Tip #264: Set Opacity Keyframes in the Timeline

… for Apple Final Cut Pro X

Tip #264: Set Opacity Keyframes in the Timeline

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

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.


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5 replies
  1. John Cogdell
    John Cogdell says:

    Hi Bill. I just tested this tip by Larry. You need to set at least 2 keyframes, then place another in between those two. Drag up or down on the centre keyframe to adjust the opacity. To get the timing right, adjust the horizontal position of the other two as needed, similar to adjusting fades on audio tracks. You can also independently adjust the vertical position of the two outside keyframes. The “key” is to have at least three keyframes, based on my testing.

  2. Bill Rabkin
    Bill Rabkin says:

    I don’t seem to be able to drag a keyframe down. Following your instructions, I opened the Video Animation bar and the opacity keyframe timeline. With Option-click I set a keyframe. When I then click this keyframe FCPX displays vertical arrows above and below it. So far, so good, but as soon as I drag the mouse down the arrows change from vertical to horizontal and then I can only reposition the keyframe left or right along the timeline. I’m using FCPX 10.4.7. Am I doing something wrong?

    • Larry Jordan
      Larry Jordan says:


      Expand the vertical size of the Animation bar. You may need to create more room to drag keyframes vertically.



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