FCP X: Create Custom Project Sizes

Posted on by Larry

Francesco Portinari sent me a fascinating question and workaround earlier this week that I want to share with you. His goal was to create a non-standard video image size using Final Cut Pro X.

For example, in FCP 7, you can create a sequence of virtually any size by changing Sequence > Settings for a sequence. However, FCP X only uses preset sizes, so customizing the project image size isn’t possible.

Francesco sent me two different workarounds. Then, I contacted Apple and got a third. Let me share all three with you, along with the strengths and weaknesses of each.


If you have an existing video clip at the size you want, import it into FCP X and edit it into an empty Project. The project will automatically configure itself to match that format.

NOTE: This works, within reason. There are some video formats that FCP X doesn’t currently support. For a list of all supported cameras and video formats, visit this Apple support page: help.apple.com/finalcutpro/cameras/en/index.html?


Then, Francesco provided an almost-really-cool second workaround — which is to create a clip at the size you want using Motion 5.

1. Create a new Motion project, using Motion 5. Set the Preset to Custom. Then, set Resolution to the image size you want to create for your FCP X Project.

2. The new Motion Project opens with a default duration of 10 seconds.

3. Use Share > Export Movie (Command+E) to export a self-contained QuickTime movie. DON’T simply save it as a Motion project, as the file needs to exist as a movie file.

At which point, the process breaks down. Because, while you CAN create movies of any arbitrary size in Motion, you CAN’T in Final Cut Pro X.

When you import a non-standard video image size into FCP X and edit it to the Timeline, the Project Properties dialog pops up asking you to pick an image size for your Project. And ALL the options use preset image sizes, including Other. You can’t enter a custom value.

Even if you try converting this to a compound clip, which you can do and which sizes properly, exporting the Project resets it back to one of the standard sizes. You can get close to creating custom sizes by setting your Motion project to be in the same aspect ratio as standard video, but this just starts making things too complex.

So, if you need to create a custom video size, you can easily do so in Motion. But not in FCP X. So, what if we need to edit our video in FCP X, but still create a custom size?

I decided to contact Apple to get their opinion.


Apple confirmed that FCP X does not allow creating custom project sizes. Their suggestion was to edit your video using standard video formats in FCP X, then export it to Compressor and use the Geometry tab in Compressor to create the final movie size you need.

The benefit to this process is that FCP X is optimized for video editing, so there is no performance hit working this way. The disadvantage is that many web videos are non-standard sizes, so being able to create custom Project image sizes would be very helpful.

So, here’s a quick overview of how to use the Geometry tab to create custom-size movies.


The Geometry tab is where you can scale your movie to any size. You can also crop it and pad it; cropping removes pixels from an image, padding adds black pixels to the edges of an image.

Click the popup menu next to Frame Size and select the image size you want to create. You can select Custom and enter any numeric value you want. However, if the aspect ratio between your video and the custom setting doesn’t match, your image will look stretched.

Use the cropping controls at the top of the Inspector to crop your image. The numbers represent pixels subtracted from the edges of the original image. This allows you to create any aspect ratio you want, by removing pixels you don’t need.

Compressor also allows you to preview your results. To see the preview, click this right-hand button. This shows your compressed image at its final size. (The Preview window shows the results of filters and geometry settings, but not compression or frame controls.)

Then, view the compressed image at 100% scale by selecting 100% from the popup at the center.

Using Crop and Dimensions, you can create a sequence of any size. While it would really be helpful if FCP X could create custom image sizes, at least we have a couple of workarounds – one in Motion and one in Compressor.

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24 Responses to FCP X: Create Custom Project Sizes

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  1. emmanuel says:


    Thanks for the very informative tutorial.

    I wonder through: you mention “The benefit to this process is that FCP X is optimized for video editing, so there is no performance hit working this way”…but if I want a specific 3096×1032 size video, I would need to make a much smaller one one FCP X and then enlarge it in Compressor…would I loose quality?

    Also, do you guess Apple will end up putting back the freely choosable frame size back in a future FCP edition?

    Thanks for your kind help

    • Larry Jordan says:

      It would be nice to create custom project sizes, but, for now, that’s not possible. Whether that ability gets turned on in the future, we shall have to see.


  2. emmanuel says:

    thanks a lot! I guess I ll have to stick with FCP 7 for now then!

  3. Ricky Dominguez says:

    Larry did you see this tutorial from T Payton.


  4. I watched a tutorial on Creative Cow about this and have personally exported a ~5k resolution time lapse from FCP 10. So it is possible. So you can make a custom project in Motion and convert it to a compound clip or use a still image to do the same thing. So I guess you could use photoshop to set your custom resolution as well. But it is possible to export out at a custom resolution.

  5. Martin says:

    Hi Larry
    I am wondering if you know of a way to overcome the following..

    I use FCPX (love it) ScreenFlow and Keynote for what I am doing.

    I make videos to show how to my products and if I just use ScreenFlow I get great razor sharp result. The problem I have is that I want to green screen so I am IN my presentation so to speak. its all pretty easy to do… so far so good.
    My workflow is…
    1. Setup the keynote presentation 1280×760 slides.
    2. Record the keynote presentation in ScreenFlow then export in lossless format
    3. Film green screen
    3. Import green screen video to FCPx
    4. Import the screen flow file
    5. on timeline I now have green screen and underlaying keynote presentation. (Green screen is perfect)
    6. Problem..The imported keynote slides are blurry and pretty bad.

    I tried importing slides only from Keynote 1280 x720 Same size as project, but still the image quality of the slide is terrible.

    I am thinking that FCPX just does not like images ie its distorting them making them look blurred.

    I REALLY want to use the green screen idea for my web videos but I cant do this unless I use FCPx (cant green screen in screen flow)
    Another thought is why does screenflow deliver razor sharp images for the web and FCPx will not?

    Any help tips VERY gratefully received

    • Is it just in playback or is it also in export? Also, you can check your playback settings in Preferences and see if it is set to “Better Performance” (which will degrade the preview window quality, though not the final export) if it is you can change it to “High Quality” which should show you about full quality. I’ve used a lot of screen captures and photos in videos and have not run into what you are describing except for what I mentioned above about the preferences.

  6. Magno says:

    Hi, great tips but unfortunately your tip #1 does not work for really non-standard sizes like 1024×768 pixels and for this format, other standards are either too big or too small. I have filled a feature request with apple.

  7. lia says:

    Hi Larry, thank you for the tips. I have a prores-file (created of an image and then through quicktime 7 pro made into a mov prores clip.) and I pulled it into the event-folder. then opened a new project, wanted to drag it in there: tells me that it does not rcognize the size and suggests many other sizes. Any help why I am one of those where it doesn’t work? It just tells me “the video properties of this clip are not recognized. Click OK to use the settings below or cancel…” and suggests all the standard formats.

    Maybe I misunderstood something?
    Thank you!

    • Larry Jordan says:


      QuickTime 7 can create many image sizes that are not supported by FCP X.

      In FCP X, you are best off using either 720 x 486, 720 x 576, 1280 x 720 or 1920 x 1080. If you need to work with a truly custom size, FCP 7, Premiere, or Motion may be a better choice.


      • Lia says:

        Hi again Larry,

        thank you! So even i i create a custom size in fcp 7 I cannot transfer and use it in fcp x , correct?
        Or can I…? 🙂 guess it will always tell me it doesnf know the size…

        That is really disappointing 🙁 I need 4:1 (2600×400) for a large display at an event.
        A friend said I should use imovie haha. Well it works in there I guess..but still

        hey thank you for all your tutorials and tips here

        all the best

        • Lia says:

          (and i made it (the white image) into a .mov-file by the way and it works and can be opened in moegcompressor and quicktime etc)

  8. Marcus says:

    Thank you! I can’t believe Final Cut “Pro” X doesn’t include these very basic functions…very embarrassing!

  9. In FCP X, you are best off using either 720 x 486, 720 x 576, 1280 x 720 or 1920 x 1080. If you need to work with a truly custom size, FCP 7, Premiere, or Motion may be a better choice.

    Thank you! I can’t believe Final Cut “Pro” X doesn’t include these very basic functions…very embarrassing!

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