Tips for Final Cut Pro and Motion Templates

Intro to Tips for FCP and Motion Templates

In this article I’ll give you some tips for Final Cut Pro and Motion templates. I’ll show you how to get more out of the templates you create for your Final Cut projects. And if you haven’t created a template yet, check out Motion Templates in Final Cut Pro.

We’ll create a Title with built-in transitions. We’ll also make a Link Behaviour which can streamline template controls. I’ll show you how easy it is to rename or delete a template. And how to prevent any problems that this can cause.

Here’s the video version of the tutorial:

Setup the Motion Interface

Let’s make sure your interface is the same as mine and then we’ll convert the project into a Motion template:

  • Open the Window menu and choose Window Layout, Classic.

This is the Motion interface in the classic layout. You can download this Motion interface guide as a PDF.

Motion interface

Convert the Motion Project to a Title Template

Download the Tips for Final Cut Pro and Motion Templates project if you’d like to play along with this video. This is what the Demo project looks like in the Viewer:

  • To convert this to a Titles template, go to the File menu and choose Convert Project To and then Title.

You get this pop-up saying, One layer may be used as a placeholder for the clip this title is applied to in FCP. What this means is that a layer needs to represent the clip that’s under the title in the Final Cut timeline.

  • In the Title Source menu, make sure Drop Zone is selected and click Convert. The Drop Zone layer becomes the Title Background.

Doing this also adds a new layer called ‘Type Text Here’.

  • I don’t need this, so I’ll select the layer and hit Delete on the keyboard.

Name and Save the Template

Next we need to name and save this template.

  • From the File menu, choose Save As.
  • Give the template a name. I’m going to call mine Demo Title.
  • Under Category, I’ll select one I’ve already made called IFS Titles.
  • If you don’t have a category, simply select New Category and give it a name.
  • Then click Publish.

It’s been saved to the Motion Templates folder and is ready to use in Final Cut.

Test the Template in Final Cut Pro

Let’s locate and use this Title in Final Cut:

  • I’ll select the Title and Generators sidebar.
  • I’ll choose the IFS Titles category (a custom category I’ve already created).
  • Drag Demo Title from my category over the clip on the Timeline.

The title has no transitions, but I can add them myself in Final Cut. While that’s not difficult, it would speed up my edit if the transitions were built-in.

Add Transitions to a Title in Motion

I’ll jump back to Motion. And here I’ve got the Demo Title open ready to go.

So this is my first tip for Final Cut Pro and Motion templates. I’m going to add transitions to this title in Motion that will work when you drop it on the timeline in Final Cut. I’m going to have the title slide onto the screen from the left and then fade out at the end.

Adding a Guide to the Viewer

Before I get started animating the slide in for the Title, I’m going to add a guide to the Viewer. This helps me see where the Title should stop when it slides in.

  • Open the View menu from the top of the screen and make sure Show Rulers is checked.

This displays rulers at the top and left of the Viewer.

  • Open the other View menu, just above the Viewer and make sure Guides is checked.
  • Click into the left-hand ruler and drag out a guide.
  • Line it up with the left side of the first ‘I’. in Indigo

When the title slides in, I know where the ‘I’ needs to stop.

If the colour of the guide doesn’t show up so well, you can quickly change it.

  • From the Motion menu, choose Preferences.
  • Click on the Canvas tab.
  • Make sure Alignment is selected.
  • Click the swatch for Guide Color and choose the colour that works best.

Adding a Throw Behaviour as a Transition

  • Make sure the Playhead is at the very start of the Timeline.
  • Select the Master Group layer.

We want to apply the transition to the whole title.

  • And from the Behaviours menu at the top of the interface, choose Basic Motion and Throw.

The Throw Behaviour is added to the Master Group.

Take a look at the Timeline and you’ll see Throw takes up its whole length. But I want a shorter transition.

  • Grab the right edge of the Throw and drag it left until the duration in the pop-up box reads 20 frames.

The Throw isn’t doing anything yet. We’ll start by positioning the title off the screen and then adjust the Throw velocity.

  • Select the Master Group layer.
  • Click on the Inspector to reveal the Master Group settings.
  • Select the Properties tab.
  • Under Position, drag down on the X value until the title disappears off the left side of the screen.

Position the Playhead at the end of the Throw Behaviour. Note that this is not the very end of the purple bar, but actually one frame in.

  • Watch the layer header in the Timeline while moving the Playhead.
  • Starting to the right of the Throw behaviour, slowly move the Playhead left.

You can tell you are in the right position, because the name goes from grey to white.

  • Select Throw in the Timeline or the Project Pane.
  • In the Behaviours Inspector, expand Throw Velocity.
  • Drag up on the X value to increase it. Make sure the ‘I’ in the text lines up with the vertical guide.

Now when we play the start of the Timeline, you can see the title animates onto the screen.

You can also create the slide on by keyframing the position of the Master Group. But using a Behaviour is easier and more flexible.

Adding a Fade In / Fade Out Behaviour for Transitions

The next thing I’m going to do is add a Fade In and Fade Out behaviour.

  • Select the Master Group layer.
  • And from the Behaviours menu choose Basic Motion and Fade In / Fade Out.

The Behaviour is added and by default takes up the length of the Timeline. It fades in for 20 frames at the very beginning and fades out for 20 frames at the very end. This is what I want, so I’ll leave the duration exactly as it is. Play the timeline so you can see the transition in and transition out. It slides and fades in at the start, then fades our at the end.

  • From the File menu choose Save to update the title in Final Cut.

Testing the Transitions in Final Cut Pro

So we’ve created transitions and saved the template. Let’s see it working in Final Cut.

  • Drag the latest version of Demo Title onto the Timeline. Place it over an existing clip as a Connected clip.
  • Play to see it working.

Now there is a problem when publishing titles or generators with transitions. When you shorten or lengthen them the speed of the transition changes.

  • Make the title shorter and play it to see the faster transitions.
  • Make the title longer and play to see the slower transitions.

If I return the title to its default length and make it into a Compound Clip, that will protect the duration of the transitions. But I will lose them if I trim the clip shorter. There is a solution to this, but we need to solve it in Motion, not in Final Cut.

Adding Build-in and Build-out Markers in Motion

So the way we’re going to do this is by adding Build In and Build Out markers. These will protect the duration of the transitions when you trim the title longer or shorter in Final Cut.

My transitions are twenty frames long. My project is twenty-five frames per second. So I’ll add my first marker at one second. I’m not sure it’s strictly necessary, but I always place the marker a few frames after the transition ends.

Just be aware that I’ve changed the display from Show Frames to Show Timecode.

  • I’ll position my playhead at one second.
  • Click an empty area of the Project Pane to make sure no layers are selected. Cause we want to add a marker to the whole project, not an individual layer. And from the Mark menu choose Markers, Add Marker. The top of the Playhead turns green, showing there’s a marker underneath.

From the Mark menu choose Markers, Edit Marker. From the Type menu, select Build-In – Optional. Click OK. We’ll look at why I prefer optional over mandatory a little later.

You can see the marker has turned into an arrow pointing right. The Throw and Fade In behaviours before the marker are protected. There’s a dotted orange line showing the unprotected region of the project. Let’s add another marker to protect the Fade Out behaviour at the end.

As with the incoming transitions, the Fade Out is twenty frames long and ends at six seconds, twenty-four frames. I’ll place the Playhead at six seconds, which is four frames before the Fade Out begins. Once again, click an empty area of the Project Pane to make sure no layers are selected. From the Mark menu choose, Markers, Add Marker. And a new marker is added at six seconds. From the Mark menu choose Markers, Edit Marker. From the Type menu, select Build-Out – Optional. Click OK.

You can see the marker has turned into an arrow pointing left. The Fade Out behaviour after the marker are protected. The orange dotted line between the markers shows the unprotected region. So when we trim the length of the title in Final Cut only the unprotected region without transitions will be affected.

Project Markers in Motion

Save the project so it updates in Final Cut.

Testing the Transitions with Markers in FCP

Here I am in Final Cut. I’ll drag the latest version of the title onto the Timeline. Now when I trim its length, the speed of the transitions aren’t affected. This is exactly what I wanted.

Now, make sure the title is selected and in the Inspector, choose the Title browser. Earlier when we were making the markers, I said use optional Build-In and Build-Out markers instead of mandatory, this is why. With optional, you get these check boxes that allow you to deactivate Build-In and Build-Out. Let’s see what happens when I uncheck them.

Now when I play the title, those transitions aren’t showing. I can override them by adding different ones in Final Cut. So, the Built-In and Build-Out markers protect the transitions. But by making them optional, I’m able to switch them on and off.

Control Similar Settings in Final Cut Pro with the Link Behaviour

The next tip for Final Cut Pro and Motion templates is all about using the Link Behaviour to control similar settings. In this example, it’s going to be the colours of three blocks. kIn the previous video where we rigged widgets in Motion, we were able to adjust several parameters from a single widget. But there is another way of doing this.

This title has these three white blocks. I’d like to be able to change their colour in Final Cut. We could rig a Slider widget, but another way is to use the Link Behaviour.

Make sure Master Group is open, by clicking its arrow. Then, open the Blocks Group. We need to choose one block as the controller, I’m going to make it block 01.

For now, select block 02. In the Inspector click the Shape tab. Click the arrow to the right of Fill Colour to bring up the Animation menu. Click Add Parameter Behaviour and then Link.

The Link Behaviour appears as a layer under Block 02. In the Inspector, you’re taken to the Link Behaviour panel. Currently the Link doesn’t have a Source Object. Drag block 01 into the source well. Block 01 is going to be the controller of this effect. You can see the Source Parameter is using the Fill Color of block 01.

Let’s do the same with block 03, then test the Behaviour. Select block 03. Click the arrow to the right of Fill Colour. Choose Add Parameter Behaviour and Link. Drag the block 01 layer into the source well. So the Fill colour of block 02 and block 03 are now controlled by block 01. Let’s test it out.

Select block 01. Click the Fill Colour swatch and choose the Colour Wheel. Drag the puck to see all three blocks have the same colour.

But what if I want the blocks to have slightly different shades? In the Project Pane, select the Link layer under block 02. In the Link Behaviour in the Inspector, drag the Scale down a little to darken the colour. Select the Link layer under block 03. And again drag the Scale down to make it slightly darker than block 02.

Select block 01 and go to the Shape tab. Now when you adjust the Fill Colour, you can see blocks 02 and 03 are consistently darker than block 01.

Making this part of the template in Final Cut is easy, we simply publish block 01’s Fill Colour. Click the arrow to the right of Fill Colour to open the Animation menu. From there, choose Publish. Select the Project layer. And then the Project tab. You can see the published parameters including the new Fill Colour. I’ll change the name to Block Colour.

From the File menu, choose Save or use the ⌘-S shortcut. And now the Template with the new Block Colour control is available in Final Cut.

Test the Link Behaviour in Final Cut Pro

So here I am in Final Cut, with the latest version of the title template on the Timeline. As you can see in the Title Inspector, the Block Colour parameter is available to use.

Prevent Problems in Final Cut Pro when Re-naming or Deleting a Template

Shortly I’ll be showing you how to re-name and delete a template. However doing either of these things can cause problems with older projects. So first, here’s a tip showing you how to prevent those problems.

When you create a Library in Final Cut, by default any Motion Content created by you is referenced from the Motion Templates folder. This lives inside the Movies folder on your Mac hard drive. So when you play your timeline, Final Cut looks in that folder to find the custom effects you’ve created.

If you change the name of a template or delete it, Final Cut can no longer find it and the effect goes offline. This can cause problems when you need to revisit previous projects. So, here’s how to prevent this happening.

  • When you create a new Library, select the Library in the sidebar.
  • In the Inspector click Modify Settings and change Motion Content to In Library.
  • Click OK.

Any custom templates you use in your project from now on are copied to the Library and referenced from there. If you change this setting after you’ve started using custom templates in your project…

  • In the Inspector, under Motion Content click Consolidate.

Then even if you rename or delete templates later on, this Library will still contain the original versions. And that’s because changes are made in the Motion Templates folder and not the Library.

Re-name or Delete a Motion Template

My next tip covers how to rename or delete a template. It’s not immediately obvious how we do either of these. So let’s take a look. First change the Library settings as recommended earlier.  Now, imagine you’re in Final Cut and you need to re-organise the templates you’ve created. One thing you might want to do is re-name a template.

  • Quit Final Cut.
  • Click the smiley face on the Dock to open the Finder.
  • Click the Go menu and choose Go To Folder.
  • Type in Movies and hit Enter.
  • In the Movies folder, open the Motion Templates folder.

Now you need to find the template you want to re-name. Fortunately they are well organised.

  • First identify the template type, it’s either Effects, Generators, Titles or Transitions.
  • Then expand the Titles folder.
  • Next locate the category.
  • Expand the category you used for your template.
  • Locate the template I want to re-name.
  • First rename its folder.
  • Then expand the folder and rename the Motion project inside.

Make sure the name of the folder and the project are exactly the same.

Once you know your way around the Motion Templates folder, deleting a template is very easy.

  • Make sure you’ve quit Final Cut.
  • Locate the template you want to delete.
  • Right-click and choose Move to Trash.

Before you empty the Trash, you could re-launch Final Cut and double-check you’ve deleted the right one.


In this article you got some tips for Final Cut Pro and Motion templates. We looked at how to add transition to a title in Motion. And how to protect the duration of those transitions using markers. We used the Link Behaviour to control the colour of separate objects. 

And we looked at how you can re-name and delete templates. And we also changed the Library settings in Final Cut to stop templates in older projects going offline when you make changes.

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