In Final Cut Pro X, you can apply more than one effect to a clip, group of clips, or compound clip. However, when you do this, you need to pay attention to the “stacking order” of the effects in the Inspector. The final look will change as you change the stacking order of the effects applied to the clip.
This isn’t bad or good. FCP X needs to process effects in some logical order, so once you understand what that is, it is easy to adjust your effects to compensate for the stacking order.
Here’s an example.
Here are two cheerful young girls on a merry-go-round. (The black edge is added so you can see the boundaries of the image.) I want to make this look like a photograph, so I’ll add Effects Browser > Stylize > Simple Border.
A simple white border now appears around the image.
Because the girls look so happy, I’ll change the border color to “Happy Summer Sunshine.” (Um, no, that’s not a setting, that’s just my description of the color.)
Because I want this to look like an old photo, I’ll apply Effects Browser > Basic > Black and White.
NOTE: Don’t use the 50’s TV effect. That effect intentionally distorts white levels and damages the highlights. For simple desaturation, use “Black and White,” instead.
Hmmm… This looks like an old photo, all right — even the edges have gone gray. This is not what I want, I want the photo to be black and white, while the edges have color.
To fix this, we need to understand the “stacking order” of effects.
In Final Cut Pro X, effects are always displayed at the top of the Inspector. And Final Cut always processes effects from the top of the Inspector to the bottom.
So, in this example, the Simple Border is listed first, which means the border is applied and the yellow color is added before any other effect is processed.
Then, the output of the Simple Border effect becomes the input to the Black and White effect.
To change the stacking order of effects, so that these effects process in a different order, drag the name of the clip you want to move to the location where you want it to move.
In this example, I’m dragging “Black and White” up so that it processes first, then add the “Simple Border.”
Now the effect is what I want – a black and white photo surrounded by a color border.
NOTE: You can’t change the stacking order of effects so that effects process after Inspector settings. Inspector settings always process after effects are processed. However, here’s an article I wrote that explains how to create a work-around for this.
If you only apply one effect to a clip, you never need to worry about stacking order. But, when you start to apply multiple effects to your clips, pay attention to the stacking order and see how your effects change as you change the order in which effects process.
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