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Creating Custom Borders in FCP X
David Smith on Mon, December 5th 0 comments
David Smith shows how to create your own effect-based custom borders in Final Cut Pro X - without the use of Motion 5.

Final Cut Pro X has some very nice, very easy to use video effects built in, such as Bleach Bypass, Aged Paper, etc. And when these don’t prove enough theres also Motion waiting in the wings to provide even more spectacular options. Assuming that you have purchased Motion 5 anyway. 

Here's another simple way to generate an effect directly in FCP X. We're going to look at putting a border around an inset clip.

The effect we're going to create

The effect we're going to create.


Step 1 - Set Up 

In the Timeline, place the playhead at the position where you want the Inset Video to start from. 

The Playhead Start

The Playhead Start.


Here we are going to place a 5 second clip with a border.


Step 2 - Add a Generator

With the Playhead placed in the timeline, open the Generators Browser.

Generators Browser

Generators Browser.


Choose Textures > Metal for this effect, to create an industrial look and feel. With the Metal  Texture selected press Q to connect the Texture to the Primary Storyline, at the playhead position.

Metal Connected

Metal Connected.


Step 3 - Amend the Generated Clip

Select the connected clip in the timeline and press Command - 4 to open the inspector window. 

The Inspector

The Inspector.


Chose Generator and change the Type to Copper, and set the Tint Color value to Red .19 Green .02 and Blue to .05 also set the Tint Amount value to .4.

Inspector Amended

Inspector Amended.


You will also see that by default the Generated Clip is 10 seconds long, we can change that. 


Step 4 - Change Duration

Keep the Generated clip selected in the Timeline and press Control - D to change the Dashboard to Duration mode. 

Tip: You can also double click the Dashboard Timecode display while the clip is selected.  

Dashboard Duration

Dashboard Duration.


Type 5. (period) and press Return to set the duration of the selected Metal clip to 5 seconds exactly.

Trimmed Clip

Trimmed Clip.


Step 5 - Creating the Inset

With the newly trimmed clip still selected, click on the Apply Transformation Effect to Selected Clip button to bring up the re-size, Rotate and Position handles in the Viewer (something akin to Wireframe in FCP7).

Transformation Effect

Transformation Effect.


Use the Handles to re-size and position the generated clip as appropriate. 

Transformed Clip

Transformed Clip.


Click Done in the Viewer to apply.


Step 6 - Select a 5 second inset Clip

In the Event Browser select a clip to be edited as a video inset. Set an in point. Double click on the Dashboards Timecode and type the duration an 5. to set a 5 second duration. 


Step 7 - Connect Video Inset

It's important that the video clip you are about to inset starts at the same frame as the Metal Generator clip. Press the Up arrow until the playhead sits at frame 1 of the Connected Copper clip. 

A 5 second clip

A 5 second clip.


First select the connected clip in the timeline and press Q to create another clip connection. This time between the copper clip and this new 5 second clip. It should look like this. 

Playhead at start

Playhead at start


Step 8 -  Matching Transformations

The new clip is still full screen, it needs to match the Copper background we made, for now. This is a really easy step. 

In the timeline select the Copper Metal clip and choose Edit > Copy. This copies everything, including transformations from the Copper Metal clip. 

Select the connected video clip and choose Edit > Paste Effects to paste all the transformation data to this clip. The two clips will match. 

Double Connection

Paste Effects.


Paste Effects

The result so far.


Step 9 - Create A Border

The clips are the exact same size, which doesn’t work for the effect. Select the clip containing footage and in the inspector window reduce the Scale parameter about another 15%, this will make it scale down towards the centre.

Matching Clips

Reduce the scale.


This reveals the copper border around the clip.

Scale Parameter

The copper border revealed.


Step 10 - Soften The Edge

Still with the smaller clip selected we can add more effects to the clip to soften the edge of the clip. Press Command - 5 to open the Effects Browser.

Bordered clip

The Effects Browser.


Choose Distortion > Crop and Feather

Double click on the Crop and feather effect to add it to the selected clip and in the inspector the Crop and Feather parameters appear. 

Effects Browser

Inspector, Crop & Feather.


Set the Feather value to -105.0 to match mine, or whatever suits your clips. This softens the outline between the Clip and the Copper Border, which I will admit is purely an aesthetic addition to this effect, but it can look nice. You can always switch it off later if you choose. 

TIP: If you need to move the inset clip, because they are connected only move the Copper Metal clip. Its connected video clip will move with it. Do not attempt to move the secondary connected video clip on its own .

Inspector, Crop & Feather

Soft border.


Step 11 - Making The Timeline More Efficient

Only being able to move the clips by grabbing just the one clip is a little unrefined. Also the Timeline is getting bigger than is required because of all the storylines appearing.

Soft Border

The tall Timeline.


Select both the Copper Metal and the Inset Video clips in the timeline and choose File > New Compound Clip or press Option - G. The 2 clips will be nested into a compound clip.

Tall Timeline

Compound clip.


The compound clip is a far more efficient way to now control and modify the border and clip it surrounds. 


Step 12 - Move the Compound Clip

Pick the Compound clip up and drag it along to another part of the timeline. As it's a compound the whole lot moves at once. Try pressing < or > to nudge the compound frame by frame.

So easy right?


Step 13 - Modify The Border

The compound clip is still editable. Not unlike the way Double Clicking on a nested clip in older versions of Final Cut would open the nested clips in a new sequence. Double Clicking on the compound clip will reveal a new timeline containing the 2 clips. 

Compound nudge

Open compound.


Select the Copper Metal clip and in the Inspector, under the Generator view, change the type back to Grate.

Open compound

Open compound.


The metal border changes, try some of the other types to see what you prefer.  Once your done click on the Back arrow in the timeline to close the Compound Clips timeline return to the Project Timeline. 

Inspector back to grate

Inspector back to grate.


And there you have it, the final effect. Though it's not really an effect as such, it works visually and hasn’t involved using Motion at all. Though I must say for the price you might want to consider Motion, where things like Drop Shadows would be available also if you really want to push your visuals that is. 


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