USING COMPOSITE MODES IN FINAL CUT PRO

Using Composite Modes in Final Cut Pro
By Estelle MacDonald

Sometimes a clip is lacking depth. The quickest solution is to give it a ‘pick-me-up’ with a Composite Mode. A Composite Mode controls how the colors of a clip combine with the clip immediately below it.

1. Option-Shift and drag a copy of the clip you want to affect to the track above.

2. Control or right click on the top clip and choose a Composite Mode. In this example I chose a screen.

Before.

After.


If you’re a photoshop expert then this is old news but for the rest of us lets explore, without the math, what each of the composite modes mean. Add: Combines the color values of the clip with those of the clip beneath it in the Sequence. The resulting image is lighter and depending on the added values will also increase the chrominance. Subtract: Subtracts the color values of the selected clip from those of the clip the resulting image is darker. Where, as in our example, a duplicate of a clip is used and a Subtract mode applied then you will notice, well, nothing – BLACK. In order for this mode to work it needs different values, ie a different clip underneath so it can Subtract from something. Difference: Subtracts the color values of the underlying clip from the selected clip. How images interact will depend on the colors and brightness of the images. Ditto on the different clip! You need a clip with different values in order to see a difference. Multiply: Color values pixel to pixel are multiplied between the clips. If the image is already dark, then there is little use for this mode however if the image is too light, Multiply darkens it. Multiply is also a nice trick for your toolbox when your image has overblown white as it knocks out absolute white values leaving all other values of the image alone. Screen: Color values for pixels are compared and multiplied in the inverse value. Where there is light = little to no effect, but where there is dark, screen does it’s magic. Use the screen mode to knock out absolute black values. Screen is the yang of multiply. Overlay: This handy mode does a little bit of multiply and a little bit of screen. Wherever the color value is more than 128, Screen is applied. Wherever the color value is less than 128, Multiply is applied. This means more dark, more light and more contrast. Hard Light: Think spotlight! Depending on color values Hard Light darkens or lightens the colors of the selected clip. Soft Light: Think diffused spotlight! Darkens or lightens the colors of the selected clip, depending on the color values for that clip. Darken: Color pixels between the clips are compared and the argument is won by the darker pixel. Lighten: Color pixels between the clips are compared and the argument is won by the lighter pixel. We will cover travel mattes for luma and alpha in more depth in another tip so be sure to check Ripple Training next month!