Converting 16:9 to 4:3

Posted on by Larry

[ This article was first published in the Feb/March, 2008, issue of
Larry’s Final Cut Pro Newsletter. Click here to subscribe. ]


Kristina Latour writes:

I’m doing a multi-cam editing job with two cameras – one of them was shot in widescreen format, and the other is in 4:3 format. My client wants the whole project to be in 4:3 format, so I adjusted the letterbox clips in the ‘Scale’ and ‘Distort’ in Motion, to match the other camera, and now the adjusted format is blurry and it’s lost quality.


My question is, is there a way to adjust to the ‘non-widescreen aspect’, without losing quality? If not, and I have to adjust the other way, to match the original letterbox quality, how do I do it so that it exactly matches? Thanks!

Larry replies: The easiest way to adjust your video is to use the Motion tab and crop the left and right edges. However, the total number of pixels in both 16:9 and 4:3 is the same; what’s different is their shape. 4:3 pixels are tall and thin, while 16:9 pixels are short and fat. This means that it is EASY to get 4:3 to look like 16:9 because you are removing pixels from the top and bottom. However, it is HARD to get 16:9 to look like 4:3 because you need to increase the size of your image to fill missing pixels at the top and bottom.

Anytime you scale an image more than 100%, your image quality will degrade.


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