… for Apple Motion

Tip #466: How to Display a Grid in Motion

The grid is a very useful tool for aligning elements.

The View menu from inside Apple Motion.

Topic $TipTopic

Hidden in Motion is the ability to display a grid in the Viewer, which greatly simplifies aligning elements.

To reveal it, choose Grid from the View menu in the top right corner of the Canvas (Viewer).


To adjust grid spacing and color, go to Preferences > Canvas.

Please rate the helpfulness of this tip.

Click on a star to rate it!

… for Adobe Premiere Pro CC

Tip #393: How to Create Effects Presets in Premiere

Effects presets save time when you are reusing your effects.

Select effects categories, then Control-click to reveal Save Preset option.

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Saving effects presets can save a lot of time, if you find yourself using the same effects settings over and over. But creating them isn’t obvious. Here’s what you need to know.

  • First, select a clip and make the effects changes you want to save into a preset.
  • Next, Cmd-click the category names containing the settings you want to save. (See the screen shot.) For example, if you changed the Position setting, then Cmd-click Motion.
  • Control-click one of the selected Categories to display the Save Preset option.
  • In the Preset dialog, name and describe the preset.
  • Scale applies the effect to the entire length of a clip.
  • Anchor to in point and Anchor to out point use the duration from the beginning or end of the clip when applying the preset to future clips
  • Click OK to save the preset.


  • Presets are stored in Effects > Presets.
  • To delete a Preset, select it in the Effects panel, then Control-click and select Delete.

… for Apple Final Cut Pro X

Tip #437: Secrets of the Skimmer

The skimmer has a hidden feature.

Type Control – Y to reveal the skimmer info panel.

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The Skimmer in Final Cut Pro X allows us to quickly review clips in the Browser. But, did you know it has a hidden feature that’s just a keystroke away? It does.

Type Control – Y.

This displays the skimmer info panel, displaying the name of the clip and the timecode location of the skimmer. This makes controlling the skimmer much more precise.

… for Apple Final Cut Pro X

Tip #438: Secrets of the Precision Editor

The Precision Editor is a great way to learn about trimming clips.

The Apple Final Cut Pro X Precision Editor.
An edit point opened for trimming in the Precision Editor of Final Cut Pro X.

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The Precision Editor in Final Cut Pro is an incredibly useful teaching tool in Final Cut Pro. If you haven’t played with it, you are missing a treat. Here’s what it does.

To access the Precision Editor, double-click any edit point in the timeline. The Out-going clip is displayed on top.

The darkened portions of each clip are the “handles,” extra media that we need for trimming and transitions. Trimming ends when we run out of handles.

  • To trim the Out, drag the top white line.
  • To trim the In, drag the bottom white line.
  • To roll trim both clips, drag the middle white line.

This is the best illustration of trimming I’ve ever seen, making it understandable even to people who are new to editing. I use it in every class.

To close the Precision Editor, press the ESC key.


The reason I don’t use the Precision Editor for my own trimming is that it does not allow me to trim audio separately from video; which is a technique I use all the time.

Still, from a teaching point of view, the Precision Editor is unequaled.

… for Apple Motion

Tip #446: Move Text on a Path

Text can move around paths or shapes.

Text following a path in Apple Motion.

Topic $TipTopic

This article is an excerpt from an Apple KnowledgeBase article.

The Path layout method lets you place text on a baseline path that you can warp to create curving or angular trails of text. After you create text on a path, you can modify or extend the path, add or remove control points, or animate text on the path.


  1. In Motion, select text in the canvas, Layers list, or Timeline.
  2. In the Layout pane of the Text Inspector, click the Layout Method pop-up menu, then choose Path.
    The Path Options controls become available, near the bottom of the Layout pane.
  3. In the canvas toolbar, select the Text tool (shortcut: T), then click the text in the canvas.

NOTE: Step 3 is important—the Text tool must be selected to view or edit the text path.

  • The path appears below the text. The default path shape is a straight line (an open spline) with three control points.

NOTE: To add a control point, Control-click the path and choose Add Point.

Read the rest of the article to learn how to adjust, extend or modify the path.

… for Visual Effects

Tip #340: Quick Green Screen Lighting Tip

The sun makes a great set light.

Using the sun as a set light is OK by me.

Topic $TipTopic

Looking for a fast way to evenly light a green-screen background?

Move outside.

Let the sun light both your talent and background. However, to avoid screaming at your screen during editing, make SURE your green – or blue – background is as smooth as possible. Wrinkles are almost impossible to key well.

… for Apple Final Cut Pro X

Tip #406: What’s the Best Way to Backup a Project?

There are two options to backup a project. Which is best?

Duplicate Project is faster, Duplicate Project as Snapshot is a better choice.

Topic $TipTopic

One of the big benefits of Final Cut Pro X is its ability to instantly save whenever you do something. Which is fine, most of the time. But, what if you want to make a protection copy of just a single project? Now you have two options:

  • Duplicate Project.
  • Duplicate Project as Snapshot.

Which do you use? Duplicate Project as Snapshot. (To view this menu, Control-click the Project image or name in the Browser.)

These each create an identical protection copy until you are using multicam or compound clips. When you duplicate a project as a snapshot, Final Cut Pro embeds copies of compound or multicam “parent” clips in the duplicate, so any changes to other instances of those clips do not affect the duplicate.

If you work on projects that contain compound clips and multicam clips, you can use the Duplicate Project as Snapshot command to create a self-contained backup version of a project that includes referenced compound clips or multicam “parent” clips. Changes you make to other instances of the compound clips or multicam clips do not affect the versions in the duplicate, so your project is protected from accidental changes.

… for Apple Final Cut Pro X

Tip #449: Display Scopes on a Second Computer Monitor in FCP X

A second computer monitor is a big help when editing video.

Video scopes displayed vertically on a second computer monitor running FCP X.

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Tip #392 showed how to use a second computer monitor attached to your Mac when editing with Final Cut Pro X. One of the benefits of using a second monitor is that it allows us to display both a larger video image in the Viewer and much larger video scopes. Here’s how.

NOTE: Displaying Final Cut Pro X to a second monitor is always full-screen; you can’t scale the interface.

  • Display the Viewer on the second monitor.
  • Type Cmd+7 to display video scopes. (They appear on the second monitor along with the Viewer.)
  • Go to the View menu in the top right corner of the video scopes and change them to a vertical alignment (top row, second box).

Depending upon the size of your monitor, you can display a 4K image full screen, and still have room for the scopes.


… for Apple Motion

Tip #434: Create Smoother Gradients in Apple Motion

The default gradient settings in Motion are not that good. These are better.

Changing Start and End to equal, but opposite, values creates a much smoother gradient.

Topic $TipTopic

This tip was suggested by a comment from Mark Spencer to Tip #93.

In that original tip, I wrote that the gradients in Motion are not particularly smooth; rather, I recommended that you create smooth gradients in Photoshop, then import them into Motion. While this works, Mark pointed out that we can create much smoother gradients if we “play with the numbers.”

For instance, in this screen shot, I’ve created a gradient where the same color (lower blue bar) fades from transparent to fully opaque (top white bar).

The problem is that the default settings for a gradient create a very abrupt change.

To fix this:

  • Twirl down the small arrow to the left of the word “Gradient”
  • Change both the Start and End values to equal, but opposite, larger numbers.

For example, to create a smooth gradient that fills the frame, change Start to a positive value equal to 1/2 the horizontal width of your project and End to a negative value equal to 1/2 the width of your project. In this screen shot, I created a smooth gradient for a 1280 x 720 project. Half of 1280 is 640.

… for Codecs & Media

Tip #427: Create a LUT in Photoshop

Photoshop can create LUTs that work in Premiere, Resolve or Final Cut Pro X.

Save LUT settings in Photoshop using the CUBE format.

Topic $TipTopic

LUTs are a great way to take log or RAW images and convert them into something pleasing to look at. You can even use this technique for Rec. 709 media, which we use every day in HD projects.

Here’s a technique that creates LUTs that work in Premiere, Final Cut or Resolve.

  • In Photoshop, import a still frame from your video that you want to create a LUT for.
  • NOTE: This image needs to retain some detail in the highlights. TIFF or PNG are the best export formats to use.

  • Select the layer containing the image and choose Layer > New > Background from Layer. (This setting is important.)
  • Add at least one Adjustment layers, then adjust Levels and other settings to the adjustment layer to create the look you want.
  • NOTE: Do not adjust the image, only modify the adjustment layer.

Here’s the magic part – as long as you convert the image into a background and use adjustment layers, you can take your look and convert it into a LUT which can be opened in Premiere, Resolve, or Final Cut.

  • In Photoshop, choose File > Export > Color Lookup Tables.
  • Give the file a description that makes sense to you. Then, and this is a KEY step, select the CUBE format. This format is required by all our NLEs.
  • Click OK,give it a name and location, then save it.
  • Switch over to your NLE and import your new custom LUT and apply it to your footage.

Done. This LUT can be used across multiple projects and multiple NLEs.


Here’s an article that walks you through all the steps in more detail.