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Resize Final Cut Pro Viewer - everything you need to know

This quick and easy tutorial is a request from a student to explain the options for resizing

the Viewer in Final Cut Pro.

The one Viewer will show both what is visible when you're editing as well as what will be seen in the exported video. These views can be different and confusing as to know which is which.

To know the difference is important.

This Tutorial will clear up that confusion for good.

It'll also show you some hidden tips along the way.

I'll also explain what that little red square is, that sometimes appears in the viewer.

For this exercise I’m using a 1920x1080, 30 frames per second project, and that's a rectangle shape.

If you take nothing more away from this video.

That is to realize the most important thing is to be sure you know what's being exported. That's everything within the rectangle in the Viewer will be seen in the exported video.

For clarity, I'm going to call that the "Export rectangle" so you know what I'm talking about.

So to be absolutely sure - it's the area within the blue dots.

In the normal "Fit" view you see just the "Export rectangle" without any outside area being shown.

The Fit view in Final Cut Pro
The Fit view

To show that outer area you can change the size of what you see in the viewer.

Think of that outside area as the canvas on an artist's easel. The painting's on the canvas and the outer area is where the artist attaches notes etc.

The painting's on the canvas and the outer area is where the artist attaches notes etc
The Artist's Easel

In Final Cut that outer area is black. So for clarity here I'm going to call that the "Palette"

Here's the view with the Palette showing.

the view with the Palette showing
the Palette showing

And it's hard to see between the two blacks which is which.

But you'll see in a minute a much clearer view.

Next, this is how it looks with the clip in the timeline with the blue dots showing.

The blue dots at the outer edge of the image that will export
Blue Dots

So how do you show the Palette? Select the % in the top right of the viewer. It'll most likely be ticked as Fit. Which means that the outer area will not be visible as the whole

"Export rectangle" fits exactly in the viewer.

The Fit View

I guess you maybe asking by now Why would you want to see the palette anyway?

The answer to that is: if you want to zoom into part of the image and see just a part, then you need to be able to change that size.

If you want to increase the size of the image to be exported you need to use the blue corner dots to resize.

When in the Fit view it's hard to see those corner dots, because they're right at the edge of the Viewer.

Also in Fit view you don't see outside the "Export rectangle".

So right-click in the Viewer and select Transform.

When you reduce the size of the Viewer those dots are much more obvious and easy to select.

Also note that if the Layer button is selected you can see what is outside

the "Export rectangle" as well as what's inside it.

Blue dots of the second image

Now let's see what the different dots do.

To resize an image always use a corner dot. When you drag out you zoom into an image, when you drag in you show the clip in the layer below.

The whole image is resized from the center point.

A really good tip to be able to resize just one side of the export rectangle - hold the Option key while you drag one of the corner dots. The opposite corner stays in place.

Resize from the corner

At any time you can reposition the image by dragging inside the dots.

And be careful with the center dot is that rotates the image.

The edge dots reshape the image, and all of these actions can also be done in the inspector,

as well as using the curly arrow to reset the image back to the original size.

Reshape from top and side dots

Now let's look at that red square that occasionally appears of the viewer. Up to now I’ve been making the viewer area smaller so that you can see the Palette.

There'll be times when you want to increase the size of the viewable area and particularly if you want to use something like the Draw Mask effect.

Let's say I want to cut this lighthouse out. It'd be really helpful to see the lighthouse in a bigger view.

Small lighthouse view

So select 400%.

Red square showing in the Larger size

So by using the red square - you can see it's in the middle of that small rectangle - if you move the red to the top left you see the top left of the lighthouse image - and the bottom right, the bottom right of the image.

The Draw Mask will be much more accurate now you can see more.

Return to "Fit" and you'll see that the red square has gone away.

And the tip - when you've got images smaller or a different shape from the "Export rectangle" you may not see the standard black background that comes with Final Cut.

Here is the lighthouse clip at the end of the timeline, It's not obvious at this point that's a different shape from the 16x9 project - see the black bars showing at the side.

Black bars at the side

Now you can see the background more clearly with a Checkerboard.

Checkerboard replaces view of black bars

Select Preferences in the Final Cut Pro menu.

In the Playback tab select Checkerboard.

Those Checkerboard bars are only visible here they will export as black bars.

There is a quick way to resize this image but you would need to know

that the black bars were there in the first place.

So hence the value of the Checkerboard.

In the inspector under Spatial Conform select "Fill" and the image will resize.

I hope that clears up the different ways you can view and use the viewer.

Before you finish return the background to Black from Checkerboard. And in the Viewer change the size back to "Fit".

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