Viewing 16:9 Video in QuickTime

Posted on by Larry

[ This article was first published in the December, 2007, issue of
Larry’s Final Cut Pro Newsletter. Click here to subscribe. ]


I’ve suddenly gotten a whole flock of these questions. Yariv Newman’s question is typical:

When I am doing editing and rendering of my project to show the client I can’t get Quicktime to maintain the 16X9 aspect upon export. I’ve tried clicking on preserve aspect but it changes to 4:3. I am using the latest FCP.

Larry replies: Yariv, QuickTime always displays video using square pixels. So, if you are using a format that uses rectangular pixels: HDV, DVCPRO HD, and many others, QuickTime won’t show the correct aspect ratio.

However, Final Cut, DVD Studio Pro and other video playback applications take the aspect ratio of the pixel into account to make sure the display is formatted properly.

UPDATE – Dec. 27, 2007

Tom Wolsky writes:

You can export using QuickTime Conversion and force the file into the correct aspect ratio by changing the frame size, or you can fix it in movie properties of the QuickTime player.

Savic Dejan then added:

Getting QuickTime to display 16:9 video is actually quite simple:

  • Open the movie in QuickTime
  • Type Command+J (or go to Window > Show Movie Properties)
  • Select the Video Track
  • Click the “Visual settings” tab
  • For PAL SD: enter 1024 x 576 in the “Scaled Size” boxes
  • For NTSC SD: enter 853 x 480 in the “Scaled Size” boxes
  • Uncheck “Preserve Aspect Ratio”
  • Select File > Save as and save your movie as “Self-contained”

That’s it.

Claes Jonasson adds:

BTW, while in this window in QuickTime, you should also select the High Quality box, so the movie will play back at its highest quality (rather than a lower res version to save processor effort).

Larry replies: True, you can adjust the aspect ratio as described here. However, that doesn’t deny the basic point that QuickTime does not, by default, display 16:9 video correctly.


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One Response to Viewing 16:9 Video in QuickTime

  1. Lawrence says:

    just gotta have the last say aye Larry?

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