Resizing Shots in Final Cut Studio: The Crop

In this part of the “Resizing Shots in Final Cut Studio series, we’ll look at different methods for cropping a shot.

Sometimes you need to adjust footage to fit into a different size frame. For instance, you may need to add high definition material to a standard definition timeline. In these situations Final Cut Pro will automatically scale the footage up or down to fit the timeline. However, any form of scaling (and particularly FCP’s default scaling) will reduce image quality. If you find yourself in this situation, calmly open the motion tab for the shot and set the scaling back to 100%. This will ensure you get a pixel-perfect rendition of the original shot, and FCP will instead crop the footage to fit, instead of scaling it.

What this means is that all the pixels that don’t fit within the frame are discarded, in the same way you use the crop tool on an image in iPhoto, or a pair of scissors on a disappointing article based around Final Cut Studio.

What becomes important at this point is the region of interest, that is, the part of the image you want to keep. Final Cut Pro will keep the image centred by default (performing what’s known in the trade as a centre cut-out), but that doesn’t mean you have to keep it this way. Instead you can use the Center control to reposition the image (we’ll be covering the “Pan & Scan” technique that dynamically repositions a shot over time in a future article).

There is another situation which may require the use of a crop, which is when you mix footage which is a different shape. The most common example of this is adding widescreen-formatted (16:9) material to a fullscreen (4:3) sequence (or vice versa). In this case, the procedure is exactly the same, except that you may only need to crop the top and bottom of the image (or left and right sides), keeping the rest.

The option to crop crops up quite a lot within Final Cut Studio*. You’ll see check-boxes and dialogue boxes with crop options all over the place throughout Final Cut Pro, Motion and Compressor, particularly when working with different kinds of media. Just be aware that in general, cropping will discard the edges of an image in favour of filling the frame.
*Sorry, I couldn’t resist that.

Tip: To crop unwanted parts of a frame, use the Crop parameters in the Motion tab. You can also feather this effect to soften it.

Posted: February 7th, 2008
Categories: Articles, Tips & Tricks
Tags: , , ,
Comment from Casey Butcher - 4/7/2009 at 8:04 pm

I have cropped several clips and superimposed these over a full-framed sequence, however I am encountering a problem. Some of the time the effect works as planned, with a miniature frame running a different clip inside the larger frame. However, on many occasions the cropped clip that is meant to play as a picture within a picture within the larger frame retains a field of black pixels around itself and blocks out the underlying, full-frame clip. I am not aware that I am doing anything differently, but what could be going on here? Any suggestions?

Comment from Ananda - 4/16/2013 at 10:45 pm

So how DO you resize media to fit your project? I have a slide show I imported from iphoto, but it is half the size of the regular timeline media. What do I do to resize it?

Leave a Reply