FCP 7: Creating a Vignette

Posted on by Larry

[ This article was first published in the November, 2009, issue of
Larry’s Final Cut Pro Newsletter. Click here to subscribe. ]

This technique grew out of a discussion with Daniel Carrion on how to create a vignette in FCP.

A vignette is a shadow around the edges of your image that draws your eye into the center of the frame. This technique has been used for the last hundred years to emphasize one part of an image more than another. In this tutorial, I’m creating a more dramatic effect than I would normally use, because it makes the effect easier to see.

Fortunately, this effect is easy to create — it just takes two layers. Here’s how.

1. Place the video you want to add the vignette effect to on V1.

2. Hold Shift+Option and drag a copy of the V1 clip up to the V2 track. (Shift constrains the clip so it only moves vertically, while Option makes a copy of it.)

3. Double-click the V1 clip to load it into the Viewer and reduce it’s opacity to around 50%. If you want the vignette to be more obvious, lower the opacity. If you want the effect to be more subtle raise it.

4. Select the V2 clip. Then, apply the Effect > Video Filters > Matte > Mask Shape filter.

5. Double-click the V2 clip to load it into the Viewer, click the Filters tab and change the Shape to Oval.

6. Adjust the Horizontal Scale and Vertical Scale sliders until you have the size effect you want. In this example, I used a horizontal scale of 101, and a vertical scale of 86.

7. Make sure the V2 clip is still selected and apply the Effects > Video Filters > Matte > Mask Feather.

8. If necessary, double-click the V2 clip to load it into the Viewer, click the Filters tab, and adjust the Soft setting of the Mask Feather filter to get the effect you want. In this case, I set it to 100% for maximum softness.

Here’s the finished effect and settings.

Feel free to experiment with different mask shapes, V1 opacity levels, and amounts of mask feathering.

UPDATE – Jan. 4, 2009

Brian Galford adds:

I just tried the vignetting technique you recommended and realized that if you make the circle small enough, this is a perfect way—perhaps the way already in use by your readers— to highlight small objects and people—for example, an individual player, in a sports field filled with teammates or opposing players. You then use the “center” button repeatedly adding keyframes, to move the circle around with the player you wish to highlight.

Larry replies: Brian, you are exactly correct. This is a great technique for spotlighting something.


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2 Responses to FCP 7: Creating a Vignette

  1. Ann Everton says:

    This is great and almost answers my google search of how to make a circle mask in FCP 7. Any ideas? 😉

  2. robbert says:

    Thnx so much, very helpful if you don’t have FCPX with the vignette effect build in 😉

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