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.
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 Filmora for Mac. This is a powerful but easy-to-use tool for users just starting out. Download the free trial version below.
How to Crop an Image in Final Cut Pro X
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:
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 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.
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.
The easiest way to do this is to click the icon in the lower left corner of the Viewer and choose "Crop."
This displays the cropping tools in the Viewer.
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.)
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.
Drag other corners or edges to further trim the image.
When you have trimmed the image the way you want, click the "Done" button in the top right corner to exit trimming mode.
If no other clip is below the trimmed clip, the background will be black.
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 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:
Click the Crop icon, as we illustrated above
Right-mouse click (or Control-click) inside the Viewer and choose
* In the Inspector > Video tab > Crop (this option provides the most precision, but is the least intuitive to use)
If you selected any option except the Inspector, click the Crop button in the Viewer.
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.
Reposition the frame by grabbing inside the rectangle and dragging.
When you are happy with the results, click the Done button in the top right corner.
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.
To reset a cropped image back to its default settings, open the Inspector and click the small curved arrow to the right of the word "Crop."
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.
Benjamin Arango is a writer and a lover of all things video.