Crop a QuickTime movie
This tip will show you how to crop a QuickTime movie. This can be useful if you’ve shot something 16×9 (or 1.778:1) but intend to finish the video with a more cinematic aspect ratio.
You can do this by letterboxing the image (i.e. placing black bars at the top and bottom edges of the frame). However, a more elegant solution is to crop the video.
Firstly, open up Photoshop and create a new document (CMD+N). Now for the maths…
The dimensions of the new Photoshop document need to be the same as the dimensions you want the cropped video to be. In my example, I want to use an aspect ratio of 2.2:1 for that epic cinema look (think ‘2001: A Space Odyssey‘, ‘Lawrence of Arabia‘ etc)
I’m working with 720p video, which has dimensions of 1280 × 720. To give the film the cinematic look I’ll need to change the height. In order to work out what height my film will be after cropping it to a 2.2:1 aspect ration, I have to divide the by 2.2
1280 / 2.2 = 581.8 (we’ll round it up to 582)
Therefore the Photoshop document needs to be 1280 wide and 582 high
Fill the document so that everything is black.
(ALT+Backspace will automatically fill the Photoshop document to whatever colour you have set for the foreground)
Set the default background colour to white by pressing ‘D’, then go to Image > Canvas Size…
Change the canvas size to 1280×720 to match your original video dimensions. You’ll be left with a document that has white letterboxing at the top and bottom of the image – the white part is the area that will get cropped out of the QuickTime file.
Save the image as a JPEG (doesn’t need to be high quality). We now just need to add this to our video as a mask…
Open the QuickTime movie that you want to crop and go to Window > Show Movie Properties (CMD+J)
In the Movie Properties dialogue that opens, select Video Track and then the Visual Settings tab.
Towards the bottom-left you’ll see an area called ‘Mask’ – click on ‘Choose…’ and then select the JPEG file you created.
Voila! Your video has been cropped. Simply save the video and you’re done. You can turn the mask off by going back into the Movie Properties window and pressing ‘Clear’ next to where you chose the matte.
Note: If you would prefer to ‘bake’ the crop effect into the video just go to File > Save As… and save it as a self-contained movie. This will give you a copy of the video where the native dimensions are the cropped size.
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