MacMost Now 593: Layering Video in Final Cut Pro X

Learn how to use multiple layers into Final Cut Pro X. You can place an image on top of a video and reposition, resize and crop the image easily. You can do with same with a second video, and even combine multiple videos and images. This gives you many more options that iMovie's ability to do picture-in-picture and cutaways.
Video Transcript / Captions
Closed captioning for this video is available on YouTube: MacMost Now 593: Layering Video in Final Cut Pro X.

Hi, this is Gary with MacMost Now. On today's episode, let's look at how to layer a video in Final Cut Pro.
Let's create a simple project. I've got some sample video here. I'll drag it into a blank project, expand it a little bit so I've got these few seconds of video here. Now I want to try and layer something over it. So I'm going to drag and drop in a graphic, this is just from the Finder here, and I'm going to stick it on top of the video so now I've got a second layer. So it's kind of the equivalent in iMovie to using picture-in-picture, but you can actually layer these things and see them visually in the timeline here. A little bit easier. You can see, this is just some text over a transparent background. I created this in just a graphics editing program. Because that is a transparent background, you can see through it and see the word with the video underneath.
Now I have a lot of control over the layers here in Final Cut Pro. The key buttons are these three right here in the middle. I can click this one, and it will allow me to resize the layer, so I can make it bigger or smaller. I can make it even bigger so it fills more of the screen. I could also rotate it here like that by grabbing the middle, or if I want I could click here and then actually crop the image. I can crop it from any direction here, so a lot more versatility than in iMovie if I wanted. So I can create a very tight crop around the actual piece of text. I can still drag it around pretty easily like that and then I could resize it so it's a little bit easier to deal with, and rotate it.
I can do the same thing with another piece of video. For instance, let's grab this piece of video here, drag that in and create another layer and when I have it selected I can do the same thing here. You can see I can resize it here, so I can do the picture-in-picture type of effect, stick it anywhere I want. I could crop it any way I want as well. I could even transform it using this third mode here, allowing me to do all sorts of things. Let me grab the right video and I could transform it like that, do all sorts of strange things to stretch the video. It's video, it will actually play inside of that transformed shape.
Another thing you may want to do with this is actually have it so it fades in. So if I take this text, and I stick it up here in the upper right, I may want to have it fade in. I can select down here in the project to show video animation. Now, there are a lot of different things in here that you can animate. One of them is how opaque the image is. Double-click on that and I can actually shift over like that at the front and back, so now I can see as I scrub back and forth here, I can see it blend in. You see it's halfway in there, it blends in and blends out. The great thing is of course I can have as many layers as I want, so I can actually bring this video in as well here and I can select it, shrink it down and you can see I'm doing both the text on the right and this image here, both overlaid at the same time. I could add as many as I want.
So it's important to note in the example I was using that word "Beautiful." That could have been done with a title of course, but in a graphic, I could have done anything there. I could have a done a logo, a graphic, some clip art, anything that was semi-transparent, and if it's not semi-transparent, I could still bring it in and use it as a solid square or rectangle over the video.
So not only does this layering ability take the place of picture-in-picture for my movie, but it also takes place of cutaways, because you can simply place one of these up as a layer and have the audio continue to play on the main layer and have the video replace it completely while still having the audio continue to play. Just select the video and remove the audio or lower its volume to nothing, so that only the audio from one of the two layers plays.
So I hope you found this look at using layers in Final Cut Pro useful. Until next time, this is Gary with MacMost Now.

Comments: 10 Responses to “MacMost Now 593: Layering Video in Final Cut Pro X”

    Ed Ferrigan
    7 years ago

    Have you figured out how to key a talking head then remove the black background so I can import into Adobe Captivate? My project in captivate is 640 X 480. Im exporting at codec 4444. I can Key and remove background but still not getting transparency. Cant seem to find the answer anywhere on web.

      7 years ago

      I would try a forum that deal specifically with Adobe Captivate.

    7 years ago


    Thanks for the tutorial.

    Have you by any chance encountered a situation in FCP X where you insert one clip underneath a clip that is already on the timeline?

    I have green-screened footage where I have removed the background, and I am trying to put a false image as the background. I seem to be unable to put my background image underneath the footage that I have already put on the timeline.

    Any thoughts?

      7 years ago

      Haven’t run into that. But I don’t use green screen.

        7 years ago

        thank you for responding.

        I’m still having trouble figuring out how to insert one layer beneath an existing layer.

    7 years ago

    I really have to change to the mac.

    7 years ago

    Great tutorial! Do you have any tips/tricks to avoid slowing down FCPX when you have multiple layers? I have several layers of text in my video, and FCPX runs REALLY SLOW when I edit this project.

      7 years ago

      Use Proxy video. Go into Prefs, and look for that setting.

    7 years ago

    Dude you are a genius !

    I’ve been looking forever for this in fcpx ! ( It’s not a obvious how to doe it out of the box ! )

    Do you have other fcpx tutorials ? You tube shows some but drilling down into them gives me “not available”….

    Anyway keep up the good work !


    Matt C.

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