Skip to main content

Animation in Final Cut Pro

Like many contemporary composers, I am fascinated with the correlation between music and the visual arts. The cross-pollination of the arts has given birth to many great compositions and visual works. Dr. Kristine H. Burns (see link in Artist Links) at Florida International University has mastered an animation style utilizing Final Cut Pro's Video Generator features. She used it for her amazing video piece, Copper Islands.

Final Cut Pro has a variety of Video Generators available. You can create a simple color matte, text, shapes, bars, noise, etc. For electroacoustic composers, think of these as the basic sine, triangle, and square waves (and noise, of course) that a composer manipulates electronically through sound synthesis. These are building blocks.

You need to be familiar with the KEY FRAME feature available in Final Cut Pro. By setting KEY FRAMES you can alter an effect over time.

Start with something basic, say a basic Color Matte with a Mask Shape (ex. a circle) over it. Now you have a circle.
To move the circle, set a keyframe at its current position (by clicking on the keyframe), and then move it to another location about two seconds later. Click on the keyframe. During playback, the circle will move across the screen.

Apply an effect to the circle. You can also alter the effects using keyframes. A Ripple effect is boring and predictable, but add a secondary ripple and alter speed and amplitude over time, and the image becomes more interesting.

Depending on your processing power, it may make more sense to export a mini version of the piece instead of waiting for full rendering. Experiment with the effects. Add effects onto effects. After a while, you will be amazed by the what the computer creates. My work ENIGMA took me a few months to complete. Believe it or not, it started out as only as a gray circle and a Highlight.

I had an older Mac G4 that nearly fried itself processing all the effects for the piece, Innermost Thoughts of the Distorted Psyche', which was entirely animated using key frames on a still frame of a face.

Unfortunately, Final Cut Express does not have the amount of options available as its big sister FC Pro, but some interesting effects can be created by layering Distortion effects and adding a little creativity in fading in and out various clips. Similar effects can be created in Adobe Aftereffects and Adobe Imageready, using the same processes of altering an effect on a simple shape over time.


Popular posts from this blog

Top 10 Mistakes When Writing for Percussion

Top 10 Mistakes When Writing for Percussionby Sabrina Young
10. Indicating the wrong mallets for an instrument.Brass mallets on vibes? Try a hammer on a violin!

9. Writing the glockenspiel part as heard.You shouldn't have to climb a ladder of leger lines to read a glock part. Keep it in the staff.

8. When in doubt, adding more suspended cymbal.This is a huge mistake made by arrangers. Yep, cymbals add automatic intensity to a piece, but so can a bass drum roll, a rousing hand drum part, exciting mallet licks, or a hundred other combinations. Well-written percussion parts stand out in the band and church repertoire.

7. Better means more complicated, right?This is my main mistake. A percussion part can be simple enough for a middle school, but it is the ability to use the different tone colors of the percussion palette properly that indicates a maturity in writing, not that impossible part for the timpanist that has them playing timpani, gong, crash cymbals, and triangle in the span of…

Music Industry Insider: 50 Ways to Make Money as a Musician

50 Ways to Make Money as a MusicianWant to have a musical career but not sure how to make money as a musician in today's market? Well, first you need to redefine your goals as a musician and realize that like any job, being a musician involves a lot of work, perseverance, and talent. And in today's Digital Age, you need to be able to combine your skills to help you make a living as a musician. You will probably need to select at least a dozen forms of income and micro-incomes in order to make a full time living as a musician or choose a primary steady gig and add on other projects (what most musicians have done for centuries). 

Each method of making money has a $, $$, $$$ or S for work that will make you a little pocket money ($), possibly significant money - hundreds to thousands ($$), at least part time or possible full time work ($$$), or is steady work (S). Notice that none of these options involve making millions of dollars so you can drive around in a diamond-crusted limo…

Women in Multimedia and New Music bios, unedited

INSTRUCTIONS: Use your computers "FIND" feature to locate artist names in this document.

This is a short BIO list I made for my thesis "The Feminine Musique: Multimedia and Women Today" in 2005. It is a shortlist of bio info on composers and artists involved in interdisciplinary media work, with an emphasis on new music. References to specific web pages are given. The thesis can be checked out through interlibrary loan at Florida International University. I plan to post most of the information of my thesis online in time.

Rebecca Allen
Rebecca Allen (USA) is an internationally recognized media artist, inspired by the potential of advanced technology. Central to her work is the study of motion as a form of communication and creative expression. Allen has produced a number of commissioned works in Europe and the U.S. including computer animated films, interactive installations and large-scale multimedia performances. H…