Making Vertical Videos for Social Media in Davinci Resolve

Making vertical versions of your videos for social media is straightforward in DaVinci Resolve, though there are a few quirks to keep in mind when preparing your clips for pushing through the global mobile infoverse. This tutorial assumes you’ve made a horizontal video and simply want to make it vertical, but if you want to edit many clips while in vertical mode, the same steps would apply.

In essence, all you need to do is flip the Width and Height dimensions so that your vertical video is set to 1080 x 1920 instead of the default 1920 x 1080 (assuming you’re using standard HD aspect ratios — you can modify this formula based on any other aspect ratio you may be using). However, you don’t do this to the video clip itself or in the project settings — rather, you are modifying the timeline’s spatial dimensions.

In DR, right-click in a bin to Create a New Timeline:

Create a New Timeline

You want to uncheck Use Project Settings which will open up some options for you to define a custom aspect ratio.

Uncheck Use Project Settings at Bottom Left

Under the Format tab you will see your project’s default horizontal dimensions, and then simply reverse the numbers.

Standard aspect ratio (horizontal) project settings
Just reverse the numbers — the timeline will now be vertical, while the media and project are both still horizontal.

The vertical dimensions will apply only to the timeline, and you can keep horizontal and vertical videos in the same project. In fact, your project can have horizontal video settings while timelines within your project can be vertical.

So just remember that only your timeline is vertical. If you look at your project settings, it will still show a horizontal aspect ratio:

Project settings are unaffected by custom timeline aspect ratios.

I find that I have to scale my videos a bit so that they fill the entire vertical field. There’s probably some technical reason for this but I haven’t dwelled on it too much, since all you have to do is scale the whole video to fill it. In the video Transform panel, keep the XY Zoom fields linked and just increase the size by ~1.750.

Use XY Zoom to scale your video to fit the vertical frame.

Voilà, you now have a vertical video you can edit, post-process or export.

A vertical video timeline.

If your video is going to be uploaded to a platform where text will be superimposed on it, keep in mind that your video’s thumbnail will be the background to that text, and the text may actually be unreadable. Below, you can see that on my Instagram IGTV page, some of the text can’t be read, because the image behind it is too bright.

Oops, can’t read some of the text. Make a mental note for future uploads!

An easy fix to this is just to make sure you are using a custom thumbnail (e.g. IGTV let’s you upload a custom thumbnail for your video), rather than letting the platform auto-select a frame for the thumbnail.

On a Mac, an easy way to do this is to open the video in Quicktime, choose a frame with a dark area towards the bottom of it, command-C the frame (copy it), open Preview, under the file menu select New From Clipboard (which opens your saved Quicktime frame in Preview), then export it as a JPEG or other legal format for use as a custom thumbnail.

Now all you have to do is go viral! ;~)