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Compositing in Final Cut Pro is a process in which 2 or more images are combined into a single frame; the blending or merging of 2 or more video tracks to produce a new image which is a combination of the 2 clips.  Using Composite Modes is essential to being able to design complex visual effects.  In Final Cut Pro, a Composite Mode tells a video layer how to react with a video layer below it.

composite.gifBasic Compositing has you placing a clip on the V1 track and a second clip on the V2 track directly above it.  You then turn on Clip Overlays from the graph icon lower left in the Timeline; this turns on a horizontal black line through your clips in the Timeline.  The overlay lines will default to 100% opacity near the top of the clip.

clipoverlays.gifThe ability to change the opacity of clips and use Keyframes for changing opacity over time is an important compositing tool; but there are many different ways that we can composite 2 clips in Final Cut Pro.

To change a clip's composite mode, go to Modify > Composite Mode and you'll notice a variety of choices, and you'll have to experiment with the different modes since they all do something different.  The important thing to remember is that the composite mode is always changed on the top clip, and it always reacts with the clip directly below it.

compositemodes.gifComposite Modes:

Add:  Combines the color values of the top clips, producing a lighter image

Subtract:  Produces a darker image because color values are subtracted from each other

Difference:  Subtracts colors on V1 from V2

Multiply:  Multiplies the color values of the pixels together, producing a darker image

Screen:  The reverse of Multiply; produces a lighter image

Overlay:  A combination of Multiply and Screen; If the pixel color value is lighter than middle gray, 128 value, then Screen mode is applied.  Where the pixel color value is darker gray, 128 values and under, the Multiply mode is applied making that part of the image darker

Hard Light:  Makes light areas lighter and dark areas darker, leaving a hard edge between light and dark areas

Soft Light:  Works in the same manner as Hard Light only the lighting effect is diffused leaving a softer transition between light and dark

Darken:  Compares the values of the pixels of both clips and selects the darker of the 2

Lighten:  Compares the values of the 2 clips and chooses lighter values

Travel Matte Alpha:  Allows you to composite video inside any shape or graphic, or title that contains an Alpha Channel.

 Travel Matte Luma:  uses the luminance values to determine which areas to key out

Notice there is no direct control over each composite mode; but, by adjusting a clip's opacity using the Clip Overlays you can actively change how a composite mode reacts with the clip below it.

Be sure to check out this tutorial on Compositing for Glass Text


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