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10 Must-Have Final Cut Pro X Plugins

Logan Baker

Get more from FCPX! We’ve scoured the web and rounded up some excellent Final Cut Pro X plugins!

What a history Final Cut Pro has had. What once was the industry-leading non-linear editing software (only to fall behind Adobe’s Premiere Pro) has come full circle as Final Cut Pro X is slowly making a comeback. With each passing year, more and more professionals are using FCPX. Because of this, more and more plugins are now available, and old plugins are getting improvements. With that said, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite and most-rewarding Final Cut Pro X plugins that we consider must-haves for video editors.

What Are Plugins?

What Are Plugins

Plugins are add-on components that expand the capabilities of an application. (Image via Hasbro.)

Before we dive into some of the best plugins available for FCPX, let’s answer the question: what are plugins? To put it plainly, plugins are components added to an application that allow you to do additional things in your edit. Think of it as taking a transformer like Optimus Prime, and turning him into Galaxy Optimus Prime. (Was that too nerdy?) It enhances the original model.

So, if these nonlinear editing applications are already complicated enough, why should you complicate things even more? Plugins make your life easier. They offer shortcuts and workarounds for problems that would normally take several hours to address. They are your friends, and they’re here to help.

(All the plugins on this list cost money, so if you’re interested in a few free FCPX plugins, check out our list here.)

1. Cinema Grade

One of the best color grading plugins around, Cinema Grade is great for both beginners and experts. With its 90 built-in “Hollywood” looks, it’s perfect for first looks and realtime LUTs previews. Some of the key features in this plugin are the tools like False Colors, Look Transfer Tool, and the Xrite ColorChecker. They make every step of the color grading process easy and unintimidating.

Price: $69

2. CoreMelt: Lock & Load X

Need a powerful and easy-to-use stabilizer in FCPX? Then look at CoreMelt’s Lock & Load. It claims to be up to 12 times faster and more accurate than the FCPX built-in stabilizer, so in my opinion, it’s a must-have for any editor. If you’re used to using Premiere Pro’s Warp Stabilizer, this should be a very handy addition to your FXPX tool kit.

Price: $99

3. mMessage2

If you’ve ever had to edit a video that needed some type of user interface animation, whether it’s a phone, a tablet, or a laptop, you know how slow it can be to create those animations while flying through your edit. The mMessage2 pack is the second of motionVFX’s stellar user interface plugins for FCPX. The text bubbles and emojis are still relevant and look just like a believable phone conversation.

Price: $99

4. Skin Smoother

“Could you clear up the skin on the model?”

This is something you would normally hate to hear. The amount of work it would take to go in and try to smooth and paint any tiny, unwanted blemishes or wrinkles, frame by frame — no thanks. But luckily, plugins like Skin Smoother exist.

Made by FCPeffects, this plugin is a fast solution to a slow problem that you’ll inevitably face when working with difficult clients. The overall render time seems to be slow as well, so don’t expect it to completely crash your system.

Price $20

5. FxFactory Pro

FxFactory Pro is a solid Final Cut Pro X plugin toolbox that comes with a ton of different features for transitions, effects, and color adjustments. You can buy many of the tools from FXFactory Pro as individual plugins at at much lower price point, but this version offers them all bundled together for a fairly discounted price.

Price: $399

6. mTransition Packs

MotionVFX is one of the leading effect and plugin resources online. They have dozens and dozens of different types of packs, ranging from 3D-related plugins to overlays and transitions. The simple transition packs are an especially good introduction to the motionVFX brand. Visually appealing and easy-to-use, their most basic packs are a good way to see if you like the effect on your workflow. Step up to some of their denser, more specific packs once you’ve seen the benefits.

Price: Most of them are around $79

7. Primatte Keyer 6

Red Giant offers a whole host of plugins compatible with FCPX, but we think Primatte Keyer 6 is without a doubt one of their best. While Keylight in After Effects is a perfectly fine option for the Adobe Suite enthusiasts, Primatte does the job for FCPX users.

Price: $199

8. Colorista IV

If you’re not a fan of Color Finale, then try another Red Giant Final Cut Pro X plugin: Magic Bullet Colorista IV. It truly simplifies the color grading process and brings professional quality to your project. This plugin features 3 Way Color, Curves, and a Keyer for color isolation. Red Giant made a tutorial for anybody considering purchasing this plugin down the road.

Price: $199

9. X2ProLE

While X2ProLE isn’t a plugin (rather, it’s an app for FCPX), we felt it was worth mentioning. If you don’t happen to use Apple Logic, then you’ll need X2ProLE to convert your audio from FCPX to Pro Tools for audio finishing.

Price: $59

10. Universe

Red Giant does it again with this all-encompassing pack for anybody looking to add effects like VHS overlays, old film stock grain, or even logo animations. This pack is essential for a full time video editor.

There are a few pricing options available, from monthly to annual subscriptions, but overall, this pack will cut the actual time of your edits down significantly, so I think the price is worth it. (There’s also a discounted student price.)

Price: $199 per year

Bonus Plugin

Shutterstock actually has a free Final Cut Pro X plugin that allows you to search stock clips and throw in the files before you ever license a clip. So if you’re editing a video for a client, you can have the watermarked clip in the timeline so they can approve it before you license it. Once you do license the clip, the clip stays in your timeline so you never have to leave FCPX. FCPX is good about making these plugins accessible and easy for editors to stay in the software, allowing them to work fast so they can move on to the next project.

Price: FREE

Installing the Plugins

You will download most of the plugins through the app store, as FCPX is an Apple product. How you actually bring the plugin into the software varies based on the plugins, but usually it’s pretty simple, as you just need to download the app, restart FCPX, and then you’ll see a little icon — or it will be in your Effects and Titles browser.

And there you have it: some of the best FCPX plugins out there. Not only were they designed by some of the most talented creatives working today, but they were designed by video editors who know what other video editors need. Hopefully these will help you go forth and create your next masterpiece.

Editors, roll out.

This post was originally published in 2015. We’ve updated it to reflect changes in the industry.

Cover image via Cinema Grade.

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