Category: Final Cut Pro

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…)

Underline as Caretand Mixing OSCs with Text in FCPX

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.

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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 (Godiva Medium). Here’s a frame:

Keying Inside and Outside 1

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.

Keying Inside and Outside 2

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:

Keying Inside and Outside 3

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!

Keying Inside and Outside 4Model’s face is silhouetted

Keying Inside and Outside 5Model’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 Effects, Generators, Titles and Transitions for FCPX


Effects 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 effect 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 effect in FCPX in the Effect browser (under the type of effect to which it belongs.)

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

Effects in FCPX are actually a “bundle” of files arranged by a parent folder with the same name of the effect. 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 effects in the “usual” method, you shouldn’t worry about it.

Video Instructions:


FCPX Motion Compatibility

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 — 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="5.11">

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

FCPX ➜ Motion Compatibility chart

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

You can backdate your Motion Templates here!

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. This is merely a service for your convenience.

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chaotica 8

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).

These fonts are available simply by installing Final Cut Pro and/or Motion 5:

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!

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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:

More About Santa and Rudolph 6
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:

More About Santa and Rudolph 7
Font characters included to create boxes with fitted lids, and bows.

And included in the font are 21 snowflake designs:

More About Santa and Rudolph 8
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

Santa and Rudolph 3D

Comic Book SC Effect

Introducing a new FCPX effect: Comic Book SC

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 — not great — passable — 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!

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!)

FCPX 3D Text option

3D Text Option

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

Screen Shot 2016-07-24 at 10.57.14 PM

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

Screen Shot 2016-07-24 at 10.58.07 PM

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).

Screen Shot 2016-07-24 at 10.59.31 PM

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.

Screen Shot 2016-07-24 at 11.16.47 PM

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).



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Slate / Clapper 3D Model (no timecode)

Slate 3D

3D slate

Limited time offering: Slate 3D, a generator for FCPX.

This is a simple slate generator that features onscreen text field editing with auto-fit text in each field (it shrinks as necessary as you add more text!) Default font is Chalkboard (changeable in the Text Inspector.)

Keyframe parameters for Position, Rotation, Scale and Clapper Angle. Sound effect can be downloaded separately.

Download generator HERE and the sound effect HERE

This is still a project under development. Planned expansion will be different types of slates including one that looks like the FCPX icon. I’ve also been experimenting with a timecode version… stay tuned.


FCPX Commands - Play Rate

FCPX Editing Tip — J,K,L and beyond

FCPX Editing Tip — J,K,L and beyond

Most people know that the J, K, and L keys can be used to skim video in FCPX. It’s been around since… Quicktime Pro (I don’t even know which version!) The ‘K’ key always stops playback. Typing ‘J’ will play in reverse in whatever frame rate your project is [i.e. -1x time.] A double tap on J will set playback at -2x speed. Triple tap: -4x speed. Up to 6 taps on the key will send the speed all the way up to -32x playback. That’s fast. The same is true using the ‘L’ key, except in the forward direction.

The problem is, if you 5-tap the L key (16x forward) and you want to slow down to 2x forward, you have to Stop (K) and restart with a double-tap on the L key.

There is another way.

Type Command-Option-K to call up the Command Editor.
In the Search field at the top right, search for “play rate” (without the quotes, of course). In the Command List > Command section, you will see a listing of all the play rate speeds: Play Rate -1, Play Rate -2, …,
Play Rate -32, then Play Rate 1, Play Rate 2, etc… to Play Rate 32.

You can assign any available key combination that you like, that is convenient for you, but I’d like to suggest:

Reverse Speeds:
Play Rate -1     →   Command-Control-Shift-keypad 1Play Rate -2     →   Command-Control-Shift-keypad 2
Play Rate -4     →   Command-Control-Shift-keypad 3

Play Rate -32    →   Command-Control-Shift-keypad 6

Forward Speeds:

Play Rate 1     →   Command-Option-Control-keypad 1
Play Rate 2     →   Command-Option-Control-keypad 2
Play Rate 4     →   Command-Option-Control-keypad 3

Play Rate -32    →   Command-Option-Control-keypad 6

Select the Command and hold down the modifier keys and type the number value on the keypad (laptop users use the regular number keys.)

The spacebar will always stop playback as well as the K key.

Now when skimming through your video, you can change speeds in one action and go immediate from one speed to another without having to stop and restart the process each time you want to change speeds.

command editor
command editor



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