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Aspect ratio conversion mystery

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Jean Sherrard
Aspect ratio conversion mystery
on Apr 16, 2010 at 1:41:38 am

I've been editing in FCP since the earliest versions, but only a few weeks out of each year at most. And for basic editing chores, I'm pretty fluent.

But I can't figure out something that seems utterly arbitrary and out of my control.

After recently editing 16x9 footage taken from a single tape in the latest FCP, I encountered something that has me tearing my hair out.

I've divided the initial edit into five sequences to fit on YouTube. I've used exactly the same settings for each sequence, and the clips are all taken from the same file shot by a single camera at 16x9 on a single day.

Exporting each sequence separately to Quicktime, however, without any adjustment of export settings between sequences, has resulted in 2 of the 5 movies exported black-band free at 16x9. The other 3 are, mystifyingly, exported as 4x3 with black bands at top and bottom, framing a 16x9 picture.

Going back to FCP and checking the original sequences, the only difference I see is that, for some reason, the 3 black-banded sequences have an aspect ratio (under motion/distort) of -33. (If I adjust the -33, it merely elongates the 16x9 to fit 4x3, creating distortion)

I've gone over everything else with a fine tooth comb and have thrown up my hands in despair.

My question is, why would these sequences be different within FCP? I've treated them all exactly the same at every step.

Perhaps I'm missing an utterly simple solution, but I can't seem to come up with it...

Any answers will be met with eternal gratitude!


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Michael Gissing
Re: Aspect ratio conversion mystery
on Apr 16, 2010 at 2:32:49 am


I'll bet when you check sequence settings that the anamorphic box is unticked on those three sequences so what you have are 4:3 sequences. FCP will put your clip that has been ticked as anamorphic into that sequence as letterboxed which is how it is appearing in the final output.

The distort settings should be zero. It has probably also scaled the size in the motion tab down from 100. You can fix it easily if you tick anamorphic in the sequence settings and then select all clips and remove attributes > distort and basic motion.

To be safe duplicate these sequences first and change the dupes in case there is something else going on. By removing all basic motion, it will change any zooming or re-framing you might have done so be careful.



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Jean Sherrard
Re: Aspect ratio conversion mystery
on Apr 16, 2010 at 2:42:40 am

Damn! I suspected it was something simple, but that takes the cake! Problem solved!

I'm still not sure why the anamorphic box is ticked on a couple sequences and not ticked on a few more. If I were designing FCP I'd probably default the settings based on input and not let the chips fall as they may - or at least assume that each sequence in a project is the same unless altered intentionally.

Thank you, sir! Undying gratitude, as promised.


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Michael Gissing
Re: Aspect ratio conversion mystery
on Apr 16, 2010 at 2:49:08 am


Well actually FCP will change a sequence setting if you drop the first clip into a sequence and the settings don't match.

Otherwise FCP can't assume that a sequence should change as many of us have to have mixed footage with different aspects and codecs in the one timeline.


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Jean Sherrard
Re: Aspect ratio conversion mystery
on Apr 16, 2010 at 3:33:12 am

Yeah, I've worked with mixed aspect ratios in the same sequences, and know they each has to be dealt with individually.

I just find it odd that editing a from a single file with anamorphic checked to begin with, then chopping and dropping portions of the original timeline into five identical sequences (all, again, taken from that original anamorphic sequence) should end up as it did with two anamorphic and three non- sequences.

That's what seemed a bit arbitrary about it to me.

Thanks again for the help. I will now begin hair restoration.


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