Widescreen aspect ratio

A widescreen aspect ratio such as 2.33 : 1 or 2.35 : 1 is essential to the film look you’ve probably been looking for. I’ll show you my way to achieving this in Final Cut Pro X and and how to remove the black bars from the exported movie (f.e. for uploading on Vimeo) using free application called MPEG Streamclip.

We’ll begin by importing some footage into your Final Cut Pro X project’s timeline.

Now, it is possible to achieve that widescreen look by many different methods, including FCPX’s own Letterbox effect or Crop tool (by trimming, say, 132px from top and bottom).


These methods, however, have a  limitation – you cannot change the image’s Y position. I find the ability to move the image vertically crucial so you’re not losing any important details in your widescreen video.

A great way to achieve this is to use free FCPX Alex4D Widescreen Matte plugin, which has quickly become my favorite method (thanks to Alex Gollner for the comment on how to change the clips’ vertical position) . Because this is a title generator effect, you’d simply drag it onto the timeline so that it is above all the content you’d like to matte, while you’re still able to move the Y position of your clips (in 2.35 case, up to 132 px in either direction) with the FCPX Transform tool.

Another way of doing this is to import a transparent PNG file with black bars on top and bottom into your Events window, drag it atop of your project’s timeline and change its length so that it runs over the entire video.

Below, you’re free to download some PNGs with frequently used ratios – 2.35, 2.33, 2.76.

[symple_button color=”gold” url=”https://urosbaric.com/files/2012/09/widescreen-png.zip” title=”Download” target=”blank” border_radius=””]Download PNGs[/symple_button]

If that’s not enough for you, you can download E. Hartford’s HD Letterbox Template Pack that includes PNGs with every imaginable aspect ratio.

Now you may easily move your footage vertically, up to 132 px in either direction.

Remove black bars from the exported movie

Finally, I’ll show you how to get rid of black bars when playing back your video in QuickTime or even more so, for uploading it to Vimeo in widescreen format.

To achieve this you’ll need to download free application MPEG Streamclip. Next, open the exported QuickTime movie in MPEG Streamclip and select File > Export to MPEG-4.

See the images below for the settings I’d normally use. Note how I used the cropping tool, chopping off 132 px from top and bottom (2.35 ratio). In the case of 2.33 aspect ratio, I’d have to enter 128 px.

On the last picture, see how an exported clip looks in QuickTime.


  • Thanks for linking to my Alex4D Widescreen Matte title generator.

    This comment is to point out that you can change the Y position of your clips in the layers below the generator – just as if it was a PNG.

    • Thanks for your kind comment and all the wonderful work you’ve done with your FCPX plugins, Alex! Somehow, with the Alex4D Widescreen Matte clicked, I didn’t realize I was changing the generator’s positioning (using the FCPX Transform tool) instead of changing the clips’ values. Now I much prefer using your plugin to the PNG method, and I’ve just corrected my post above…

  • I’ve tried this method and the same settings in MPEG Streamclip, and it works, but the quality/resolution of the film becomes worse. I think it’s because I put it in MPEG Streamclip already as a H.264-movie. Is there a way to keep the same quality starting from a H.264-movie?

    • Hi Thomas, sorry, I’m no expert and am just sharing what I learn along the way. I personally don’t notice a massive difference in quality but I’m always working with ProRes files. Have you tried converting your h.264 footage to ProRes in Final Cut or and then cropping/converting it in MPEG Streamclip?

  • William clark says:

    This was a great post thanks the bars removed look so much better lol

  • This doesn’t seem to work if you are rendering 4K footage for some reason. Any suggestions?

  • Great post. I have yet to try it, but once I export via mpeg streamclip, do I still convert via compressor for vimeo or just upload the mpeg streamclip file into vimeo?

  • This is a great post! My only question is i still have black bars on the side of the clip when i upload it to vimeo.. Not the bottom or top, just the sides of the movie, is there a way to cut those black bars out?

  • Why not creating a new project 1920×817 and copy-paste the clips there, then spatial conform: “fill” and reposition the clips as needed? Like this you don’t have to crop via another application and you are saving into rendering time and size since you don’t have to render the area where the black bars are. It works in 4K too.

  • Recompressing H.264 will always take a big generational quality hit.

    Why not just export it with the desired resolution set from FCP or Compressor?

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