” window, press “s” on your keyboard. This activates a scaling tool. I had no success with the mouse here, but you’ll see an “effect strip” in your video timeline that you can select. With that strip selected, look for the “Scale” section in the Properties (“Edit Strip”) and enter these values:

    X: 1.777777778
    Y: 0.5625

That’s it! Your video should look right in the “preview” window in Blender.

Edit away and render as usual!