Shotcut export aspect ratio/sizing issue

I posted recently about job settings and export settings and got some advice that helped.
But I’m still having a major issue with the output video having wide black bars on both top and bottom and also each side.
I took a screen shot of each stage and the result to illustrate.
For reference, I’m taking a portrait video with my Pixel 3 XL phone. I take the video in 4k but by the time it transfers to Google Photos and I download it to my PC it’s in 1920 x 1080. That’s fine as it’s a good res/aspect ratio for what i want it for which is to upload to Tiktok (to promote my children’s book).

When I start the job, it wanted to order the resolution as 1920 x 1080 but I ChatGPT’d to ask which usually comes first and it said the horizontal is usually first (would help if Shotcut would have an H & V). So I edited the input as you see in the screen shot to be listed as 1080 x 1920.
Shotcut also wanted to list the aspect ratio as 16:9 so I changed it to the correct 9:16 and it already had the correct fps at 30.
After clicking ok I started the job and put a single 30 second video clip into the playlist then dragged it to the timeline and muted the sound on it. I then put a piece of music into the playlist then dragged and edited it into a music track that I created.
A simple edit, just one piece of video and a music track. Nothing else.

I went to export it and was careful to make sure the output parameters matched the job creation ones. I used a screen shot as reference.
I was curious though how the differing order of the H & V resolution listing would affect the output. So I actually exported the job twice, changing the order the second time.
Below, you can see to screen shot collages that I edited.
The first has the resolution as 1920 x 1080 and an aspect ratio of 16:9. You can see the details of the output MP4 video next, then you can see what it looks like on my computer monitor full screen as I play it. Then you can see it on my Pixel 3XL after I upload it to tiktok where is is very small.
When I play it on tiktok on a browser on my pc it is pretty much full screen to to bottom but has black bars all around on the phone app.

In the next collage it’s even worse. You can see that I reversed the export resolution order to 1080 x 1920 and the aspect ratio to 9:16.
As you can see in the details screen shot and then it being played full screen on my computer, it is tiny and it has the same issue after being uploaded to Tiktok and played on my phone.

You will notice that the second time I exported it, the export setting (order of resolution and aspect ratio) matched the job creation one but still has the ‘postage stamp’ size issue.
Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

So this is somewhat ambiguous and possibly where the issues arise (I am unsure, but your output indicates something is going wrong, and this might be an area to explore).

If you are taking your video in portrait then the correct resolution would be 1080x1920 (or 2160x3840) and the aspect ratio should be 9:16. So the question becomes, what is really going on here?


  1. Can you tell us what the resolution is of the 4k phone video (it should be 2160x3840, and not 3840x2160). Get these numbers directly from the phone source video.

  2. Then compare with the video resolution after downloading from Google (the file you open and work on in Shotcut). That file should be 1080x1920 (and not 1920x1080).

IMO you should be transferring the source video directly from the phone to the PC and working on that, or an edit friendly version (which Shotcut will automatically create if necessary). Feel free to provide a shareable link to the google file if you like and someone might take a look.

I just took another quick test video with my phone in portrait at 4k.
As you see from the screen shot of the details of the file still on the phone, it is indeed 2160 x 3840 and 9:16 aspect ratio.
And when I use Google photos to transfer it to my PC, it is downgraded to 1980 x 1920 at 9:16 aspect ratio.

And yes, the downloaded file that I input to Shotcut is in fact 1080 x 1920 at 9:16 aspect ratio.
The only consideration is that, unlike most programs and as you see on the ‘details’ in properties when I examine the file on my computer desktop where it states which number is width and which is height, Shotcut does not state which number is width and which is height. So I am just going with the assumption that Shotcut’s first number is width and second number is height.

So it seems I have set the job parameters correctly and I have also set the export numbers correctly.

I think google is converting the video to 1920x1080 with a flag that says “rotate this thing 90 degrees so it is vertical”. After loading in Shotcut, check the properties and have a look at the rotation field, maybe that’s what’s changed.

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Ok now I’m officially starting to pull my hair out with frustration.

I connected my Pixel 3 to my computer via the usb cable and activated the setting that let me access it as a storage device so I could transfer a 4k, portrait mode test video I made. The good news is that it retains the 4k resolution of 3840 x 2160 instead of downgrading it to 1920 x 1080.
But when I right click on it and look at the properties then the details tab, it show the frame ‘width’ as being 3840 and the frame ‘height’ as being 2160 even though it’s clearly shot in portrait mode.
You can see the screen shot directly below.

However, when I transfer the file vial Google Photos and Google automatically downgrades its resolution to 1080 x 1920, the details tab accurately describes the portrait mode video as the ‘width’ being 1080 and the ‘height’ being 1920.

Understanding all this and finding the right settings that work consistently is starting to feel hopeless.

The things you are missing in your understanding is:
A) while resolution is width x height, there is a difference between stored/encoded resolution and display resolution because
B) A video file may contain rotation metadata that tells the decoding application how to rotate in multiples of 90 degrees to achieve the correct visual orientation. Windows Explorer does not show this metadata, and it shows the stored/encoded resolution.
C) Shotcut reads and automatically applies rotation metadata as shown in Properties > Rotation where you can also override it.
D) Shotcut always exports with no rotation metadata aka 0 degrees.

Basically, you are trying too hard and shooting yourself in the foot by focusing too much on Export > Advanced > Video. For most people, 98% of the time, changing something in there is the wrong thing to do. If you had simply started with automatic video mode, open either video, and export it without touching anything with video mode or export options, you probably got the correct result.

Ok I did a big experiment with four different configurations.
And I was careful to make sure the output settings were identical to the job creation settings.

  1. Edit with res listed as: 3840 x 2160 @ 9:16
  2. Edit with res listed as: 3840 x 2160 @ 16:9
  3. Edit with res listed as: 2160 x 3840 @ 9:16
  4. Edit with res listed as: 2160 x 3840 @ 16:9

In all cases, the video was postage stamp sized when viewed on Tiktok on my phone. Though curiously some of them looked full screen when played on Tiktok in the Brave browser on my computer. And in two cases, the video was full screen (top to bottom) when played with vlc on my computer.
But no idea what is causing them all to get postage stamped on Tiktok on my phone.
Here are four collages for each edit.

edit with res listed as: 3840 x 2160 @ 9:16

edit with res listed as: 3840 x 2160 @ 16:9

edit with res listed as: 2160 x 3840 @ 9:16

edit with res listed as: 2160 x 3840 @ 16:9

lol, trying hard is what I want to avoid.
I custom input the settings because I was advised to do so by users on this forum.
I’ll try the auto mode again and see what results I get.

When you use your own terminology like this it makes things too confusing. Use the same words you see in our UI like “video mode” and “export.” The problem with all of your screenshots is that these players all use a black window background, and the video may have black bars.


By the way, honoured to get your input.
I have been trying to video edit for decades and always got hopelessly lost by other editing programs.
But (despite my current confusion on exporting), I found Shotcut to be amazingly simple, intuitive and powerful.
I just make simple videos but Shotcut was easy to learn with YouTube guides and fast to use.
Thanks for making this possible for those of us who struggle with other, overly complex exit software.

Well in the start of this post I actually show screen shots of the job creation set up screen and also the export ‘advanced’ screen.

Did it on automatic and it worked perfectly.
It’s full screen on Tiktok on desktop browser, iPad and Pixel 3 Tiktok app :slight_smile:

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Now, to learn from that, go to Timeline > Output > Properties. That is your computed video mode, also viewable in detail by choosing Settings > Video Mode > Custom > Add… —choose cancel when done. Compare these values with what you see when you select the video clip object and view Properties.

Yes, exactly!

That is not just a “downgrade”. It is a downgraded conversion with an attempt to rotate the video, which is why it comes back as 1920x1080, and not 1080x1920. At that moment you should know something is up and start asking questions since it is undesirable behaviour (that’s what led me to point out the issue). That is because…

When you take a 1920x1080 video (that started out with an encoding of 1080x1920 and it has already been through a conversion process with rotational metadata applied) and then it gets changed to a video mode of 1080x1920 inside Shotcut, all hell is likely to break loose for the reasons Dan has outlined above.

What you tried isn’t going to solve the issue since you also probably used the google photos converted video. Incidentally, there is no such thing as 2160 x 3840 @ 16:9 or 3840 x 2160 @ 9:16 (even though you might have been able to manually type in some numbers).

*********** SOLUTION ***********
The solution is simple.
Do not use the google version, I repeat, DO NOT use the google version.
I will say it again.
Do not use the google version.

Instead, do this.

  1. Copy the video straight from the phone to your PC for editing (use a cable and your file manager and navigate to DCIM/Camera, since that will be much faster on a large 4k video)
  2. Open a new project in Shotcut and import the newly transferred video.
  3. For now leave the video mode on Automatic.
  4. Mute your video audio and add the extra audio track.
  5. At this stage the preview window shouldn’t show your postage stamp issue. Export the job using your desired preset. On the advanced tab you can check the resolution which should read 2160 x 3840 (NOT 3840 x 2160).

Once that comes out as desired, you can “downsize” the video. Repeat the entire process, including “start a new project” but change the video mode to custom 1080x1920, which should also work just fine.

Take another short test video from your phone in portrait (5 seconds will do) and share it on google drive, then paste that link here. Make sure it is uploaded to your drive folder, since that won’t perform any optimisation or rotation and someone can demonstrate proof of concept.

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To further elaborate on what @shotcut has said, here is an example:

Video Mode: Verticle 30fps
Note that this video is at 90 degrees.
You can change the video rotation here in the Properties window.

In Windows properties, it shows this:

With MediaInfo it shows the 90 degrees rotation:


That’s fantastic help fellas.
I’m going to re read these advice replies and experiment until I’ve mastered it.
Really appreciate it.

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