How to Remove Black Bars from a Video

tv standards

Sometimes when you download a video and then try to reproduce it on your PC or TV, there appear distracting black bars on both sides or along the top and bottom of the video. It means that the aspect ratio of the video differs from the one of your TV. 

The two most popular aspect ratios are 4:3 and 16:9. 4:3 is a standard TV format, while 16:9 is a format of high-definition TV and monitors. Some people bow to the inevitable trying to pay no attention to black bars, but others are getting mad. Well, in case you belong to the second group, read this article to learn how to remove black bars and prepare your video file for watching on your TV/home cinema.

Everything you need is a video file you want to watch and a program that will help you to remove black bars easily and without quality loss.

Freemake Video Converter

Let’s start with Freemake Video Converter Gold Pack. The program will find and delete black bars automatically. However, if you want to do it manually, you may follow these simple steps.

Freemake Video Converter Gold Pack

Run the program and using “+Video” button add the video with black bars you want to cut. Then go to “File” – “Options” – “Black bars” and select “delete black bars”. Choose one of the video formats or devices in green bubbles at the bottom of the program (AVI, MP4, WMV, MKV, Apple, Sony, Android etc) and, in case you don’t want to reduce file size or change anything else, click “Convert” to apply changes. Since my video was not too long it took me a couple of seconds to have it converted.

The pros of Freemake Video Converter are:

  • Free
  • Multiple language support
  • User-friendly interface
  • Many supported input and output formats
  • High conversion speed
  • High quality of output video

Among cons I’d name a toolbar you must install to get a Gold Pack version.

xviD4PSP

The second program I tried was XviD4PSP. Unlike Freemake Video Converter that is mostly used for file conversion, Xvid4PSP was developed for video editing. The program has various audio and video encoding settings, filters and even colour correction.

XviD4PSP output formats

Add a video by clicking “Open” button. When the video appears in the program go to “Video”, select “Delete black borders” in drop down menu, and XviD4PSP will delete black bars automatically. Then have a look at video preview. If you are satisfied with the result choose an output format, codec and audio encoding in the left column. Use colour correction or filtering if needed. When editing is done click “Encode” and wait till your video in converted.

If you cut black bars pretty often go “Settings” – “Auto crop” and choose “All files”. Now XviD4PSP will detect and delete black bars automatically while opening a video. It has always worked well for me.

In case you don’t trust a program or like to have everything under control, you can delete black bars manually. Go to “Video” – “Resolution/Aspect”. If you know how much pixels to cut, you can set the numbers in “Crop top/bottom” or “Crop left/right” fields. More likely you don’t, so better user easy manual crop.

XviD4PSP cropping

Point with grey lines the parts you want to crop and click “Ok”. Then follow the instructions above and encode your video.

Though the quality of output video was pretty good, I faced one problem while using XviD4PSP. The playback is different in various players. For example, it’s excellent in VLC player and Mplayer, but in DivX or Windows Media Player it was lacking codecs and got pixilated all the time.

Pros:

  • Free
  • Multiple language support
  • User-friendly interface
  • Many supported input and output formats
  • High conversion speed
  • High quality of output video
  • Colour correction

Cons:

  • Playback quality depends on a  player

VirtualDub

Finally, the last program for this test was VirtualDub, a free software for professional video editing.

Being advised by many people the program appeared to have one serious disadvantage. It supports only avi and MPEG-1 formats. So if your video is in MKV, 3G or MP4 how it was in my case you should convert it to avi before cropping black bars.

Virtualdub settings

When you are done with conversion, run VirtualDub and drag-and-drop your video to the program. The easiest variant is to use a null transform filter. Click “Video” – “Filters” – “Add” – “Null transform” – “OK”. Now click “Cropping” button. The program will open a special window where using a mouse you could set the borders of the black bars. Don’t forget to click “OK” to save the changes. When you finish with cropping go again to “Video”, but now choose “Compression” to set a necessary codec. You’ll see all the codecs installed on your PC.

Virtualdub Video Compression

You may set audio compression as well if needed. Just go to “Audio” – “Compression” and choose an audio codec you need.

Virtualdub Audio Compression

When your video is ready for decoding click “File” – “Save as AVI” to save it without black bars.

Test Results

I should say that all the three programs worked pretty fast and showed good results for audio and video playback. Click the pics below to compare the original file and converted ones.

Pic with black bars (original)

Original File

Freemake Video Converter

Freemake Video Converter Result

XviD4PSP

XviD4PSP result

VirtualDub

Virtualdub result

Software

Conversion Speed

Complexity

Quality

Input/ Output Formats

Freemake Video Converter

high

low

high

many/many

Xvid4PSP

high

medium

high

many/many

VirtualDub

high

high

high

Avi, MPEG-1/Avi

Now I can enjoy it on my plasma TV without any troubles. And do black bars disturb you?

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