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Best Of: Applying effects across multiple clips with Adjustment Layers

Posted by Iain Anderson on

Ah, the Adjustment Layer. While it’s not part of the default installation, the recipe was discovered soon after FCP X’s release. (In Motion, create a new title, delete the text, and save — that’s it.) As such, you’ll find many different adjustment layers out there, and they all work the same way.

To begin, grab Alex4D’s Adjustment Layer or CoreMelt Free and follow the installation instructions.

When you’ve installed one of the many options, click onto your Titles browser (not Effects) and then search for “adjust” at the bottom of the pane. Drag an adjustment layer to above part of your timeline, and you’ll see… no change at all. But here comes the magic part.

If you select the adjustment layer and press Command-6, you’ll bring up a Color Board that will adjust every clip below the adjustment layer. If you add a video effect, every clip below will have the effect applied. If you crop, blur, correct, add a look, anything at all, everything below is affected.

Adjustment Layer example

Adjustment Layers, then, enable the best color-correction workflow. Use the color board (or the plug-in of your choice) to make the shots match one another, but ignore contrast, sharpness and the overall look. When the edit is done, add an adjustment layer above each scene, and apply looks, filters, vignettes and color to those. You can even use the Broadcast Safe filter on a timeline-long adjustment layer to keep everything in check.

Downsides? No audio adjustments, and it’s something else to manage in your timeline. Generally, it’s best to apply these late in the process, but they’re spectacularly useful — and free.

Iain Anderson is an Apple Certified Trainer, videographer, editor, animator, writer, designer and occasional coder based in Brisbane, Australia.

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