Moving and Removing Effects

Posted on by Larry

[ This article was first published in the March, 2011, issue of
Larry’s Final Cut Pro Newsletter. Click here to subscribe. ]


For me, editing techniques that save time are really important. The faster I can accomplish something, the more time that gives me to focus on the reason I’m editing in the first place – telling a story.

Here are two techniques that make a big difference to me when I am working with effects:

Remove Attributes allows you to remove some of the attributes (effects) you’ve applied to a clip without removing the entire clip.


Paste Attributes allows you to apply some attributes you’ve copied from another clip into another clip without replacing the entire clip.

These are so helpful, I want to spend some time showing you how these work.


Apple provides another option for storing and applying specific effects: creating favorites. However, I stopped using these years ago.

A Favorite Effect is an effect that you’ve modified and saved. They are stored in the Browser > Effects tab > Favorites folder. The great benefit to Favorites is that they are always available, regardless of which project you have open. Oh, and they can be customized however you wish.

However, their negatives are also significant. Favorites are stored in your preference files. When you trash your preferences, all favorite effects disappear. Permanently. (Yes, I know there are work-arounds to this, but they are all a kludge. Favorites should be able to be easily saved, but they are not.)

Another negative is that a favorite is either a filter or a motion effect. A single favorite can not contain both.

Also, you can’t create text favorites.

If you are gathering multiple effects into one Favorite – called a “Filter group” – it is all too easy to accidentally reorder the filters in that group which alters the effect they actually create.

However, for me, the WORST problem with Favorites is that if there are keyframes in the effect you are making a Favorite, when you apply that Favorite, the position of the keyframes shift depending upon the difference in the duration of both the source and destination clips.

Favorites are a great concept which is only half-baked and I stopped using them long ago.


Let’s take a closer look at how these work.

I selected a clip in the Timeline to which I’ve applied a wide variety of Motion and Filter effects.

Go to Edit > Remove Attributes (Option+Command+V). In the window that appears, all the categories of effects that are applied to the selected clip, or clips, are in black text. If that effect is not applied – for instance, my clip is video only – the text is grayed back.

Deleting a specific effect, or range of effects, is as easy as checking the appropriate checkbox.

Note that this system does not allow you to select specific filters. You can delete all filters, or none. (More on this in a minute.)

In this case, I’m deleting all the Motion effects and keeping the filters.

Click OK and all the Motion effects in the selected clip are restored to their default settings.


Paste Attributes allows me to change some portion of the effects applied to a clip without changing all of them.

A while back I was working on the behind-the-scenes elements for the ninth season of X-Files DVD. I thought up this very cool transition between sections that involved posterized still frames, text overlays, and, wait for it…. a PAGE PEEL! (Sigh… I had no shame.)

Anyway, the producer thought I was nuts, but he let me get away with it — except he hated all my freeze frame images. So, we selected different images that he liked better. The trick now was to replace the still without changing all the rest of the effect.

Paste Attributes made this easy. Here’s an example of how this works.

I created a still frame of a snowboarder (THANKS, Standard Films!), added posterization, scaled and cropped the clip, then placed it against a steel background with special lighting (courtesy Boris Continuum Complete).

The problem is that the image shows bad interlacing artifacts, rippling, on his sleeve, which I didn’t pay attention to when I created the still.


NOTE: An easy way to see if a frame is interlaced is to change the zoom of either the Canvas or the Viewer to 100%. Interlacing shows up as thin horizontal lines radiating from all moving elements in the frame; illustrated by the image on the right.

Here’s how I used Paste Attributes to fix it — I found a new frame that didn’t show interlacing.

I created a freeze frame from the Viewer clip by typing Shift+N (or the menu choice: Modify > Make Freeze Frame).

With the Viewer selected, copy the clip (Command+C).

Select the clip in the Timeline with the content you want to replace and type Option+V (Edit > Paste Attributes).

In the Paste Attributes window, only the Content text is dark. That’s because the still frame that I copied doesn’t have any other effects applied to it.

Check Content and click OK.


Instantly changed image in the Timeline, without changing any of the effects.



The Scale Attribute Times checkbox is a life-saver when you have keyframes applied to a clip.

FCP handles copying keyframes from one clip to another in two ways:

In other words, a 20-frame move could take 60 frames, or more, if you copy an effect using keyframes from a short clip to a long clip.

To solve that problem, Paste Attributes gives you two options:

1. If Scale Attribute Times is checked, keyframe positions will adjust based on the difference between the lengths of the two clips


2. If Scale Attribute Times is not checked, keyframe positions will exactly match between the two clips.

For this reason, alone, Paste Attribute is superior to Favorites, because using a Favorite always scales keyframe locations; whether you want it to or not.


Unlike the selectivity Past Attributes has for Motion Effects, using Remove Attributes to remove filters removes either all filters or none.

But what if you only want to remove one or two filters – or change the settings of some of them?

Well, it ain’t easy, but there’s a way.

If you only want to change or remove a few filters from a single clip, don’t use Remove Attributes. Just load the clip into the Viewer and make the changes you want.

If you have different filters with different settings applied to different clips, again, don’t use Remove Attributes. Work with each clip individually.

However, if you have the same set of filters applied to several clips and the filter settings are all the same, Remove / Paste Attributes can help.

Here’s how to do it:

1. Select one clip and modify the filters as necessary. Copy the clip when you are done.


2. Select all clips, EXCEPT the one you modified, that contain the filters you want to change.


Because you can add multiple iterations of the same filter to the same clip you need to remove all the existing filters before adding your changes.



3. Go to Edit > Remove Attributes, check only Filters and click OK. You’ve now removed all existing filters and settings from the selected clips.



4. With all the clips you want to change still selected, go to Edit > Paste Attributes, check only Filters and click OK. All the settings you changed in the first clip are now applied to all the selected clips.


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