FCP 7: Aspect Ratio Conversion from 4:3 to 16:9 

Posted on by Larry

[This article was first published in the November, 2010, issue of
Larry’s Final Cut Pro Newsletter. Click here to subscribe.]


Randy White asks:

I have a TV program that is 4×3 and now I have a station that wants it in the 16×9 format. How do I upsize my original 4×3 video to 16×9?

Larry replies: The easiest way is using Final Cut, though Compressor is also an option.

Simply drop your finished 4:3 sequence into a 16:9 timeline using the same codec and re-export.

You’ll get black bars on the sides of your image, but your images will be intact, without cropping.

If you need to fill the frame, you’ll need to crop a portion of your image at the top and the bottom to get it to fit properly; plus the image will look a little grainy and blurry. Because you are cropping the image, you also run the risk of losing something essential in the image.

I’d suggest going with the black edges to preserve your image.


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5 Responses to FCP 7: Aspect Ratio Conversion from 4:3 to 16:9 

  1. Thomas Quinn says:

    Good answer, but I can’t find the one I seek. I want to un-squeezed a 4:3 DVD image to 16:9 (in which it was originally shot) for editing in FCPX. How do I stretch the 4:3 image to fill a 16:9 frame before editing, in either FCPX or Compressor 4? Baffled.

  2. Hi Larry,
    I still use FCP7, but I’d like to make my next film 4×3. My films are related to my practice as a printmaker so the narrative is colour and rhythm. They are projected onto surfaces rather than a screen.
    I’d really like some advice on settings etc.
    Thank you

    • Larry says:


      FCP 7 can accomplish this easily. In the project settings, you can specify any frame size you want, as long as it is being displayed by a computer. DVDs and Blu-ray Discs have specific requirements

      For example, you could shoot 1280 x 720, but edit it into a 960 x 720 project frame size. This would mean you lose pixels off the left and right side.

      Or, shoot 1920 x 1080, but create a project that is 1440 x 1080. Again, you’ll lose pixels from the left and right edge.

      Use ProRes 422 as the project codec.


      • Hi Larry,
        Thanks so much for that advice. It was the pixel number I needed! In a way, not knowing what to do has lead me to some good inventive solutions.
        The 4×3 format is having a small comeback with Paul Schrader’s new movie, First Redeemed. It’s truly wonderful. The format also fits my still works better.
        I love FCP7 and run an old Mac entirely dedicated to it and CS4.

  3. Hi Larry,
    How much does it matter when you’re doing the first settings if you’re going to export the whole film at the end? I use different types of film – some from my iphone, some 4 x 3 on a canon EOS 60D, some 16:9 and some are 24, some 25, then stills get mixed in at 1080 x 1920 pixels in photoshop. So there’s quite a mix! It takes alot of rendering.
    What’s good practice for settings if you’re converting iphone films?

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