Free Final Cut Pro plugins: Alex4D Mask+ effects

These effects improve on my first Final Cut Pro X effect, ‘Mask 8 Points.’

The current version of Final Cut doesn’t allow keyframing of mask shape co-ordinates in effects. These effects (which come in 4, 8 and 16 point variants) add transform controls to the mask (like my 8-point matte effect for Final Cut Pro 7).

The default effect:

The effect of the default settings for Alex Mask+ 8

With the mask points scaled, repositioned and rotated:

Drag the transform control to reposition the mask, drag on an edge to scale, drag on a corner to rotate.

Here are the controls:

You can see here that keyframes have been set for the Transform parameters.

Warning: Sometimes Final Cut Pro disconnects the numeric parameter controls from the on-screen controls, so it is best to use the on-screen controls.

As well as being able to transform the mask, you can also control its perspective distortion. Note that the perspective controls don’t move the mask shape co-ordinate controls, so you must choose either to see the Mask Points control or the Perspective Distortion control.

Viewing the mask points control:

Change the Control menu to Perspective Distort.

To prompt Final Cut to update which controls are visible, click elsewhere to deselect the effect and click again to reselect the effect.

Drag the corners and edges to add a perspective distortion to your mask:

You can still manipulate the transformation of a mask with a perspective distortion applied:

Like my previous mask effect, you can control the interior and outside strength of the mask:

In this case, the outside of the mask is fully visible (100), the inside is half visible (50):

This means you can have two copies of a clip on a timeline, and apply Mask+ effect to the connected clip:

In this case a blur has been applied to the connected clip (which is visible around the outside of the mask), and a sepia effect has been applied to the main storyline clip:

As well as two ways of changing the overall shape and position of the mask, there is also the option for applying an additional mask which can be based on the luminance or transparency of another clip. The additional mask can add to, subtract from or intersect with the main mask.

So that the effect’s result can be used as an input to other effects, you can choose to show the computed alpha as a luminance map (as well as see the additional mask).

Installation

Download this disk image:

It includes an installation script for Spherico’s Motion Template Tool application, if you don’t have it on your Mac, download it. It is a freeware/donationware tool that simplifies effects installation for Final Cut Pro X users. MTT installs the effects in the correct folders, creating them if need be. You don’t need to have Motion 5 or MTT installed for these effects to work.

Once you have MTT installed on your computer, double-click the ‘Install Alex4D Mask+ 1.0.mtt’ file.

If you don’t want to use MTT, install these effects in Home / Movies / Motion Templates / Effects / Keying:

Find them in the ‘Keying’ section of the Effects browser:

Check out my other free effects and articles on my Final Cut Pro X home page.

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55 comments
  1. Ricky said:

    Thanks Alex,

    Ricky Dominguez
    Luna Films
    Puerto Rico

  2. chanana said:

    bonjour je suis un réalisateur vidéaste à Bamako ( Mali )

  3. I couldn’t thank you enough Alex!
    I’m new to FCP and I spent days looking for a solution to transform clips into various shapes.
    This is an amazing workaround you made and it is key to a project I’m working on.
    One question I have – is there anyway to add borders to the transformed clips?
    Thanks so much and please keep up the great work!

    • Alex said:

      No border controls yet – but there might be able to make a separate effect that can add borders to transparent parts of clips…

      • That would be wonderful Alex. If you feel that it’s worth creating such an effect I’d be ecstatic!

        Just to let you know – I’ve been working with your Mask+ everyday.

  4. Johny said:

    Hi guys,
    I try to set key-frames and animate a mask but the mask simply doesn’t move.
    Even if i try a simple 4 point mask and set keyframes and then move to another frame, repositioning the points and set new key-frames and then jump between the two key-frames the mask points never moves.
    Anyone have any tip on how to actually key-frame a mask?
    Cheers :)

    • Alex said:

      I’m sorry I didn’t make this clear: the mask points themselves cannot be keyframe animated. This is a limitation of the current version of Final Cut Pro.

      When you say that you set keyframes, which controls are you setting keyframes for? I didn’t make the points themselves keyframable.

      • Johny said:

        Ah… that explains things :)
        No worries I’ve just move the masking task to Motion so i can fully key-frame the position of the mask.
        Anyway thanks for making cool add-ons for FCP.
        I’ve had FCP since it was released but never actually used it much. I was just playing around with it tonight, I’m still waiting for the next Mac Pro before i dive in more seriously.

  5. No said:

    sorry but it don’t run, it have an blue screen when i put effect in my rush, how to do? (sorry for my english i’m french)

    • Alex said:

      Update your copy of Final Cut Pro X to 10.0.4 – run the App Store application to get the update.

      • No said:

        thank you

      • Ben Cavet said:

        Sorry to be a noob,

        how to you run the App store application ?

        Thanks a lot.

      • Alex said:

        Go to the Apple menu and choose “App Store…” if you are running OS X 10.7 or newer.

      • Ben Cavet said:

        Thank you for your answer. Love your blog – keep up the good work.

  6. Shea A.J. Comfort said:

    Thank you very much for this. I was really in a bad way when I discovered that FCPX cannot adjust its’ mask if you are working in SD! (Wow…). This saved me and is a pleasure to use. I appreciate your creating this and sharing with others.

  7. *N. said:

    I just downloaded this and fell in love!

  8. robs said:

    Thank so much for you plugins Alex! excellent work, very helpful : )

  9. Does anyone have a video of what they’ve created using this mask/effect??

  10. Mark Slocombe said:

    Thanks Alex – where to donate by Paypal?

  11. eric brown said:

    how come it shows up on my fcpx but don’t work just a blue box Software Mac OS X Lion 10.7.5 (11G63)

  12. Kevin Martis said:

    Thanks for the freebies! I can not identify where the link or download button for Alex4D Mask+ effects is?

    • Alex said:

      In the ‘Installation’ section look for the first sentence: ‘Download this disk image’

  13. Hello Alex,

    How are you? With the recent updates to FCPX, is there any chance to find a way to be able to keyframe individual points of the mask, yet? This would be extremely useful!

    I really appreciate your work.

    • Alex said:

      No, it is a limitation of Motion (the app is built into Final Cut Pro).

      SliceX will allow you to keyframe masks I think.

      • Shea A.J. Comfort said:

        Got it. Thank you for the reply & info.

  14. Hi Alex, ¿ any signs of being able to save a present for any of these effects? I’ve done a few motion but it’s far away and unnecessarily complicated for me…Not only that every time you save an effect( it has another name) its just another effect to sort through in FCP 10. I’m surprised that not many people have talked about the lack of video presets(the have them fine for audio plugins) and I thought It would be interesting for me and others to know what your view on that. Thank you (and excuse me if this is off topic!)

    • Alex said:

      Dan,

      Sadly no: it isn’t possible to do presets in Final Cut Pro effects yet. Especially user presets. I’d rather provide a whole load of presets to demo the many features of some of my plugins.

      @Alex4D

  15. mr.anonymous said:

    i didnt understand how to install it, can u reply to this message with more detailed steps please, thank you.

    • mr.anonymous said:

      nevermind i got it :) sorry ppl continue on wid ur lives

    • Alex said:

      1. When you click to download a file do you know where it will appear on your Mac?
      2. Did you install the free ‘Motion Template Tool’ application?

  16. tyler c said:

    this thing sucks i cant frickin install and when i do everything is just blue

  17. hi why i could not open the file when I’m installing.. it show like this “The document “Install Alex4D Mask+ 1.0.mtt” could not be opened. Final Cut Pro cannot open files of this type”.

    Im using FCPX 10.08

    need your reply thanks.

  18. hi Alex, why i could not open the file when I’m installing.. it show like this “The document “Install Alex4D Mask+ 1.0.mtt” could not be opened. Final Cut Pro cannot open files of this type”.

    Im using FCPX 10.08

    need your reply, thanks.

    Mack

    • Alex said:

      Please follow the instructions above – download the Motion Template Tool.

      • Hi Alex tnx for the quick reply, isn’t that the Alex 4D Mask + 1.0 comes with the MTT or theres another MTT file to download?

    • Alex said:

      Click the ‘Spherico’s Motion Template Tool application’ text to go to a webpage where you’ll find the download link for MTT. Download it.

      • Yes i got it thanks Alex…

  19. Babylon Slim said:

    Hi Alex – Thank you for your generosity and hard work. I really appreciate your toys.
    I haven’t been using the installer – have been doing it manually. I have FCP 10.1.1 – I do NOT have a “Keying” folder located in home/movies/motion templates/effects. I DO have a “keying’ group in the effects tab inside of FCP X AND in Motion 5 tho. I have also looked for a “keying” subfolder in Mac hd/library/application support/motion
    — AND — home/library/app support/motion. No “Keying” subfolder.
    Weird?
    I put these mattes of yours in a subfolder with your Name in the prescribed location (effects).
    So am I crazy? I hate not being able to figure something out.
    Thanking

  20. Carlson said:

    Hello I just installed this and it doesnt show up in the “Keying” Selection only in “All” But its still there. But when i drag it onto my clip it turns the whole clip blue

    • Alex said:

      Your version of Final Cut is probably too old. If it was bought using your iTunes account you can can a free update to a new enough version using Software Update in the Apple menu.

      • Babylon Slim said:

        From Babylon Slim –
        I have a new iMac, Mavericks and FCP 10.1.1.
        What do you think about there not being a KYING subfolder – see my comment above??

  21. Alex said:

    I saw a question like this above, but the answer was never clarified.
    In Motion is it possible to key-frame a mask (unlike in FCPX)?

      • Alex said:

        Thx!

  22. Max said:

    how do u get the mask in final cut pro???

  23. Max said:

    i downloaded every thing and It still won’t recognize it in final cut pro. Please help

    • Alex said:

      Have you followed the installation instructions?

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