Checking for accidental black letter boxes before importing clips into Hitfilm

Sometimes I screw up when transcoding video clips and end up with unwanted black letterboxes. Normally I quickly check my transcoded clips in VLC media player to make sure they're good but in this case it's harder to tell because the default background for videos in VLC is black. I could infer the presence of an unwanted border by playing with the size of the VLC window but I don't want to do that for every clip. VLC has no way of changing the black background it puts behind videos so I was wondering whether anyone else has solved this already and if so with what media player? I like VLC because it's so light and quick.


  • Getting letterboxing as a result of transcoding means that your output resolution is larger than your input resolution, and/or you haven't told your transcoder to scale the source while transcoding.  Double-check your transcoder's output settings to ensure that it matches your source material's resolution.

  • It happens because I crop my footage and then I have to manually calculate what the output resolution should be (ideally the program would calculate this for me). Being able to quickly see the output of my transcoding would alert me to having made an error. 

  • Curious why you crop during transcoding.  To me it would be far easier to just leave the raw footage at its original size and crop during editing.

    What OS are you on?  That would help us offer other suggestions for preview software.

  • I think that if I crop during transcoding I will save space on my hard drives.

    My operating system is Windows 10.

  • Yes, you'll save a little hard drive space, but unless you're hurting for free space, it's not going to make that much of a difference IMO.  If it were me, I would prefer to eat a little more space and not have to worry about accidental letterboxing during transcoding, and just handle all cropping in the edit phase.

    As for alternate preview software, I'll have let others chime in.  I'm on a Mac, and am a little spoiled by the built-in file preview of the Mac OS.

  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator

    Pretty much any media player is going to have a black background. It's kinda standard. I can't think of a media player that allows one to put custom images behind video, and a few minutes of Google-fu didn't find one that does. 

    What software are you using to transcode? Search its manual for "keep/maintain aspect ratio." Handbrake, for example, has a maintain aspect ratio button when setting pixel dimensions. This will automatically keep your video 16:9 as you set your crop points. 

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