Post Production

Creating screen replacement effects in Final Cut Pro X

This week on MacBreak Studio, I show Steve Martin from Ripple Training how you can use the Distort tool in Final Cut Pro X to create screen replacement effects.

In our continuing exploration of the Video Inspector in FCP X, today we explore the Distort section. As with Crop, there is a dedicated tool for distortion that you can enable at the bottom left of the Viewer or by using a keyboard shortcut: Option D in this case (although the keyboard command is not a toggle; you have to click with the mouse on the tool icon to turn this tool off).

With the Distort tool active, all you need to do is drag on any of the 8 blue rectangles around the edge of your clip to reshape it, much like a rubber sheet. You can use the corner handles to quickly conform your clip to fit within the bounds of any 4-cornered object. For example, it’s easy to put content in a television screen by adding your content as a connected clip over the shot of the TV screen, then distorting the corners to fit the screen. Most modern HDTV sets have sharp corners, making it easy to matching up your content – use the Zoom controls to get very close and accurate.

Of course this screen replacement effect works best if the shot of the screen is a locked down shot. If the camera is moving, you could in theory set keyframes to animate the distortion to track to the screen, but in those cases a tracking plugin like TrackX from CoreMelt may be a better way to go.

If the screen you are replacing has rounded edges, you can combine the distort tool with a Shape Mask to round the corners of your distorted clip. All the good details in the video above. If you find this information useful, check out our Warp Speed Effects tutorial.


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Mark Spencer is a freelance producer, videographer, editor, trainer and writer based in the Bay Area. He produces Final Cut Pro X-related training and plugins for with his partners at Ripple Training. He is an…