Learn More Contact Now

Final Cut Pro X: October 2011 Archives

FCPX makes it easy to selectively adjust the audio of a specific portion of a clip.  You'll find this useful often, like when you need to remove a swear word or audio pop, or fade down a spot's background music when its voiceover starts.  This article uses the Range Selection tool to very quickly adjust a clip portion's volume, but first, some basics:

  • If a video clip contains audio content, the audio waveform appears by default in the bottom half of the clip's silhouette in the Timeline.Screen shot 2011-10-27 at 2.40.12 PM.png
  • By default, all audio tracks display a black line.  This line, or envelope, represents the volume of that track's audio: the top of the bar is louder, the bottom of the bar is quieter. 

Step-by-step instructions after the jump...
fcpxlogotrans.pngIn the new Final Cut Pro X, composite modes, including Alpha and Luma Mattes, are applied from the Compositing section of the Video Inspector.  You use these types of Blend Modes to "cut out" one piece of video using information from a different piece of video—for example, to fit video into specific shapes, to apply texture to video, or to transition from one clip to the clip underneath.

In previous versions of Final Cut Pro, a section of video using a Travel Matte would generally look like a stack of three layers: the layer to be "cut out," the matte layer providing the shape information, and a background layer to composite on top of.  We did a tutorial to this end; Apple did too.S0190_TravelMatte2.pngThe FCP7 approach (image from Apple)

The old approach will NOT work in Final Cut Pro X.  Travel Mattes differ in two main ways in Final Cut Pro X:
  • The Matte blend mode is applied to the shape layer, NOT to the layer to be masked
  • If any clip in your Timeline is set to a Matte blend mode, it will cut through all of the layers in your Timeline, including the background layer.
Briefly, an effective matte workflow looks like this (need an introduction to mattes?  Try our textual or video tutorials):
  1. Arrange the layers to be matted in the correct order:Screen shot 2011-10-21 at 1.58.06 PM.png
  2. Click the shape layer to select it, then click the Inspector icon (Screen shot 2011-10-21 at 1.54.08 PM.png) to display the Inspector window.  In the Inspector window, click the Video tab at the top, then click the Compositing category to display its contents.  Change the Blend Mode to the appropriate Matte mode (we're using Stencil Alpha for this example).  The shape layer will cut through all of the video in the Timeline; we'll fix that next.Screen shot 2011-10-21 at 1.59.18 PM.png
  3. In the Timeline, click and drag to select BOTH of the top two clips, the shape layer and the to-be-cut layer.  Right-click on the clips, then click New Compound Clip (or press Opt+G).Screen shot 2011-10-21 at 2.00.37 PM.pngScreen shot 2011-10-21 at 2.00.57 PM.png

Mattes like this are especially useful for compositing video into text—conveniently, we've got a step-by-step video tutorial detailing that process for you.  Want more?  Come take a comprehensive FCPX training class with us at our Orlando classroom, or bring us to your studio for personalized training!
Screen shot 2011-10-13 at 5.22.21 PM.pngSometimes, you need to change the speed of a video clip in your Final Cut Project.  Most of the time, you're changing the speed of the entire clip—slow motion shots, reverse playback, and time lapse effects all fall into that category.  That type of retiming, which we've historically called constant-speed retiming, is easy to perform in FCPX: with the clip selected in the Timeline, press Command+R (or right-click the clip and select Retiming) to display the Retiming bar.  

To speed up the clip, click and drag the notched indicator at the right of the Retiming bar.  As you "squeeze" the clip into a shorter time, it will play back faster; as you "stretch" it out to occupy a longer time, it will play back slower.  You can always use the drop-down menu on the Retiming bar to force the clip to commonly-used speeds, including –100%, which plays the clip backwards.

Sometimes, though, you would like to change the speed of the clip mid-clip.  For example, imagine a shot with a fighter throwing a punch.  For dramatic effect, you may want the clip to play quickly as the fist swings forward, then switch to slow-motion as the fist makes contact, then resume fast playback as the fighter's arm clears the frame.  In previous version of Final Cut Pro, you'd use the Time Remap or Speed Tool for complicated retiming like this.  Final Cut Pro X takes a different (but much more intuitive) approach.  More after the jump--
Over the past several weeks, we've been doing tutorials introducing some of the more exciting new features in Motion 5.  We've introduced rigs and generators, and in this article we'll create a custom transition.

In Final Cut Pro X, every last built-in transition is a Motion project.  Want to learn transition-building by example?  Just right-click (or Control+click) on any of the transitions in the Transition Browser, then click Open a copy in Motion.

Motion's Transition project type, like its Effect type, uses placeholders to represent the clips that will be affected in the FCPX timeline.  The clip at the beginning of the transition is always labelled "A," and the clip at the end of the transition is "B."  You can use any of the tools available in Motion to manipulate the two placeholder clips over time, but the transition should start with the A clip fully visible and end with the B clip fully visible.  Bear in mind that Final Cut Pro will speed up or slow down your transition animation to match the duration that you set in the FCP Timeline.

In this tutorial, we will use a stock particle system to create a simple "explosion" transition for use in Final Cut Pro.  There are no project files for this tutorial—everything you need is installed with Motion's Supplemental Content.  Step-by-step after the jump...
The Final Cut Pro X Synchronize clips function is a great tool for getting your clips aligned before you ever go into the timeline. When working with a Canon 5D with a Zoom H4N audio recorder, the Synchronize Clips function will get the externally recorded audio in sync with the video in two clicks of the mouse. This function is also very useful when working in a multicam situation.

For example to sync a two camera shoot together; 

Select the clips to sync together.


It's easy to create dynamic custom title templates using Motion 5.  If you also own Final Cut Pro X, these templates will automatically show up in your title browser window.

Check out this short tutorial on how to use the sequence text behavior in Motion.
Learn how to create a customized lower third using Apple Motion 5.0.  Motion 5 is a must have for those wanting to learning Final Cut Pro X.  If you find this tutorial useful, be sure to check out our Final Cut Pro X training packages that include Motion 5 training.
motion-5-logo.png(Short version: You can't use aliases to share your Motion Templates folder—but you can use symbolic links if you like living dangerously.)

Final Cut X integrates tightly with Motion 5.  Motion powers almost every visual element not shot with a camera: generators, transitions, effects, titles, and themes, for starters.  The huge upside is that you can easily customize built-in visual elements and create your own.  The downside is that these custom Motion elements, by default, live in your local user account's Home Folder.  That can be nice if multiple users who share the same machine have different quirky presets, but it can be a pain if those multiple users need to share the same presets, as they might with a show open or a branding element.

You have a couple of options to help you share elements.  One of them's smart but tedious.  The other two are hacky but, we think, elegant.

The Manual Approach
The manual approach uses the age-old sneakernet: as soon as you know that all of your Motion elements are stored in your home folder under Movies > Motion Templates, you can copy them onto a Flash drive or network share, then copy them into the Movies > Motion Templates folder on your other user account or workstation.  It's trusty but tedious—especially when that one pesky template needs tweaking.

The Symlink Approach
You may be familiar with OSX's Aliases, which are analogous to Windows' Shortcuts.  An alias looks and acts like a file or folder, but it's really just a reference to a file or folder in another location on your disk.  In other words, an alias could let you pull a switcheroo on Final Cut Pro: When FCPX looks for its Movies > Motion Templates folder, you could theoretically use an alias to show the contents of a folder that's living somewhere else.  It turns out FCP is too smart for that specific trick, but a nearly identical technique via the Terminal works just fine.

Words like "switcheroo" and "Terminal" may have perked your ears in anticipation of a disclaimer—we won't disappoint: 
We don't in any way endorse this approach, we'd never use it on mission-critical workstations, and we're pretty sure it's completely irresponsible.  Hack at your own risk.

OSX's Aliases are a feature-rich evolution of an idea that's been around for a very long time.  Luckily, their more primitive predecessors are still locked in the attic, to turn a gentle metaphor macabre, and this is one of those problems where the primitive tools are handy to have around.  Symbolic Links work like aliases, but at the filesystem level instead of the Mac OS level—the take-home is that FCPX sees aliases as files, but it sees symbolic links as the actual directories that we're using them to represent.

You can create symbolic links from the Terminal (Applications > Utilities > Terminal).  The command you're looking for is ln (that's a lowercase LN, not the word in; it's short for link).  The details depend on your particular implementation, but here's what was right for us.  There are a few moving parts:
  • Our shared Motion Templates folder is on a network share called Public.  If you're trying to figure out the name of your network share, one way is to click the name of your computer in the Sidebar of a Finder window; the share name is what appears beside this icon:networkshare.png
  • Inside the Public share, our Motion Templates folder is located a few folders down: Public > FCPX Playground > Motion Templates.  Again, your setup may differ.Screen shot 2011-10-03 at 2.45.03 PM.png
  • You need to get rid of the Motion Templates folder that's on the local machine by default, at Home Folder > Movies > Motion Templates.  We didn't have anything important in our default local Motion Templates folder, so we just erased it.  If you have custom Motion projects already, you should probably choose to move it somewhere instead.
  • As a point of information, the Motion Templates folder is, for the true filesystem's purposes, actually called "Motion Templates.localized" regardless of the language your computer is configured to use.  The .localized bit below is not a mistake, and you need to use it too.
Now let's dive into Terminal.  When you open Terminal, you're giving commands from the perspective of your home folder.  We can make the symbolic link in one command.  The magic command looks like this for the setup we described above:

ln -s "/Volumes/Public/FCPX Playground/Motion Templates" "./Movies/Motion Templates.localized"

It's anticlimactic...
Screen shot 2011-10-03 at 2.59.27 PM.png
But it works!
Screen shot 2011-10-03 at 3.00.22 PM.png
Screen shot 2011-10-03 at 3.01.50 PM.png

The Hybrid Approach
If you want to share some elements but maintain local storage for other elements, you can keep the local Motion Templates folder and use symbolic links inside the relevant subfolders.  For example, you could create a shared category of Generators; items saved to the Shared Generators category would propagate across all of your workstations and users, while items saved to other categories would remain local.  That would look something like this:

ln -s "/Volumes/SHARE NAME/PATH/TO/GENERATORS/FOLDER" "./Movies/Motion Templates.localized/Generators/Shared Generators"

Some of the trouble you're asking for
There are probably lots of ways this could break Final Cut; here are a few off the top of our heads:
  • It's unclear how well FCPX would handle the case where a user on another workstation changes one of the shared Motion elements.  Our guess is not-so-well, and that it would depend on things like the background rendering status of the generator.
  • If your network share is at all unreliable, be careful.  In our (sloppy) testing, an offline "Motion Templates" folder usually just offlined the related elements in our FCPX projects (which would reconnect upon restarting FCPX when the Motion Templates folder reappeared).  Occasionally, though, it seemed like FCPX would just swallow instances of Motion Template elements when the folder went offline.  Our hunch is that templates might survive offlining if they're stuck in the magnetic timeline in a specific position relative to other clips, but we can't confirm that. 
Will this work to share a Final Cut Projects folder?
Nope, not as far as we can tell.  We'll keep playing with it, but if you're asking that question you might be interested in our article on that topic.

We like to hack around at Final Cut for fun, but our FCPX training classes teach only the most rock-solid workflows.  Come learn and play with us in Orlando—weeklong travel packages including class tuition, airfare, and hotel start at just $1750.
A few weeks ago, we explored Apple Motion 5's new Rig primitives.  Today, we'll use Motion's new "Generator" project type to create a custom Generator for Final Cut Pro X.

In Final Cut Pro, you create most of your source video by using a camera or compositing software.  The exceptions are FCP's Generators: they create brand new pieces of video on the basis of parameters that you set in Final Cut Pro.  For example, you might create video of a title slate by using a Title Generator and specifying the text, font, and style.

In this tutorial, we'll build an FCP Generator that automates one of our favorite Motion techniques: using Replicators to simulate 3D depth in Motion.  By the end, you'll have a Final Cut Pro Generator that lets you create a spinning, 3D version of any logo graphic that you choose in Final Cut Pro X–without ever opening Motion.

If you'd like to follow along, download this Motion project.  We'll pick up with the Motion 5 project file named "Logo Generator Start."  It contains a 3D Replicator system that simulates 3D depth on a PNG version of the GeniusDV logo.  To use this project for a Generator, you'll still need to start a clean project in your copy of Motion; otherwise, Motion won't know to save the project as a Final Cut Pro X Generator on your specific user account—see Steps 1 and 2 below.

Step-by-step after the break--
Receive FREE Tutorials by email:


    Avid Media Composer Training
  • Enrollment Cost: $50.00
  • 84 Media Composer Lectures
  • Includes Practice Media
  • Interactive Quizzes
  • Official Certificate of Completion
  • 30 Day Money Back Guarantee
  • Click to Enroll for 10% off!
    Final cut Pro X Training
  • Enrollment Cost: $20.00
  • 60 Final Cut Pro X Lectures
  • Includes Practice Media
  • Interactive Quizzes
  • Official Certificate of Completion
  • 30 Day Money Back Guarantee
  • Click to Enroll


This page is a archive of entries in the Final Cut Pro X category from October 2011.

Final Cut Pro X: September 2011 is the previous archive.

Final Cut Pro X: November 2011 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.