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Last update: August 11, 2022

How to crop in Blender VSE

Sometimes when video editing in Blender, we need to crop and adjust our footage to fit in multiple pieces of content at once. So here is the short answer to how to crop a strip in the VSE.

After you add a strip, press N to open the properties panel, go to the strip tab and expand the Crop section. Use the left, right top and bottom sliders to crop the strip.

In the rest of this article, we will look more closely what we can do with the crop values on our strip. How we can crop multiple strips at once, add effects to portions of the frame and animate transitions with it.

What happens when we crop a strip in Blender VSE?

Cropping is not changing the size of the footage inside the frame. But it is changing what portion of the footage is being shown. We can think of it as a mask that only chops away at the edges depending on the values, we input into the crop sliders.

The cropping is done in pixels, and we can set them all to the same value by clicking, holding, and dragging across all the crop values we want to set at once. Then just input the number of pixels you want to crop from each direction.

When we crop a strip, the data that we exclude is still there available for us to be used. It's just that we don't see it. We don't have to lock in the crop.

How to crop multiple strips using a meta strip?

If we want to crop multiple strips at once, we can first put them in a meta strip. A meta strip is just a collection of strips that are all put into a group represented by what we call a meta strip on the timeline.

Create a meta strip by selecting all strips you want to be contained inside the meta strip and then press Ctrl+G.

The strips are now inside the metastrip and if we want to adjust any individual strip inside of it, select it and press Tab to tab into the meta strip.

You can press tab again to tab back out of the meta strip.

To crop all strips contained inside the meta strip, make sure that you are outside the meta strip and just like with any other strip, go to the properties panel and find the strip tab. Then open the crop section and change the Left, Right, Top and Bottom values for your needs.

Using crop on adjustment layers

An adjustment layer is a layer we can add like any other, Press Shift+A and choose adjustment layer to add it to the timeline at the playhead.

An adjustment layer will adjust all strips below it is using them as it's input.

It is easy to think that the adjustment layer will then crop all strips below it if we add it and use the crop settings on the adjustment strip. But this is not the case. The crop values will just crop the adjustment layer.

This means that we can then add modifiers to our adjustment strip to only affect the part of the underlying strips that is still inside the bounds of the adjustment layer.

We can also use the position, scale and rotate transform found in the transform section to position the adjustment layer. This way we can create an area that could be affected by a modifier stack that we add on the adjustment layer.

For example, we could crop in the adjustment layer and position it in the corner of the frame, add a hue correct modifier to make the area black and white and att a text strip above it.

Not the most beautiful thing I made, but it demonstrates the idea. Also, to make something black and white with the hue correct modifier, bring all handles to the bottom of the saturation graph.

How to animate the crop in Blender VSE?

We can also animate the crop values on any strip. For instance, we could set the left crop value to 0 px at the first frame and crop it all the way to the last pixel to reveal footage below.

To do this follow these steps.

  • Set the playhead where you want the animation to start.
  • Hover the Left crop value and press I to add a keyframe or press the small circle next to the value.
  • Move the playhead to where you want the animation to end
  • Enter the value you want for cropping left. In my case I want 1980 since that is the width of the frame.
  • Press the now diamond icon or hover the crop left value and press I.
  • Move the playhead to the beginning of the animation and play it to see the result.

You might notice that the animation is starting slow, gaining speed and then slowing down again when it comes to the end. If you want a linear animation instead, open the graph editor, then select the strip you animated in the VSE to see the keyframes in the graph editor.

Then press T while your mouse is in the graph editor and choose linear on the left side of the menu.

We can animate almost any parameter in Blender this way.

Final thoughts

In this article we learned how to crop footage in the VSE, we looked at how multiple strips can be cropped at once using a meta strip and how the adjustment layer can be used with cropping to create effects on selected portions of the frame.

At last we also animated the crop value to see how we could create a wipe transition.

Thanks for your time.

Written by: Erik Selin

Editor & Publisher

Erik Selin
3D artist, writer, and owner of artisticrender.com

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