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Unlocking the Power of 3D Text Animation in FCPX by Robert Scheid

If you are at all like me, Apple’s recent announcement of Final Cut Pro 10.2 had you scrambling to explore the new additions, fixes and features. The Import window has become more streamlined, eliminating an unnecessary popup menu, the Color Board has now become its own movable effect, so we can finally place it before the once again useful Broadcast Safe effect, and several Motion-esque features have been added. From the world of Motion, we can now draw Linear, Bezier, and B-spline masks on our video elements through the new Draw Mask effect.

Also making an appearance are Motion’s 3D manipulation capabilities through the addition of 3D text, a great addition to both programs. However, as anyone who has starting playing with this 3D text feature will eventually notice, FCPX has not given us the ability to animate this newly created and oh-so-beautiful text in the 3D space. Despite being able to manipulate text in a three dimensional space using on screen arrows and hoops in the Viewer, something Motion users will be very comfortable using, the Inspector provides no access to the actual position and rotation parameters that you are actually changing. The changed values can be seen at the top of the Viewer as they are being made, just not in the Inspector. And while some might simply shrug and say “Just use Motion to animate it.” I would argue that we need access to these parameters, if not simply to reset the 3D manipulation you have just done in the Viewer!

That’s right. Once you manipulate the text in a 3D way, you have to hit Undo to get it back to “normal.” So, I came up with a simple workaround. It basically involves publishing the parameters from Motion to FCPX that would have been great to have in the beginning:

1. Pick a 3D text of your choice in the Text Browser.

2. Control Click the choice and choose "Open in Motion."


3. With the Title layer still selected in Motion, navigate to the Inspector -> Properties tab.

4. Hover your cursor over the Position parameter and click on the downward pointing arrow that appears on the right side of the panel.


5. Choose "Publish."

6. Do the same thing for the Rotation parameter.

7. Save.

8. Close Motion and add the new custom 3-D to your project, now with 100% more animation abilities.


You can now keyframe any of the rotation or position parameters in the Inspector, animating your new 3D text without having to send it into Motion to do the job.

9. You might want to navigate to the Motion Templates folder and rename the .moti file to say something you prefer if you didn’t name it first through a Save as…

Until these parameters are written into FCPX, I hope this workaround gives you the much needed control of this incredible new feature that I have come to rely on.