[Technology] How to "crop" a video in Pitivi

Tl;dr: first, go to Render > Advanced > Project Settings ... > Size, and change the width and height of the output video to be rendered. Then go to Clip > Transformation to shift (and scale) the input as needed to fit the cropped output region.

The problem

I found the process of trying to crop a video in Pitivi unintuitive, so I thought I would document it. I have a video that is in landscape orientation, and I'd like it in a portrait orientation to make it easier to watch on mobile devices.

Here is a 4s clip from the video:

I'd like to crop it from its original 1440x1080 size to 768×1024, centered.

From this:

To this:

(shaded region showing what will be excluded from the final video)

1st attempt: Clip Transformation

Once you have a Pitivi project started and you've imported your video file into it, there's a promising tab called "Clip" thas has some promising properties: X, Y, Width and Height. There is even a video preview with an adjustable bounding box that you can use to manually select a region! Nice! However, it will not crop the video. X and Y will translate (shift) the input video image, and Width and Height will scale it, but it won't change actually crop the output video. Look at the preview. Now you just get a huge black box around your attempt.

Here is the output video: not what we wanted.

2nd attempt: Crop effect

Pitivi has many cool effects you can apply to your video, and one is called 'crop'! A-ha! That must crop the video for us! No, no it does not.

Here is the output video: still not what we wanted.

Final attempt: Project Settings output resolution + Clip transformation

This probably makes sense to video editor people, but to actually crop a video such that the output is actually cropped, you have to dig through a few menus to find settings for the resolution of your output video, rather than acting upon the video that you're editing itself. To do this, go to Render > Advanced > Project Settings ... > Size and change the values to your desired output width and height.

Go to 'Render'

Expand 'Advanced' and go to 'Project Settings'

Once in 'Project Settings', go to 'Size' and update the output Width and Height as desired.

NOW we can go to Clip Transformation from earlier and adjust X and Y to shift our desired region over to where it should be. Since cropping via the Render Project Settings is anchored to the top-left corner, we'll use negative X and Y values to shift the image region left and up towards that anchor. Width and Height for Clip Transformation should continue to match the input video's dimensions, or we'll squish things up and ruin the crop.

And here is the final output, properly cropped.  (Blogger's thumbnail is misleading; but the video itself is correct.)



There's some discussion on making it easier in the future here:

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