If you have not heard of the term “letterboxing” in the world of video it is really just a fancy term for “black bars”. You are basically taking your 16:9 footage and adding black bars to the top and bottom to make your footage appear more wide-angle. This is an effect that is widely used in big-budget films today and is a quick and easy way of make your footage instantly appear more cinematic.
As Simple As Cropping
To achieve this effect, you do this in many different ways but the most popular are using PNG files that are images you can overlay on your footage, or you can simply crop in.
To start this effect, select the clip you want to add the letterboxing too and head over to the Video Inspector. There you will find a Crop section. Locate the Top and Bottom crop sliders. Here, you can move both sliders to the value of 100 and you will see a slight letterboxing effect. Once you change the value to around 250-275, you will start to see the type of cinematic black bars you are use to seeing. I would not go above 300 as your footage might start looking too narrow.
If you are wanting to do this effect to your whole video project and not individual clips, I would recommend adding an Adjustment Layer to your project and cropping that way. This will save you from selecting each clip and performing this crop over and over again.
If you would like to see how to use this effect to create a cinematic reveal, click here.