Building Plugins for Vertical Video Final Cut Pro Projects
All effects and plugins work with any aspect ratio in Final Cut Pro right? Wrong, and here’s why.
We have just launched a new set of transition plugins designed especially for 9x16 vertical video format productions. So I thought I’d go into some detail on why I thought these needed to be built and some of the problems encountered.
There’s no doubt that there are many editors who scoff at anything to do with vertical video. It’s been the butt of many jokes, but you cannot ignore the growing use of vertical video on YouTube Shorts, Tik Tok, Snapchat and of course Instagram.
Don’t believe me? A YouTube #Short of two guys eating spaghetti got 210 million views in one month!
A while ago I edited a vertical video for a large corporate client, I didn’t give much thought on how Final Cut Pro, plugins and the rest of the video ecosystem would handle 9x16.
The first hurdle was easy to jump over, Final Cut Pro has built-in vertical video Project settings for 720, 1080 and 2160 widths. Then the downside, although ‘full frame’ processing plugins work, there were a lot of effects and transitions that didn’t. It all got a bit funky with edges showing, duplicate layers, things not timed correctly and drop zones in the wrong place or wrong size.
Now, I can hear many of you saying ‘Doesn’t Motion give you the opportunity to include different snapshots for different sizes?’ and you would be correct. But, building a complex plugin with a lot of moving parts that works in all aspect ratios is really hard and can actually be detrimental to the plugin’s functionality.
No problem, build your own then. You would think that the size presets in Motion would mirror those of FCP for quick 9x16 plugin construction. No luck, you have to use the Custom setting and enter your dimensions in manually.
One tip here, maybe it’s worth saving a ‘blank template’ of each size that you can reuse as a starting point for new plugins.
Also if you have all the normal coordinates and sizes in your head from 16x9 projects, just remember that everything is the other way around!
Another wrinkle, thumbnails. in Final Cut Pro, the 9x16 generated thumbnail gets stretched to 16x9 so it looks really odd in the effect/transition browsers. I chose to shrink them down manually into a 16x9 frame with black edges and then load those into the plugins.
So why did I make a pack of 9x16 plugins available commercially? Well, I already had a set of plugins that I had scrambled together for the corporate video, so why not expand on that and let everyone else enjoy them? Ahem, did I mention that they are on sale at $29 on the FxFactory store at the moment?
On to making the promo video which you should see below. The question was whether to make it in 9x16 or in 16x9 with black edges. I went for the first option, building it in vertical video UHD 2160x3840. No drama there, but how does YouTube handle it and what do you need to upload?
YouTube does accept 9x16 videos, indeed they have a whole section of YouTube Shorts in vertical video. I had real problems getting good quality though and in the end uploaded the full sized ProRes 422 master. Processing took a long, long time.
I’ve tried embedding the 9x16 video, but each time it defaults to shrinking it down into a 16x9 frame. Full screen should be 9x16 playback which is great for watching on mobile devices, check it out yourself below. Our CMS isn’t happy with the embed code and it defaults to the small size.
And that’s the story of making vertical video plugins. Well almost. You might have come across video reverting to its original size during transitions, this happens a lot when you are reframing content to fit a new aspect ratio.
In the tutorial video below, it shows how to stop this happening. It can be really annoying if you re trying to shrink a 9x16 video down to fit on a phone’s screen for example.
I have experimented using 16x9 plugins on 9x16 media in a 16x9 Compound Clip that gets placed into a 9x16 project. It makes some effects work, but it’s not a reliable work around.
Let’s hope I don’t get asked to make any square videos!