A Preference That Makes a Difference: Set vs. Scale in Adobe Premiere Pro

Posted on by Larry

If all your media, graphics and still images match the size of your sequence you’ll never need to know this. But, if they don’t, this one preference setting can make a big difference.


When a clip (which could be a video, graphic, or still image) is added to the timeline, if the frame size of the clip doesn’t match the frame size of the sequence, Premiere will scale it to fill as much of the frame as possible.

In almost all cases, this is a bad choice. Here’s why.


In Preferences > Media > Default Media Scaling, there are three options:

The default setting is Scale to frame size. This changes the size of the image so that it fills the frame. If the aspect ratio doesn’t match, it will leave black borders. In all cases, no pixels will be cropped.

The problem is that, while the image size is altered, Effect Controls > Motion > Scale remains at 100%. You don’t know how much the image was altered.

The reason this is important is that any digital image scaled over 100% will look soft and blurry. To maintain image quality, it is critical to know how much the image size was altered and, where possible, keep it below 100%.


If you set this preference to None, when an image is imported, it remains at 100% of its original size.

This is the ideal option if you plan to do moves on a still (i.e. the “Ken Burns Effect”) where the still image is larger than the frame size. But for stills that you don’t plan to move on, this option requires more work to scale the image to fit the frame in a second step.


When this preference is changed to Set to frame size the image is scaled to fill the frame…

and Effect Controls > Motion > Scale reflects the amount the image size was changed.

While the results in the timeline are the same whether you use Scale or Set, the ability to see how much the image was changed makes Set the preferred choice.


If you were unaware of this option and have a sequence where images were already added to it, all it not lost.

Simply control-click each scaled image and change the menu option from Scale to Frame Size to Set to Frame Size. The image will remained scaled the same in the timeline, but the percentage is now correctly displayed in Effect Controls.

NOTE: If, for some reason, you want to go back from Set to Scale, when you choose this menu item the image will drastically zoom in. Don’t panic. Simply set Effect Controls > Motion > Scale to 100% and all will be well.

Oh! And remember to change the preference setting in Preferences > Media > Default Media Scaling to Set to frame size. This will change all future clips added to the timeline, but will NOT change any clips already edited into the timeline.

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