FCP X tools, Part 2 – useful effects

Sometimes you just need effects to do the mundane functions that make life easier. Nothing for glitz or glamour – just effects that help you get through a session with fewer editorial gymnastic. I’d like to showcase just some of these effects for Final Cut Pro X.

When you look at the effects palette in FCP X, it’s clear that there are some glaring omissions. One of these is the fact that there is no way to add a drop shadow to a video clip, which had been a basic FCP “legacy” tool. Several users have created and published their own versions, which are available at various forums. One example is Octo, a masking tool. A good go-to site for such items is FCP Effects. They offer a Basic Drop Shadow effect as a free plug-in, as well as a number of other filters that are available for purchase. In addition to adding a shadow, the same Drop Shadow filter includes other image manipulation controls including position and rotation. Other plug-ins on their site include split screens, 3D perspectives, masks and more.

I work a lot with ARRI ALEXA footage, so the ability to convert the log-C camera profile video into standard Rec. 709 is important. I routinely use both the Nick Shaw Antler Post (FCP 7 only) and the Pomfort (FCP 7 and X) filters. Pomfort’s Alexa Look2Video filter applies a look-up table derived from the ALEXA log-C gamma curve to convert the flat camera files into full range, vibrant video. In addition to applying a default curve, the Pomfort filter also includes CDL-style grading controls to balance out power/slope/offset and printer light values of an image. So, for example, if the LUT-adjusted image still has a slightly green cast to it, you can tweak the sliders to your liking for a touch of subjective grading or to create custom looks. In addition to a LUT for ALEXA files, Pomfort also offers LUT filters for Technicolor’s CineStyle and Sony’s SLog gamma profiles.

Ever try to juggle the scale, position and crop values in FCP for a combined effect designed to highlight a portion within the image? You can often never get the results you want. Enter Digital Heaven’s DH_BoxX filter, which has been an FCP “legacy” staple for many years, but now updated for X. This straightforward filter eliminates the juggling act for basic picture-in-picture effects by combining scale, position and crop controls into one plug-in, as well as basing parameters on source and target space. Another useful filter is the DH_ReincarnationX filter. It’s the first FxPlug pixel correction filter for X. This tool enables you to “heal” bad sensor pixels from digital cameras, like HDSLRs. Simply highlight the bad pixel and DH_ReincarnationX fills in the defect from the surrounding pixels. Don’t forget DH_WideSafeX and DH_GridX – two free FCP effects updated for X. As their name implies, these are generators used for design layout and safe action/title checking, which are not covered by FCP X’s normal tools (such as the 14:9 area).

There are various split screen filters available for FCP X. One of the best is CrumplePop’s SplitScreen X, available now through Noise Industries’ FxFactory. It’s a set of FCP X generator effects giving you numerous combinations of split screen design layouts covering from two to nine images. Layouts can be in a grid pattern or with diagonal splits. Since the generator filter uses image wells for the clips, only a single clip appears on your timeline. Each image within the well can be adjusted for size, position and opacity. Images can be rotated as a group and the border/edge thickness between can be adjusted to taste.

Lastly, don’t forget that the FxFaxtory Pro package itself includes numerous effects that would fall into this category, including blurs, perspective effects and more.

©2012 Oliver Peters