Resizing Shots in Final Cut Studio: Basic Scaling with FCP

To resize footage quickly and easily, you can’t beat using the options built into Final Cut Pro’s interface. The results can be quite pleasing, and this method works particularly well for making images smaller, such as when adding 1080p HD footage into a 720p HD timeline.

FCP makes it very easy to resize footage directly from within the interface. In fact, this ease can be a bit of a double-edged sword; in many occasions it can be difficult to tell precisely which shots are being scaled and which are not.

The problem with this method is that you don’t have much control over it. There are three different methods available (Linear, Normal and Best), and images will almost certainly fall to pieces with a lot of scaling.

To scale footage in Final Cut Pro:

  1. Double-click the shot in the timeline or bin.
  2. Tear off the Motion tab so you can see it alongside the image. You should also stretch the canvas out as big as possible so you can see the effects of the changes.
  3. Select Sequence / Settings…
  4. Under the Video Processing tab, set the Motion Filtering Quality to the desired level (Best is usually the one you’ll want unless you’re in a hurry, and Linear will perform only very basic interpolation, good for fast previews).
  5. Adjust the Scale parameter percentage to suit.


Tip: Shake can be used to resize individual QuickTime movies too, and includes a much bigger selection of filters, such as Mitchell and Lanczos, each of which is better for different types of footage.

Posted: January 22nd, 2008
Categories: Uncategorized
Comment from Rob - 9/1/2009 at 12:09 pm

Is there a way to do this for multiple pictures at once? I’m working on a project that requires a square timeline, so pretty much every photo needs to be resized to get rid of the black bars at top/bottom or left/right.

Comment from Rob - 9/1/2009 at 12:09 pm

(and there’s about 500 photos… thus my question)

Comment from Jack - 9/3/2009 at 7:48 pm

Try rendering out the timeline to a single clip (or a QuickTime reference movie) and then re-importing the new clip into a new timeline before following the steps above

Comment from Paddy - 11/5/2009 at 5:12 pm

Or resize just one of them, copy it, select the other 499 with the “select track forward” tool, then right-click to Paste Attributes, Basic Motion on all the rest. It saves having to do extra exports.

Comment from Ananda - 4/16/2013 at 10:51 pm

On step 3, the “setting” is not made available. I tried using the timeline and the preview window, but no luck. Suggestions?

Comment from Jack - 4/17/2013 at 8:54 am

Which version of FCP are you using?

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