Anamorphic Flag

Posted: May 15, 2011

[ This article was first published in the March, 2009, issue of
Larry's Final Cut Pro Newsletter. Click here to subscribe. ]


Jim sent this story in:

I’m a fairly new user. Quite recently I came across a “funny” that I’d like to share so here goes. To try and get up to speed in Final Cut Pro I decided to re-cut a small 4 minute piece I had just finished in Avid because I thought I could quickly learn equivalent techniques in FCP and then compare alternative strategies that FCP employs to achieve the same results.


Using the same footage from this recent Avid project I exported the digitized clips from Avid as a Quicktime movie using the *same as source* option, in this case PAL DVC Pro 411 Anamorphic. Meanwhile in FCP I set-up my project and set my sequence to PAL DVC Pro Anamorphic and imported.


After import though, in both the canvas and viewer the clips were non-anamorphic, more worryingly, FCP was going to print the sequence squeezed with pillar boxed black bars down the side. In the window sizing drop down I made sure the correct for aspect ratio mark was on, it was, turning it off of course made the picture worse. I then highlighted and right clicked on the clip itself and under clip settings > format, discovered that the anamorphic flag was not checked. You can check this on or off. Once I’d checked it on the clip and sequence were now displayed correctly.


It makes no difference when exporting from Avid which *Display Aspect Ratio* setting you use in fact this may only be an instruction for the Quicktime Player. I can only assume that on export from Avid the necessary flag describing the clip as anamorphic was missing or is unreadable to FCP.


It is possible I’ve missed something so please feel free to point this out.

Larry replies: Thanks for writing! You have discovered the way to tell FCP how to treat the footage – clicking the Anamorphic flag.

Because an anamorphic picture has the same number of pixels as a 4:3 image (720 x 480 for NTSC or 720 x 576 in the case of PAL), when you import the footage, FCP doesn’t always know whether it should be 4:3 or 16:9.

You solve this by clicking the Anamorphic flag for the clip and / or the sequence. There are a couple places you can change this setting:

anamorphic picture


* Select the clip, or clips, you want to change in the Browser and scroll to the right until you see the Anamorphic column. Check the appropriate row in that column to turn 16:9 on.


anamorphic picture


* Select a clip in the Browser or Timeline and choose Edit > Item Properties > Format. Turn on the Anamorphic flag by checking it.


* On footage that you capture, or use log & transfer, the anamorphic flag is set automatically.


Your thoughts are welcome


Larry Jordan & Associates, Inc
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