Noob question - correct scale for Zoomed still images

Hi all

Complete noob here - possibly migrating to HitFilm from FCP X, but struggling with something that seems like it should be fairly basic.

My programmes are mainly audio-based, in other words, most of the programme is a single audio wav file (edited in other software). Then I build a "Ken Burns" style slideshow over the audio.

So after placing the audio on a track, I import a load of photo images, which may be completely different resolutions and aspect ratios from my 720p timeline.

I then place the image where I need it over the audio, extend to length, and set the Start and End Scale and Position settings, keyframing these to give me the movement I need.

However in HitFilm, what I see in the two different timelines (Editor where I sync and adjust the clip length, and Compositor where I do the keyframing) is not the same... I always seem to end up either zoomed in to the wrong amount when I play back in the Editor. I've tried using the Scale To Height/Width etc on the image before making it a composite clip, but still can't seem to predict what it'll look like.

Can someone explain simply for me the workflow, so that what I see in the Composite Timeline is the same as what I will then see back in the Editor timeline and when it's rendered?

Also, is there a way to hear the audio from the Editor timeline whilst working on the composite clip? It's the best way to make sure my keyframes are in the right place.... switching backwards and forwards to note timecodes is possible, but messy.

Many thanks.



  • The trick to seeing the same thing in the editor that you see in a composite shot is in how you make your comp that contains the image you're animating.  In short, your image comps should match your editor timeline dimensions, not your image dimensions.

    If you place the image on the main Editor timeline first (to establish rough timing, for example), right-click on it and choose "Make Composite Shot."  In the dialog that pops up, choose "Editor Sequence" under "Take composite shot properties from".  This will ensure that you get a 720p comp that matches your 720p timeline, so that any scaling you do with your image inside the comp will look exactly the same in the main edit.

    It's not possible to hear the main Editor mix while in a composite shot, because comp timelines are not connected in any way to the Editor timeline.  In other words, a comp isn't a subset of the editor timeline.  It's an independent entity with its own timeline.  Tying comp timelines to the editor isn't even a feature that could be added because a single comp can be used in more than one place in the editor, so the comp wouldn't know which editor audio to play.

    If I need to hear audio from my main edit in a comp, I'll cut the audio in the Editor timeline with the Slice tool, right-click the audio segment, and choose "Make Composite Shot" from that, again forcing it to match the editor dimensions.  Then I'll drop any visual media I want into my new comp, knowing that syncing that to my comp audio will also sync with the main edit.  However, if I move this comp on the editor timeline, things will be out of sync between the editor and that comp.  Then again, I can manually adjust the audio in the comp to match whatever timing change I made in the editor, but that's why I do a rough edit first to make sure I like my shot timing before I start making comps.

  • Thanks. I'll try this out.


  • OK I've just tried it, and it looks to me as if making the Composite shot at 720p destructively rescales it (so it's now a new image with 720 vertical pixels). So, then when I zoom in, I'm losing resolution (compared to the original which may have had 2k or more vertical pixels).

    In FCP X, importing an image onto the timeline appears to rescale it non-destructively, so it will fit the window, but if I zoom or crop to part of the image, I still have as much resolution as in the original image to play with.

    Is it not possible for HitFilm to work this way?

  • Yes, it is. but, in FCPX the import behavior is to auto-scale the media to the project size when placed on the timeline. This is common for NLE's.

    HItfilm always drops media on the timeline at 100% scale. This is common behavior in compositors.

    On the editor timeline, you can right-click a clip and choose a "transform" option from the context menu to automatically scale the image to the project size while maintaining resolution.

  • "it looks to me as if making the Composite shot at 720p destructively rescales it (so it's now a new image with 720 vertical pixels). So, then when I zoom in, I'm losing resolution (compared to the original which may have had 2k or more vertical pixels)."

    Can you please describe the exact steps you took that led to this result?  Because when I try it, it doesn't work that way.  HitFilm never destructively rescales anything, and never makes new images unless you manually duplicate them yourself.

    Here are my steps for comparison (in a 720p project):

    • Drop an image into HitFilm's Media tab.  In my case, it's 4752x3168
    • Drag the image to the Editor timeline.
    • Right-click on the image in the timeline and choose "Make Composite Shot"
    • Select "Editor Sequence" under "Take composite shot properties from:"
    • HitFilm makes a new 720p comp that contains my image as the only layer.  My image is too large to view in full, so I'm only seeing a portion of it.
    • To view my full image, I select the image layer in the comp, go to the Controls tab, and change its Scale property from 100% to (in my case) about 28%.  It obviously doesn't look as clean when scaled down because it's being resampled to fit the comp resolution, but the full image detail is still there, as I could see when its scale was 100%.


  • @jsbarrett while Hitfilm never performs destructive operations, the COMPOSITE SHOT has a defined 1280x720 resolution and would be treated as a 1280x720 clip if dropped on an editor timeline or embedded into another comp.

    Problem here is the OP doesn't actually want to scale his images down--not if he's doing a Ken Burns slideshow. What he wants is a 1280x720 window onto a larger image. He needs to make 1280x720 comps, move his photos into them and do his animations inside the Composite Shot itself, since Hitfilm 2017 can't keyframe on the Editor Timeline. He needs to stick his audio on the Editor Timeline, toss his images on the timeline and get his timing down first for each image, THEN start converting the photos to composite shots, and doing the animation. For the idiosyncrasies of Hitfilm workflow this is a more effective workflow than doing each image's animation and moving on. 

    This is where keyframes on the Editor Timeline would be helpful. 

    @Swiftproaudio , an editor, like FCPX has a different workflow from a Compositor. Now, Hitfilm combines compositing and editing into a single program, but understand a Composite Shot is like creating a virtual clip. When added to an editor timeline, a Composite is treated as a single video file. 

    An inexact metaphor is thinking of a Composite Shot as something created in Apple Motion then rendered and imported into FCPX. Except since the Comp Shot is always available to edit you don't have to render it out before importing to the timeline. 

    Another inexact metaphor is After Effects and Premiere. A Composite Shot is working in After Effects, editing is working in Premiere, but as if both programs were inside a "shell" where you could access these "separate but equal" modules at the same time. 

    That's actually not too far off. 

  • @Triem23 I understand what the OP is aiming for, and I believe the recommendation I gave is in line with that.  By making a comp from an image that's been dropped onto the timeline, he gets exactly what you're saying: a 720p window onto a larger image.  That's why I asked for the steps he took that led to an apparently different result.

  • @jsbarrett $5 says he's trying to make the 720p Composite to conform all his images to the "same" size, then scaling them back up in the Editor Timeline to do his Ken Burns. Unfortunately that's not the correct workflow for Hitfilm. 

    It's the hazard of shifting software. Different optimal workflow. For example, anytime *I*have to work in FCPX I have a near constant stream of profanity because, with my Vegas and Premiere background (especially Vegas), to me, FCPX has a terrible layout and workflow. I still can't get over the ridiculous amount of steps FCPX needs to do a timecode burn-in compared to Vegas, Avid, Premiere, Catylist, Grass Valley and Resolve. I'd rather work linear than in FCPX. 

    But that's all personal taste. Swift is still in his "culture shock" phase of trying to force Hitfilm to work the FCPX way before making the mental adjustment to working the Hitfilm way. We'll get him up an running soon enough. 

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