Creating A Charlie’s Angels Wipe Effect

Posted on by Larry

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

Recently, in one of my classes, I demoed this technique — which recreates the opening title wipe from the movie “Charlie’s Angels.” It’s simple to do and illustrates a variety of motion effect features in Final Cut. What surprised me was how interested my students were in learning it. So, because they found this so fascinating, I’m sharing it with you.

1. Select three shots, where one shot has it’s principal action to the left of the frame (V1), the next is centered in the frame (V2) and the third is to the right of the frame (V3). There is no magic to track selection, I just do this to help keep it straight in my head. (And, in case you haven’t learned by now, I’m a train buff.)

2. Stack the three clips atop each other in the timeline. In this case, I’ve trimmed them to all the same length and marked a frame in each clip so that all my screen shots in this tutorial will be consistent. Stacking clips is mandatory, the marker is not.

3. Double-click the top clip (V3) to load it into the Viewer and click the Motion tab at the top of the Viewer window.

4. Twirl down the triangle next to Crop.

5. As with all effects, it is easiest if you build the final effect, then add keyframes to animate into it. So to build the finished effect, set the left crop to 66. This means that 66% of the left side of the picture will be hidden (cropped).

6. Now, double click the second clip (V2) to load it into the Viewer and set the left crop to 34 and the right crop to 34.

7. But the bottom clip is still full-screen, which needs to be fixed, so double-click the bottom clip (V1) to load it into the Viewer and set the right crop to 66. When you are done, the finished effect has each image occupying one-third of the screen.

Now let’s animate the effect. I’ve decided I want the effect to take 20 frames to wipe in, where the images on the edges wipe up from the bottom and the middle image wipes down from the top. Here’s how.

8. Double-click the top clip, V3, and open up the Viewer window so you can see the keyframe section by dragging the thumb tab in the lower right corner of the Viewer window.

Set a keyframe at the position of your final shot. Then, type ” – 20 ” and press Enter to move the Playhead back 20 frames. (You don’t type the quotes, by the way.) Set another keyframe at the new position of the playhead.

9. With the playhead sitting on top of the first keyframe, change the top crop to 100. This crops the entire picture out, from top to bottom, so that you see black on the right edge of your picture. And, because the second keyframe (20 frames later) is set to a top crop value of zero, this means that during the 20 frame transition, the image will go from fully cropped to full uncropped, moving from the bottom to the top.

10. Double-click the middle image and set matching keyframes to that of the clip on V3. Only this time, set the bottom crop to 100 so that the image reveals from the top to the bottom.

11. Finally, double-click the image on V1 (the left image) and create matching keyframes. Set the first keyframe to match the settings of the V3 clip — where the Top crop is 100 for the first keyframe.

Play your effect and, voilá! Instant movie stardom.


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