… for Apple Final Cut Pro X

Tip #1541: Create Shapes Filled with Video

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

This nested compound clip effect is also good for filling logos with moving video.

Photoshop shape (top), with video inserted (middle), a nested compound clip (bottom).

Topic $TipTopic

OK, this is tricky, but worth trying. Here’s how to create a shape in Photoshop, fill it with moving video in Final Cut, then place it over a background.

In Photoshop:

  • Select the custom shape tool, then, from the menubar at the top, pick a shape you like. (The top screen shot shows a flower image.)
  • Make the background layer transparent.
  • Save the image as a PNG or PSD.

In Final Cut:

  • Create a new project.
  • Put the video you want to insert into the shape into the Primary storyline.
  • Stack the shape above it.
  • Select the shape and apply Video Inspector > Blend Mode > Stencil Alpha. The shape fills with the video.
  • Select both shape and video and choose File > New > Compound clip. Give this any name you like.
  • Place the shape, again, on top of the compound clip in the timeline.
  • Select the top shape and apply Effects > Keying > Keyer. It should automatically knock out the black background, leaving the red lines on top of the image from the compound clip. (Illustrated in the middle screen shot.)
  • Select both the new shape and the compound clip and choose File > New > Compound clip. (Yup, a nested compound clip!) Give this any name you like.
  • Stack that nested compound clip on top of the video you want to appear in the background (The barn, in the bottom screen shot.)

Done.

EXTRA CREDIT

This trick works with logos, text, custom shapes – the possibilities are endless.


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… for Apple Final Cut Pro X

Tip #1542: More Hidden Uses of the Tilde Key

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

The Tilde key simplifies moving images in the Primary Storyline.

Topic $TipTopic

In Tip #1514, I illustrated how the Tilde key allows moving clips in the Primary Storyline without moving the clips attached to it.

After reading this, Stefan Sonnekus shared another use of the Tilde key:

The tilde key also works when deleting clips from the primary storyline.

Usually any video/audio clips connected to a clip you delete, will be deleted as well, but if you hold down the tilde key when you press Delete, the connected clips will remain in place in relation to the primary storyline. The clips to the right (i.e. coming after the clip you’ve deleted) on the primary storyline will then move to the left to fill the gap and the connected clip(s) will then be connected to the clip(s) that have filled the position of the clip(s) deleted from the primary storyline.


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… for Apple Final Cut Pro X

Tip #1552: Add Rain Drops to Your Video

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

When adding rain, be sure not to show sky or ground unless they look appropriately rainy.

Water Pane settings (top) and the effect applied to a clip (bottom).

Topic $TipTopic

Shooting video in the rain is rarely a pleasant experience. Fortunately, Final Cut offers the ability to add rain later, in post, where things are warm and dry.

Select the clip you want to add rain drops to, then apply Effects > Distortion > Water Pane.

This creates the effect of looking at the scene through a window with rain pouring down.

Fast and very effective.


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… for Apple Final Cut Pro X

Tip #1528: A Better Way to Replace JPEG Images

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

How you replace one image with another makes a difference.

Topic $TipTopic

Scott was having a problem:

I use Final Cut Pro to edit a lot of videos with JPEG slides in them. I find that, somewhat randomly, if I have to replace one of the slides by using “Replace with Retime to Fit,” the JPEG I’m replacing will move the order of the previous clip. It’s odd… sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn’t.

The solution was changing how Scott replaced the images. JPEGs are still images, there’s nothing to “retime.”

So, instead of using Replace with Retime to Fit, I suggested that Scott use Replace from Start. This matches the duration of the timeline image, without moving other clips out of position.

Problem solved.


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… for Apple Final Cut Pro X

Tip #1534: Faster, Focused, Final Cut Pro Help

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Final Cut help can now be downloaded and/or searched.

The Apple Final Cut Pro logo.

Topic $TipTopic

Apple made two significant changes to the Help system in Final Cut Pro in the 10.5 release. Both will help you find the information you need faster.

HELP IS NOW SEARCHABLE

From within Final Cut, choose Help > Final Cut Pro Help. This opens the online Final Cut Pro User Guide.

In the search box in the top right corner you can now enter a search term.

Press Return to see the results.

HELP IS NOW DOWNLOADABLE

You can now download the entire Final Cut Pro User Guide as a PDF to our system.

Control-click Download the PDF at the bottom of the Final Cut Pro User Guide Welcome page.

NOTE: Here’s the link. The Guide is 43 MB in size.


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… for Apple Final Cut Pro X

Tip #1535: Better Options Working with PDF Files

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Scale PDF images BEFORE bringing them into Final Cut.

The Page Options dialog in Photoshop scales the PDF image before import.

Topic $TipTopic

When you import a PDF file into Final Cut, it gets converted into a PNG. This causes problems when you need to scale the image because PDF files, generally, retain image quality when they are scaled. PNGs do not.

Essentially, the PNG is created at 100% of the size of the PDF page AFTER it is scaled to fit within the frame size of your project, not the original size of the PDF itself.

This conversion means that we can’t zoom into a portion of the PNG image without seriously losing image quality.

TWO WORKAROUNDS

If all you need to do is import the entire PDF page without zooming into a portion of the page, use this workaround.

Workaround #1: Open the PDF in Preview, choose File > Export and set the export format to PNG. This exports the PDF at the size it was created, not the frame size of your project. (You could, also, use this as a way to enlarge a PDF image to do a screen grab of a portion of a page.)

NOTE: Ignore the Resolution setting on export, even if you choose a higher number, the size and resolution of the exported image won’t change. I consider this a bug.

If you need to zoom into elements on the page – for example to provide closeups of an embedded image – this workaround is a better option:

Workaround #2: Open the file in Photoshop, or another image editing program. In the Page Options dialog (see screen shot) that appears: Set the Resolution to at least 400 Pixels/inch. This enlarges the image – while retaining image quality – so that you can easily zoom in or out of the PDF in the timeline.

EXTRA CREDIT

There are two types of PDFs: those that originated as bitmaps and those that originated as vectors.

Photos, scans and Photoshop documents will not scale very well, if at all. Text, Illustrator files or images created using musical notation should scale perfectly.


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… for Apple Final Cut Pro X

Tip #1517: Absolute vs. Relative Audio Levels

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Generally, we adjust clip volumes relatively and monitor them absolutely.

Topic $TipTopic

There are two ways to adjust the volume of any audio clip: Absolute and Relative. Here’s what these terms mean and how they work.

An absolute audio level adjustment sets audio levels regardless of the audio volume of that clip before the adjustment. For example, setting one or more clips to -6 dB. If one clip is at -4 dB and a second clip is at 0 dB before the change, they will both be at -6 dB after the change.

A relative audio level adjustment sets audio levels based upon the audio levels before the adjustment. For example, raising the level of one or more clips by 4 dB. If one clip is at -4 dB and a second clip is at 0 dB before the change, the first clip will be at 0 dB and the second clip will be a +4 dB after the change.

NOTE: Audio meters always show absolute levels, the precise volume of all active clips, regardless of the dB setting of their individual clip volume.

KEYBOARD SHORTCUTS

  • To make an absolute adjustment, first, select the clips you want to adjust, then type Control + Option + L and enter the audio level you want to assign.
  • To make a relative audio adjustment, select the clips you want to adjust, then type Control + [minus ] / [ plus ] to decrease/increase audio levels in 1 dB increments.

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Tip #1514: Tilde Key Secrets

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Tilde overrides connections between clips.

Topic $TipTopic

The Tilde key (~) has two very useful – but obscure – functions in Final Cut Pro. Let me illustrate.

NOTE: The Tilde key is located immediately below the ESC key at the top left corner of the keyboard.

First, press Cmd + ~ to hide or display the Library list (called the “Sidebar”) to the left of the Browser.

Second, when you have audio connected to a clip in the Primary Storyline – for example, narration or a music clip – when you drag the clip in the Primary Storyline, all the clips attached to it move as well.

But, when tilde is pressed, the Primary Storyline clip moves without moving any of the connected clips.

The tilde key “overrides” connections, which is a very useful shortcut to know.


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… for Apple Final Cut Pro X

Tip #1515: A Faster Shortcut to Audio Levels

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Use the Volume slider in Audio Inspector to adjust multiple clips at once.

A composite showing the Volume slider in the Inspector and selected clips in the timeline.

Topic $TipTopic

Normally, we adjust clip volumes by dragging the volume line in a timeline clip up or down. But there’s a faster way.

Select all the clips you want to adjust in the timeline. Then, in the Audio Inspector, drag the Volume slider. This makes an absolute audio adjustment, setting all selected clips to the same level.

NOTE: An “absolute” audio adjustment sets all clips to the same level, regardless of the level at which the clip was originally set.

This is much faster – and more accurate – than changing each clip individually.


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Tip #1497: Edit Using 3-4 Monitors on an M1 Mac

Rick Dupea

Multi-monitor editing is possible even on “low-end” M1 systems.

Rick Dupea’s Final Cut Pro four monitor setup. (Courtesy: Rick Dupea.)

Topic $TipTopic

I’ve been running my Final Cut M1 edit station for two weeks now with four monitors. No it isn’t impossible, but it is a little convoluted and there are some glitches. For me the trade offs are worth it for the extra screen real estate.

In my system I am using the HDMI port to drive a large 1080P program monitor, and one USB3 port to drive a StarTech USB to Dual Display Port converter. This feeds two 27′ 4k monitors. The fourth monitor is actually my 2020 iPad running Sidecar on USB.

I have full access to monitor arrangement, placing the menu bar, and color calibration. The iPad is responsive with no lag. The only downsides so far have been that the HDMI monitor will forget its desktop picture on login, and the StarTech sometimes needs to be disconnected and reconnected to wake the 4k monitors from sleep.

I also was able to get a 4th HDMI monitor running off Airplay on a 3rd gen Apple TV, instead of Sidecar, but this would crash FCPX. All other apps seemed to work fine.


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