Conform frame sizes and frame rates

Final Cut Pro manages project settings automatically. This means you can work with multiple media types with differing frame sizes (also referred to as resolution) and frame rates in the same project. When you add the first video clip to your project, Final Cut Pro automatically sets the format, frame size, and frame rate for the entire project based on the properties of that first clip (or, more precisely, on the properties of the clip’s source media file).

You can modify the project’s settings at any time, and you can control, on a clip-by-clip basis, how Final Cut Pro conforms an individual clip’s frame rate and frame size to match the project settings. All of the project information in this section applies equally to compound clips, which can have their own distinct project settings.

You can add interlaced clips to progressive (non-interlaced) projects and progressive clips to interlaced projects. To add an interlaced clip to a progressive project, see the instructions below. Final Cut Pro accepts progressive clips in interlaced projects automatically.

Here are things to keep in mind when working with multiple formats and frame sizes:

  • Choose video and audio project properties based on how you intend to share your final movie with your audience. For example, if you’re editing a project with mixed-format media and you intend to share it as 1080p HD, you should set your project’s video properties to 1080p HD.

  • If you’re unsure of the final distribution format, the most important decision you can make before creating your project is choosing your project’s frame rate. It’s easy to change the format and the frame size of your project at any time, but changing the frame rate can cause all the edit points in your project to shift in time.

  • If you have a clip that matches the video and audio properties of the format in which you intend to share your project, add this clip to your project first. Final Cut Pro automatically creates matching project settings. This saves you time by preventing you from having to change your project settings later.

    Tip: If the first clip you add to a project is an audio clip or a still-image clip, Final Cut Pro prompts you to choose the video properties for your project. Cancel the edit, add a video clip whose source media file has the video properties you require for your project, and then add the non-video clip to your project.

Choose a method of conforming frame size

You can choose how Final Cut Pro modifies the frame size of a clip to match the project’s frame size settings. For example, you can have Final Cut Pro change the frame size of the clip to fit within the longest dimension of the project’s frame dimensions, fill the entire frame of the project (which usually results in cropping), or leave the clip’s frame size as is.

  1. Add a clip to the Timeline with a frame size that doesn’t match the current project’s frame size (resolution) settings.

  2. Select the clip in the Timeline.

  3. To open the Video inspector, click the Inspector button in the toolbar (shown below), and click the Video button at the top of the pane that appears.

    Inspector button in toolbar
  4. Choose a method of conforming frame size from the Type pop-up menu in the Spatial Conform section of the Video inspector.

    Spatial Conform section of Video inspector
    • Fit: The default setting. Fits the clip within the project’s frame size setting without cropping the clip’s video. Black bars appear on the sides of the frames that don’t match the project’s frame size (resolution). In the case of a standard-definition (SD) clip in a high-definition (HD) project, Final Cut Pro scales up the SD clip to fit the HD project’s frame size. In the case of an HD clip in an SD project, Final Cut Pro scales down the HD clip to fit the SD project’s frame size.

    • Fill: Makes the clip’s video fill the project’s frame size. In the case of an SD clip in an HD project, Final Cut Pro scales up the SD clip to fit the HD project’s frame size. Cropping occurs along the clip’s longer dimension to allow the shorter dimension to fill the screen. In the case of an HD clip in an SD project, Final Cut Pro scales down the HD clip to fit the SD project’s frame size. Cropping occurs along the clip’s shorter dimension to allow the longer dimension to fill the screen.

    • None: Leaves the clip’s frame size unchanged. If the clip’s frame size is larger than the project’s frame size, the clip appears cropped. If the clip’s frame size is smaller than the project’s frame size, black bars surround the clip.

Choose a method of conforming frame rate

When a clip’s frame rate differs from the project’s frame rate, Final Cut Pro employs a frame-sampling method to change the clip’s frame rate to match that of the project. You can choose which frame-sampling method Final Cut Pro uses to modify the clip’s frame rate. The method you choose depends on how important it is to you to eliminate visual stuttering and visual artifacts.

  1. Add a clip to the Timeline with a frame rate that doesn’t match the current project’s frame rate settings.

  2. Select the clip in the Timeline.

  3. To open the Video inspector, click the Inspector button in the toolbar (shown below), and click the Video button at the top of the pane that appears.

    Inspector button in toolbar
  4. Choose a method of conforming frame rate from the Frame Sampling pop-up menu in the Rate Conform section of the Video inspector.

    Note: If the selected clip has the same frame rate as the project frame rate settings, the Rate Conform section does not appear in the Video inspector.

    Rate Conform section of Video inspector
    • Floor: The default setting. Final Cut Pro truncates down to the nearest integer during its calculation to match the clip’s frame rate to the project’s frame rate.

    • Nearest Neighbor: Final Cut Pro rounds to the nearest integer during its calculation to match the clip’s frame rate to the project’s frame rate. The Nearest Neighbor option reduces artifacts at the expense of visual stuttering. Rendering is required.

    • Frame Blending: Creates in-between frames by blending individual pixels of neighboring frames. Slow-motion clips created with Frame Blending appear to play back more smoothly than those created with the Floor or Nearest Neighbor setting. This setting provides better reduction of visual stuttering, but you may see some visual artifacts. Rendering is required.

    • Optical Flow: A type of frame blending that uses an optical flow algorithm to create new in-between frames. Final Cut Pro analyzes the clip to determine the directional movement of pixels, and then draws portions of the new frames based on the optical flow analysis. Choosing the Optical Flow option results in better reduction of visual stuttering, and Final Cut Pro spends a significant amount of time to fix visual artifacts.

Add an interlaced clip to a non-interlaced (progressive) project

Some video formats use an interlaced scanning method that divides a video frame into two fields, each consisting of alternating odd and even lines that are scanned at different times.

If you want to add an interlaced clip to a progressive project, you can have Final Cut Pro deinterlace the clip so that it plays at full resolution, free of the alternating jagged lines associated with interlaced clips in progressive projects.

  1. Do one of the following:

    • In the Browser, select the interlaced clips you want to add to a progressive project.

    • In the Timeline, select interlaced clips you’ve added to a progressive project.

  2. To open the Info inspector, click the Inspector button in the toolbar (shown below), and click the Info button at the top of the pane that appears.

    Inspector button in toolbar
  3. In the Info inspector, choose Settings View from the Metadata View pop-up menu.

  4. Select the Deinterlace checkbox.

    Note: Selecting the Deinterlace setting causes the frame rate of the selected clips to double. For example, if the original interlaced clips have a frame rate of 29.97 fps, the deinterlaced clips will have a frame rate of 59.94 fps. Keep this in mind when you choose the video and audio settings for your project.

    Tip: To confirm the absence of interlacing artifacts, you can press the Left Arrow and Right Arrow keys to step through the clips in the Timeline one frame at a time.

  5. To display full-resolution frames during playback, choose Better Quality from the Viewer Options pop-up menu in the upper-right corner of the Viewer.

The clips now play back and function as progressive clips. Depending on your specific computer configuration, background rendering may be necessary.

Adjust anamorphic footage

Some video camcorders and recording devices shoot at a widescreen 16:9 aspect ratio but record the data using a 4:3 aspect ratio. Sometimes the metadata tag specifying 16:9 playback in the video file is missing or set incorrectly. In Final Cut Pro, you can set this tag so that the video plays correctly with a widescreen 16:9 aspect ratio.

Note: This option is available only for the following formats: standard definition (SD) and ARRI ALEXA 2K 4:3 (2048 x 1536).

  1. In the Browser or the Timeline, select the SD clips whose anamorphic setting you want to adjust.

  2. To open the Info inspector, click the Inspector button in the toolbar (shown below), and click the Info button at the top of the pane that appears.

    Inspector button in toolbar
  3. Choose Settings View from the Metadata View pop-up menu at the bottom of the Info inspector.

  4. In the Anamorphic Override pop-up menu, choose Widescreen.

The clips now play back and function with the widescreen 16:9 aspect ratio.