Video Mode explanation please

Sorry, I can’t find this information online.

I am a new user (I haven’t completed one project yet, just a couple of test videos). My laptop is seven years old and is probably below minimum spec for doing video editing. In Shotcut, it struggled to preview my 1920x1080 sources, dropping more than half the frames. This made editing difficult and unpleasant.

So in Settings -> Video Mode, I created a custom mode which I called ‘Low Quality Preview’. It sets the preview resolution to 640x360, which is enough drop in quality that the video plays smoothly, so that I can edit without stutter/frame-drops.

However, I of course want to export the final project as 1920x1080.

I just need confirmation that I am using the video mode in the correct manner? Is this actually what it is for?

Further, I’ve read posts that say you have to choose your video mode before you import your first clip. So what happens if you don’t? How does the video mode affect the import of sources and the exported video?


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Video Mode on Automatic sets your source video properties for export based upon file properties.

Setting a specific video mode, sets your export properties, for example 720p 50fps.
I opened a 1080p 60fps file with this setting.
Video Mode set my export for 1280x720 (720p) 50fps.
I manually changed it back in the Export File window, Video tab, to 1920x1280 (1080p) 60fps.
Exported, and checked the exported file properties.
It’s at 1080p 60fps


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Also check out these links for further help.

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Thanks for your reply.

So what you’re suggesting is that I can edit with the project set to a low resolution, and it will export fine at higher resolution if I manually change the settings on export?

But would overlayed text, transitions and effects be affected by this low resolution workflow?
For instance, if:
· the imported source is 1920x1080
· the project is set to 640x360 to make the preview play smoother
· I add a text overlay covering the full length of the video

When I export as 1920x1080, will the text:
· be scaled up and remain exactly as I previewed it, across the length of the video?
· be scaled up but look all pixelated?
· not be scaled and so be much smaller than I previewed it?

And the same question with things like the position and size filter for picture in picture. Will these things remain exactly as I saw in the low resolution preview, or will they change position when the export resolution is changed?

I will try to find time to test some of this myself, but because I’m brand new to video editing I don’t really know how to go about constructing such tests.

From my 6 second exported video, yes it stayed the same.
Before you commit to exporting, just try a small clip.
I use VLC Media Player to test everything in.
Windows 10
Shotcut version 18.06.02

Thanks for testing that for me… it would have taken me an hour to set it up.

I still don’t quite understand what the video mode is for though. Surely the preview quality could be separated from the output quality completely. So instead of having a video mode with all those different output resolutions listed, you could just have ‘high’, ‘medium’ and ‘low’ editing resolutions for the preview pane?

I mean, why does a project have to be set ‘in’ a certain video mode before you start importing clips?

What if you have sources from two different cameras in two different resolutions? What should the project video mode be set to then?


Video Mode only sets the Export resolution & FPS, unless you modify it after opening your source video.

A video/picture file has specific properties. There is no video that has both 1080p and 720p properties in one file. There is no picture file with 1800x200 and 650x1200 properties either.

If you are always going to make 1920x1080 60fps as your final export, then set it that way. It will ensure that resolution.

If you want to match your exported video resolution properties to your source video resolution properties, you set to Automatic.

You’re being extremely helpful, but I’m afraid I’m really ignorant about video just now.

I work in a school and may do some video work with the students next year. I anticipate having to create videos by collating footage from lots of various devices.

So if I am doing an interview, for example, and I have a pocket camera capturing the subject at 1920x1080, and a phone capturing the interviewer at 1024x576 (which is still 16:9, just lower res), what would happen if…

  1. I open Shotcut and choose ‘automatic’ for the video mode.
  2. I import the clips of the interviewee, so the project is now set to 1920x1080 (pocket camera).
  3. I import the lower resolution (phone) clips of the interviewer.
  4. While editing, I get stutter, so I switch the video mode to 640x360 to get a smoother preview pane.
  5. I finish the project and export, changing the output resolution to 1920x1080.

At 3) would the lower resolution clip be smaller, and not fill the preview pane? Would I have to stretch it to fit? Would it be stretched automatically? Am I right to assume there would be pixelation/noise? Would they play at the wrong speed if the sources are different fps?

At 4) I’ve read posts saying to choose the video mode before any clips are put into the timeline, but I don’t know why, or what the consequences are of changing it during a project?

Thanks for clarifying.

This comes down to editing style and experimentation on your behalf.
If the video stutters in the preview window of Shotcut, that’s fine, even my computer does that from time to time when editing. In my experience, going from same resolution/frame rate exported to the same resolution/frame rate, I do not get any stuttering.

I highly suggest, as I’ve read in other forum posts, convert all of your source footage to the desired resolution of your final projects.

I have no experience working with multiple resolutions within one project. Perhaps others have and can offer their guidance.