How To Change Video Dimensions In Final Cut Pro

Written by Published in Uncategorized

What’s the first major rule for posting videos online besides ensuring there’s a cat in it??

It’s making sure your videos are properly and perfectly formatted so your audience can watch comfortably while enjoying your videos. Yes, for their maximum viewing pleasure!

Sticking to required video formats and keeping up-to-date with specific video dimensions for YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat (yes, it’s still a thing) and other socials speed things up for you so you can put out quality projects on time, every time.  

If at this point you’re kind of at a loss about changing video dimensions in Final Cut Pro, help is right here.

In this blog you’ll learn how to:

  • Set up a new project and a square video
  • Changing regular footage into a square video
  • Scale 4K footage
  • Modify a project from square to 16:9 and vice-versa
  • Save Effect Preset to crop your project repeatedly
  • Interview filming tip

But first, let’s get you up to speed on what video sizes are available in Final Cut Pro.

By the way, you can find them by opening up Final Cut Pro>File>New>Project>Project Name>Video>Format.

1080p HD reigns supreme in image quality and is for high-definition TV and video digital viewing. In the world of digital cameras and photography that is a total of 2 megapixels or 1,920 horizontal and 1,080 vertical pixels. The “p” at the end of 1080 stands for how the pixel rows are “progressively” displayed in numerical order. 

1080i HD is a high-definition digital display for TV and videos that makes up a combination of frame resolution and scan type. The letter “i” in 1080i means “interlaced” showing each image twice, in odd and even lines, for better visual comfort.

720p HD or widescreen HDTV is a progressive high-definition video format that’s popularly known in video editing as aspect ratio 16:9. 720p HD is similar to the old Standard Definition.

NTSC SD stands for National Television Standards Committee, a group that pioneered the development of black & white and color TV. NTSC has 525 interlaced lines with a display rate of 25 frames per second.

PAL SD or Phase Alternating Line is what’s used worldwide as a video size for analog TV and video. PAL SD is similar to NTSC but PAL has a slight edge in resolution and color stability. You’ll know you’re watching in PAL SD when you see a flicker or two, which is old-school cool if you ask me.

2K, often used in movie projectors, is a generic term for videos or devices with a horizontal resolution composition of 2,000 pixels, thus the name “2K.” 

4K display has 4096 x 2160 pixels and is best for professional and digital productions.

5K is the bestie of Apple’s 27-inch iMac display with a resolution of 5120 x 2880. Take note though that 5K is not a commonly used display standard so you will not find this option in many devices.

8K are digital images or displays reaching 8000 pixels with startlingly clear images. 

360° also called spherical, immersive and surround, in which every view is recorded on a special rig or multiple cameras.

Vertical videos are those intended for portrait-mode viewing and are shot using a camera or a computer. Vertical videos are popular with social media users.

Square videos are perfect for creating brand-centric videos on social media. Square videos mean you don’t have to share space with someone else on the screen. Apple uses Keynote to create square videos in mobile versions.

Custom or personalized videos are made with a specific target audience in mind. Everything that is specifically made for a person or a group of people is what’s called a custom video. This type of video is made from scratch and is often used in explainer and presentation videos.  

What resolutions do editors often work with in Final Cut Pro? 

HD editors often work with 1080p (HD) and 4K (UHD) settings. 

Now that we’ve squared those away, let’s get you going on editing or modifying video dimensions in Final Cut Pro.

This YouTube tutorial shows you how to set or modify your video dimensions and the best way to scale your 4k footage within your timeline.

There’s also a bonus tip if you have a 4k camera and how that one is enough to make a dynamic interview video.

Let’s start shape-shifting your videos!

Setting Up A New Project 

Creating a new project in Final Cut Pro means naming your project and specifying the event where your project is saved. Your “project” is a literal record of all your editing decisions, photos and videos.   

  1. Go up to File, then New and Project.
  2. Set all the video formats in Project.
  3. Create your Project by using Command + N
  4. Done!

Setting Up a Square Video

Final Cut Pro lets you create different versions of your project such as a square video. Here’s how it’s done.

  1. Type in Square Dimensions in Project.
  2. Type in Square in Video.
  3. Choose the 720×720 setting or 1080×1080 setting if you want a higher resolution format.
  4. Click OK.
  5. Done!

Scaling 16:9 footage into Vertical video

Another name for a vertical video is, hilariously, 9:16 aspect ratio…the flipside of 16:9 aspect ratio. Haha! Here are the steps for it.

  1. Go to Inspector and select your clip.
  2. Select Spatial Conform and then, select Fill which eliminates all dead space in your clip.
  3. Press Command + N to create a vertical video.
  4. Choose your Project Name. Example: Vertical Limit
  5. Select Vertical under Video.
  6. Select 1080 x 1920 resolution and 24p frame rate.
  7. Leave all the other fields as is and click OK.
  8. Done!

Modifying Project from Square to 16:9

Here’s how to change from a square frame to a 16:9 aspect ratio.

  1. Select your project.
  2. In the Inspector window, select Information option.
  3. Under Information option, select Modify.
  4. In Video, select 1080p HD and 24p frame rate.
  5. Choose your Project Name. Example: Square to HD Dimension. 
  6. Click OK.
  7. Done!

Modifying Project from 16:9 to Square

And back to square from 16:9.

  1. Select your project.
  2. Right-click on your project and select Duplicate Project As.
  3. Select Square under Video.
  4. In Video, you’ll see a button called Smart Conform.
  5. Tick the box beside Smart Conform.
  6. Leave all the other fields as is.
  7. Click OK.
  8. Done!

Scaling 4K Footage

Boost the quality of your videos by scaling up to 4k using these steps.

  1. Go up to Preferences.
  2. Click Playback.
  3. Go down to Player Background and set it to Checkerboard.
  4. Scale your clip to 25%.
  5. Go to Inspector and select Spatial Conform.
  6. Select None under Spatial Conform to blow up your 4K image to match pixel per pixel in your HD footage.
  7. Select Scale and move the slider to 100% for maximum pixel-per-pixel quality.
  8. Done!


One 4K Camera Interview Shooting Tip!

Let’s say you’re a one-man shooting crew and you have an interview to perform and maybe two cameras are a lot to set up in the time that you have.

One trick that you can use is if you shoot in 4k and if you only need to export in 1080p you can actually zoom in and create a “second shot” with your footage.

  1. Highlight your clips.
  2. Go to Inspector and select your first set of clips.
  3. Select Spatial Conform and then, select None.
  4. In Transform, scale the angle to 50% to get the full image framed in your timeline.
  5. Go to Inspector and select your second set of clips.
  6. In Transform, scale the angle to 72% and reposition your second set of clips by using the Transform tool to move your clips to either the right or left side of the frame.
  7. Click OK.
  8. Done!

Since you have that 4k footage you can cut in and create the illusion that you have a second camera and it keeps those interviews more interesting than just having plain shots.  

Editing with that bonus tip also helps hide your cuts. Say, you went through your script and you went to say it a couple of different ways each time in your script, you can take the best of your scripted lines and put them together in your frame. Furthermore, if you crop one in you’ll have the illusion of two cameras while also covering your edits easier.

Saving Effect Preset to Repeat 4K Crop Throughout Project

Showcase a variety of shots and make your clips more dynamic with this effect preset.

  1. Go to Save Video Effects preset.
  2. Under Name, select Effects Preset.
  3. In Category create a new category name. Example: Dimensions.
  4. Under Name, type in your preferred name. Example: Dimensions Crop.
  5. Click Save.
  6. Go to Effects, and search for Dimensions Crop.
  7. Drag and drop Dimensions Crop in your timeline.
  8. Done!

Remember to save this drag-and-drag effect so that you can repeatedly use it in a lot of your projects while saving time in your workflow. 

Now you have many ways to alter video dimensions in Final Cut Pro like a superb chameleon video editor! 

No matter how stacked your projects are, I hope these video editing tutorials help shorten your workflow and get your projects done faster than ever.

Happy editing,


About Dylan Higginbotham

Hey there. I'm Dylan Higginbotham, and I'm pretty dang obsessed with Final Cut Pro X plugins. Subscribe below because I love giving away free plugins and contributing great content.

Get 99 Templates for Free!
($138 value)

Do you want to look professional without wasting time & money trying to learn a new skill? Well, check out some free titles, transitions and effects. You're gonna love 'em! Just click the button below to get 96 professionally designed and animated Final Cut Pro templates for only FREE!