… for Apple Final Cut Pro X

Tip #235: Faster YouTube Compression

Faster is actually better.

Compression settings for YouTube in Apple Final Cut Pro X
Compression settings for YouTube.

Topic $TipTopic

Your project is done and you need to get it to YouTube, Facebook or Vimeo. While I normally recommend always exporting a high-quality master file – both for archiving and future compression – sometimes, you just don’t have the time.

So, you are looking at this screen and debating between Faster Encode and Better Quality. You spent a LOT of time on this project – which should you pick?

Faster Quality.

In the past, before hardware acceleration, Better Quality created smaller files and higher image quality. Today, that’s no longer the case. Tests I recently made with Apple Compressor show that Faster Quality – which uses hardware acceleration is:

  • Much faster
  • Creates smaller files more than 1/2 the time
  • Creates image quality equal to or better then Better Quality


The compression engine used by Compressor is the same engine used by Final Cut. The only difference is the interface each has to prep a file for compression.

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… for Apple Final Cut Pro X

Tip #262: Libraries: Combine or Split

Performance is better when libraries are smaller.

Library icons from Apple Final Cut Pro X.
Put the media you need to access in one library. Use multiple libraries for distinctly different projects.

Topic $TipTopic

Figuring out the best way to manage media in Final Cut is always a challenge because there are so many options. As a recent example, Ron wrote:

I have a challenge with Library’s in FCP X. I have a client that we shoot 4 videos a month. They are only about 5 minutes each. We do this every month and I have one Library (for the year) that has all the months in it along with the usual assets.

This Library is now 450 GB and my question is: would it be more effect if I had a Library for each month rather than a yearly Library.

The short answer is: “Yes.”

If you are not sharing media from one library to the next, putting one month in a library simplifies file management and improves performance. (Keep in mind that libraries need to be open to be accessed.)

There’s nothing wrong with what you are doing, it simply becomes harder to manage the media.


Here’s the general rule: Put the media you need to access into a single library.

Keep in mind that the bigger the library, the more RAM you’ll need.

… for Apple Final Cut Pro X

Tip #264: Set Opacity Keyframes in the Timeline

The Video Animation bar allows timeline control for a variety of settings.

The Video Animation bar in Apple Final Cut Pro X.
Every timeline clip has a Video Animation bar attached to it.

Topic $TipTopic

Hidden in the Final Cut timeline is the Video Animation bar. In it, you can set keyframes for automating changes in opacity, cropping, distortion and position. Here’s how to find it.

Let’s illustrate how to set opacity keyframes in a clip in the timeline.

  • Select the clip you want to modify and type Cntrl – V. This displays the Video Animation bar.
  • Click the arrow in a box at the right of the Opacity layer. This opens the opacity keyframe timeline.
  • Option – click on the white line to set a keyframe. (Control – click to remove a keyframe.)
  • Drag the keyframes down to make a clip translucent. (All the way up is 100% opaque.)

Preview your results. Drag a keyframe sideways to change it’s timing. Drag a keyframe up or down to set the amount of change.


… for Visual Effects

Tip #170: How to Capture Motion and Moving Subjects

Minimize blur by following these tips.

Avoiding blur is the goal of all action photos.
The more subjects move, the more blur in your photos.

Topic $TipTopic

Some of the best and most memorable moments in life are in motion. Unfortunately, digital cameras hate movement. Most of the time, moving subjects register as a blur on photographs. So how do you shoot moving objects? Here are some tips:

1. Shutter Speed

When the subject is moving and you want to take a shot of, say a basketball player getting the ball on a rebound, then you should opt for fast shutter speeds. You should use a shutter speed that is at least 1/500th of a second or higher. Keep in mind that faster shutter speeds require more light for a proper exposure.

2. Increase The Aperture

The aperture is the hole where light comes into your camera into the image sensor. Choose a low f-stop to open up the aperture and allow more light in. This will help you counter the low light you get from the fast shutter speed. Keep in mind that opening the aperture decreases depth of field, that is, the area in a photo that’s in focus.

3. Use a Flash

Using a flash with your motion shots is a good way to counter the low light conditions when using a faster shutter speed. It is extremely easy to correct dark photos by using your flash. Keep in mind that most flashes are very short range, so a single flash won’t light a gym.

4. Use a High ISO

Using a high ISO can help you increase the shutter speed and aperture of your camera without increasing the likelihood of getting blurry or dark photographs. However, using high ISOs usually results in a grainy picture with a lot of digital noise.

An extended version of these tips first appeared in PremiumBeat.

… for Visual Effects

Tip #177: Ten Tips for Better Slow Motion

Slow motion often makes scenes more intense.

An example of a slow motion shot.
Action and drama are both enhanced by selectively using slow motion.

Topic $TipTopic

This tip first appeared on Fstoppers.com.

Here are ten tips that can improve how you shoot and use slow-motion.

  1. Understand your subject. Slow motion is all about movement, and certain subjects do not lend themselves to being interesting in slow motion.
  2. Select a frame rate. Shoot at a higher frame rate than the project you’ll put the video into.
  3. Think about light. Faster frame rates require more light. In general, set the shutter speed to twice the frame rate.
  4. Emphasize drama. Slomo adds drama and intensity to intense scenes.
  5. Emphasize action. Cinema today uses slowmo to enhance action scenes.
  6. Emphasize death. in certain instances, the death of a main character or their impending death will be played in slow motion, which adds to the gravity of the situation
  7. Create alternative reality. Use slow motion to convey a sense of detachment from reality that helps your viewers distinguish what is real versus what is perceived based on your storyline
  8. Emphasize fear. Slow motion can emphasize the anxiety and terror of a dramatic moment.
  9. Use sound to match the motion. Use the sound recorded on set, then slow it down in the final mix to emphasize the slower visual motion.
  10. Use slow motion carefully. Like seasoning, use it wisely and food tastes great. Use too much and the food becomes inedible.

… for Codecs & Media

Tip #228: How Much RAM Do You Need For Editing?

More RAM helps – to a point.

This chart illustrates how RAM needs increase as frame sizes increase.
RAM requirements for 30-fps, 8-bit video at different frame sizes (MB/second).

Topic $TipTopic

The way most NLEs work is that, during an edit, the software will load (“buffer”) a portion of a clip into RAM. This allows for smoother playback and skimming, as you drag your playhead across the timeline.

When a clip is loaded into RAM, it is uncompressed, allowing each pixel to be processed individually. This means that the amount of RAM used for buffering depends upon several factors:

  • How much RAM you have
  • The frame size of the source video clip
  • The frame rate of the source video clip
  • The bit-depth of the source video clip

This graph illustrates this. It displays the MB required per second to cache 8-bit video into RAM. As you can see, RAM requirements skyrocket with frame size. These numbers increase when you have multiple clips playing at the same time.

NOTE: These numbers also increase as bit-depth increases, however the proportions remain the same.

The amount of RAM you need varies, depending upon the type of editing you are doing.

  • 8 GB RAM. You can edit with this amount of RAM, but editing performance may suffer for anything larger than 720p HD
  • 16 GB RAM. Good for most editing.
  • 32 GB RAM. My recommendation for editing 4K, 6K, multicam and HDR.
  • 64 GB RAM. Potentially good for massive frame sizes, but not required.

Anything more than 64 GB of RAM won’t hurt, but you won’t see any significant improvement in performance; especially considering the cost of more RAM.

… for Codecs & Media

Tip #167: 3 Tips to Picking Stock Footage

Three things to consider when looking at stock footage.

Topic $TipTopic

Wipster recently shared these stock footage tips:

1. Go for story-driven footage

Rather than settling for searching on multiple sites for stand alone stock video shots that “kind of” look similar to one another, look for story driven footage. Story-driven shots are ones that show the same subject in action and also provide multiple shot types of similar action.

2. Use high quality, Raw or Log Footage

When searching for stock footage, look for clips that enable high resolution downloads, like Raw, Arri, Red or Phantom. You won’t have to sift through a library full of less-than-stellar quality or overused footage to find what you’re looking for.

3. Don’t pay per clip. Go unlimited

Your film’s budget can easily go through the roof if you pay per clip. This is why we recommend using footage sites that use single umbrella licensing and unlimited subscription models.

… for Apple Final Cut Pro X

Tip #213: Secrets of the [Hidden] Delete Key

Two different ways to delete clips.

The two different delete keys on a Mac keyboard.
Two delete keys on a full-size keyboard. (Arrow points to Return.)

Topic $TipTopic

Whether you edit on a laptop or full-size keyboard, there are two Delete keys at your disposal. One is above the Return key, indicated by the red arrow in the screen shot, the other is… hidden.

The big Delete key, which deletes going backwards, is the normal delete key for most Final Cut operations. In addition to deleting text as you would expect, it also deletes clips.

The smaller Delete key, next to the End key, deletes going forward. You can quickly see the difference by deleting text from the middle of a paragraph. The big difference in Final Cut, though, is when you use this smaller key to delete a clip: It deletes the clip AND replaces it with a gap. Many students find this very distracting.

When deleting clips, the big Delete key always changes the duration of the timeline. The small Delete key does not.


The forward delete key exists on laptops, too, but it’s hidden. Simply press the Fn key (in the lower left corner of the keyboard) while typing the big Delete key.


… for Apple Final Cut Pro X

Tip #215: Tricks to Moving Stuff

Copy or move … it’s your choice.

The Copy -or- Move media dialog box
Checking these saves time, but requires more storage space.

Topic $TipTopic

You can easily drag clips or projects from one Event to another in the same library. Keep in mind that you can’t store the same clip in more than one Event.

But, what happens if we want to move media or projects between libraries? Well, we have options:

  • We can COPY them
  • We can MOVE them

When you copy an item from one library to another, the corresponding files are duplicated on the storage device that contains the receiving library. When you move an item from one library to another, the corresponding files are moved from the library file in the first storage location to the library file in the second location.

Copying or moving items between libraries lets you:

  • Use multiple libraries on the same storage device to organize a large number of active projects and media assets.
  • Work on your project and media files on a different Mac that has Final Cut Pro installed.
  • Back up your project and its media files to a storage device, a network volume, or other storage media.
  • Allow multiple users to access your media in an external folder on shared storage.
  • Free up space on your Mac or storage device.


To copy one or more selected clips from one library to another, simply drag them. Or choose File > Copy Clips to Library.

In the resulting dialog, you can choose to copy optimized or proxy media. If you decide not to do this, you can always recreate it later.


To move one or more selected clips from one library to another, press the Cmd key while dragging. Or choose File > Move Clips to Library.

Again, moving provides the option of also moving optimized and/or proxy media.


NOTE: If you have created or customized any Final Cut Pro effects, transitions, titles, or generators in Motion, set the storage location for your Motion content to In Library before starting any copy or move operations between libraries or storage devices. Otherwise, the Motion content is not included in those operations. Regardless, you must manually track and move any third-party (FxPlug) content, because it is not managed within the Final Cut Pro library.

… for Apple Final Cut Pro X

Tip #236: Faster Color Correction

Custom shortcuts make color grading a LOT faster!

Apple Final Cut X color grading shortcuts
Color grading shortcuts that don’t have keys assigned.

Topic $TipTopic Iain Anderson writes in MacProVideo:

There are several color correction commands that are inaccessible, if you don’t create custom keyboard shortcuts for them. For example, open Final Cut Pro > Commands > Customize and search for Color. Then, assign shortcuts to:

  • Apply Color Wheels
  • Apply Color Correction from Previous Edit
  • Apply Color Correction from Two Edits Prior
  • Apply Color Correction from Three Edits Prior
  • Color Board: Toggle Correction on/off

Suddenly, all your color corrections will go a LOT faster!