… 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.

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… 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.

Topic $TipTopic

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 Adobe Premiere Pro CC

Tip #431: A Faster Way to Build a Premiere Sequence

Automate to Sequence is a very fast way to create an edit.

The Automate to Sequence dialog in Adobe Premiere Pro CC.

Topic $TipTopic

This article first appeared in MotionArray. This is an excerpt.

Let’s say you are building a montage or music video where the audio determines where the edits need to be.

  • Add your audio to the timeline.
  • Play the audio and add markers (shortcut “M“) where you want to add shot changes; generally on the beat.
  • Select the clips you want to add in the order you them added to the sequence.
  • Click the Automate to Sequence button in the lower right of the Project Panel.
  • In the dialog displayed in this screen shot, make SURE to set Placement to At Unnumbered Markers.
  • Click OK and, poof!, instant sequence.


Review Premiere’s Help Files to learn what the other automation settings do.

… for Adobe Premiere Pro CC

Tip #297: Multiband Compressor Improves Dialogue

The Multiband Compressor amplifies soft passages without altering the level of louder ones.

The Audio Track Mixer in Premiere Pro CC.
The FX panel in the Audio Track Mixer in Adobe Premiere Pro CC.

Topic $TipTopic

The best way to control the levels in your dialog is to use the Multiband Compressor filter. This raises the softer passages in your audio, without causing the louder passages to distort. Here’s a simple way to use it.

  • Make sure that all dialog audio is on as few tracks as possible and that no other audio is on those same tracks.
  • Open the Audio Track Mixer in Premiere. (Not the Clip Mixer.)
  • At the very top of the mixer, twirl down the small, right-pointing triangle to reveal the FX settings for the track(s) containing dialog.
  • Click one of the small right-pointing arrows in the FX settings panel and choose Amplitude and Compression > Multiband Compressor.
  • Double-click the words “Multiband Compressor” to reveal the interface.

Don’t be intimidated by how this looks! You only have three settings to change.

  • Change the Presets menu at the top to Broadcast.
  • Change the Margin, on the right, to -3 dB.
  • Uncheck the Brickwall Limiter, also on the right.

That’s it. The difference in the quality and levels of your dialog is amazing!

… for Adobe Premiere Pro CC

Tip #412: Secret Multicam Setting Tip for Premiere Pro


The order you select clips when creating a multicam clip makes a difference.

When building a multicam clip, select the largest frame size first.

Topic $TipTopic

Last week, I was talking with Adobe about multicam editing and discovered a secret configuration tip for multicam editing that I didn’t know. When you are building a multicam clip, the first clip you click on determines two important things:

  • The camera placed into the Camera 1 editing position
  • The settings for the multicam clip

Here, I’m combining four clips into a multicam project. This is the worst of all worlds: different frame sizes and different frame rates.

NOTE: For best results and the easiest editing, all clips in a multicam sequence should have the same codec, frame size and frame rate. If you have problems editing, transcoding them into the same codec and frame rate will help.

In this screen shot I selected the 4K clip first. This means that Premiere will build a multicam sequence that matches the 4K clip, while not scaling the remaining clips.

NOTE: The best way to build a multicam clip, after selecting your media, is to choose Clip > Create Multicam Source Sequence, or right-click one of the selected clips.

Very cool.

… 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.

… for Apple Final Cut Pro X

Tip #411: What Do the Color Wheel Controls Do?

Color can be controlled for the entire clip or isolated to shadows, mid-tones or highlights.

The four color controls in a Final Cut Pro X color wheel.

Topic $TipTopic

Each color wheel in Final Cut Pro X has four controls. These color controls can apply either to a selected clip, a group of clips, or a mask within a clip. As well, they can apply to the entire clip or isolated to shadows, mid-tones, or highlights.

From left to right, these are:

  • Saturation. This determines the amount of color in the selected clip or mask. Drag up to increase the amount, or down to decrease.
  • NOTE: As you drag the Hue puck, the color of the Saturation slider changes to reflect the change in hue.

  • Hue. Drag this dot out of the center to apply a color shift to the image. To add red, drag up left, drag right to add blue or down left to add green. The farther from the center this dot moves, the more intense the color.
  • NOTE: Press Option while dragging this puck to reduce the amount of change while dragging.

  • Luminance. Drag this triangle up to boost luminance, down to decrease it.
  • Hooked arrow. This resets all color values to their defaults, which makes no changes to an image.


It is possible to alter these settings and exceed the legal range for the color space of your project. Always use the video scopes when making corrections.

… for Apple Final Cut Pro X

Tip #425: Apply LUTs in Final Cut Pro X

LUTs convert raw sensor data into pleasing images.

The Camera LUT menu, in the Info Inspector inside Final Cut Pro X.

Topic $TipTopic

A LUT (Look-Up Table) is a data table that converts raw camera sensor data into an attractive image. While we generally don’t use them for Rec. 709 HD footage, we use them all the time for RAW, Log, and other HDR media.

The reason LUTs exist is that most sensors capture more color and gray-scale data than our monitors can display. LUTs allow us to convert and optimize an image for a particular scene or display. Final Cut Pro X supports two types of LUTS:

  • Camera LUTs. These convert from camera log format to the working color space of the current library. Camera LUTs are created by camera manufacturers and shipped with their cameras.
  • Custom LUTs. These allow us to create, import, or share custom looks for our video clips or projects. Custom LUTs are created by DPs, colorists, anyone, in fact, that wants to tweak their images using 3rd-party LUT software.

To apply a LUT:

  • Open the Info Inspector.
  • At the bottom, switch from Basic to General.
  • Scroll about 1/3 the way down to Camera LUT, then, from the menu, select the one that matches your camera or your look.

With LUTs, you either like the look or your don’t; there’s nothing to adjust.


There are hundreds of 3rd-party LUTs you can add to Final Cut. Look for those in the CUBE or MGA format.

… for Apple Motion

Tip #401: Define a Play Range in Motion

Play ranges allow you to concentrate on a section of your project.

A modified play range in Apple Motion.

Topic $TipTopic

This article first appeared as an Apple KnowledgeBase article. This is an excerpt.

Ordinarily, clicking the Play button plays your project from the current position of the playhead to the last frame. However, you can change the play range of your project by modifying the In and Out points in the Timeline ruler or by using Menu commands. You might do this to focus on a specific section as you fine-tune your project or make other changes.

To customize the In or Out in Motion, do one of the following:

  • In the ruler, drag the In marker from the left edge of the timeline ruler to the frame where you want to set the new In. (Or, drag the Out marker from the right side of the timeline to a new position.) As you drag, the playhead moves with your pointer. When you release the mouse button, the playhead snaps back to its previous position.
  • In the timeline ruler, move the playhead to the frame where you want to set the In point, then choose Mark > Mark Play Range In. (Or, Mark > Mark Play Range Out.)
  • In the timeline ruler, move the playhead to the frame where you want to set the In point, then press Option-Cmd-I. (Or, press Option-Cmd-O).


To reset the In and Out:

  • Choose Mark > Reset Play Range.
  • Press Option-X.

The In and Out points reset themselves to the beginning and end of the project.