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FCP X: A Quick Guide To Adding And Modifying Transitions

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This is a quick little run-through of how FCP X adds transitions and then allows you to modify them. Just enough to get you thirsty for more, I hope.

Step 1 - Add a Transition

Click on an edit point to select it. Make certain that the Edit Point is one that has Handles, in order to allow an overlap for the transition to take place. 

Edit selection

Edit selection.

Press Command-T to insert the default cross dissolve, or else choose Edit > Add Cross Dissolve. A standard one second cross-dissolve will be added at the edit point. 

Tip: 1 second is the default length unless there is insufficient handle space for that, in which case the transition will be as long as it can be up to 1 second.

Cross dissolve in

Cross dissolve in.

Step 2 - Modify the Transition

Select one of the edges of the transition and drag back and forth to modify its length, A tool tip appears indicating how many frames are being added or subtracted as you do. 

The Tooltip

The Tooltip.

Place the skimmer in the middle of the transition and it turns into the Roll Tool. This enables you to drag the edit point under the transition back and forth to change the timing. 

Rolling the Edit Point

Rolling the Edit Point.

To make fine adjustments, hover the skimmer over the edit point, so it turns into the Roll tool and press , (comma) or . (period) to roll one frame at a time. 

Step 3 - Swap the Transition

Open the Media Browser (Command-5) and have a look through the Transitions:

Media Browser, Transitions

Media Browser, Transitions.

Skim over he Thumbnails to see an instant preview of the transitions before selecting one. Choose Dissolves > Fade to Color

Drag the Fade to Color transition from the Media Browser and place it over the top of the Cross Dissolve you inserted earlier. 

Swap Transitions

Swap Transitions.

When the Cross Dissolve highlights with a white box you can release the new Fade to Color and they will swap (note the duration and position stay the same).

The Inspector

The Cross Dissolve highlighted.

Step 4 - Modify The Fades Properties

Select the transition in the Project Timeline and open the Inspector (Command-4).

Midpoint and Hold

The Inspector.

The Inspector Window contains all the editable parameters for the selected transition. In the case of this Fade to Color you can control three areas:

  • Midpoint: The Midpoint parameter decides where in the transition the fade reaches its peak. Try setting the Midpoint handle to 20% and play around (Shift-?) you see the fade dips to the color quicker at the start than at the end. 

The Midpoint

The Midpoint.

  • Hold: Hold allows the adjustment of how long the Fade holds the Color before fading back to the image again. Try setting the Hold handle to 5%; this creates a short period of full color and keeps the transition smooth. (Tip: to slow down the transition, for a scene change for instance try a Hold of 80%).

  • Color: The Color picker enables the changing of the color that is being faded through. Convention would suggest Black (R:0 G:0 B:0), or White (R:255 G:255 B:255). You can always experiment yourself of course. 

Adjust the fade hold color

The color picker.

Step 5 - Remove Transitions

Select the Grey transition in the Project Timeline, hit Delete and it's gone!

Transitions in FCP X offer some really nice options, experiment some more. 

Check out our Final Cut Pro: Titles, Effects and Compositing course!

David Smith

David Smith | Articles by this author

David Smith is Scotland's most qualified Apple and Adobe certified trainer. Having completed his education at Edinburgh College of Art's BAFTA winning Film School, David moved straight into TV production, first as a Vision Mixer then quickly becoming, at the age of just 24, a director of live TV studio productions. In 2001 he moved into Higher Education where he became a lecturer in TV Production, specializing in post-production and live studio production. During this time, and working with the support of the BBC, Channel 4 and independent production companies, David was instrumental in the design, development and implementation of industry-approved vocational courses across Scotland's Colleges. In 2006, after working closely with Apple Computers to create a unique multimedia studio for education at the Music and Media Centre in Perth, David became Scotland's first Apple-Certified Trainer for Pro Apps. This led on to David forming the first Apple Authorized Training Centre for Education, north of Manchester. In 2008 David made the move to full time training and joined the ranks at Academy Class, Ltd. where he continues to train industry professionals as a certified trainer across the Adobe Creative Suite and Apple Pro Apps range.


Nov 07, 2011
it's final cut x. that is, ten in roman numerals, please don't refer to it as final cut x.
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