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Exporting SD Video with Letterbox from Apple Compressor

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Though not needed a lot, but I recently had to export an SD PAL Video from a ProRes 422 HD Master. Some channels in India still play SD.

I use Apple Compressor for format conversions. MPEGStreamClip was discontinued many many years ago (I think it was last updated in 2012) and doesn't run on macOS Catalina any more. Apple's Compressor is very fast and very powerful and inexpensive. 

Here is what you need to do.

1. First create new Settings



2. In the New Settings Dialogue Box Pop Up select Quicktime Movie and save it as PAL SD.

3. In the Settings Video Tab on the right hand side save the following:

- Frame Size : 720 X 576
- Pixel Aspect Ratio: Default for frame size (which comes to 0.9375)
- Frame rate: 25
- Field Order: Top First
- Color Space: Rec. 601 (PAL)
- 360 Metadata : Leave it at Automatic
- Codec: Apple ProRes 422HQ (unless you want some other codec)

4. Now this is critical. HD Video has an aspect ratio of 16:9 while SD is 4:3. So to make the HD Video work you need to add letterbox.
- Come to the settings called Cropping and padding
- In Cropping, select : 16:9 1.78:1
- In Padding seting select : Preserve Source Aspect Ratio

5. And lastly, I generally go to the Quality Panel
- Resize Filter : Anti Alised (Best). This provides the sharpest results without jagged edges around graphics.
- Retiming quality: Good (Frame Blending)

Export your video to these settings. I always recommend playing back your video on a regular TV set. Convert this ProRes Video into a best quality MP4 and play back on a TV to check aspect ratio, sharpness, colours etc.

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