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Transitional Animation

An introduction to the world of transitional animation By Diana Weynand, James Alguire and RevUpTansmedia

Final Cut Pro X provides a number of interesting ways to animate video elements in the Viewer and Timeline to provide complex visual effects. But do you know how to create quick and simple animations just by using transitions?

The beauty of this technique is its simplicity. No complex motion paths to adjust, no messing about with untold keyframes, just add a transition and set the timing and you're off to the next project.

This tutorial will introduce you to the world of transitional animation.

Setting the Stage

As with any special effects, you have to perform a little mise en place (a little French for put in place, or advanced preparation) to collect, create, and organize the elements needed for the animation. This simple example needs only a background video clip, a Generator, and a Title.


Let's animate a lower third using the Slide transition.

Launch Final Cut Pro by clicking on its icon on the Mac OS X Dock, the Lion Launchpad, or by double-clicking in the Application Folder.

In the Event Library, click on an Event to select it.

You'll need to select a clip from the Event to use as a background clip, but not just yet.

In the Timeline, click the Show Project Library button to access the Project Library.

In the Project Library select an existing Project or click the Plus button to add a new Project. If creating a new Project name it TransAnim (or whatever you'd like).


In the selected Event select a clip to use as a background and edit it into the Timeline by pressing the E key on the keyboard.

Merely Players 

Now that the stage is set, it's time to add additional supporting cast members to create a lower third. Next we'll create an accent bar and a title. To create the bar we'll use a Solid Generator, but you could easily use image-editing software to create graphic elements like these and import them into the appropriate Event.

In Toolbar click the Generators button to open the Generators Browser.

In the Generators Browser click on the Solids entry to the left.
Clicking entries in the left side listing filters the Browser's display to specific Generators.


Drag the Vivid solid to the Timeline and place it a second or two from the head of the Project.

This provides some pre-roll time before the element appears on screen.

Click the right edge of the solid and resize it to about 3 seconds.
This sets the overall duration of the element's life in our project.

In the Timeline, click the solid to select it.

In the Viewer, click the Crop button to enter cropping mode and click the Trim option button at the top of the Viewer.

Since the Solid is added full screen in the viewer we need to cut it down to size using the cropping tool.

Crop the solid to create a small bar by dragging the edges or corners of the crop selection, and then click done.

By cropping the solid down to the size you want before you change colors, you can view both the bar and the video at the same time, to select a color that works with the video. Next you'll change the color of the bar.

In the Toolbar, click on the Inspector button to open the Inspector, or press Command-4 on the keyboard.

We will use the Color Correction options in the Inspector to change the color of the bar to be more compatible with the video. In this example we will be using a shade of red, but your video may require a different color. Feel free to experiment.

In the Inspector click on the Video button. Scroll down to the Color Correction entry and click the Show Correction button at the right.

This will bring up the color board so you can change the color of the solid. You will want to change it to a color complementary to your video.

In the Color Board adjust the color to your taste by dragging the highlight, shadow, and mid-tone controls.

On the keyboard type Command-4 to hide the Inspector

Now you'll add a title to sit on top of the bar element of the video.

In the Toolbar click the button to open the Title Browser.

Just as with the Generators Browser you can make selections in the left-hand pane to filter the display of specific titles.

In the Title Browser, drag the Basic Lower Third Title to the head of the bar clip in the Timeline.

The Title should be above the bar clip.

In the Timelime, click the right edge of the Title and resize it to match the bar clip's duration.

We want both elements to be the same duration.

In the Timeline, click to select the title and in the Viewer, double-click the text to enter text-editing mode.

Type the following (or create your own text appropriate to your footage): Line 1: Transitional Animation, Line 2: Flying Titles for Fun

Now that all the elements are in place, it's time to get them moving. 

I've Got to Move it, Move it

After all them strenuous activity, it's now time to see your elements dance, which they will, using nothing more than the Slide Transition.

In the Toolbar click on the Transitions button to view the Transitions Browser.

In the Transitions Browser click the Movements listing in the left-hand pane.

As with the Generators and Titles Browsers you can filter the display of available transitions by selecting the appropriate listing.

In the Transitions Browser, scroll down until you see the Slide Transition.

In the Transitions Browser, drag the Slide Transition to the bar clips and release.

By default, Final Cut Pro X adds a beginning and ending transition for many transitional effects.

In the Timeline, click and drag the right edge of the beginning transition to adjust the timing shorter or longer as required.

In the Timeline click the ending transistion and type the Delete key on the keyboard to remove it.

In this example we don't need the ending Transition.

In the File Menu Command Group scroll down until you see the New Multicam Clip command.

Note the Option-Shift-M keyboard shortcut we added previously.

Repeat Steps 4 to 7 to add the same animation to the Title so that the title and the bar animate on the screen at the same time.

As you can see, basic animations are quick and easy to achieve using Transitions. Just a couple of last minutes notes to end. Because Final Cut Pro X uses a different system for its Transitions than the legacy Final Cut Pro, this technique works better for animating elements on to the screen rather than off. So take some time and experiment and see what simple bits of magic you can create as you transition your Final Cut Pro skills.

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Diana Weynand, an Emmy nominated editor, a distinguished educator and Apple Certified Trainer, is the author of several books including the Apple Pro Training Series: Final Cut Pro X, Final Cut Pro 7 and Final Cut Pro for Avid Editors and How Video Works. Diana has been on the cutting edge of technology training for two decades, and is co-owner of Rev Up Transmedia, (Formerly Weynand Training International) an Apple Authorized Training Center and mobile application developer.

James Alguire, an Apple Master Trainer, has been involved in the computer industry for over 25 years. His experience includes digital design, electronic prepress, multimedia, digital video/audio, technical support and training. He is an Apple Certified Trainer, an Apple Certified Technical Coordinator, an Apple Certified Help Desk Specialist and Apple Certified Support Professional. He is a lead instructor for Rev Up Transmedia and was a contributing writer for Diana's book, Final Cut Pro X.
Related Keywords:Final Cut Pro, Final Cut X, Video Transitions, Animated Transitions, Video Editing, NLE, Nonlinear Editing, Post Production

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