Final Cut Pro X: How to Crop an Image

By Oct 19,2017 17:44 pm

Cropping an image means to remove a portion of the image, either to hide something you don't want the audience to see or emphasize different elements within the image. Just as Photoshop allows us to crop still images, Final Cut Pro X allows us to crop moving video clips, as you'll learn in this article.

However, before I show how this is done, I need to explain one really important fact about video: all video uses what's called "fixed resolution." Fixed resolution means that high-definition video is always displayed at one of two sizes:

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  • 1920 x 1080 pixels
  • 1920 x 1080 pixels

Unlike still images which can be thousands of pixels on a side, video clips are locked into one of these two sizes. This means that if you crop a video clip, to remove something you don't like, the remaining pixels are often enlarged to fill the frame. Crop too much and your video clip will look blurry, blocky, and edges will look stair-stepped.

I'll show you two ways to crop a video clip in this article, one that maintains a high image quality but reduces the size of the frame (called "trimming") and the other that fills the frame with the image but reduces image quality (called "cropping"). You get to pick which one works the best for you.

TRIMMING

Trimming is the process of removing portions of a video clip without changing the size of the clip. This retains the highest amount of image quality.

how to crop an image with final cut pro

For instance, here an image - courtesy of Pond5 (www.pond5.com). Let's say that we want to emphasize the barn and not the sky.

how to crop an image with final cut pro

The easiest way to do this is to click the icon in the lower left corner of the Viewer and choose "Crop."

how to crop an image with final cut pro

This displays the cropping tools in the Viewer.

how to crop an image with final cut pro

Click the Trim button to turn on Trim mode. (This article discusses Trim and Crop. I'll cover the Ken Burns effect in a future article.)

how to crop an image with final cut pro

Grab one of the blue dots and drag to hide portions of the frame. I generally grab a corner, but any blue dot will do.

NOTE: Press and hold the Option key while dragging to drag opposite edges or corners. Press and hold the Shift key to constrain the trim to the same aspect ratio as the frame.

how to crop an image with final cut pro

Drag other corners or edges to further trim the image.

how to crop an image with final cut pro

When you have trimmed the image the way you want, click the "Done" button in the top right corner to exit trimming mode.

how to crop an image with final cut pro

If no other clip is below the trimmed clip, the background will be black.

how to crop an image with final cut pro

But, it actually isn't black, it's transparent. If you put another clip below it, you'll see the lower clip underneath the trimmed image.

Trimming allows us to hide portions of a video clip, without changing the image quality of the clip that remains. However, trimming always creates transparent sections within an image.

CROPPING

Cropping allows us to select just a portion of a video clip, without creating any transparent sections, BUT, it degrades image quality.

There are several ways we can choose to crop an image:

how to crop an image with final cut pro


  • Click the Crop icon, as we illustrated above
  • how to crop an image with final cut pro

  • Right-mouse click (or Control-click) inside the Viewer and choose
  • Type Shift+C


how to crop an image with final cut pro

* In the Inspector > Video tab > Crop (this option provides the most precision, but is the least intuitive to use)

how to crop an image with final cut pro

If you selected any option except the Inspector, click the Crop button in the Viewer.

how to crop an image with final cut pro

Now, drag a blue button in one of the corners. Because cropping, unlike trimming, fills the frame with the portion of the image we select, we can only move corners and the image is always sized to match the aspect ratio of our sequence.

Final Cut displays numbers at the top of the Viewer indicating how much the image has been cropped.

how to crop an image with final cut pro

Reposition the frame by grabbing inside the rectangle and dragging.

how to crop an image with final cut pro

When you are happy with the results, click the Done button in the top right corner.

how to crop an image with final cut pro

Notice that the selected portion of the image now fills the frame. Even though there is a clip below our cropped clip, we don't see it.

And, if you look closely, you'll see that the cropped image is softer (blurrier) than the original and edges are more likely to be stair-stepped.

RESET

how to crop an image with final cut pro

To reset an cropped image back to its default settings, open the Inspector and click the small curved arrow to the right of the word "Crop."

SUMMARY

Trimming is used to hide portions of an image and superimpose it over another image.

Cropping is used to reframe an image, say from a medium shot to a close-up, but runs the risk of overly softening an image. The general rule is that cropping a little is OK, but don't crop too much.

I use both these techniques frequently in my own editing.

# Recommendation:

This is a basic tutorial about Apple Final Cut Pro X, professional video editing software. However, if video editing is new to you, consider Wondershare Filmroa for Mac(Originally Wondershare Filmroa for Mac). This is a powerful but easy-to-use tool for users just starting out. Download the free trial version below.

Download Win Version Download Mac Version

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1.2 Final Cut Pro vs Adobe Premiere
2. Basic Editing+
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4. Tips and Tricks+