How to Convert 4k to 1080p in Final Cut Pro

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In this video, I’m going to show you how to easily convert your 4k footage into 1080p in Final Cut Pro without having to render or export it and so that they’re compatible with most devices and platforms.

Hey, my name is Dylan from Stupid Raisins and in this video I’m going to share the drawbacks and benefits of converting 4K to 1080p, then show you 4 really simple ways to convert. I’ll also share a free plugin to convert 1080p to 4K and at the end I’ll show you how to make 2 camera angles out of one clip.

This process is really easy and only takes a few minutes so you can get back to editing your project.

Here we go!

What is 4K and 1080p resolution?
When it comes to video quality, 4K and 1080p resolution are the two most common terms you’ll hear. But what do they mean? 4K resolution is 4096 x 2160 pixels or more commonly 3840 x 2160 pixels, while 1080p is 1920 x 1080ppixels. In other words, 4K has four times as many pixels as 1080p. That doesn’t necessarily mean 4K video is four times better than 1080p, but it does have some advantages. First, 4K offers a higher level of detail and clarity. Second, it can be downscaled to 1080p without losing too much quality. And third, it’s future-proof; as more and more devices support 4K resolution, it will become the new standard. So why would you want to convert it to 1080p?

Are there any drawbacks to converting a 4K video to 1080p?
Yes there are some. First of all, you’ll lose some of the detail that makes 4K footage so great. When you downscale from 4K to 1080p, you’re essentially throwing away information. That means your final product won’t look as sharp or as crisp as it could if you had just worked with 4K footage from the start.

Second, it’s hard to go back to 4K. Going from 1080p to 4K isn’t perfect because we’re taking all the data from 1080p and spreading it out across a 4K resolution.

Third, you’ll need powerful editing software to convert 4K footage to 1080p. Not all computers and video editing programs can handle 4K files, but something like Final Cut Pro on a modern Mac can handle it.

Finally, conversion can be time-consuming. If you’re working with a lot of 4K footage, it could take hours or even days to convert everything to 1080p. So before you start downscaling your footage, be sure to weigh the pros and cons carefully.

What are the benefits of converting a 4K video to 1080p?
The first benefit is zoom and enhance. With 4K footage you can zoom in or crop to 1080p without losing quality. That means you can get 2 camera angles from just 1 video file and I’ll show you how to set that up later on.

Another reason to convert is the smaller file size. Converting a 4K video to 1080p will reduce the file size by 75%. This can be helpful if you are working with large 4K files that are taking up too much space on your computer.

Uploading is faster with 1080p. With a smaller file size, you’ll upload to YouTube or other video sites (are there any others) quickly.

1080p makes for faster editing. Editing 4K video can be taxing on your computer, and can often lead to laggy playback. Converting the video to 1080p will help improve performance and allow you to edit your video more smoothly and quickly.

4K to 1080p
Ok. Let’s convert! I have two video clips in my browser. One is 1080p and the other is 4K. I’ll create a 1080p project by hitting Command + N and name it 1080p Project. Next I’ll set Video to 1080p HD. I’ll leave the other settings as is and click OK. Let’s drag our 4K clip to our 1080p project timeline. Final Cut Pro automatically conforms our clip to our project and makes the 4K video fit into the 1080p project.

Next go to Transform. You can safely adjust the scale up to 200% without losing quality and adjust the position to reframe the clip. You can also change the position and rotation on screen. Just right click the viewer then select transform and drag this middle circle to move or this line to rotate. Once you’ve dragged your 4K clip into the 1080p project, you can just click this share button on the top right then Export File. As you can see here, it will export to 1920×1080, then hit Next, select your location then Save. Now have a converted 4K clip.

Convert 1080p to 4K
What about if you want to do the opposite, convert 1080p to 4K? No problem. Let’s first create a 4K project, just hit Command + N, let’s rename it to 4K project, change the Video to 4K, resolution at 3840×2160, Apple ProRes 422 then OK. I’ll drag this 1080p clip to the 4K project timeline. Again, Final Cut Pro automatically conforms our clip to our project and makes the smaller video fit into the bigger project. Then to make it look like 4K, we need to add some sharpening, just go to Effects, then Blur, then drag Unsharp Mask to our clip. By the way, you can download this plugin from the description below, this is much better than the built-in Sharpen effect in Final Cut Pro. I’m also going to drag the Sharpen effect so you can see the difference. I’m going to disable the Unsharp Mask first. As you can see, you can only adjust the Amount on the Sharpen effect, which is okay but can be better. So I’m going to disable the Sharpen effect then I’ll enable the Unsharp Mask, you now have 3 parameters you can adjust. Radius is for adjusting the halo or the edge, then Amount adjusts the sharpening inside the halo, and threshold is like opacity but in reverse. Zero is 100% of the effect. Let’s adjust Radius until the halo almost disappears around 2.0, then let’s drag the Amount to 2. In sharpening, subtlety is key, don’t go overboard or you’ll end up with a cartoonish looking video. Now let’s see the before and after. Very big improvement. Now we can export this by clicking the Share button on top then Export File, then hit Next, then select your location then Save, wait for the transcoding, then you now have a 4K clip!

Convert in FCP Browser
You can also convert your 4K clip in your browser. first one is just click your clip then go to Menu, then File, then Share or click the share button, then click YouTube & Facebook, then rename your clip however you like it, let’s make it 4K to 1080p dance, then go to Settings, go to Resolution and change it 1920 x 1080, change the Compression to Better quality then hit Next, select your location then Save. 

You can do this quickly with the keyboard shortcut Command + E. Click on the Share button then Add Destination, then right click YouTube & Facebook, and select Make Default, then exit. Now you can just click your 4K clip on your browser, hit Command + E, rename, change settings, click Next and Save. 

Are you enjoying this video? Go ahead and hit that LIKE button if this video has been helpful to you. Thanks!

Convert 4K project to 1080p project
What if you want to convert your 4K project into a 1080p project? It’s easy. Open your 4K project, then select all by hitting Command + A then hit Command + C to copy, then let’s make a new project by hitting Command + N and rename to 1080p veggies, then change the Video to 1080p HD, then OK. Paste into the new project with Command + V.

You can also right click your 4K project in your browser and select Duplicate Project As, then rename it however you like, let’s make it 1080p duplicate, then change the Video to 1080p HD, then hit OK.

Convert with Quicktime Player
You can also convert a 4K clip in Quicktime Player. On my desktop, I have a 4K clip. Right click on it, then Open With Quicktime Player. go to Menu, File, and Export As, then 1080p, select your location, and rename to 1080pquickie, then you have two options for codec, HEVC and H.264. Let’s select H.264 for wider compatibility and then click Save. Now you have a converted clip.

Convert with Compressor droplet
If you have Compressor, you can make a quick app to do the conversion. Let’s go to Compressor. Go to the lower left, then click + sign then New Setting , change the Format to Quicktime Movie if you want .mov or choose MPEG-4 if you want to export to .mp4, let’s select Quicktime Movie for now then rename to “Convert to 1080” and then hit OK. Go to Inspector, then go to Video, change Frame size to Manual: 1920 x 1080, then change the Codec to H.264 then right click “Convert to 1080” on the custom settings then save as droplet. you can still rename it and select where to save the app and then the export location then save. Let’s go to our desktop, this is the app. I have some 4K clips right here, I can just select both of these clips then drag it to the app. You can change the save location. Next click Start Batch. The only downside is you cannot see the progress, you can only see an indicator on your menu, and the converted clips will just appear at your chosen location.

Show how to make 2 camera angles out of one 4K clip
One of the coolest things you can do with 4K footage is create 2 camera angles out of one video clip. First add your 4K clip to your timeline. Cut the clip where you want to zoom in. Select the second clip and increase Scale in the video inspector and use the position parameters to reframe the second shot. There you go. 2 cameras out of one clip!

Now that you’ve learned how to convert 4K to 1080p, I’ve made another video about how to export a frame in Final Cut Pro. Click here to check it out.

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.

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