Magic Lantern HDR Compose: Free Final Cut Pro X generator

Magic Lantern is a system for adding features to Canon DSLRs, Unified is a recent ML package enables some cameras to shoot footage that can processed to produce content with a larger exposure range – i.e. High Dynamic Range.

The files produced are made up of alternate frames of under- and over-exposed footage. My new generators take these frames and give you the control to define how the overexposed frames are overlayed on top of the underexposed frames.

For more information on Unified and Magic Lantern and the software to for your Canon DSLR, visit the Wiki

December 2012:  I’ve replaced the generators that were here with a single effect.


Go to my newer blog post on the new version.


  1. Marc said:

    Great plugin! Anyway of doing 60fps to 30fps? That way your final footage comes out as 30fps. Will that be available in the future because I think a lot of people are going this route. Thanks!!

  2. Very nice plugin! Unfortenately I’m not a FCP user so I wonder if it is portable to sony vegas pro? Greetings.

    • Alex said:

      Sadly not, there is no way of converting my technique to Vegas Pro.

      • vince said:

        will this be available for Premiere pro?

      • Alex said:

        Sadly, no. This was implemented using Apple’s Motion 5 application. Adobe haven’t produced a version of Premiere Pro that can use effects made using Motion yet.

  3. Claudio said:

    Hi Alex and everybody,
    i try to use the lupgin with a 29.97 fps clip on 29.97 fps timeline using proper alex4d generator but i-m still getting the flickering results as it was the original ML footage.

    Here is the 1 min workflow videoclip i used,
    can anyone give me a hand?


    • Alex said:

      Could you send me a link to your source file – perhaps the fault is with my generator. I don’t have a large variety of footage to test.

      • Claudio said:

        Sure alex, i’ve sent you an email to production@a…… with the source code. let me know if it helps

      • Claudio said:

        Ok, i did some tests
        – 25 fps WORKS (with my clip and ML source clip)
        – 50 fps WORKS

        -29.97 DOESN’T WORK
        -59.97 DOESN’T WORK

        i didn’t try the 23.97
        Seems the problem is for the NTSC footage

        Let me know if i can help

      • Alex said:

        Thanks for your 29.97 footage. It didn’t work with my generator (unlike my test footage).

        I’ve modified the 29.97 and 59.94 versions, so hopefully they will work for you.

      • Claudio said:

        Great Alex!
        It works perfectly on the 29 and 59 fps footage now.!
        I not sure about a 23 fps version,
        check it out cause maybe it has the same problem of the other version!

    • Yeah! We can change the interpolation of the elements in our timeline by easing in and out the position, scale and orientation. This effect will give movement in our projects a more natural feel. Great for working with graphics! 😀

  4. patrik said:

    hello Alex
    THX for that.
    But, can u fix 60 and 30frames.

    • Alex said:

      59.94 and 29.97 work OK. Do you mean exactly 60 and 30?

  5. Carmel said:

    Hi Alex

    if you could help with that one:
    how can I use it on FCP 7 ?
    (I have been trying for 3 hours till I realized it’s meant for fcp x … )

    Thanks for answering

    • Alex said:

      The method for making FCP 7 plug-ins is completely different from X. It would be much harder to provide the same kind of effect for 7.

      There are two strategies you could follow: Use Motion 4 to create a template for FCP 7 or use effects built into 7 to create your own workflow.

      I might get onto this once I’ve refined the FCP X version further.

      • Alex said:

        FCP7 method

        1. In the timeline, apply the Strobe effect (Duration: 2) to your source footage on v1. This will make v1 show the underexposed frames only (at half the frame rate).
        2. Option-drag the video layer upwards to make a copy of the footage on v2.
        3. Trim one frame off the front off the copy on v2, and move it back one frame to line up with v1. This will make the clip on v2 show only the overexposed frames.

        How you then combine the two layers depends on your HDR method of choice – in some cases a luma key works:

        4. Apply the Luma Key effect (Final, Key Out Brighter, Copy to Alpha, 20, 100) to v2 so that it only shows the bright parts of the image you want to overlay onto v1.

        As I’m more of an FCP user than an HDR expert, you might want to search for other composition methods elsewhere on the internet.

      • Carmel said:

        Hi Alex,

        thanks again for the workflow suggested to fcp 7.
        It worked just fine with preparing the two layers.
        What you suggested with LUMA Key Effect creates a “milky” kind of image.
        If anyone working with FCP 7 has an idea to that one?
        (combining the two layers).


  6. Carmel said:

    I will try that

    but before hand, thank you very much for the infos!

  7. Hi Alex,
    Please help me with the problem. How do I proceed after dragging the generator onto ML footage in project timeline ? It gets replaced by generator and I am not getting any window which shows the overexposed frames. Please help me. Thank You.


    • Alex said:

      The ML footage isn’t automatically added to the generator, so you need to click it, click the clip well and choose your ML footage.

      Claudio Giovenzana has recorded the process in a video at

  8. Hi Alex,
    If say I want to use a slow motion tool like twixtor or optical flow which needs a minimum footage of 60fps, Is it possible to get a HDR for that ? Like If I shoot in 60 fps ML footage for HDR, it gives me 30 fps output. So to get a 60 fps HDR footage for twixtor, I need to shoot 120 fps video which is unavailable in DSLRs. How can we shoo this problem. Please help. Thank You

    • Alex said:

      The solution is to use a slow motion tool that can deal with any frame rate. Final Cut Pro X, Motion and Compressor can do optical flow processing. The catch in this workflow is that they need a file on a hard drive to analyse.

      I can make FCPX and Motion produce 15 and 30fps dark and light frame sequences from ML HDR flicker footage, but they won’t produce the intermediate frames unless those sequences are exported to a QuickTime file.

  9. cud u elaborate that please. Dont FCPx need 60fps minimum for extreme slow motion ?

    • Alex said:

      Optical-flow software works better if it has more frames per second to deal with. In FCPX you can slow down any file-based sequence as much as you want. You get better results if there are more source frames to work with.

      Remember that once you’ve slowed down a clip with the timing menu, you can also use the same menu to tell FCP X to use Optical flow to analyse the clip.

  10. Funky said:

    Would be great to have this plugin for FCP 7 too. Is this possible?

    • Alex said:

      It might be possible, but I can’t allocate the time to work out how to do it (I’d have to start from scratch). Sorry!

  11. yeah i got it working finally on 50fps, now tesing 25fps, 30fps and 60fps, will let you know any findings and settings i think are any use for everyone.

  12. Claudio said:

    Hi Alex, i wrote you couple of email.. (form claudio giovenzana). How is doing the plugin work? are you implementing the feature we discuss about. Just give me a hollar 🙂
    Talk soon!

  13. Claudio said:

    Alex, any news?

  14. wouloulou said:

    Thanks a lot Alex for this plugin. I am always so impressed that Magic Lantern always comes up with something new.
    I did some tests and I have two issues :
    – ghost frames seems to appear on the sides of moving objects
    – i am having a hard time producing contrasted images.

    Is there any tips to avoid / minimize this ?

    Thanks !

  15. Denis said:

    Great work Alex!

    but my camera 50D generates 30fps footage. When I choose 29,97fps the final result unfortunately still flickers. Is there a way to use your template with 30fps footage? Thanks!

    • Alex said:

      When I produce the next version of the effect I’ll produce a 30fps version too. I’ll upload it by the end of February.

  16. Hi Alex I shoot short clips of interiors of properties 30 /40 seconds in length, I am getting a pixelated low res final result, do the clips have to be 10 minutes long?

    • Alex said:

      No, they can be up to 10 minutes long. Using the ‘drag generator to Replace’ technique I describe in the instructions is about making the effect match the length of the clip you want to use.

  17. Vincent56 said:

    great stuff, but i have an issue with trimming the clips: it doesnt work. i can trim the clip, but that just shortens the clip, i cant cut anything off or use blade. i think it has something to do with the ‘replace from start’ command, but im not sure. any ideas?

    • Alex said:

      If you make the generator into a compound clip, you can trim the start off the compound clip.

      • Vincent56 said:

        you mean before or after you drag it over the ML-clip? i suppose you have to have 2 clips to be able to make a compound…

      • Alex said:

        Vincent56, once you have selected the clip (which can be a selection in an event clip, or another clip in the timeline) for the ‘Magic Lantern HDR Clip’.

        A single clip can be a compound clip. Select it and choose New Compound Clip… from the File menu or use the Option-G keyboard shortcut. Once the clip is a compound clip, you can trim the start off.

  18. Troy said:

    Alex, just wondering if it is necessary for me to detach audio? when I follow your steps I lose audio.

    • Alex said:

      You make a very good point. When I upload the new version of this generator, I’ll mention this in the instructions.

  19. Troy said:

    Can the gen be applied to multiple clips (ie all in the timeline are shot HDR) in the next version? or is necessary to make all the clips a Compound clip?

    • Alex said:

      As I implemented this using Apple Motion, I’m limited by the way Motion templates work in Final Cut Pro X. Once I get other features done, I’ll se what I can do.

  20. Hey Alex, I’m new at ML… I have the 60D and am wondering what I set my camera to. In camera, I have 1920×1080 30p and 24p or 1280×720 60p. Could you be specific about what I set my camera to, my project to and which generator to use? Thanks!

  21. HI I’m working on a Mac, and i am new to HDR Video.
    How do i convert the lighter and darker images into a HDR Video, i am using FCPX but can’t work out how to combine the darker and lighter images into one HDR video file to bring into FCPX.
    Any help would be much appreciated.

      • Hi Micheal,
        first i suggest to download the LAST version of the plugin here
        then, be sure you have the Magic lanter firmware in your canon camera and to shoot in HDR mode..
        then put the clip on timeline(that will look like a crazy flickering shot) and apply the HDR effect made by alex.
        The plugin will over impose one frame over another with different exposure, at this point you should play with the levels and adjustment to decide how much one frame will be revealed on the other.
        It s like playing with 2 film frame and putting and overlay them to obtain the best detail and the more complete exposure.
        Unfortunately at this stage it is quite complex for me too and i need more practice to understand all the available controls of the plugin.

  22. Hi Alex,
    i have previously made a tutorial on your first HDR plugin….
    now with you last version it is quite a bit more complicated.
    Do you know if there are some tutorial around on how to properly use the last HDR for fcpx plugin?

    • Alex said:

      Sorry no. This version may have more options, but it is easier to get going than the original version.

      I don’t have a good set of HDR footage to demo how it works as I haven’t updated my 5D with Magic Lantern!

  23. No prob i can figure it out.
    however i think an easy way to have the hdr effect, based on your plugin is to decide through a MASK where and how much (opacity) reveal a frame A over a frame B.

    Having a 4 6 or 8 mask points or eliptical mask with selectable feather and opacity shoul be great to apply the over or under exposed frame in the over or under exposed part of the frame where we are working.

    Do you think it would be doable?

    • Andre Lizama said:

      can you do a tutorial on how to install it properly and how to get it to work please!

  24. Patrick Montgomery said:

    Hi Alex,
    You mention that you created the HDR plug-in using Motion 5. Will the plug-in work with Motion 5 without FCPX? That wold save me from having to purchase FCPX. Not against FCPX, just trying to save a few bucks as I already have other NLE software.

    • Alex said:

      Yes, you can open the effect using Motion 5 and import your HDR clip into it.

  25. koroush said:


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