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Surviving the Tour de France with XEffects Toolkit and FCP X
I’ll let you in on a secret, I designed the XEffects Toolkit to make my life easier. I’m a working broadcast editor and I needed extra tools that were not available in the default set within Final Cut Pro X.
Maybe it was because I knew I had some large FCPX projects happening in the next twelve months, maybe it was because I had had an idea of a cool suite of tools in my head for a long time. Or maybe I didn’t want anybody to raise the question of FCPX being ‘slow’ or ‘can’t do’ things you take for granted when editing broadcast shows. For whatever reason, I sat down and wrote the collection of plugins that makeup Idustrial Revolution’s XEffects Toolkit. 30 years of editing experience, blood sweat and tears, all wrapped up into 53 plugins to make mine and your editing life easier.
The goal was to make operations that would need stacks of layers, masks and colour grades all happen with the application of a single Toolkit effect or title. Back those up with a clutch of utilities like the much loved countdown clock or slate and I thought it was a pretty impressive set of robust, professional tools.
By now, I’m sure you’ve read the detailed article on FCP.co about how the Tour de France was edited on FCPX. XEffects Toolkit was installed on all the edit machines and proved to be invaluable in getting a polished show out quickly.
Every part of every programme started with VT Clock Pro.
All montages that needed the host broadcaster’s kilometre ticker removing were masked out with the Widescreen Matte, the auto-animating bars made the transition in and out of a full frame sequence a breeze.
The Arrow, Circle and Zoom Highlighters made it easy to single out riders or incidents. Built in fades on the effects meant that dissolves didn’t have to be added to top and tail afterwards. Onscreen controls meant that a moving subject could be tracked with a few keyframes.
Any interview that wasn’t in English got translated and the result cut and pasted from Text Edit into the Subtitle 14:9 Title. The width of that caption was preset, but anything that looked out could be checked with the Caption Safe Area title.
Even the plain old boring Blank Frame helped by not affecting the clip on the Primary Storyline, by making up a ‘dummy transparent clip’ to transition to, on a Secondary Storyline.
Many others were used, but those are the ones that spring to mind when asked to write up a quick battleground tested review.
Things worked well, but after three weeks of intensive use, I found a few things were missing from the set of tools.
One oddity about FCPX is that sometimes it ignores the dimensions of media. You can see this by using any of the Shrinkback plugins with odd-sized media. You would have thought that any media that gets the Shrinkback Quad plugin applied would shrink back into its respective quadrant borders. Not so. If the media isn’t the same resolution as the timeline, you see edges or overlaps if the zoom level isn’t 100%. That’s why I added the new range of Fixed Resolution plugins to the 1.1 upgrade.
Nest the object in a compound clip, apply the correct sized Fixed Resolution plugin before the Shrinkback and the media will resize and move correctly without any overlaps. It took a lot of head scratching to work that one out.
We were not too impressed with the Broadcast Safe filter in FCPX. We noticed a few colours change when applied such as bright greens going to yellow. Particularly annoying if all you want to do is legalise specular highlights.
White Limiter was written to avoid this as it performs a ‘white chop’ at 100% white. Bear in mind all colour correction happens after the plugins are applied, so again, make a compound clip and apply the plugin to that if you want to legalise some extreme colour corrections. The plugin will also respect the alpha channel.
Finally, I have made a few tweaks and fixed a few bugs in the existing set based on my experiences from the Tour and also the fabulous customer feedback I’ve had on the product.
So enjoy the XEffects Toolikit 1.1 update and please let us know if there is anything we could write that would make your life easier. (or mine!)
Peter Wiggins is a broadcast freelance editor based in the UK although his work takes him around the world. An early adopter of FCP setting up pioneering broadcasts workflows, his weapon of choice is now Final Cut Pro X.
You can read the full post on Peter using Final Cut Pro X to edit the Tour de France on fcp.co.