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Creating a Basic Final Cut Pro X Effect in Motion 5 (Slit Tunnel)

Probably my favorite feature of the new Final Cut Pro X and Motion 5 is the ease with which you can create new effects. If you can apply an effect to a placeholder, then you can just as easily apply it to any clip. Here, we’ll create a new effect from scratch in Motion 5 and apply it to a clip in FCP X.

Step 1 - Create a new effect in Motion

Launch Motion 5, and choose the Final Cut Effect preset from the Project Browser window. I’ll choose the 1080p24 preset here, but it’s not critical. Click in the Canvas and press Shift-Z to zoom to fit to the window.

Create a new effect

Create a new effect.

Step 2 - Add a filter

In the Layers and/or Timeline panes, you’ll see an item named “Effect Source”. That’s a placeholder clip, a stand-in for whatever clip(s) this effect is applied to in FCP X. At the left of the interface, choose Library > Filters > Stylize, and scroll down in the pane below to find Slit Tunnel. Drag Slit Tunnel onto Effect Source in either the Layers or Timeline panes.

Find a filter in motion

Find a filter in Motion.

Step 3 - Tweak the settings

Click on the Inspector tab (next to Library). Below that, click on the Filters tab if it’s not showing already. A few settings here can be changed, and can produce a very different look. Take a few moments to see what the different settings can do.

Tweak properties in motion

Tweak properties in Motion.

Note: It can be tricky to see what you’re doing on a grey placeholder graphic. If you’re having difficulty seeing what you’re doing, feel free to drop in a “dummy” still image or a movie above the placeholder, adjust settings there, then finally drag the filter back down to the Effect Source before deleting the added “dummy” item.

Step 4 - Publish important parameters

Now that you’ve seen your options, it’s a good idea to pick the most important settings and expose them to modification in FCP X. You shouldn’t necessarily do this for every parameter available, just what you might want to tweak in FCP X. Right-click on the name of each parameter you want to expose, and choose Publish. Here, I’ll expose Center, Rotation, and Perspective.

Publish parameters

Publishing parameters.

Step 5 - Reorder and rename published parameters

Click on Project in the Layers or Timeline views. In Project > Publishing, you’ll see all the parameters you just published. Double-click any of them to rename them, and drag them up or down to rearrange them.

Reorder and rename

Reorder and rename.

Step 6 - Make it available in FCP X

This part is easy: choose File > Save. Give the name “Slit Tunnel”. From the Category drop-down, choose New Category... and type “Experiments”. Click the Publish button.

Save the effect

Save the effect.

Step 7 - Apply the Effect in FCP X

Launch FCP X and open any project. Open the Effects tab by clicking on the Effects icon on the right of the toolbar (it’s the leftmost of the seven smaller buttons). Under the new Video category Experiments, drag the Slit Tunnel effect to any clip in a timeline.

Apply the filter in FCP X

Apply the filter in FCP X.

Step 8 - Tweak the parameters in FCP X

Click on the Inspector button, the 'i' inside a blue circle all the way to the right of the toolbar. Select the clip you just applied your effect to. In the Inspector, to the right of the viewer, you’ll see the parameters you published. Change them; in particular, try lower values for Perspective and move the center X and Y.

Tweak parameters in FCP X.

Tweak parameters in FCP X.

You can repeat these steps for just about any effect in Motion, even combining multiple effects, clone layers, masks and moves. In fact, many of the built-in FCP X effects appear to have been built this way. It’s never been this easy to create original effects and avoid the cliché of an effect you’ve seen a hundred times before — so go for it!

Want to learn more about creating effects in Motion? These Motion 5 tutorial-videos by Michael Wohl will show you what you need to know!

Iain Anderson

Iain Anderson | Articles by this author

Iain Anderson is an editor, animator, designer, developer and Apple Certified Trainer based in Brisbane, Australia. He has taught privately and in tertiary institutions, and has freelanced for Microsoft and the Queensland Government. Comfortable with anything from Quartz Composer to Second Life and Final Cut Pro to Adobe Creative Suite, he has laid out books, booklets, brochures and business cards; retouched magazine covers and product packaging, shot and edited short films and animated for HD broadcast TV, film festivals and for the web.


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