FCP 7: Creating Special Effects with Non-Standard Sequences

Posted on by Larry

[ This article was first published in the January, 2006, issue of
Larry’s Final Cut Pro Newsletter. Click here to subscribe. ]

We all know how to create new sequences in which to edit clips. In fact, most of us probably take our sequence settings for granted.

But here’s a technique that can change the whole way you think about sequences.

What we are going to do is to create a sequence that is WIDER than a normal frame of video. We will then put three video frames into it — side by side — and use them as a background in a traveling matte.

A traveling matte is a great way to fill text with moving video. Except in this case, we will fill the text with three different frames of video.

And, in a first for this newsletter, I’ve created a little QuickTime movie at the end of this technique so you can see what the final effect looks like.


1. I went to PhotoShop and created three full-screen color images – one red, one blue and one green. You can use any video you want, I selected these three colors because it makes this exercise easier to explain.


Here are the three images, imported into Final Cut, with each displayed in the Viewer.



2. Next, I created a new Sequence (Cmd+N), then went to Sequence > Settings to make some changes.



3. From the Frame Size pop-up menu I selected “Custom.” This allows me to create a custom image size, rather than the default DV-NTSC setting I normally use.



4. Next, I changed the horizontal width of the sequence to 2160 pixels. Because I want to display three full-size DV images side-by-side, I need to make the sequence one image tall (480 pixels) by three images wide (720 x 3 = 2160).



5. When I loaded the sequence into the Timeline, look at how wide it displays in the Canvas.



6. Next, I edited my three color clips to the Timeline and stacked one on top of the other.



7. I double-clicked the Red image, on V1, to load it into the Viewer. I made sure the Scale was set to 100%, and adjusted the Center position to -720. This moved the Red image all the way to the left side of the sequence.



8. My Timeline now looked like this. (Remember, the Green image is on V3 and currently blocks the Blue image.)



9. I double-clicked the Green image, on V3, to load it to the Viewer. I made sure the Scale was set to 100%, and adjusted the Center position to 720. This moved the Green image all the way to the right side of the sequence.



10. My wide sequence now looks like this. This is a single sequence, but wide enough to hold three full-screen images!



11. I created a new, normal, sequence in the Browser and named it “ Seq – Text effect“. I also renamed my Wide sequence: “ Seq – 3 screen wide” so that both my sequences would appear together in the Browser. (Notice that I also created a Bin, called “Colors,” and moved my three color clips into it. This is just an optional step.)



12. I then created a text clip (Goudy Heavyface, 168 point) to serve in our example…



13. … edited it into the Timeline, and edited ” Seq – 3 screens wide” on top of it.



14. To get the color to display inside the text, I needed to create a traveling matte. I did this by selecting the V2 clip and selecting Modify > Composite Modes > Travel Matte – Alpha.



Poof! The colors are now displayed inside the text. Remember, since you can use ANY video clip, imagine what this would look like with video you shot playing back inside the text clip. The process is the same.



15. Now, to get the colors to move inside the text, I dragged Seq – 3 screens wide up into the Viewer. I set a Center keyframe at the beginning of the clip to -720, and a second center keyframe at the end of the clip to 720.



16. Now when I play the sequence, the video plays inside the text, while the sequence pans inside the text, creating a look that can’t be achieved any other way.

And, in a first for this newsletter, here’s a small (500K) QuickTime movie that shows the finished effect. Remember, I just used Red, Green, and Blue as an example, You can use any video and the effect will look even better.

Click here to play video.


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