Exporting A Final Cut Pro HD Sequence to LiveType

Posted on by Larry

[ This article was first published in the March, 2005, issue of
Larry’s Monthly Final Cut Studio Newsletter. Click here to subscribe.
Updated April, 2005, and May, 2005. ]

Michael Murray wrote in with a question about how to export a Final Cut Pro HD sequence for use in LiveType; which led me to think about one of the truly time-saving features of FCP HD — round-tripping.

Allow me to explain.

Exporting a Sequence from FCP for LiveType

  1. Since you only need to work on a small section of your sequence for titles, set an In and Out so only the portion of your sequence that you need to work on in LiveType gets exported.



  3. Select File -> Export -> For Livetype



  5. If you are exporting LiveType files as part of your sequence, as I am here, select which you need exported. In this case, these are LiveType textures which I want to see as I am adding text, so I am exporting all of them.



  7. Select where you want to store the movie. Don’t check “Make Movie Self-Contained.” As this is only a temporary file, you’ll trash it after the LiveType work is done; so there’s no need to waste time and space making it self-contained.



  9. Open LiveType and import your movie using File -> Place background movie. Notice that only that part of your sequence between the In and the Out is imported.



  11. Don’t worry about the video quality of your imported media. This is only for reference, so it’s quality isn’t important. Also, notice that the video appears BELOW the heavy gray line in the timeline. This means it has been placed as a background element.

  13. Create your text animation keeping all elements ABOVE the heavy gray line. When you are finished, save your LiveType project file.



  15. Before moving it back to Final Cut, you need to set a LiveType preference. So, go to Edit -> Project Properties and make sure “Render Background” is NOT checked. This will exclude your imported footage from the LiveType project you are about to bring into Final Cut.

  17. Save your LiveType project. You do not need to render the movie — just save the project file.

  19. Switch back to Final Cut and import the LiveType project (File -> Import -> Files). It will appear in your Browser.

  21. Edit it into your Timeline the same as you would edit any clip. All the transparency information you created in LiveType has been retained, so it will easily key over your sequence.



  23. Now, let’s say you realize you have a typo in your text. Here’s where the magic starts. Control-click on the LiveType clip in your Timeline and select “Open in Editor.”

  25. Final Cut will automatically open LiveType and load that project file so you can make changes.

  27. When you are done making changes, simply SAVE your file and switch back to Final Cut. Your newly altered and saved file is automatically updated into Final Cut!

This ability to quickly switch between Final Cut and another application to update a file is called “round-tripping” and it has saved me hours of production time. You can round-trip between Final Cut Pro HD (and only the HD version) and LiveType, Motion, and your favorite still image, video and audio editing programs.

You set which applications Final Cut should use for round-tripping in Final Cut Pro HD -> System Settings -> External editors tab. This illustrates how I have my system configured.

This is a great technique and well worth the few minutes it takes to learn in hours of time saved.

Update – April, 2005

Recently, some of you wrote in saying you couldn’t get Livetype to display in System Preferences > External Editors screen.

Arnold Farran wrote in with more information:

Found the answer to this screwy issue on Apple’s website.


Final Cut Pro HD: LiveType does not appear in the External Editors tab


Under some circumstances, the External Editors tab (choose Final Cut Pro HD > System Settings) in Final Cut Pro HD does not display a setting for “LiveType Movie Files.”


This can happen if you installed Final Cut Pro HD from a new Final Cut Pro HD disc, as opposed to installing it from an upgrade. If you upgraded from Final Cut Pro 4 to Final Cut Pro HD, you will not have this issue. If you upgraded from an earlier version of Final Cut Pro using an upgrade disc, you will not have this issue.


You can still add LiveType files to the timeline even if LiveType does not appear in the External Editors tab. The behavior may be slightly different, depending on whether you add a LiveType project file or a LiveType movie file to the Timeline.


If you add a LiveType project file (for example, MyProject.ipr) to the Timeline and then choose to open it in an External Editor, the file will open automatically in LiveType as a LiveType project.


If you add a rendered LiveType movie file to the Timeline and then choose to open it in an External Editor, the file will open in the Editor you’ve selected for Video Files (in the External Editors tab) or in QuickTime Player if none is selected.

Larry adds: My recommendation is to never render a LiveType project, but add the project directly to the Timeline. (This feature requires FCP HD and doesn’t work in earlier versions.) Adding LiveType projects to the Timeline, rather than rendered video files, is faster and much easier to change.

Update – May 28, 2005

Final Cut Pro 5 no longer requires setting a system preference. It recognizes a LiveType file directly and opens the correct application – LiveType or Motion – automatically.

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One Response to Exporting A Final Cut Pro HD Sequence to LiveType

  1. Steve Burton says:

    When exporting fcp 7 dv pal into livetype, does livetype automatically recognise the settings?

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