MacMost Now 599: Using Final Cut Pro X Transitions

Learn how to use transitions in Final Cut Pro X. There are several ways to apply transitions between clips, and many ways to adjust the end and start points of the two clips. You can also customize each transition.

Video Transcript
Hi, this is Gary with MacMost Now. On today's episode, let's learn about using transitions in Final Cut Pro.
So in Final Cut Pro, I've got some sample video here in the Events and I'm going to drag it to a new project so I'm going to select this first video here, drag it in and a second video here and drag that right afterwards. So now these videos go one right into the other, immediately, and I want to add a transition between then. Doing so is relatively easy. I just click on Transitions over here on the right, and then I choose a transition, I cross dissolve and I drag it to the space between the two of them and now I've got a dissolve between one and the other.
Now notice that little orange space here at the top. That means it's not finished rendering the transition between these, so my preview might not be as smooth as usually as you can see it increasing the percentage there and it will eventually get to 100% and that means it's ready to preview. You can see there's no more orange space up there so now if I pan through with the cursor I can see the smooth transition. If I want to use another transition I can simply replace it by grabbing that transition and dragging and dropping it over the current one and it will replace it and render that one out as well and this transition has a little bit more flare to it. I can move slowly, scrubbing over it to see the transition happening.
So that's the basics, but now let's get a little more precision built into it. I'm going to expand the view in there so I can see a little closer this transition, and I can see the two clips going into the transition like so. To get to the Precision Editor, the easiest way to edit this, I just go up to the icon here, double click and now I can see both videos and the transition in between and I can slide these videos left and right so that I can get the transition happening over exactly the piece of each video that I want it to.
Now there's a ton more to it to that. I can for instance click here and drag the entire transition back and forth without moving the two videos relative to each other. I can drag the ends here and make the transition larger or smaller. When I'm done with this, I can either double click in there or simply hit return and it puts the video back so I can actually do a lot of this stuff in here. For instance, I can grab the end and shrink or enlarge that. I can also grab the transition, slide it back and forth, but it will only allow me to do it as long as there's video for both available. So if I go too far to the left, it will stop. That means that this video is extended all the way to this edge right here, and the same thing if I try to go to the right. It will stop there.
By the way, the Precision Editor even works if you don't have a transition, so I can select this transition and hit delete there to remove it. Now I've got these two videos. I can grab an edge and drag from either side there but I could also basically position myself over at, double click, and it will actually give me that Precision Editor here, and you can see I've got no transition but I could slide the no transition like that for each video. So I could actually pick exactly where the clips go into each other even though there's no transition there. By the way, to get really precise controls, you can use the period and comma keys with something selected. So say I'm going to select that transition there by clicking on it or the non-transition as it is, and use the period to go to the right, comma to go to the left. Shift+period and shift+comma will jump by 10 frames a piece.
Now it's important to realize that there are two different settings for how transitions work. If we go to Final Cut Pro Preferences, we see here under Editing, Transitions, we've got the default length which can be very useful if you're always using half a second transitions or two second transitions, you can change the default length here just to make things easier on you. We also have Full Overlap or Available Media. Now Full Overlap is what we saw before. It's where it takes a piece of the video before and after and brings it in so that you have just enough for the transition. Available Media means it will not actually move the videos on either side. So notice how I've got these both here and if I bring in a transition and I drop it in, notice how on the right and on the left, the video didn't move. It actually used the available media that was already overlapping between these two videos to place a transition.
So it's useful when you have precise timing already set and you just want to add a transition, you can use that to not disturb it. Let's go and expand these videos all the way to the ends so that there's actually no space between these. You can see if I look at the Precision Editor, there's no overlap at all. Now if I were to drag this over, now you see I can't add to it because I don't have any space for the transition to take place and there's no overlap and it tells me that there and allows me to actually choose the other one in that case, creating a full overlap. You can see it moved this video from the right over to the left just so it creates enough of an overlap in each video to put that transition.
Another interesting shortcut is if you want to add transitions very quickly, you can select a piece of video like this original first video here. Let me shrink so you can see the entire thing. So we double click on the transition, and you can see it's going to add transitions to either end of that one. I can do the same thing over here, double click, and it adds that transition at the end. So if I just undo this, if I select both videos and I just want to add dissolve transitions everywhere, I just double click and you can see it puts them everywhere I want. If I don't want them at the beginning or the end, I can simply select and del ete from there, quickly adding transitions to everything in between in my video.
There's even more to it than that. You may have noticed if I select a transition over here at the upper right, there are options for the transitions, so even for something as simple as cross dissolve, I can change a look for instance for the cross dissolve and I can also change the cross fade for the audio. If you select something else like Black Hole for instance, go in and you can see there's all sorts of different options for that. The same for anything. Select for instance Circle, and here I could actually change the aspect for the circle, all sorts of different things.
There's even things I can do here on the video itself to change for many of these different transitions. Some are more complex with their options than others and have all sorts of cool things that you can do. So you have a lot of transitions in Final Cut Pro, plus if you modify them, it makes it even more. I would suggest if you plan on using transitions in Final Cut Pro to actually look through each one, do some example movies and play around with all the settings. Get to know them so you know what's available so the next time you're doing a project, you know exactly where to go to find the effect that you want. I hope you found this useful. Until next time, this is Gary with MacMost Now.

Comments: 28 Responses to “MacMost Now 599: Using Final Cut Pro X Transitions”

    9/1/11 @ 3:19 pm

    Thanks, very good. I’m still thinking of buying it.Please tell me if this soft is much better than iMovie.

      9/1/11 @ 3:34 pm

      Final Cut Pro X is much much more powerful than iMovie. As for “better” — that’s subjective. I think it is.

    9/1/11 @ 4:14 pm

    Hi Gary.

    I am a musician who records his own original songs. I am getting into video production to produce film clips for my songs. I am very familiar with all things audio but video, is another matter. I want to be able to shoot say 5 takes of the band running through the song. I will play the song on a PA system, the band will play the song, miming their parts. The camera will record the audio, that is playing through the PA system. I will then use the audio , recorded on the camera, to sync the 5 takes, so that the performances are linked to the final mix of the song (which is what is playing through the PA). Now, what I would like to do, is to be able to import these five takes, into a video editor, and then select portions of one video then the other etc, to make up the final band performance. Doing this in audio land is very easily accomplished with something like LOGIC 9s auto comping. Is this kind of thing do-able with final cut pro X? I can see that its not really feasible to do in iMOVIE 11. Basically I want to be able to see all 5 takes laid out at once, and just select portions from whatever one, and be able to change it at anytime…thanks in advance….great videos by the way….8)

      9/1/11 @ 4:26 pm

      I believe so, but I have never tried something like that. I would consult with a Final Cut expert, or perhaps on a Final Cut board and find someone who has done it before.

      6/15/12 @ 8:26 pm

      In Final Cut X it’s called Multi-cam editing. Pretty neat.

    9/14/11 @ 1:26 pm

    Hey Gary,
    I’m new to fcpx, and I appreciate your video. I’m having trouble dragging transitions between clips, whenever I do, my cursor becomes a ‘do not enter’ sign, and sometimes it becomes a green plus, but when I release the transition, it disappears and nothing happens. I’m certain that the clips I’m using are long enough to have a transition.

    Any ideas?

      9/14/11 @ 2:22 pm

      Perhaps you are not allowing for enough lead and trailing extra video to compensate for the transition. To avoid this completely, switch your “Transitions: Apply Transitions Using” setting in the preferences.

        9/14/11 @ 2:38 pm

        By lead and trail space do you mean the two clips have to be long enough?
        I’ve tried that, also in the preferences, apply transitions to full overlap or avail. media? Both don’t work, but could you explain to me what they mean?

          9/14/11 @ 3:02 pm

          The video clips can be long enough, but if you don’t have some unused space at the start of the second clip and the end of the first clip, then there won’t be any to overlap. But that only works in one of the two settings. The other will provide that overlap by changing the start and end.
          So I’m not sure why it isn’t working for you. Hard to tell without seeing exactly what you are doing.

            Joel C
            10/29/11 @ 8:59 pm

            Im having the same problem with transitions not working in FCP X…any solutions???

        Dan F
        2/16/12 @ 3:38 pm

        I am having the same exact issue. I cannot add transitions to any track except the main storyboard track. If I try to add it to anything else on other tracks it just disappears and then adds that transition to the beginning of the main storyboard track. So frustrating. Please help.. I don’t understand what you mean by “switch your “transitions: apply transitions using” setting in the preferences? I went to preferences in Final Cut menu and there is no option, I don’t know where else I should be looking.

          2/16/12 @ 3:45 pm

          That particular option was removed in 10.0.3. Now it just prompts you with a dialog each time you drop a transition in between clips with no extra space.

    2/27/12 @ 11:44 am

    Speaking of items on other “tracks”, when applying a transition to/from black, how can you re-center it? You used to be able to do this in FC7 (as though it was using the black as one of the clips), and I can’t figure out how to do it in FCX.

    2/27/12 @ 11:49 am

    PS. I guess a better way to explain what I’m talking about, is the feature that allowed you align transitions at the start, finish or middle of an edit.

      2/27/12 @ 1:35 pm

      Not sure. I didn’t use FCS7 so I don’t know what you are trying to do. Just remember it is a completely new interface, so not all functionality is duplicated in the same way.

    Todd Fletcher
    3/22/12 @ 3:51 pm

    I have the transition problem too. I have to restart FCPX and even sometimes my whole system so that it will allow me to drag and drop a transition onto the timeline. Otherwise I doesn’t respond to drag and drop action. It seems very short-sighted to not have an alternate menu command for applying a selected effect/transition. :(

      3/22/12 @ 4:09 pm

      Have you tried simply double-clicking to add transitions? It works if you have the end of one clip, or the beginning of the other selected, so it knows where the transition goes. Much faster than dragging anyway.

    FCPX User
    4/10/12 @ 1:13 pm

    @Wiz you could do that kind of ‘comp’ editing. Only in FCPX it’s called Multicam editing. With this option you can see al the clips how they look like and put them simply into your timeline by tapping on a video to choose which camera angle you would like to use. Succes!

    4/22/12 @ 11:05 am

    I’d need to put many clips on top of each other, so I’d have a video of multiple me. I did record the video every time from the exact same spot, so the background will be the same all the time. I also managed to put those clips on top of each other so that there was kinda like three ghosts of me, but the light of the clips went really dark. How to do this stuff properly?

    Juan Tamayo
    6/4/12 @ 2:47 pm

    There is an option in menu final cut pro/preferences where you can choose from two different ways to overlap the transitions. I saw that in one tutorial, but in my menu, that merging menu it´s missing. Why is that? how can i change the settings, so i can see that option? thanks for the help

      6/4/12 @ 2:56 pm

      That option was removed in a subsequent version. It isn’t there anymore.

    10/10/12 @ 7:27 pm

    Gary, as I lay a clip down on the timeline, I end it with a dissolve transition. When I put the next clip next to it, the transition automatically combines the 2 clips. I don’t want that to happen. How can I keep the “fade to black” dissolve transition ONLY on the previous clip?

      10/10/12 @ 7:34 pm

      NEVERMIND, I found a solution from andynick on another forum. Here is what he says:

      “An alternative way is to select the clip in the timeline, then press Ctrl+V to show Video Animation.

      At the bottom of the list of options is Compositing: Opacity.

      Click the dark rectangle on the right of this option and it opens up to show a black opacity bar immediately beneath the text. Mouse over the ends of this bar and some little handles appear at each end of the clip. You can grab these and adjust your fade precisely.

      Sounds more complex than it is – when you get used to it.

      Press Ctrl+V again to close the Video Animation thingy down again!”

        10/10/12 @ 8:03 pm

        Or, you could put a few seconds of a black background between the two clips.

          10/10/12 @ 8:22 pm

          I tried that, but the black clip gets transitioned automatically with the previous clip as soon as it butts up against it. I want it to leave my previous transition alone when it butts up against it.

            10/10/12 @ 8:31 pm

            I guess I’m not understanding what you are trying to do then.

    David Sewell
    1/27/13 @ 6:08 pm

    I followed your instructions re applying transitions however when i went into preferences there is not an option at the bottom of the drop down where I can change to using available media. the last choice box is for duration. I am using FCPX version 10.0.7

      1/27/13 @ 7:25 pm

      That was a few versions ago. Not sure where it is now, but you can still change the duration on a case-by-case.

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