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Master FCPX! How to Take Control of Transitions in Final Cut Pro X

Danny Greer

In this post, we’ll explore one of the fundamentals of Final Cut Pro X, how to add (and modify) video transitions in the FCPX timeline.

Final Cut Pro X has changed the way you add video transitions to your video projects.  Gone is the Effects dropdown option on the menu bar, a la Final Cut Pro 7 (remember, Effects > Video Transitions).  Although you can still access transitions and effects in the Browser, it’s entirely different than the “Browser” we saw in previous Final Cut versions.  Also in FCPX, Apple has beefed up the cross dissolve transition (an editing staple) to include a few more options.  Let’s explore each of the ways to apply video transitions as well as some of these new cross dissolve features.

Applying Transitions With A Shortcut 

  1. Click on the cut between two video clips.
  2. The clips must be touching in order for the transition to be applied between the media.
  3. The shortcut APPLE + T will apply the default transition
    (cross dissolve is the Final Cut Pro X default transition).
Applying Transitions from the Browser 

  1. From the media toolbar click the Transitions icon (shaded box with the X).
  2. Select a transition from the Browser and drag it onto the Timeline.
  3. Place the transition between two video clips.
Applying A Transition from the Menu Bar (Cross Dissolve Only) 

  1. Click on the cut between two clips
  2. From the Menu Bar choose Edit > Add Cross Dissolve…

One thing to note about adding transitions in Final Cut Pro… Although in FCP 7 and earlier versions you could add a transition to the beginning of a clip even if it wasn’t butted up against another, this does not seem to be the case in FCPX.  For example, with a single clip in the timeline, I try to add a cross dissolve to the start of it by selecting the beginning of the clip and choosing Edit > Add Cross Dissolve (it appears that FCPX is giving that option).  However, nothing changes in the timeline.  Looks like a bug…bummer.

So you’ve got your transition in the Timeline…now what?  Well, Final Cut Pro X gives you several ways to change the duration of any video transition whether you work best with the keyboard or mouse.

Activate the Duration box by any of the following methods:

  • Right click the transition in the timeline and choose “Change Duration…”
  • Select the transition in the timeline and use the shortcut CONTROL + D (just remember “control the duration”).
  • Select the transition in the timeline and then double click the Timecode box to change it to the Duration box
  • Now type in the new duration (example “200” for two seconds and 0 frames – it adds the colons automatically).  Hit ENTER to make the change.

While we’re on the subject of transitions I wanted to mention the updates to the cross dissolve effect in Final Cut Pro X.  You can now apply specific looks (blending modes) as well as set keyframes to the amount of dissolve (a great control feature). These new dissolve looks will change the way that the dissolve is processed (for example, darkest part of image first, lightest part, add warmth to the fade, etc.)  To take advantage of these functions, apply the transition and pop open the Inspector panel to dig in (the Inspector can be opened with the shortcut COMMAND + 4) .  Experiment with the different looks to achieve unique transition effects.  Add keyframes to the intensity by clicking on the diamond icon next to Amount (note: keyframing only works when specific “looks” are chosen).

Although we only see a very limited number of transitions and effects within FCPX now, I anticipate that we’ll soon see many more.  3rd party developers are already starting to develop effects specifically for FCPX, and it’s my prediction that it won’t be long before we see add-ons coming directly from Apple (either through “expansion packs” or sold online through an App Store type interface). Standby, as it will be interesting to see how this unfolds.

Do you like the effects and transitions packaged with FCPX?  What transitions do you miss from FCP 6/7 (native or 3rd party)?  Please leave your thoughts in the comments!!

Get 200+ Video Transitions
Add flair and style to your next cut with these 200 video transitions. Designed for Premiere Pro and FCPX.