Noob formatting question.

Hi Hitfilm gurus. I have an issue with importing video from an older Sony Handi-Cam. I have purchased the add-on that allows me to import the MPEG2 stream but as the format is the old SD 720x576 format, both the trimmer preview and the movie preview (once the clip is dragged to the timeline) show it squashed up and not at all pretty. I agree to have Hitfilm change the timeline settings when I import the clip into the timeline and make sure it is the same (720 x 576 at 25FPs) and have tried changing settings manually but it always looks as if the image is stuck in a lift door. The media thumbnail after import looks correct, but the previews aren't.

I'm obviously doing something wrong as these clips import and format correctly with most other video editors I've trialled (but have rejected because Hitfilm is the best of the bunch for me). It's just a shame the clips, of which I have many from my old camera, do not look right in the software. Can someone point me in the right direction? Cheers, Dave.


  • Have you set the project up to match the media size and frame rate. This might help.

  • @davenz which way is it squashed? Can you provide a screenshot?

  • @Andy001z: thanks for your reply and suggestion. I "think" I have set it up in the project settings to match size and frame rate, but perhaps there is somewhere else I need to do this. The dialogue I use is in the screen-cap below.


    @TheBenNorris I'll have a go at a screencap; hope this works.


    The video preview in the media pane is more like the original aspect ratio and is what it looks like imported into other programs. 

    Thanks again...



  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator
    edited November 2019

    Dave, I see your problem.

    Hold up, explaination first, then solution.

    So, with video we have two different "Aspect Ratio" values to deal with. The first is "Frame Aspect Ratio" and controls the overall proportions of the frame. In general, for video, you'll be dealing with either 4:3 (standard def) or 16:9 (HD/UHD). There are other frame aspect ratios, but, usually that's going to be handled by "matting" a 16:9 frame. Unless one is capturing "4K DCI" which is 16:10.

    The OTHER thing we have to discuss is "Pixel Aspect Ratio," (PAR) which is the individual shape of the actual pixel-dots in the image. For current digital cameras pixel aspect ratio is always 1.0, so we don't have to worry about it.

    And that's your problem. PAL 4:3 video, which is what you have - has a PAR of 1.25

    In your Project settings Aspect Ratio is right under frame rate. Set to 1.25 and save as a preset. Make sure your export settings have the proper aspect ratio. Save a preset. 

    Now, SD footage is INTERLACED, which means your 25 fps 720x576 footage is REALLY 50 fps, 720x263 footage alternately skipping every other line. Hitfilm works in a Progressive format where the true image is drawn at once. 

    This means you'll need to use the Interlace effect on all your clips. 

    Alternate option. Transcode your footage to progressive 640x480 square {1.0} pixel aspect ratio footage before import to Hitfilm. 640x480 is the digital standard for SD video and, if your output is to the internet that frame size is better for efficient compression. Hint: YouTube uses square pixels. 

    Handbrake can do it. @NormanPCN any flags to look for to convert SD PAL to progressive 640x480?

    @TheBenNorris Hitfilm used to have project and render presets for PAL and NTSC SD frames... Maybe those should go back into the program? All the HD, FHD, QHD, UHD formats are square pixels, so it's only PAL and NTSC that have those oddball ratios, but it also gets worse, because 16:9 PAL and NTSC have yet different PARs.


  • Wow, thanks Triem23, that explains it very well, and such a quick response too. One issue with your walkthrough; on my version of Hitfilm 13 (the free, poor man's/unsure which editor to settle for version) I have no 1.25 setting, but setting PAR to 1.21 (the closest value in the drop-down list) brings the aspect ratio more into what it should be. To be brutally honest, this just confirms to me that Hitfilm, which I've had installed, updated when prompted and dabbled with semi-seriously since 2017, is just too complicated for me to get to grips with and while I appreciate the power and capability it has, and the fact it is free, it is designed and intended more for guys just out of film school, or people like you who really understand this stuff. I just need something to work, without having to resort to third-party add-ons and utilities, so I'll continue my hunt for something a bit simpler.

    Thanks again, Dave.

  • @davenz ;Learning is what these forums are here for! Please don't give up too quickly on HitFilm. Relying on an application to get things done for you may sound easy, but at some point you will run into a problem that the application won't handle properly, and then you'll be stuck. Instead, if you learn about how videos are built and how they work within an editor application, then you will have the tools to make it right yourself. Don't sell yourself short... you can learn this! If you spend any time at all working with video, then you owe it to yourself to learn this. In the meantime, ask away on the forums. You have a great resource right here at your fingertips that you won't find anywhere else! I think you will be amazed at how much you can learn.

  • I had a feeling this might be PAR related but wanted to check if the footage was squashed the correct way first.

    @Triem23 based on what I have been told, the old presets were wrong which is why they were changed.

    @davenz don't give up! There's still countless technicalities of film that many of us don't understand, and we never will if we let machines subtly hide it all away.  If you're struggling with the technical side of film-making then this forum is the perfect place to ask - you're going to find similar issues and roadblocks in other software.

    If it's the VFX and general use case of the software you're looking for help with, then our extensive YouTube channel has plenty of tutorials on it, and there's also a vast amount of tutorial content from all sorts of users here such as @Triem23 and @FilmSensei!

  • Hi @davenz
    "it is designed and intended more for guys just out of film school, or people like you who really understand this stuff. "

    That's definitely not me. I've used Hitfilm for a few years and feel I have got good use out of it. Admittedly there was some playing around and I still need to follow tutorials but there are plenty of really good ones out there.
    Keep at it. I'm sure it won't get long to pick up what you need and there are a LOT of good people here to help..

    @filmsensei didn't mention his own Beginner's training on Udemy which might be worth a look.

  • "NormanPCN any flags to look for to convert SD PAL to progressive 640x480?"

    Hmm, No experience with such media. In  Handbrake the anamorphic option, and keep aspect ratio, options control the output pixel aspect ratio. Anamorph to None will output a 1:1 PAR with an input with a PAR other than 1:1. The output dimension is controlled by Handbrake. Then out have to mess with Custom anamorph and keep aspect ratio to get what you want. I have never walked that path.

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