Easy Split-Screens in Final Cut Pro X

This week on MacBreak Studio

This week on MacBreak Studio, I show Steve Martin from Ripple Training some options for reframing video clips in Final Cut Pro X.

While you can reframe native resolution clips by scaling up perhaps 5-10% and repositioning with little loss of resolution, this technique really shines when applied to 4K clips in a 1080 timeline. In fact, the ability to reframe a shot is a key reason for shooting 4K in the first place for 1080 delivery.

Just as there are many ways to skin a cat (not that I’ve ever done that), there are different ways to approach reframing a shot in Final Cut Pro X. Your first inclination may be to go to the Video Inspector and to adjust the Scale and Position parameters. Or, you could use the Transform tool to directly manipulate the clip in the Viewer – which is just another way of adjusting position and scale. These methods work fine, but they take multiple steps since position and scale must each be manipulated independently, and they both suffer from the fact that you can’t see the rest of your shot once you have scaled it up.

Therefore I recommend that instead of adjusting parameters in the Inspector or transforming in the Viewer, that you instead select the Crop tool, available in the same menu at the bottom left of the Viewer as the Transform tool, or by using the keyboard shortcut Shift-C.

Once selected, three crop “types” appear in the Viewer: Trim, Crop, and Ken Burns. Select Crop. Doing so creates an outline that matches the aspect ratio of your project (for example, 16:9 for 1920×1080) with handles at the corners. You use this outline to reframe your shot by dragging a corner to scale or dragging in the center to move – much like the Transform tool but here, you can see the full context of your shot, so you know exactly what you are cutting out in your reframing. When you click Done, the shot is automatically scaled and positioned to fill this framing.

The video above shows how you can use this approach to quickly create a split-screen effect.

If you find this kind of information useful, you might want to check out our Warp Speed Editing tutorial, which is full of tips to speed up your editing workflow. Or, if you are curious about the benefits of shooting 4K, than this may be the tutorial for you.


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Mark Spencer

Mark Spencer is a freelance producer, videographer, editor, trainer and writer based in the Bay Area. He produces Final Cut Pro X-related training and plugins for with his partners at Ripple Training. He is an Apple-certified Master Trainer, and consults for corporations and individuals. He is the author or co-author of a half-dozen books on motion graphics and editing from Peachpit Press and writes for ProVideo Coalition. He maintains www.applemotion.net, a resource for Motion. Mark has an MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.