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Forums Apple Final Cut Pro X How to do these effects in FCPX to animate objects like masks?

  • How to do these effects in FCPX to animate objects like masks?

  • Brandon Fields

    January 24, 2019 at 11:13 am

    Hey guys! I’m new here but I’ve wracked my brain trying to figure out how to do these effects in Final Cut Pro X. I’m not sure if it’s just a user error and I’m not getting a basic technique down or FCP needs a plugin to perform them.

    I know in Photoshop and Premiere you can create these effects and I want to be able to do this in FCP X. I can’t find a tutorial or book that helps with any of this. I have FCP and Motion but really don’t want to switch to Premiere of After Effects to do this if possible.



    Can anyone point me in the right direction? Thanks in advance!

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  • Mark Suszko

    January 25, 2019 at 5:38 pm

    What do you specifically want to do?

  • Brandon Fields

    January 25, 2019 at 6:24 pm

    I want to be able to use FCPX for example, to move the eyes on a mask or have the eyes blink basically.

    I haven’t found a way to do this unless it’s in After Effects.

  • Mark Suszko

    January 25, 2019 at 7:39 pm

    This is fairly easy to do in Motion, which you then port over to FCPX.

    I can think of a couple ways to do it, depending on the exact shot.

    For example, an eyeless skull sitting on a desk, that otherwise doesn’t move, in a static shot:
    I’d take a still grab of the frame into photoshop or other photo editor, add the eyes there as a layer, make several layer versions with different eye positions, all stacked and registered together. Save as .psd or tiff with all layers preserved and an alpha channel.

    Save the skull in a version with an alpha channel where the eye sockets go.

    Bring all that and the frame grab into Motion.

    In Motion, you can import all the layers in the stack, and turn their visibility off and on as needed, with keyframing, to give the appearance of the eyeball moving. I said eyeball singular, because technically you only need one, then when it does everything you need it to do, you just duplicate that and offset it to fill the other socket.

    But what if the skull is attached to, say, a puppeteer-ed skeleton, moving around in the frame?

    Then that’s going to need a preliminary step in Motion, using the tracker. The motion track then drives a layer with the eyeballs in it matching the skull’s motions. I might shoot video of my own eye, then mask it off, apply initial scaling and warping to that masked eye, connect it to the motion track, then just adjust the positioning, duplicate it for the other eye socket, done.

    A way to do it in FCPX with flat graphics would be to take a simple image of a black dot on a large white circle, and use one of the effects like bulge or fisheye to make it seem round. Scale and shape-mask that off, layer it under another copy of the skull layer that has the eye socket masked off. Add vignette effect in the eyeball layer, to create a highlight and shadows in the socket and sell it’s fake, spherical-shape more. The eye can be keyframed to seem to turn and move around, using the inspector controls for that effect to make the “eye” seem to rotate left and right, look up, down, etc. Fold all the parts of the one eye down into a compound clip. Again, you copy/paste and stack this compound clip to make the second eye, “eye-dentical”.

    A skull has no eyelids, so say instead it’s a creepy doll head. You just take a still into photoshop and use it to craft a closed-eyelid version. Mask it off so it’s just the eyelids, bring that back into Motion or the FCPX timeline as an overlay. It just needs a 2-frame duration as a cut, to sell like it’s a real eyeblink. Put those in randomly.

    There’s usually more than one way to do this stuff. Rampant used to offer a free “kit” of monster effects like scary eyes, zombie and vampire flesh textures, etc, that can be applied using some of these techniques, so you need not start absolutely from scratch.

    I encourage you to check out their monster tutorials and then play with it.

  • Jeff Kirkland

    January 26, 2019 at 1:05 am

    Quite honestly, FCPX is great for editing but visual effects and animation aren’t one of its strengths.

    You can export the clip and do the animation in Motion, or in After Effects if you have it, or my present first choice these days is to send the project to Resolve once the edit is done and do all the VFX work in Fusion, then send the project back to FCPX for finishing and export.

    Jeff Kirkland | Video Producer & Cinematographer
    Hobart, Tasmania | Twitter: @jeffkirkland

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