Category: Writings: Motion & FCPX +

A selection of writings about Apple Motion and Final Cut Pro X and other related topics.

Optical Illusions in Motion

Creating an Optical Illusion with Motion

Optical Illusions in Motion

This is still a work in progress.

This is the complete recipe, but more graphics will be added to help clarify some information.

Optical Illusion recipe

Open a New > Motion Project in Motion with the frame rate set to 60 and the length set to 10:00 seconds. [You can make this project in any format you like… but for the purposes of this tutorial, a plain project will do.] A frame rate of 60 is necessary to follow this tutorial. Timing is critical and 60 fps makes for smoother animations.

Draw a fairly good-sized vertical line starting from the lower part of the screen to the upper part.

You want to create the line so that the lower point is the starting point.

Select the Properties tab and reset the position so that it is center screen.
Go back to Shape > Geometry and set Point 1.Y to 0. Point 2.Y should be around 400 (but it doesn’t have to be exact.)

This will create a line with the anchor point at the starting point at center screen.

In Shape > Style, set the Outline > Width to 100 (this is completely variable and can be customized later if you like).

Go back to Properties > Scale. Set the Scale to 0%.
Right click on the Scale parameter and Add Parameter Behavior > Oscillate.

In Behaviors > Oscillate, set the Amplitude to 26% and the Speed to 24.
Amplitude can be customized later. Speed can be customized later, but these are the best starting settings for this project. Amplitude will control how “large” (long) the line will grow at the maxima and speed is set to 24 so that this project, with its framerate and length settings will loop seamlessly.

Play this setup. You should have a Line that grows upwards and shrinks to the center of the screen, then animates in the opposite direction. If you play through the whole project, the scaling animation will complete 4 full cycles. In this project, each cycle will be 150 frames long. You will see this number again.

I will suggest here that you select the Line object and type Command-Shift-G to create a New group containing the Line. The reason for this may not be all that obvious and may not be all that necessary. The reasoning is that the entire animation should be contained in only ONE parent group and if this part is skipped, then the project gets to be a little messy, and this next part is crucial because we need a Clone object.

Select the Group containing the Line object and type the ‘K’ key to create a Clone of the Line object.
If you just Clone the Line object (and turn off the Line visibility) and play the project, you will see that the clone does not display the animation of the Line! However, if you clone the Group containing the animated line, it does animate!

After Cloning the Line’s group, turn off the Group’s visibility.

With the Clone selected, type ‘L’ to Replicate the Clone.

If you look down in the Cell Controls section, you will notice options to Play Frames, Random Start Frame and sliders to control the playback of the animation. This is THE reason for cloning the Line object because now we have control over how this effect will be realized.

For this project, set the Replicator > Shape to Circle. Set the Arrangement to Outline. Set the Radius to 450. Set the Points to 150. In Cell Controls, check the Align Angle option. (You should see a “fat outline” circle).

To make this work as an optical illusion, we need to offset the Starting frame for the playback of EACH Cloned Line replicated. In Cell Controls, set the Source Frame Offset to 4. You should now see 4 “loops” in the graphic. Playing will appear to rotate the loops in a counter clockwise direction. If you go up to Build Style, you can make this go in the clockwise direction by setting it to Counter-Clockwise (“counter-intuitive”, but remember — this is an OPTICAL illusion! What you see is NOT what is happening).

Adjustments you can make are to Color, Scale.X; Go back into the Oscillate behavior and set the Wave Shape to Sawtooth (any of these are useable for differently “styled” optical illusions).

To create the 3 “segment” arrangement, go back into the Replicator > Cell Controls and set the Source Frame Offset to 3.

At this point, just for design consideration, you can duplicate the Replicator, reduce the Radius, swap the Build Style and adjust the Cell Controls Scale X.

Other customizations would be to tweak the Oscillate Amplitude and the Wave Shape. You can change the Shape of the Replicators. You can also change the First Point Offset and/or the Last Point Offset of the Line object which will change how the scaling animation appears. In music, there’s this thing called the Shepard Tone – an audio illusion of a continually rising pitch. With the Sawtooth oscillation, setting the First Point Offset to near 90% will create a visual effect of a continual contraction of the moving segments — you “get the feeling” that the image is always growing smaller even though it doesn’t!

Using the Square Wave Shape in Oscillate can be used to create an animated “Tech Ring” effect.

There are Parameter settings in this project that are related to each other – changing one changes the “behaviors” of the others.

If you double the Speed of the Oscillate, you will double the “segments” in the graphic. If you also reduce the Replicator Points by 1/2 after doubling the Oscillate Speed, you will restore the original arrangement. If you alter the Source Frame Offset, then adjustments to the other two parameters may be in order! If you build this project in a slower frame rate, all of these parameters will have to be readjusted across the board.

Okay — what if you change the frame rate of the project? For one, all of the major parameters involved will have to be adjusted based on the length of the project, basically, the total number of frames; the number(s) of replicated lines (Points), the Source Frame Objects and the Oscillate behavior Speed. Understanding that makes dealing with it easier. I would recommend keeping even multiples of 30 though. Luckily, Motion supports 30, 60, 90, and 120 frames per second, and even though 90 and 120 fps are not practical for playback, it’s not about speed, it’s about the “math” of the inter-related parameters. The higher the frame rate, the better the resolution and the easier adaptations will be. A frame rate of 30 virtually eliminates the three segment design this tutorial is based on with the minimum number of segments being four.






Write On finished - Perfect Character Write On

Perfect Character Write On with Motion

Perfect Character Write On with Motion (Mask Tracing Technique)

To create a custom character write on effect that looks as if the typographic strokes appear as if they were painted (or inked) on, all you really need to do is create a Mask consisting of Paint Stroke Tool or Bezier curves that match the curves, then animate the First Point Offset or Last Point Offset within the mask.

Using this technique, you’ve probably run into this problem:

To create a custom character write on effect that looks as if the typographic strokes appear as if they were painted (or inked) on, all you really need to do is create a Mask consisting of Paint Stroke Tool or Bezier curves that match the curves, then animate the First Point Offset or Last Point Offset within the mask.

Using this technique, you’ve probably run into the problem shown in this image:

The effect works well until you have to run across the cross strokes.

first character write on
Write on path with character mask


You probably can’t create a perfect mask for this type of character write on effect for calligraphic characters. You can, however, control how the Bezier line you’re using to write on handles narrow and thicker strokes, which might be a world easier than trying to manage type of masking you’re trying to do.

Look at this image (click to pop up):

pathDetail - perfect character write on with Motion
Path Detail

The actual ‘H’ character (Edwardian Script), which will be used as the mask for the curved line write-ons, is cyan colored. The “curve” (magenta) that will be used to write-on is currently overlaid for this demonstration. See that little onscreen control near the top of the curve? That is a Width Over Stroke “keyframe” setting. You can set the width of a curve at (almost) any point in the curve (see comment about Motion being snotty below). The curve Brush Type must be set to either Airbrush or Image (you can use different shaped “pen tips” with image). When using Airbrush, tighten up the Brush profile somewhat and for either, set the Spacing to 5%.

There is a feature with either of these curve types that becomes available — the Stroke inspector, and the controller you need to deal with is the Width Over Stroke parameter:

Width Over Stroke detail
Width Over Stroke detail

It is often easier to add control points in this “widget” (right click on the graph line and “Add Keyframe”). However, if you want to work directly in the canvas, once the shape is created and exists in the Layers list, you can go to the tool menu and select Adjust Item.

Adjust Item detail

The default setup is a control point at the start and end points. If, while Adjust Item is selected, you double click or Option-click on different points of the line, new control points will be added (Motion can be snotty about this and switch back to Edit Points… that’s why adding points in the Width Over Stroke inspector may be easier). Once control points are added to the line, they can be easily re-positioned on screen (they’ll follow the line without changing it, other than the width)—with the control selected, click-drag the mouse left or right to move it along the line.

To adjust the width, click on one of the end points on the perpendicular lines and drag to control the line width. It is usually easier to start with a line that matches the thinnest parts and use width over stroke to widen later — easier to see the coverage.

Wherever there is a narrow crossing, create two “stop gap” controls on either side of the crossing, then another in between that can resize the width of the line to exactly match the crossing. You only have to be “neat” at the crossing lines — everything else can be larger than necessary.

This video tutorial will help you *optimize* your Bezier line workflow through this technique:

Inside Motion: Mastering Bezier Curves (the Pen Tool—applies to all vector graphics apps) – YouTube

There is no faster or easier way to deal with bezier curves (and the fewer the points used, the smoother the line will look.) However, in this case, once you get the overall bezier line in place, it will be often easier to Add Points on the line to help center them in wider regions where necessary… you’ll see what I mean… and fortunately, when Motion Adds Points, it compensates the control points to match the line already in place (usually) and its “direction”. It’s usually just a matter of adding the extra point and dragging it to line it up — no need to readjust the control points.

If you want this effect to look “perfect”, this is about the only way I know to pull it off. (PS – you can afford to go slightly thinner through the first passing of a crossing – when the line comes back around for the second pass, anything that covers it will fill the difference.)

Notice the bottom loop on the yellow stroke—it is quite convincingly done.

(I didn’t have the time to spread out the write-ons… so they were animated all at once.)

Keep up to date with Sight-Creations on Twitter and Facebook.

Character Write On Technique — Mask Tracing Technique
Word Replacement Animation Tutorial

Word replacement animation

Word replacement animation without keyframes!

Creating a word replacement animation in Final Cut Pro is actually easier than creating it in Motion. For one thing, it’s immediate and adaptable!


Let's begin!

Word Replacement in Final Cut Pro X

Starting at the end, this is what this effect looks like in the storyline:


word replace storyline

What you see is 9 Basic Titles. All we need to do is add the appropriate effects!

Start with a Basic Title and type the phrase you want as the “base” phrase. In our example, we’ll be using “For your needs”. However, we will need a large enough space for the largest replacement word to fit, so something like this:

“For your                   needs”



To this title, add the effect Move by Time (part of the Animate by Time effects bundle).

Add a Shape Mask and arrange it so that the left edge is near the ‘r’ in “your” and with a width all the way to the right. (The height only needs to be the height of the text — like a “channel”).

The purpose of the Shape Mask is to limit the region of the clip/title that will be affected by the Move by Time effect. Everything outside the bounds of the mask will stay as is. We only want to move “needs”.


About Move by Time

Move by Time is a precision timed effect. The first two parameters are the Start and End Offsets for the animation time. This effect uses the Start Offset X and Move X parameters. The others are not used (but you might want to experiment with Curvature). The values you see are specific to font size and text placements (width of your text up to the gap). We’ll get to the settings you see later.

Setting up

Count your word replacements. In this tutorial there will be four. Each has a different width. Although the replacements are all the same font, they are a different font from the base text.

If you want to “close the gap” either at the beginning or the end, add that to the number.

Set the length of time of your Basic Title to the length of time you need the words to appear. In General, they will all appear for the same length of time, but varying the times is optional. This tutorial uses exactly 2 second titles.

Duplicate the first title setup for the number of repetitions you need. Lay them out so that they are edge to edge — no gaps.

Adding Shape Mask
shape mask in place2
move by time params

Next, create another Basic Text. Change the text to one of the replacement words, change the font (or variation) and optionally the color, etc.

You can click and drag the text to “fit” next to your base phrase. Add the following effects: two Fade by Time effects and a Move by Time.

For the first (top) Fade effect *and* Move effect, set the Start Offset to 0 and the End Offset to 0.5 (1/2 second).  For the Fade, set the Start Opacity to 0, the End Opacity to 100%. For the Move effect, set the Start Offset Y to -90 (this can be adjusted at any time).

Depending on how long your titles are will determine the times you use. With our 2 second title, our example will use 1.5 and 1.9. The Start Opacity is set to 100% and the End Opacity is set to 0%.

Every replacement word in this example will use exactly the same effects and settings, so Option-drag copies for each word then change each instance to the word you need in sequence.


Finishing up (told you this was easy)

All that’s left is creating the offsets of the end pharse to match the size of the word spacings.

Each base title has one Move by Time effect added. When you set up the first instance, you can set the animation for the same timing as the others, however, in this example, I’ve set the End Offset Sec. parameter to 0.4 so that it animates a little faster than the others — it needs get out of the way!

For the first replacement word, move it into place, then select the base text title, place the playhead at the first frame and adjust the Start Offset X parameter so that the end phrase normalizes in spacing with the first part of the phrase.  Move the playhead to past the animation end (0.4 seconds) and adjust the Move X parameter to line up at the end of the word replacement (observe typographical spacing!)

For the subsequent words, you will need to adjust Start Offset X to line up to where you end the end phrase, then the End Offset X to the end of the replacement word as before. You can line up the end phrase positions in a couple of ways. Overlap the beginning of a following base phrase title over the end of the previous one, then adjust the Start Offset X value so that the words overlap (match), then move the subsequent title back in place. The other way would be to use a grid or a guide effect (also available on this site).


More information

Animate by Time is a collection of related effects: Color Fill (related to fade), Fade, Move, Rotate, Scale All (saves space), Scale by X-Y, and Slant. There is also a utility effect: Clip Time by Time which you can add to any clip, title etc. to show the precise time of the playhead location within the clip (you get decimal and a small “frames” display). [Fractional frame rates are NOT supported! They are OBSOLETE!] You can use Clip Time with fractional frames rates, but it won’t be as accurate (relative time is good enough, generally).

Animate by Time is broken down by functions, use only what you need when you need it.

The Animate by Time effects can be applied to anything (except transitions — fcpx won’t allow it). If applied to video clips there are rules that need to be observed.

Video (that is: everything within the Viewer frame) is cropped if it is moved out of its frame.

Effects that move clips offscreen need to complete their action completely before applying subsequent effects.

Explanation: if you Move by Time a video clip by half the frame, then add another Move by Time to move the clip back into place — half the video clip will have been cropped off, and cannot be replaced.

You can complete animations within one single Effect (start offscreen and move onscreen) and not “damage” the video. (Of course, you may opt to do this on purpose!)

Effects *change* video.  They are not “added on” like adjustment layers or titles.

You can add as many effects as you need to any given clip, compound clip, title or generator. “Compiling” a collection of effects to a clip does not create multiple “tracks” or layers — what you get is a single layer of video. They typically render much more quickly than titles or generators. Their order is Top – Down. The base effect is the first one added and the last one added is the top effect.

The Compositing, Transform, Crop, and Distort controls are actually Top Level effects and supercede all others.


Plan ahead!

Full Demo

Keep up to date with Sight-Creations on Twitter and Facebook.

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

Effects used in this tutorial:

Animate by time feature
Animate by Time

Effects bundle

Keyframe-less animations for FCPX
Fractional Frame Rates are obsolete - fix fractional frame rates

About Fractional Frame Rates

About Fractional Frame Rates -

Originally posted on Apple Support Communities Aug. 2, 2020

[Ascending soap box]

I’d like to take this opportunity to make a few comments (RANT) about frame rates:


If your camera shoots fractional, conform it to the nearest whole frame rate project! Cameras are made for idiots that like to conform to “convention”. As soon as everyone pulls their heads out ……….. cameras will be made to shoot whole frame rate footage.

There are no reasons left, whatsoever, to use fractional frame rates. NTSC is dead. The only stations left that are allowed to broadcast analog (NTSC) signals are LPTV (low power television) stations and by next July 13 (2021), they will no longer be allowed to broadcast analog. They must be digital or cease broadcasting. “The last of the buggy whips have been made.” Even if you have an analog television set, you must now also have a digital converter to receive all regular/commercial broadcast stations. There is no legacy!

Unless you are preparing media for an LPTV station, don’t use fractional frame rates. It’s time this dinosaur becomes extinct. It’s been more than 10 years!

People are hanging on to 23.98, 29.97 and 59.94 because they don’t know it’s not needed; they never understood the reason for it and how it came to be in the first place (it was a “hack” people!); other people are still using it and “they must know what they’re doing” or “it’s the conventional frame rate” (really? — grow a pair!); etc. “The devil made me do it” is a better reason.

No reasons left!! Not for broadcast. Not for DVD (also dead – just hasn’t fallen down yet). Not for BD (should be dead.)

PS – we should be done with interlacing too!

Thank you!

[Descending soap box]

Disclaimer: I make precision effects for Final Cut Pro X that will not work correctly in fractional frame rates *without a hack* to fix the hack (like this project: VT Clock). I no longer support fractional frame rates — period. It’s time to get over it. Move on. Don’t worry. Be happy!

I cringe every time I watch a video where somebody selects a fractional frame rate for a Motion project — what a • stupid • thing to do! They don’t know very much about Motion or it’s relationship with FCPX and they’re just mimicking somebody else’s work who also doesn’t understand the relationship. (Sadly, that includes almost everybody). They think frame rate means something in Motion… it really doesn’t. It’s a convenience.

Everybody has to get over the notion that there is some kind of mystical importance to a fractional frame rate — there isn’t. Look it up. The original engineers only had a limited bandwidth to cram all the analog signals into. When all TV sets were B&W, their system was *perfect*. Using the frequency of household current (60Hz) for a clock was ***brilliant***. Adding Color (Chroma) balled everything up. The only reason why 29.97 ever came into being is so the American people who already owned B&W TV sets wouldn’t have to go out an buy another one when color was introduced [back in the late 40s/early 50s, a TV set was considered a piece of furniture and costing hundreds of $, which would be considered *thousands* of $ in today’s currency — think: high end iMac price tag for an analog B&W television set. Nowadays you can get a 720/60p LED set for under $110 … in *today’s* currency or about 11-12 bucks in 1950 currency.]

Here’s an excellent video that explains the NTSC system:

Fox Mahoney


Keep up to date with Sight-Creations on Twitter and Facebook.

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

Broadcast VT Clock in 3D - Frame Accurate
VT Clock

3D Precision Clock

Made for broadcast. Last to support 23.98, 29.97 & 59.94 frame rates
Go to product
Liquid Fill Text Animated Texture

Liquid Fill Animated Texture

A Liquid Fill Animated Texture for Titles/Text

Liquid Fill Text Animated Texture

This was a (too long) response for Apple Support Communities, so I posted it here.

Ok – Animated textures are broken for “global” text objects in FCPX, but I saved this project as a Generator and the texture works in FCPX if I load the generator in the Storyline.

You can download the generator here:

If you need help installing it:

You can open it in Motion as a regular project or you can install it as a generator for FCPX and inside FCPX, right click on it an Open in Motion. You might want to make your own modifications.

It’s a small project, so I’ll go over the general points.

I added the Text to an empty project, and went into the Text Format inspector and increased the size to … *large*.

Then I went into the Appearance inspector and turned on 3D Text.

The text added is automatically part of a Group. Select the Group and type Command-Shift-N to create a *New Group* outside the text’s group.

By this point, creating a Camera object makes the rest a little easier, so Object menu > New Camera (or command-option-c) and accept the create 3D whatever… I don’t even look at it anymore — I just click it.

Select the New Group (you might want to rename it — in my project, I named it “water fill”), and in the Group Inspector, set 2D and Fixed Resolution options. This is very important. All materials have to be 2D and Fixed Resolution or all kinds of bizarre behavior (like materials jumping all over the place) can happen.

It took me awhile to figure this next stuff out, but I’ll boil it down.

Textures can be any size. I wanted very large in order to be able to cover an entire screen width of text if necessary. And, there is also a workaround with the filters that needed to be addressed and this takes care of both:

Set the “water fill” Group Fixed Width to 3000 and the Fixed Height to 2400. [You can pick your own ranges if you like — this was completely arbitrary.]

Select the Rectangle tool and draw out a Rectangle shape. Color it Blue (you can fiddle with the color if you like…). Go into the Geometry tab and set the Width to 3000 and the height to 1200.

Add Object > Generators > Clouds. Set the Width to 3000 and the Height to 1200, just like the Rectangle. Set the Horizontal Scale to something like 140 and the Vertical Scale to about 18. Set the Speed to 0 (or up to about 1).

Set the gradient colors to:

left: White (1.0, 1.0, 1.0) and the right: to light gray (0.85, 0.85, 0.85). Set the 1st Layer Strength to 0 and the 3rd Layer Strength to 0.87. Go over to the Properties inspector and set the Blend Mode to Hard Light and the Opacity to about 30%. This should give a kind of layering and lightening to the blue colored rectangle.

Select both the Rectangle and the Clouds Generator and type Command-Shift-G to create another new Group with the two objects enclosed together. The reason for this is so that they can be animated together as a group.

This brings me to the effects. You will be adding Underwater and Wave distortion filters which do all the watery effects for you.

First, the reason this next section has to be done this way is due to how the filters work on the object you place them on. If you place either one of them directly on the Rectangle, the Clouds generator OR the group in which these two objects are in, you will get the edges of the liquid motion cropped to the defined edges of the respective objects. We’ve deliberately placed these objects together in a group to keep them aligned together for animation AND we deliberately made the space they occupy slightly smaller than the parent group (“water fill”). If we add these filters to the larger group that is Fixed Resolution (that is a fixed or static size) then the effects will work on what’s *inside* the larger group and there is no clipping!!

Select the “water fill” group and add a Filters > Distortion > Underwater. The settings I used were:

Size: 1.27

Speed: 0.36

Refraction: 109* (this will be animated downward later)

Repeat Edges: OFF

You can add a Filters > Distortion > Wave filter here too.

Amplitude: 9

Wavelength: 500 (you will have to click on the number value and drag up)

Offset: 500

Vertical: checked

Now for the filling up:

In order to achieve this part of the animation, it will be necessary to animate the Rectangle/Clouds group from below the screen upwards. This should not be too quick.

The parameter settings:

On the first frame of the project: Position Y set and keyframed at -1020 px (give or take a few)

On the last frame of the project: Position Y set to about -25px. (this is a little flexible) *{there will be a note later}

There is one more filter used: I put a Gaussian Blur on the Clouds generator because at certain settings, there is a lot of banding that is obvious. I set the Amount to 162… should be enough to soften everything up.

Still with me?

On to applying our texture to the text.

Select the text object and go into the Text > Appearance inspector.

Go down to the Substance parameter of the Material section.

Set the Surface to Image.

For the Image Source, click and drag the “water fill” *group* into the source well.

Dial down the Placement section.

Set the Wrap Mode to None.

Set the Side Placement to Stretch from Edge

For this project, I set the Scale to 6% * (it’s different than it seems — see below)

I set the Brightness to 218%.

Go back to the top of Material and just under the Facets section you should see Add Layer.

Add Layer > Paint > Reflective Paint

Paint Job > Custom

Diffuse Brightness — 280%

Specular Brightness — about 270%

Shininess — 100%

Face Opacity — about 3%

Edge Opacity — 100%

Fresnel — 7.88

This is a very minor influence on the appearance of the text — it simply shines a little highlight on the edges of the lettering.

Go back to Material and Add Layer > Distress > Custom Bumps

Add the “water fill” group to the Image well.

Set Wrap Mode to None.

Set the Scale to the same value as the Substance (6%).

If you want to have some fun with this, crank up the Bump Map Gain to somewhere around 10,000.

Go back to Material and Add Layer > Finish > Custom Specular

This is going to light up your text enough to give it a glass like appearance (as long as the Paint is turned on)

Now, just because this is the stuff I used, it doesn’t mean that this is the only way to create the effect. You can probably stop at just the Substance stage if the overall look works for you. You can tweak the blue color rectangle and/or the clouds pattern/ colors / opacities, etc. You can add different lighting to bring out the transparent surfaces of the text with specular lighting (reflections/environment). This is literally all kinds of different ways you can approach something like this and if you’re interested in this kind of thing — you should **explore**!!!

If you have any questions, ask!


Installation Instructions.

Keep up to date with Sight-Creations on Twitter and Facebook.

flipping tiles or squares

Flipping Tiles

Flipping Tiles


I liked this video:

I appreciate any work done in 3D in Motion with text. That takes dedication.

I have often said that there is often no “one way” to do things in Motion and I would like to offer an alternative approach to this effect.

First, I’ll offer this font:
[Install the font with Font Book and you will have to restart Motion to use it.]

It was used for a Scrabble effect a few years back, which isn’t important. What is important is that every printable character is a perfect square. The descender and ascender are equal heights and the character has no side bearings so that the characters are perfectly enclosed in the font square. Typing any set of letters creates squares that touch left and right and the mid point of the *center aligned* character is dead center making rotations through the center automatic and not requiring any adjustments to anchor points or baseline values. That means, starting this project is simply a matter of typing any five characters, Return, any five more characters, Return, and finally five more characters. For this alternative demo, I used:




as one single text object. Five characters (tiles) across by three lines.

Flipping Tiles setup

Import two video or image sources. They should both be the exact same size (typically 16:9 aspect dimensions). I set up this project as 1920×1080. Imported two videos into their own 2D Fixed Resolution 1920×1080 group. Fixed Resolution is important when dealing with 3D Text “textures”.

Set the Material to Multiple. You can dress up the inner three surfaces with any material you like.

To create the Front side image/video is simple. Set the 3D Text > Substance to Generic > Image and in the drop well, place the first (front) video. Dial down the Placement and adjust the Scale and Position. All the characters *share* the image as one texture. There is no need to add the image to each individual character and align it! This side is done!

To create the Back side is a little different since the squares are flipping upside down — and by row! One way (because there is more than one way to do this) is to place the second (back) video into another group inside its parent.

Turn the video upside down (Rotate X by 180). Set the Group to 2D Fixed Resolution 1920 by 360 (the middle strip — 360 is 1080 divided by 3). Duplicate the Group twice. For one of the groups, set the Position Y of the video to 360 AND the Position Y of its Group to 360. For the last piece, set the Position Y of the Group and the Video to -360. You should have something like this:

 flip image reverse side 

Select the Group containing the video piece groups and Clone it (type K). Using a Clone is one way to reassemble multiple layers into a single layer object. Turn off the Group containing the upside down thirds. Apply the Clone layer to the Back Substance > Image > Image Options > drop well.

For this stage, it is important that you get the correct Scale of the image and the Position Y to line up the 3-banded setup on the backs of the square characters. [If you use my font, I set the font size to 178: that makes the Scale (with the Scale with Font Size option checked) to 20.0% and the Position Y to -72.8.

Setting up the animation.

To the text object, add a Sequence Text Behavior and Add a Rotation. Set the Sequencing to From Keyframes and Animate Character (without spaces). Set the Spread to 10 or 11 and the end offset to control how fast you want the animation to progress.

Right click on the Rotation X parameter and Add Parameter Behavior > Overshoot. Set the End Value to 180, Ramp Duration to about 20%, Cycles to 3.5, Acceleration to about 50% and the End Offset to the same value as you used for the Sequence Text behavior. (These two behaviors should have the same length as the text object.)

If it all works out right, you should end up with something like:

Play with the Overshoot and Sequence Text behaviors to tailor your effect to your liking…

This technique should save you tons of time if you decide to increase the number of Text Tiles you use. However, if you increase the number of rows, you will need to cut the back side image into the same number of slices as lines of text you use.


Keep up to date with Sight-Creations on Twitter and Facebook.

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

Boho Chic from Pond5

Still under development…

Cartooner - 8 years along

I deeply appreciate the free clips from Pond5; the quality and variety. They allow me an invaluable resource for effects development — clips I would never have access to otherwise. With each clip I download, I spend time looking at it and asking myself: What else can I get out of this?

This week’s free clip is called “Boho Chic”. It inspired me brush off an old effect I’ve been working on (on and off) since July 2011 (about one month after the release of Final Cut Pro X and Motion 5.) It’s not finished, but I feel I am getting closer. Here’s the result of my latest work:


This effect still needs a decent amount of bandwidth, but this clip was encoded at just under 10Mbps and it turned out relatively decent. If you create a 60fps clip for YouTube, you have up to 12Mbps for your clip before they’ll commandeer your upload and re-encode it with their encoders (and it will look like…)

FCPX/Motion and YouTube

This is a reply to an Apple Support Communities question

FCPX/Motion and YouTube — upload practices

YouTube will accept just about anything you throw at it… but you won’t get what you expect if you go *over* their guidelines. If you stay within their guidelines, you will get exactly what you uploaded. What’s the difference? YouTube will re-encode anything over their guidelines — they use an open source (cheap) encoder and they probably use Single Pass (Faster Encode). It’s generally awful… and embarrassing.

Export from Motion or Final Cut Pro (neither one gives options to fine tune the export) as ProRes LT or better. Use Compressor (choke — I prefer Quicktime 7 Pro which will become obsolete and unusable in the next OS).


Set the Codec to H.264.

Set the Data Rate to be 8000 kbits/sec. [Macs do such a good job of compressing, you can probably start with a higher value — I typically start at 12,600, but if the end result goes one bit over 8000, you have to do it again at a lower bitrate. I’ll go down to 9600 next before going down to 8000.]

Set the frame rate to be the same as your project [Note: 29.97 is becoming obsolete – try to stay with whole frame rates in the future, like: 24, 25, 30, 48, 50, 60, etc.]

Set Key Frames to Automatic and make sure you turn OFF Frame Reordering.

Compressor Quality should be set to High (Best is only available with Automatic Data Rates) and

Encoding to Best Quality (Multi-pass).

Audio needs to be set to AAC 48kHz. You can get away with Render Settings: Normal and Variable Bit Rate, 128kbits/sec even though YT allows says they require 192kbits/sec Constant Bit Rate (I’ve never noticed that they re-encode for this variation and it gives the video an allowance for a little more data rate).

If you have Quicktime 7 Pro, make sure the dimensions are 1920 x 1080 HD and NOT HD 1920 x 1080 16:9 (they are not the same thing – one is actual pixels and the other has broadcast TV overscan calculated into it — it’s cropped.) There’s also a Setting for Preserve Aspect Ratio using — I have this always set to Letterbox. This may not be necessary anymore, but once upon a time it was.

If all you have is Compressor, then get some better advice from people who know how to get the best results. I’m not one of them. I used to try to use Compressor back with FCP7 and I just could never get the results as good as with QT7Pro. (Too many options to fiddle with… :P).

Export the video as a .MOV (lowercase is fine) file, not MP4. Google’s YouTube page is oriented more towards Windows users. YouTube handles MOV.

When you upload a correctly encoded file, when it finishes uploading, it only takes YouTube a minute or two to finish making things like the thumbnail and getting it ready for public viewing. If it takes any longer than that, say almost as long as it took you to transcode from ProRes to H.264, then YT is busy re-encoding your video an you failed to deliver the best possible file for uploading. Simple as that. I’ve been uploading videos to youtube for over 10 years now and actually performed experiments to figure out what was actually going on (and how I figured out the difference between HD and HD 16:9 designations because there would be an annoying line through the video for the broadcast versions…)

About h.264 compression:

I’ve had some files I’ve encoded that come in under 5Mbps (Mbits/sec) no matter how much Data Rate I give the encoder all the way up to Automatic. If you set the Data Rate to 12,600 and it comes in anywhere under 8000, take it unless for some rare reason you really need it more. In most cases, if your video needs higher bitrates to look good: there’s a lot of action in it or gradients or just a lot of screen area where there are a lot of frame to frame changes and nothing you can do is going to make it look perfect *under* 8000. (I have a Comic Book effect that cannot use anything less than a bitrate setting of 50000 — and that was for 720p!) Without “selling” you on the effect, here is a direct link to the video:

It could not be played on YouTube OR Vimeo — both would turned it to mush. Here is the same video on YouTube — (and Vimeo was worse).

Final Cut Pro and Motion export H.264 at its highest quality possible. FCPX generates something in the neighborhood, on average, of 40-50Mbits/sec. Super fine (archive) quality H.264. I do not know what difference there is if you upload directly to YouTube, if FCPX tries to come in under the YT requirement limits, but I’ve never gotten the quality I want doing so, in any format, so I have to guess that it doesn’t. “Professional” (Enterprise?) youtube accounts will accept any data rate and there are no other limitations to what you can upload if you have one of those accounts. I don’t. Most people don’t. (I’m not even sure they still offer the plan — I can’t find it anywhere but I remember it being offered to me a few years back.)



Keep up to date with Sight-Creations on Twitter and Facebook.

Underline as Caretand Mixing OSCs with Text in FCPX: annotation marks user guide

Mixing OSCs with Text in FCPX — An Update

OSCs. OnScreen Controls.

Before FCPX 10.0.6 (10/23/2012), using OSCs in a Title with Text was not a problem. As long as there was access to the control point, it could be “grabbed”. After 10.0.6 came out, this changed. Text objects took complete precedence and any OSC within the “bounds” of the text could not be accessed without moving the text out of the way or by changing its position parameter in the Title’s inspector.

You can stay up to date by following Sight-Creations on Twitter and Facebook.

More writings on Motion and FCPX.

Keying "inside and outside" on the same footage

Keying Inside and Outside

You do not need a Motion Template for this effect!

Scene: You have a green screen clip and you want to replace not only the green screen but also the subject with replacement media.

I came across this problem on Apple’s discussion board (FCPX forum) and thought it was an interesting problem. It’s actually quite simple, but there is a catch if you don’t know what to look for.

For this demonstration, I will be using a free sample (practice) green screen clip available from The download is in the Godiva Medium section about halfway down the page. Here’s a frame:

HCW GodivaMedium

This is a relatively awful green screen. The green isn’t “even”. It is very difficult to pull a decent key especially in the area of the sheer fabric. It is, however, a very good clip to learn how to key and if you successfully pull a good key, then you will have learned something useful!

The effect I want is to have our model replaced with fireworks as a silhouette effect and the green background replaced with an icy waterfall (fire and ice 😉 ). Two mattes from one clip.


If this question hadn’t been asked, this is not something I would have thought of by myself… It’s actually rather cool!

How this is accomplished is rather simple:

1) apply they keyer to the green screen footage — invert it! — and overlay it over the fireworks clip.

(When you invert a keyed green screen, you get the original green screen back as everything that is not green is masked!)

2) select the green screen clip and fireworks clip and make a compound clip.

3) apply the Keyer to the compound clip and overlay it over the icy waterfall clip.

Pretty simple provided 1) you get a good key and 2) you know how to get around the non-transparent “white out” where the green screen used to be. This is what it looks like:


This is a WTF moment. It’s supposed to be transparent. So what happened?

It turns out that the provided Keyer effect in Final Cut Pro automatically sets a 46% Spill Level (I don’t even know what this is because it is separate from the Spill Suppression — it seems to be the “primary” spill removal tool; it’s documented that it will fill the green with a light gray color instead of transparency.) The solution at this stage is to simply set the Spill Level parameter to 0% and that will clear out the white-out to transparency again.

When completed, you will end up with a compound clip containing your green screen footage (with inverted key) over the media used to fill your subject, and placed over another clip used to contain the media used to replace the green screen. It will look great! And, you didn’t need to use a special Motion template to accomplish it.

That said 😉 —

If you use SC KeyFX scKey Replace, you only need one clip. “scKey Replace” allows you to select any color (use shift-click and/or drag to include more) very much as you would in a “paint” application like Photoshop. You can stack the effects on a single clip and use the drop zones to fill the parts. There is a feature that will allow you to blend the replacement media with the original media using Blend Modes if you wish. With it, you can pull off an even more interesting effect of lighting up your subject with the filling media.

In the first frame: throughout most of the play through, the subject model is silhouetted. However, when the “flash” is close to her face, you can see the fireworks “light up” her face briefly. It’s really impressive to see!

screplace1Model’s face is silhouetted

screplace2Model’s face shows some color detail. (It is more obvious in playback.)

You cannot get this kind of effect from the basic Keyer effect since the blend modes provided by scKey Replace are not available in Keyer.

See SC KeyFX Tips for more information.

Installing plugins/templates for FCPX

Installing Plugins for FCPX

Installing Plugins for Final Cut Pro X

Effects (also known as Templates or Plugins) need to be “installed” in a very specific location.

Inside the Users folder on your main hard drive is your user folder (with your exact username as the label with a little house icon).

Inside that you will find a folder called Movies.

Inside that you need to have a folder called Motion Templates. If you don’t have it, you can create it. Once created, right click on the folder and Get Info. In the Name & Extensions section, make sure it reads: “Motion Templates.localized” (without the quotes). The case sensitive spelling (including spaces) is very important.

Inside the Motion Templates folder, there should be at least four other folders labelled: Effects, Generators, Titles, and Transitions. If these folders do not exist, you can create them. You must do the same as Motion Templates and go into Get Info and make sure their extensions are .localized. These are the only folders requiring the localized extensions. [Do not add the localized extension from the Finder.]

Determine the type of template you are installing (Effect, Title, Transition, Generator) and open that folder.

You will need to *provide* a category for FCPX by using a folder at this level or by creating a new folder with a name that will be used as the category in FCPX. If the folders already exist, you can choose a category that already exists; otherwise, create a Category folder for your effect type. (A lot of people miss this step…) The Category is the section in which you’ll find the template in FCPX in the corresponding template browser.

Open the Category folder and place the entire template’s folder inside.

Templates in FCPX are actually a “bundle” of files arranged by a parent folder with the same name of the Motion project file name. Inside there will be two thumbnail .png files, the Motion project (ending in .moef, .motn, .moti, or .motr) and a Media folder. All of these files (and folder) need to be present in order for FCPX to properly “read” the effect into the application. Many people may make the mistake of removing the Motion project file from its parent folder when installing (and therefore “break” the effect [temporarily — it’s fixable — just put it back].)

There is technically another “level” that can be used within categories called a Theme, but until you’re comfortable installing templates in the “usual” method, you shouldn’t worry about it.

Video Instructions:


Installation FAQ.

Keep up to date with Sight-Creations on Twitter.

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

Demo of Trekkie Starship font

Designing Fonts for 3D

Designing fonts for 3D

Making 3D easy

Apple Motion and Final Cut Pro X

Most fonts used for text behave in a specific manner. Each character glyph has its own “metrics”: width, height, position relative to the “base point” (the intersection of the vertical line passing through the insertion point and the baseline reference); there’s a bounding box, and several other aspects (e.g., x-height, m-width, and kerning). These measurements and dimensions have a purpose in placing the glyphs in response to input devices such as a keyboard (real or virtual) and designed to emulate real world typesetting. The most important aspect is that one character is drawn at an insertion point, then the insertion point is advanced by the character’s width for the next character to be added.

Designing fonts for 3D modeling is different. It is no longer important to advance the insertion point by any measurement, and in fact, it is more important that various glyphs stay aligned on a specific point.

Fonts designed for this purpose have zero-width characters. What that means is, you can add a character of a specific shape, then duplicate that character and replace the character with another glyph and it will automatically be exactly aligned with the first character. (This duplication becomes important when the two or more glyphs require different features like color, weight, edges and any other available feature.) No matter how many of these zero-width characters are placed, they are always aligned to each other as a part of the model, or, like a jigsaw puzzle, they all have the exact same center point. Multiple characters can be placed together in a single text object and they will align to create an image.

As an example: the Olympic Rings font. The Olympic Games symbol is five linked rings. In any other font, if you were to take the bullet character (Option-8) as the circle source, you would have to deal with the font metrics of the font you chose. With the Olympic Rings font, you can simply type “34567” and the five separate rings will automatically, perfectly, align to form the logo. Convenient!

Does that mean you can’t or shouldn’t simply use a bullet character? No.

There is a feature in Motion 3D Text you may not be aware of — that of the bounding box. When text is selected and overlays are turned on, Motion draws a box with control points on the corners and midpoints around the text, taking into account the distance from the insertion point, the character’s typographic width, its ascent and descent. When you convert the text to 3D Text, that bounding box snaps to the actual tangent edges of the glyph (or group of glyphs that make up the text). It is possible to use guidelines to find the center of the text by aligning the midpoints of the bounding box (of 3D Text) to any set of guidelines.

Below shows the difference between the characters “34567” typed for Olympic Rings, a font designed for 3D “modeling” where glyphs are designed to a specific point in space and glyph placements are related to each other and a standard typeface where character spacing advances the insertion point of the next glyph. For Olympic Rings, it does not matter which order of characters you type (except if you think about it in terms of “stacking” the characters upon each other!)

Note: not all characters designed in these specialized fonts are zero-width designed to match placements of other related characters. Also note the bounding box of the olympic rings “text” and how the control points line up with the onscreen guides and how the bounding box makes contact with the tangent edges of the character group.

For Olympic Rings: there are two sets of related characters. The first is the linked rings. The other is the Korean P-C symbols with respect to the position of “PyeongChang” text which was designed as a single character for this font.

In most cases, when seeking the glyphs used to build a model, it is best to keep Font Book open with the font in use selected. Set an insertion point in the canvas (or viewer in FCPX) then copy the character from Font Book and paste it to the text object. Both Motion and Final Cut will set the font correctly and apply the pasted character.

In general, it is recommended, when building “models” from fonts, that you center the text in the canvas so that all building occurs around the (0,0) position location. After you have completed assembly of the model, then move the object to its needed location in 3D space.

Zero-width characters make aligning various parts of a model the most simple it can be. The alternative is to manually align each character using either anchor points, or a combination of Center alignment and adjusting the baseline of a character until the bounding box center line control points exactly match a set of guidelines perpendicular to each other.

Previously mentioned was the technique of duplicating characters and pasting new replacement characters to build the model. In some instances, it is desired to “type” several characters  to form a complex shape all with the same 3D features applied across the entire text object. An example would be a video wall. Each character is a rectangle at a different location in the designed space. Adding a texture to the front face of a text object like this allows a drop zone to be used over the entire object, each separate character receiving its own piece of the drop zone without having to do anything more complicated of sophisticated to split up any media applied to the drop zone.


video wall feature
Every character shares the same features of the 3D Text. Object created by typing a "string" of characters.
Olympic Rings Font
Every character uses different features of 3D Text (for example: color). Every character is used individually, duplicated to maintain relative positioning and another, different, solo character pasted into the Text field.
Demo of Trekkie Starship font
Created from a specially designed font for this particular model.
starbase 1 trekkie starship font
This entire model uses a single character from a font designed for 3D (any font with a zero-width circle shape!)

So that’s an overview of the design considerations for creating specialized fonts for use in making 3D “models” in Final Cut Pro and/or Motion. The video wall example is much more conducive to the Final Cut Pro Title text environment – all characters used typed into one title text object. However, in general, it is recommended developing any of these designs in Motion for convenience. It is a much more versatile environment capable of building very complex designs!

Installation Instructions.

Keep up to date with Sight-Creations on Twitter.

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

confetti motion project

Making Confetti – in Motion

Making Confetti: an Apple Motion tutorial

[Note: this is a response I gave a questioner recently on Apple’s Support Communities Motion forum.]

Little bits of paper do not fall in the real world flat, vertically. They “flop”, follow invisible currents and eddies in air flow to push and flip them and create *seemingly* random motion. The problem with emitters is: everything is emitted in exactly the same way… unless…

One of the features of Emitters (and Replicators) is that they can be made to Play video (image sequence) frames with the option to start playing on a random frame in the “sequence”. With that in mind, all we have to do is create ONE shape with the motion animation we need. We will rely on the emitter to start playing that sequence on a random frame within the sequence.

All objects in Motion (with the exception of Camera and Lights) must exist inside a Group. The initial shape you create will automatically be placed within a group… perfect. It often helps (most of the time actually — and this is a good habit to get into) to center the shape in the canvas. Go to Properties > Transform and on the right edge, disclosure mark > select Reset Parameter. That will center the object and reset its Rotation, Scale, Anchor Points etc.

Groups can be 2D (and 2D Fixed Resolution) or 3D (plus other options which are relatively, largely, unimportant… for another time.)

Set the Group to 3D. [Inspector: Group: Group Controls: Type: 3D — or, just click on that little icon on the right side of the Layers List column – 2D groups have 2 side-by-side rectangles with a bar overhead and 3D groups are like a stack of 3 squares rotated in 3D space. Clicking that icon will toggle the state.]

We’re going to use behaviors to control animation because it makes it easier to make alterations to suit our needs at any time.

Start playing your project.

To your shape: start by adding a Behaviors > Basic Motion > Spin behavior. The default spin is around the Z axis. Increase the Spin Rate to 135-180º (come back to these later to tweak these values for the look you’re going for.) Go into Properties and for the Anchor Point, offset the X to say 30 or so, Y to 60 or so, and Z to 150 or so (the actual values will depend somewhat on the original size of your shape). [Your Shape size can be anything – it can ultimately be controlled within the Emitter/Replicator.]  The Anchor Point is the point around which all Transform properties are centered and which animation originates. It is a convenient way to create “orbital” rotations instead of simple spins.

Add another Spin Behavior and set the Axis to Y. Set the Spin Rate to 100º give or take.

Add another Spin Behavior and set the Axis to X. Set the Spin Rate to 135º give or take.

You should get something like:



[The shape I used IS a circle, but I later changed the Shape > Geometry > Curvature to 0 to create the rectangle shape. You can adjust that to anything in between.]

That’s pretty good, but it’s still going to look a little weird when all the pieces are doing that same action and — it’s “too regular”. Let’s move on

Go to the Properties inspector and for each Rotation (XYZ), right click on the parameter and Add Parameter Behavior > Oscillate.

Start with these settings (and experiment afterwards):

For (rotate) X: Speed 16; Phase 13

For Y: Speed 37; Phase 11

For Z: Speed 35

[Leave all other parameters at their default]

At this point you get something much closer to realistic motion (barring gravity):



This animation is not exactly looping – I just cut it this close.

This is the “particle” we will Emit. (What’s the word for one piece of confetti? Confetto?)


Select the Group level of the shape and type K to create a Clone. Clones are like inline image sequences and emitting them will provide us with extra parameters we can exploit [Play Frames and Random Start Frame, etc]. Clones are also somewhat flexible since they are created “in real time” and they are the *entire animation from beginning to end* as one “thing”. With the behaviors animating a shape, the “length” of the existence of the shape is not fixed… so to speak… very difficult to explain, but if you keyframe this kind of animation, you would detect an “animation seam” [start/end difference] but behaviors will progress smoothly even if the “life” of the object has technically ended. [Don’t think about it too hard – just keep it in mind for later projects.]

Turn off the visibility of the Group containing your animated shape [Uncheck the checkbox on the left edge in the Layers List]. It does not need to appear during playback. (You cannot delete the group – any changes you make to the group or anything within it is immediately reflected in the appearance of the Clone! Clones are not a “snapshot” – they are “living, breathing” objects… although a 2D flat projection of its original.)

With the Clone selected, type E to create your emitter. [The Clone layer should automatically deselect visibility].

Set the Shape to Line; Start Point X to -1500; End Point X to 1500 (allows some “wiggle room”).

Check 3D.

Emission Latitude to 270º [downward motion]

Emission Longitude to 0

Emission Range – 90-120 [flexible]


Turn off Face Camera!!


Cell Controls:

Birth Rate 0

Birth Rate Randomness 60 [flexible – go lower]


Life 10 (or the number of seconds that equals the length of your project… or greater.. but not much greater!)

Speed 350

Speed Randomness 150 [Again – flexible values – season to taste]

Color Mode: Pick From Color Range

Choose a Rainbow like gradient from the Color Range (or create your own gradient).

Adjust the Scale and Scale Randomness to give some “depth” to the effect. [Actual values will depend on the size of your original shape.]

Make sure Play Frames and Random Start Frame are selected

As an option, increase Hold Frames Randomness to 2.0

You should end up with something like:


Which looks like fairly convincing confetti (the GIF is a low frame rate). All the particles appear to move in their own random motion due in large part to the random start frame in the original animation and due to the way behaviors affect objects vs. keyframes. There are no apparent “loop points” [end of sequence jumps to beginning of sequence].


Is this the only way to do this effect? No. It is just a method I prefer. Other options might include Random Motion simulation; Wind and Gravity are possibilities;  Randomize or Wriggle Parameter Behaviors on Rotation XYZ params, etc. or simply keyframing an animation and emitting it in this manner (although I wouldn’t recommend it).


FCPX Motion Compatibility Guide

Motion Template Compatibility

FCPX/Motion 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 Compatibility Chart below will help you.

People who design templates generally tend to use the latest version of Motion— 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.

Always having to use the latest version of Motion is 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 compatibility guide of all the versions of Final Cut from 10.0 to the current version 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">


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 Template’s 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 guide 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 to make Motion 5.0 compatible. 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

Release DateFCPXMotionOZML vers.Display vers.
06/21/201110.05.05.0no tag
09/09/201110. tag
11/16/201110. tag
01/31/201210. tag

Use our automated backdating tool!

Motion Template Backdater can perform this task for you. Just upload the template, set the version of FCPX you are using and download the backdated version.

Templates uploaded exist only in your browser. They are not saved to the server. This tool is not used to copy uploaded templates.

chaotica 8

Change Project Frame Rates in FCPX the Easy Way?

Change Project Frame Rates in FCPX the Easy Way?

Change FCPX project frame rates:

Edit the XML file

I have changed the frame rate of an FCPX project using this method successfully. It started after I learned how to alter a Motion project file (also XML) to change the frame rates of projects. I wondered: if I could do it for Motion, if I could also do it with FCPX. Turns out… I could. All assets are automatically conformed to the new project rate.

This is not a supported method and should be considered experimental. If you attempt to do this – you will be doing so at your own risk. [I’m not going to take any responsibility for it. AFAIK, nobody else has attempted this.]

Follow these instructions exactly, and you should get a working project with the new frame rate. (I imagine you can change the size as well, but you can also do that from within FCPX which would be safer.) No knowledge of FCPXML necessary!

Create an “empty” project with the size and framerate you need. Use Custom Settings and set the specific frame rate you require.


File > Export XML.

Export XML on the project requiring the frame rate change.

Open the two XML files in TextEdit (Text Only – no rich text format! I recommend TextWrangler, but TextEdit wlll do… I think.)

Copy the top <format> tag from the “empty” project and replace the tag in your active project.

Save As a different name.

The format tag looks like this in context [it’s at the very top of the file]:

fcpx xml start
FCPX fcpxml opening lines

Just replace the line that starts with <format and ends with /> (exactly! same indent) with the copy from the empty project.

As a warning – make sure you *respect* the original line spacing and indentation in the file. Change only the contents of the <format> tag exactly where it is. Indents are tabs not spaces and indicates “levels”, etc. Changed formatting will invalidate the file. On the other side of this warning, all of the content of the original project seems to work perfectly (I’ve only done this a couple of times.)

File > Import > XML (to a different Event is recommended) the altered XML back into FCPX… You might be asked if you want to replace assets – I recommend you “Keep Both”. You should end up with two distinct projects, one with the old frame rate and one with the new.

That’s all there is to it. If you already have a project with the frame rate (and size) you want to copy over to the project to change, you can skip creating an empty project. Export XML(s). Copy and paste the contents of one line. Save As and import — you’re done.

Good luck.

— Fox

fonts in fcpx

Fonts available inside Final Cut Pro X

Fonts available inside Final Cut Pro X

There are 72 fonts in 53 families inside the Final Cut Pro X application (and in Motion as well).

Banco Heavy.ttf
Bank Gothic Light.ttf
Bank Gothic Medium.ttf
Blair Medium.ttf
Bradley Hand Bold.ttf
Brush Script.ttf
Comic Script Extended.ttf
Comic Script Regular.ttf
Edwardian Script.ttf
Flatbush Bold Oblique.ttf
Flatbush Bold.ttf
Forgotten Futurist Bold Italic.ttf
Forgotten Futurist Bold.ttf

Franklin Gothic Demibold.ttf
Gaz Transport.ttf
Goudy Old Style Bold.ttf
Goudy Old Style.ttf
Handwriting Dakota.ttf
Misadventures Black Italic.ttf
Misadventures Black.ttf
Octin Team Heavy.ttf

Paleographic Thin.ttf
Proxima Nova.ttc
Shabash Pro Regular.ttf
Snell Roundhand.ttc
Superclarendon Bold.ttf
Synchro LET.ttf
Zingende Light.ttf
Zingende Regular.ttf

These fonts reside inside the actual application package in what is referred to as resource files. To find these fonts inside FCPX:

Right click on Final Cut Pro in your Applications folder and select Show Package Contents. In the contents window, open Contents, then open Frameworks, then open Flexo.framework. Navigate through Versions > A > Resources > Fonts.

To make these fonts available in other applications in FCPX, it is possible to copy/duplicate the fonts by selecting all the fonts and right-click-dragging the fonts out to another temporary location. Open Font Book and drag all the fonts into a collection (I recommend creating a new Category and name it FCPX Collection).

If you create a separate collection, that collection (whatever you named it) will be available in Apple Motion which allows you to “shortcut” directly to these fonts when working with text for templates. It’s a great time saver and a missing feature inside Final Cut Pro!

Follow Sight-Creations on Twitter.

Published on Jan. 16, 2017

Boxes and Bows 3D Model

More About Santa and Rudolph

3D models in Apple Motion are essentially text. True 3D is only available to text objects and in order to create a model, the parts must be part of a “font”. Character shapes are simply vector shapes and if you know how to create a font, then character shapes can be whatever you need to assemble the “characters” into whatever you can imagine.  If you purchase one of our 3D model projects, you are essentially purchasing a font with a pre-assembled project (generator or Motion project) to go along with it — something you can use right away!

Our latest 3D model is the somewhat cartoonish Santa and Rudolph:

sleigh and reindeer
Santa and Rudolph generator

Designing a human face is an extremely difficult task and would bring the rendering speed of the project down to its knees, so to speak, so Santa and Rudolph had to be simplified.

The point is: this project is basically a font and this post is to let you know that there is a bit more to the font than used in the project.

There are characters to create boxes and bows:

Font characters included to create boxes with fitted lids, and bows.

And included in the font are 21 snowflake designs:

21 snowflake designs included in the font

Snowflake characters can be used to “dress up” the package wrapping or create a snow emitter effect for FCPX.


The original project was intended to be only the sleigh! And then it became much more ambitious, but as it was being developed (and the font was developed first), it became clear that it would be necessary to keep certain things as simple as possible — nobody needs a generator in FCPX that going to take more than ten minutes to render *just* to be able to “play” without skipping too many frames.  The decision was made to stop at Santa and Rudolph. Santa’s bag was simplified to two characters and no attempt was made to decorate the sleigh beyond what is available as basic 3D Substance options.

That doesn’t keep you, the end user, from developing your own projects with this same font. If you purchased Santa and Rudolph, then it’s in your license to do so. This post is to make you aware of the availability of these extras!

If you purchased Santa and Rudolph, you can download this “extras” bundle containing two Motion 5.3 projects that pre-use the characters. The “packageDev” project is depicted in the “boxes” demo image above and uses the characters for the square and elongated boxes and their tops as well as the character used for the “bow” which is developed using a Replicator. The project demonstrates how to colorize the boxes and create a ribbon effect. The three square boxes have the bow linked to the position and rotation of the top and moving the top in 3D space will keep the bow in position. That task is a little more difficult with the oblong box and these demos have not been fully developed yet. The snowflake demo is set up with a replicator: each character is set up as a single sequential frame within a group which is cloned. The clone is replicated so that the sequence can be played like video. If you change the replicator to an emitter, you can create your own snowstorm with each flake appearing in random order, just like in real life.

Please remember that your use of any of our model fonts have licensing restrictions. You can create whatever you like from them, you just cannot sell or distribute the fonts in any way.

Santa and Rudolph 3D

Free Santa and Rudolph clip

Comic Book SC Effect

Introducing a new FCPX effect: Comic Book SC

Introducing a new FCPX effect

Comic Book SC

Literally years in the making. I’ve been after this effect for a long time. I finally had to build a custom halftoning effect for this template and it turned out very nicely. There’s a video preview demo below; check it out. I have to self host the video because neither YouTube nor Vimeo would handle it and it may have to pause occasionally (it’s a very large file of 356MB at 28mbits/sec). I must have encoded almost a dozen versions! I was able to make a passable version for YouTube, but it requires viewing in 4K format (4K allows up to 45Mbps bit rate for 30p and the encoding worked out fairly well u2014 not great u2014 passable u2014 barely). Not useful for mobile devices or people with slower internet connections. My self-hosted video isn’t that friendly either but at least you can right click on it and download it for viewing locally, or wait for it to load in the player. Once loaded, you can watch it over and over again at full speed (and the player automatically resizes to fit your browser window).

Please don’t buy this effect expecting to create cool YouTube or Vimeo videos… they won’t fly. This is a more pro level video effect, not because I think it’s so good (although I do), but because of the encoding requirements to make it look… right.

Check out some of these stills taken directly from the FCPX storyline!

Keep up to date with Sight-Creations on Twitter.

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

Use 3D Titles for the 3D orientation onscreen control

A Simple Trick with FCPX Titles

A Simple Trick With FCPX Titles

Rotating Title text in FCPX

You will need FCPX 10.2.x in order to make use of this tip.

[ QuickTools has been upgraded, enhanced and greatly expanded by SC KeyFX! ]

I’ve created dozens (if not more than 100) titles for FCPX, but for my own personal use, 95% or more of the time I just simply add a Basic Title to my storyline as needed. If you’re familiar with Basic Title (and you should be!) you’ll know that there are no parameters available. One of the features of Basic Title is that the Title Background is absent. This Title Background is a placeholder used in developing Titles in Apple Motion to represent the content of the storyline in FCPX (or more accurately, the content of *everything* video/image related beneath the title in the storyline). Something to keep in mind as I’ll get back to that later.

The behavior of Basic Title in the storyline is that you can click on the text in the canvas and drag it around to place it in the scene. You cannot keyframe the motion to create an animation in this way. Keyframing animation is not the important point of this story, it’s just a point of note.

What this article is about is a “trick” to be able to *rotate* the text in 3D space to arrange it in the scene. It should work in any Title or Generator that includes editable text in the canvas.

With the Title selected in the storyline, click on the Text tab of the Inspector. Activate 3D Text (you can turn it back off afterwards!)


3D Text - not selected
3D Text Select

Go back into the canvas and mouse over the text area. You should see an outline appear:

Title Selection

Click *once* inside the rectangle. You should see a 3D control appear:

3D Title OSCs

Clicking and dragging inside the circles will allow you to rotate the text in 3D space. The top circle is the X-axis rotation (a red “great circle” will appear when activated). The left circle will be the Y-axis rotation (its great circle is green). The right circle will be the Z-axis rotation (and its great circle is blue).

3D Title Control

If you hold down the command and option keys, you can coax all the great circles to appear and stay on allowing a floating rotation control with the mouse in all directions at once.

You may not like or need a 3D look to the text so you can turn 3D Text back off to restore the 2D text and the orientation will remain as in the example frame below. This is a great tool to help align text along perspective planes inside video. It’s not perfect but seems to be convincing enough most of the time. To make it work better — if you have Motion — you could publish the Camera: Angle of View parameter and possibly the Camera: Distance (Position.Z) to emphasize parallax views.

Integrating Titles Into the Scene

The second part of this article is about taking the technique to another level, that have having it appear integrated into the scene — to have action move in front of the text. Take a look at the examples in this video:

QuickMask is part of the QuickTools Effects sold on this site and on my store on Creative Market. The mask only works in this fashion on Titles that have their Title Background placeholder disabled. You can download a *FREE* Basic Title with Parameters title/template here ( which will allow you to animate the title in the canvas without having to use the Transform parameters for the entire “layer.” You are able to keyframe rotation using the onscreen 3D controls, and although the position parameters respond to onscreen control movement, you must manually keyframe the Position parameters (for some unknown reason) as onscreen control changes for position are ignored in FCPX.

The power of QuickMask is based on the newly included feature of “effects masks” in FCPX. For an overview of Effects Masks watch this video:


As it turns out, effects can be used on Titles as well and if a title has no background placeholder in use then this visual effect can be accomplished with QuickMask. The masks are easily animated/keyframed making creating the effects shown in the top video possible. The downside is that you have to manually “track” the masks. The upside: manual tracking is usually faster (although more tedious) than automatic tracking — and considerably less expensive! Note: since this technique only works on Titles with no Title Background layer, the Color Mask option is useless (unless you use it directly on the text).


Keep up to date with Sight-Creations on Twitter and Facebook.