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Final Cut Pro for Avid Editors: Speed and Motion Effects

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By using a hybrid approach to building composites, you will learn how to scale, position, crop, distort an image’s perspective, and even set keyframes, all directly on the sequence clip in the Canvas.
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Apply constant and variable speed changes

Edit with Fit to Fill

Work with speed segments in the Timeline

Use the Speed tool

Create a freeze frame effect

Explore motion parameters

Zoom the image view

Apply motion effects to an image

Create and nest multilayered motion effects

Copy and paste motion attributes

Create and modify a motion path

Save a motion path as a favorite

Avid provides the staples of motion effects: freeze frames, slow and fast motion, reverse motion, strobe, and many 3D effects, depending on your software version and hardware support. Final Cut Pro also supplies these effects; but with FCP, a bold new world was introduced that utilizes a powerful desktop graphics approach to creating motion effects.

By using this hybrid approach to building composites, which some Avid systems are doing now as well, you will learn how to scale, position, crop, distort an image’s perspective, and even set keyframes, all directly on the sequence clip in the Canvas. Because FCP isn’t “modal” and doesn’t require that you step out of your sequence into a special editing environment, this method not only speeds up the editing process, but it also opens up more editing and compositing possibilities.

If working with sliders and numeric input is more practical for an effect, you can use the Motion tab and its keyframe graph in the Viewer, which is the Effects Editor for motion effects. And with the FCP real-time engine, you can combine several streams of motion effects in one comp and play them in real time without rendering.

Applying a Speed Change

In Avid, you click the Motion Effect button, either on the Fast menu or wherever it may be mapped, to open the Motion Effect Parameters window. Here you can change a clip’s speed, perform a Fit to Fill edit, create a strobe, and so on.

Figure 10.1 Avid Motion Effect command

In Final Cut Pro, you access the speed and freeze frame motion effects using the Modify menu or keyboard shortcuts, and you enter speed attributes in the Change Speed dialog. In this dialog, you can create speed changes where the speed is constant throughout. You can also create variable speed changes where the clip speed ramps up to the new speed and/or ramps down from it.

Figure 10.2

FCP applies a speed change to a clip in the Viewer or to a selected clip in the Timeline where you have the choice to ripple edits and change the length of your sequence or not. Unlike Avid’s speed function, the FCP speed function also affects the audio portion of a clip if video and audio are linked together. You can set the speed in different ways and even apply speed settings in a reverse direction. As in Avid, setting a percentage sets a new clip duration, and setting a duration sets a new speed percentage.

To create a speed change:

  1. Open a clip in the Viewer or select a clip in the Timeline.
  2. Choose Modify > Change Speed, or press Command-J, to open the Change Speed window.
  3. In the Change Speed dialog, enter either a specific duration for the clip or a speed rate percentage.
  4. To change the direction the clip is playing, click the Reverse checkbox. You can also add a minus sign before the percentage number as you would in Avid.
  5. To smooth the speed change by ramping up to it and/or down from it, click the Curve From Start or Curve to End button.
  6. This set of buttons represents Bezier curves and are designed to smooth into or out of a speed. The first option represents linear movement with no curve or smoothing. Clicking the Curve From Start and Curve to End buttons adds a speed keyframe at the head or tail of the clip. When selected, the clip’s speed ramps up or down respectively by the number of frames that appears in the Smoothing field. FCP sets an initial number of smoothing frames based on speed and clip length, but you can change that ramp time by entering a different value.

  7. To allow the speed change to ripple the sequence length, select the Ripple Sequence checkbox. Select the Frame Blending checkbox if you want to blend the frames of a slow-motion effect to give it a smoother look. And if you want any keyframes to scale to the new clip length, select the Scale Attributes checkbox.
  8. Click OK.
  9. In the Timeline, a speed percentage appears after the clip name. If Reverse was selected, a minus sign (–) appears in front of the percentage. If a smoothing option was selected, “Variable” appears after the clip name.

  10. To revert a clip’s speed back to its original state, open the Change Speed dialog for the clip and change the settings back to their original configuration.
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