Shooting 4:3 to look like 16:9

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. ]

Skip Hall writes:

I think I’d like to try a project in 16:9 format, since many of my clients have widescreen LCDs and such these days. There’s no WAY I’m ready to even THINK about going HD, but I thought that I might be able to make things look a little better if I could fill a screen a bit more.


Is it an impossible dream with a couple of aging Canons and FCP, or can it be done? If so, can the steps be condensed down to less than a dozen, or will more college be required?

Larry replies: Piece of cake. The key is to frame your images during shooting so that you can crop about 10% off the top and bottom of the image during editing. Things get MUCH more complex if you frame your material during shooting as 4:3, then decide later during editing to make it 16:9.

Assuming your images are framed properly, the easiest way to convert them from 4:3 into 16:9 is as follows:

1. When editing is complete, create a new sequence


2. Double-click the new sequence to load it into the timeline.


3. Choose Sequence > Settings


4. In the General tab, change the Aspect ratio to Custom 16:9


5. Make sure the sequence size (to the left of the Aspect Ratio pop-up menu) is set to 720 x 405.


6. Drag the edited sequence from the Browser into your new, 16:9 sequence


7. It will come in pillar-boxed, because Final Cut always scales a larger image so that the entire image is visible when it is edited to a sequence smaller than the original image size.


8. Option+double-click the sequence you just edited into the timeline to load it into the Viewer (if you just double-click it, you’ll open the original sequence for editing).


9. Go to the Motion tab and change the scale percentage from about 84% to 100%. Your image will zoom up to full resolution edge-to-edge, while retaining it’s 16:9 shape.


10. Export and compress as you would any other video, just remember to choose an Anamorphic setting for Compressor to retain the 16:9 aspect ratio.

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