A captivating, addictive effect that can be added to titles or clips, has access to Effects Masks to enhance the effect.


Requires FCPX 10.4.10 or higher but may be backdated to 10.4.

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Smoke - a captivating, addictive visual effect for titles and clips

Parameters are broken down into three basic sections.
The top section sets up the basic core features. The middle section sets up the color and appearance and the bottom section provides a few extra options.
The background construction of this effect is built upon a grid (Spread) and the visual elements are built up with the Build parameters. Build Variable is a random event while Build Constant provides new element creation at a regular interval. These two values are rigged and the underlying increments are rather small. It doesn’t take much to build up too much smoke!
The Scale parameters allow you to size the visual elements when they are created.
You can use Spread to keep the smoke from taking over everything.
The Drift parameter allows for the smoke to appear to travel in eight different directions, for example, Left or Right, Upwards or Downwards, or towards each corner.
Speed propels the smoke along it’s Drift axis.
Life and Life Randomness determines how long the generated smoke elements will appear before fading away. Life Randomness should **never** exceed Life (which has a long range*) and the difference between Life and Life Randomness should never be shorter than about 3 or 4.
Life’s range is practically unlimited, but should never exceed 60 for this effect.
Smoke effect parameters

Randomize All will change any randomness allowed across all parameters above.

You can change the Color of the smoke and still make very cool modifications. If you keyframe color change, as time progresses, new color is applied when a smoke element is created – the colors do not change once applied to an element. It is possible to create multiple colored smoke over time.

Increasing the saturation makes the effect more apparent.

Value lightens ( > 1 )  or darkens the smoke. Darkening makes the smoke more “wispy”.

Contrast and Pivot have a similar effect to Value but also features Smooth Contrast and Luminance Only options. Low Contrast / High Pivot makes the smoke “fill” the region more densely, but much less colorfully if you’ve added color.

When applied to a Text object, using Send Behind Text will make sure that smoke does not appear over the text. However, in most cases, you won’t be able to tell over light colored text. This option, and smoke surrounding text really is more dramatic with 3D Text with a metallic texture as in the product feature image above.


Using Smoke

This effect works well with just about anything!

The best way to get started is to use this effect with the Basic Title (or any title that does not have a Title Background layer). If you don’t know what that is, when you set the Compositing Opacity value to 0, not only the text, but the entire scene beneath the text will disappear. Titles without the background layer will only fade the text and leave everything else as normal.

Experiment with the settings to get a feel for what you can do with this effect. There are a lot of hints mixed up with the parameters outline above.

This is very effect with titles using an Effects Mask > Shape Mask and creating a horizontal (or vertical) strip. (If you have Highlighter, you can actually apply outlines to these regions!)

When using this effect with video clips, you may have to increase the brightness against the background. Manipulating the Contrast/Pivot combination as well as increasing the Value and Saturation will help immensely.

This effect operates with a “permanent” blend mode. Attempting to darken it will almost be the same as decreasing its opacity.

There will be many uses for this effect — I leave that up to your imagination.

Feel free to add more than one instance to any clip or titles!

Don’t forget to save your creations as Effects Presets so you can have them handy for your next project and reuse those “just perfect” settings later on without having to rebuild everything from scratch!


Installation Instructions.

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A good place to see all of my effects as well as several tutorials and other demonstrations in use is on my YouTube channel.