Final Cut Pro X Template Compatibility Guide
...and how to backdate a template to work in older versions
Whether you need to "backdate" a template to an older version of FCPX, or just curious to see if a template you're trying to use is compatible with your version of FCPX, the comparison chart below will help you.
People who design templates generally tend to use the latest version — we have to so we can keep up with all the "latest and greatest" features. What that generally means is that any new template created with the latest version of Motion will only work in the corresponding latest version of Final Cut Pro X. Not always convenient since there are plenty of Final Cut users still using older versions for whatever reason like hardware restrictions, project involvement, or even other less honest reasons — I don't care. I'm not judging. When you're stuck, you're stuck and neither Motion nor FCPX has a method of being able to "backdate" templates, even if they are still compatible!
Below is a table of all the versions of Final Cut from 10.0 to 10.4 (and hopefully it will be updated as needed) with all the corresponding versions of Motion, plus some other data which will be covered shortly. You can also see their release dates, although some of the dates are only approximate for Motion as it was not always updated on the same days as FCPX in the past, or, so far. You can also see there were several subsequent subversions released with no change of the other app, for example, FCPX went through versions 10.0.1, to 10.0.3 without a corresponding update in Motion.
Motion Template project files are just XML files which can be opened in any text editor like TextEdit. The first few lines are always exactly like this:
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?> <!DOCTYPE ozxmlscene> <ozml version="5.5"> <displayversion>5.1</displayversion>
with the double space between the ozml and displayversion tags. Note that Motion 5.0 and 5.0.1 do NOT have a displayversion tag and the next tag in the file will start after the blank line following the ozml tag. This is as far into these files as you ever need to go.
The (simple?) Rules:
You cannot backdate a template that uses anything that wasn't available in the target version of FCPX. For example, if your project uses shapes that use Size: Width and Height parameters, this must be converted to Control Points first if you need to backdate to FCPX before 10.2.0. If you are using 3D Text, you cannot backdate before FCPX 10.2.0, it has no way of "knowing" what 3D Text is. Etc. And there are a lot of these little gotchas you need to be aware of if you're going to successfully backdate a "modern" motion project for older versions of FCPX. That said, the majority of "function" in Motion is the same as it was going all the way back to Motion 2.0 over ten years ago. Your chances of success are fairly good!
There are four types of Motion projects used by Final Cut: Effects, Generators, Titles and Transitions and they have the file extensions of: .moef, .motn, .moti and .motr respectively. The Motion project files can be found inside the folder with the exact same name in the Motion Templates folder (by class, then by category folder). You can right-click on the template project file and Open With... and choose Text Edit. Make sure TextEdit is in Text Only mode (rtf will mess things up!) It is highly recommended that you move a copy of the template to a safe location before making any edits to the file.
From the table below, find your version of Final Cut (or your target version for backdating) and copy the OZML version to the ozml tag value (maintain the quotes!) then copy the DisplayVersion to the displayversion tag (notice the displayversion is exactly the same as the version number of Motion... so far). You should not change anything else in the file, including the formatting of the xml unless you need to remove the displayversion tag for Motion 5.0 compatibility. Make sure the factory tag moves up to occupy the former displayversion position in the file (one empty line between the ozml tag and the first factory tag).
Save. You're done. Go into Final Cut and see if it works. If you have a problem, you will probably just end up with a red icon with the Alert badge on it. If that's the case, delete the template and replace it with your backup (or if you cannot use it, keep it moved out of the Motion Templates location until you upgrade to the current version of Final Cut.)
Apple's release notes (most major additions will be listed here)Motion Release Notes
Final Cut Pro X Release Notes