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Exporting Video with an Alpha Channel from Final Cut Pro X

Danny Greer

Learn how to export video with an alpha channel out of Final Cut Pro X. This is a great way to take footage into other applications for compositing work.

A very simple definition of an alpha channel is a “transparent” area of a video or still image (for the full technical definition, check out the Wikipedia article on alpha compositing).

With regions of the frame removed, you can layer graphics and footage, as well as place backgrounds behind your video. In FCPX, you can easily create alpha channels in your video using keys or mattes. For instance, one common way to create an alpha channel is to use a chroma key filter to remove a green-screen background from video.

Although you are able to do some basic compositing in Final Cut Pro X, it may be necessary to bring your footage into another application — Motion or After Effects, for instance — for more complex work. Both Final Cut Pro X and previous versions of FCP have the ability to export video with an alpha channel. However, it’s not obvious unless you know the correct settings to apply to export.

The key to preserving an alpha channel when exporting in Final Cut Pro X — Apple ProRes 4444.

ProRes 4444 is the highest-quality codec in Apple’s ProRes family. It’s a versatile intermediate codec that supports SD, HD, 2k, and 4k resolutions, as well as alpha channels. Here’s the export process.

1. Open the Timeline You Want to Export

Keyboard Shortcuts

Open the timeline you’d like to export and use the shortcut COMMAND + E. You can also choose Share > Export Media on the menu bar.

2. Select Apple Pro Res 4444

Current Settings

In the Video Codec drop-down, choose Apple Pro Res 4444. It’s that simple.

Looking for additional FCPX workflow solutions? Check out PremiumBeats’s Final Cut Pro X archive for all kinds of helpful tips, tricks, and techniques!