Lately, I’ve been creating mini preview videos for instagram to go along with the full-length versions I post to my YouTube channel. After making the big girl jump from iMovie to Final Cut Pro for editing, I had a very hard time figuring out how to make a square video for Instagram. I really hate posting non-square content to my feed, so I was determined to figure it out. I wasn’t able to find anything worthwhile online (and I’m still not sure if you actually CAN output a truly square video from FCP, any suggestions?), but with a little math & imagination, I was able to hack together a method that works for me. If you try to post a standard rectangular video to instagram, it will automatically zoom into the center, cutting off the sides. Knowing that, my solution is to create a guide for myself in FCP, which I can then align clips underneath to make sure what I want to show is always within frame. You can download my guide by right clicking >this link< and selecting save link as, but I’ll also show you how to make your own. I’m using InDesign, but you can also do this in Photoshop or any program that allows you to save as a PNG file.
Quick note before we start – I’m assuming that you have a basic working knowledge of Final Cut Pro, so this is less a FCP tutorial & more a tutorial for the technique. If you’re confused about something, leave a comment below & I’ll try to help!
Step 1 – Make the guide.
Since my original video for YouTube is 1080p (1920 pixels x 1080 pixels), I’m going to make my guide the same size.
Then I’m going to make the biggest square I can make within 1920 x 1080, which is 1080 x 1080.
I made my square red, brought the opacity down to 30%, and centered it on the screen.
Now I’ll export as a PNG file, making sure that “Transparent Background” is checked.
Now we’re going to actually build the video for Instagram. Since I’ve already cut together the full video for YouTube, I go back through the timeline & select the clips I want to include in the Instagram version. (Click image to enlarge)
After I’ve selected the clips I want, I hit Command + C to copy, then create a new project under the same event & paste the clips into the new timeline. The instagram guide goes on top of the clips, then I just move them from side to side to make sure everything is in frame. (Click image to enlarge)
After running through it to make sure everything is aligned how I want it, I disable the Instagram guide (click it, then press “V”) & export the video at 720p. To get the video onto my iPhone, I upload to Dropbox.com & use the Dropbox app on my phone to download it to my camera roll. When you go to post to instagram, everything will be centered properly!