If you need to deliver numeric information as part of a video, you can talk about it, you can show numbers, or you can show graphs. Even better, you can show animated graphs, which can display that information in a way that makes it more understandable. This doesn’t have to be hard, and you can do it yourself, for free. Let’s take a look at a few options.
Simple Video Making have a free set of four percentage elements, and they’re easy to use. Install them by putting them in your Movies > Motion Templates > Generators folder, restart FCP X, and then search for “percent” in the Generators tab. Drag one of the four generators here into a timeline, and look for the Value parameter in the Inspector. To animate the graph, you just need to keyframe this property, and that’s easy. Move to the time you want the animation to start, set the value (likely zero) and press the plus inside a diamond to add a keyframe. Now move to when the animation should end, and change the Value again, to whatever you want. That’s it!
One thing to watch: the circle graph here has built-in fades at the start and end, and if you don’t want them, you’ll have to edit it in Motion, or put it in a compound clip and then trim the ends.
Another free option is Data Pop Free, from Stupid Raisins, that installs through FxFactory. It also includes an optional build-in camera sweep, to keep things interesting even if you don’t want to animate to the final number. (Still, if you do want that, look for the Amount parameter in the Inspector, and follow the same steps as outlined above.) We've also looked at this before.
Lastly, if the information you want to animate is a little more on the complex side, you might want to use another app entirely: Keynote. Data that’s already in Excel format can be opened directly into Numbers, and then pasted into Keynote. Apple’s excellent (and free) presentation tool has all kinds of animations built in, and it’s simple to export an animation graph to a movie for Final Cut Pro. To find out how, check out this tutorial video from 9to5Mac.
A quick revision to that tutorial: set the slide background to “No Fill” and don’t insert a photo as the background. When you export, choose a Custom resolution, type in the numbers you want (3840x2160 is fine) then export as ProRes 4444. The background will be 100% transparent in FCP X, and you can put anything you want behind it. Use retiming and hold frames to take care of final timing issues, and present your data well!
Iain Anderson is an Apple Certified Trainer, videographer, editor, animator, writer, designer and occasional coder based in Brisbane, Australia. http://www.trainingbrisbane.com and @funwithstuff on Twitter.
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