This movie was the final project for a beginning course in video editing at Vista Community college in Berkeley, CA, taught by Terry Bodkin, using Final Cut Pro. It's been modified slightly since with mostly minor tweaks; this version is from July, 2004. Listed in the order I discovered them, the following books were invaluable: the Apple FCP manuals; "Final Cut Pro 4," by Diana Weynand; "Advanced FCP4," by DigitalFilm Tree; "Editing Techniques with FCP," 2nd ed., by Michael Wohl; and "Motion Graphics and Effects in FCP," by Kevin Monahan.

I've added some sound effects and did a major overhaul on the "Flying Type" sequence, which you'll find in Version Two, and as of December 27, 2006, you can download a full-rez copy of "Just This," from

On July 30, 2007, I uploaded a copy to YouTube. If you've found this page helpful, go there and give it a good rating. There's a link back to this page in the description so others might find their way here.

The Timeline:

screen shot of timeline

This is probably not the prettiest timeline you ever saw, but it got the job done. There are a lot of nested sequences in there, which we'll take a look at, starting with...

The Title:

the opening title screenshot of title sequence timeline

photo of a page in a dictionaryThe base track of the title sequence starts with a photograph I took (with a Nikon Coolpix 4300) of part of the page of a dictionary which included the definition of "language." I made the photo big enough that I could use the top part at the first of the sequence, and then build a scrolling effect that would start after the text zoomed in. The still image had high enough resolution that I could scale it so the text was readable, and then key-frame a motion effect in the timeline so that the image scrolled upward at the speed I wanted. I then copied this clip including its motion effect, pasted the copy behind the first one, and then shortened the duration of the copy by about a second. I continued copying, pasting, and shortening so that the scrolling got faster and faster, and when the sequence was long enough I put a page peel transition between each clip.

screen shot of dictionary timeline

photoshop black and white image used for lighting effectWith the base track in place, I brought in a still image I had made in Photoshop to add a little variation in the lighting, stretched it to fit the sequence, and then applied a gaussian blur.

still of fireOn top of that went a stock clip from ArtBeats called "Ceiling Fire" that I got on a CD for joining DVPA a few years ago. I slowed it to 30%, scaled it up, and lowered the opacity to 17%, then made a copy of it and pasted it on the track above. Then I rotated the lower fire track 180 degrees so that the end result was a foggy kind of random motion.

ripple pattern on bottom of bear riverFinally, I brought in the title text. In Live Type I had chosen a blocky font, filling it with a clip of surface ripples from the Bear River that had been slowed down and had its color altered with the three-way color corrector and color balance filters. I had given the text a little extrude, slight bevel, and drop shadow, and applied the "Behind Camera" zoom effect. After I got the Live Type clip into the timeline, I adjusted the length of the still of the dictionary so that the upward scroll effect started when the text was in place. At the same time I key-framed a motion effect so that the Live Type text scrolled up with the dictionary and faded near the top. Oddly enough, when the Live Type text moved upward, a jiggly horizontal black line appeared in the dictionary text, which I finally got rid of by blurring the bottom edge of the Live Type clip. Once the Live Type clip faded, I key-framed the dictionary clip to distort and fade so that the beach clip showed through underneath.

The "Flying Type" Sequence:

text in front of beach video screen shot of text timeline

I did all these flying words in FCP's text generator. As you can see from the Timeline, I used a couple of crawls and scrolling text effects, but most of the phrases were moved around with key-framed motion, a couple with curved paths. Once a phrase had traveled off-screen, I brought it in again to get an increasing level of chaos, trying to convey an all-too-familiar state of mind for me. I tried to get a couple of phrases to simultaneously move across screen and change scale at the same time, but couldn't get it to work smoothly. I would like to have tried it in Live Type, but didn't have time to get familiar enough with that app. Maybe next time... The beach clips were all shot near Santa Cruz, except for the transition at the end.

The Fog:

fog against black background This was a straight import of a Live Type effect. All I did was slow it down and decrease the opacity.

The Obscuring Grid of Language:

photo of Mororola TalkAbout grid manipulated in PhotoshopMost of the work on this image was done in Photoshop CS. I took a photo of the microphone grid of a Motorola TalkAbout, quadrupled it, and welded the pieces together. I added some text between the rows with an engraved look, unreadable unless you're seeing it on a big screen. It says, "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreampt of in our philosophy." Thank you, Macbeth. Some key-framed motion and scaling effects in FCP finished it off.

The Opening Doors Effect:

screen shot from movie showing opening doors effectscreen shot of FCP timelineThe two top clips in this little Timeline are identical. Each one is cropped in the motion tab so that the left half of one and the right half of the other cover the screen seamlessly. I set a key-frame for each of them where I wanted the effect to begin, then set another key-frame at the end and gave them their final shape with the distort tool.

The Shades:

shade frameswaves photo in lens shape frames and lenses with waves compositedI started with a photo of shades in Photoshop, making a selection of just the frames. I thought I could bring that image into Live Type and have it insert the surf clip where the lenses had been, but I couldn't figure out how to tell it where I wanted the clip--it kept putting it elsewhere. So next I created a selection which included the entire area of the frame, which Live Type found easier to understand, and imported that into FCP. I put the frames from Photoshop on top and it was ready for a fade in and out. I had used the "tint" filter to brighten up the surf clip.

The Headphones:

headphonesThe headphones started out as a photo in Photoshop. I only used one side, duplicated it, and flipped it over to make the other side. With two images I had more flexibility in placing them on screen in the video.

The Hands:

hands in front of greenscreenhands after key applied and croppedThe first step was a trip to the hardware store for a can of green spray paint, which I applied to a scrap piece of matte-board. With the Canon Elura on a tripod, I propped the matte-board on a stool and stood behind it, did gassho several times, then captured the best take in FCP. I used a garbage matte to take out everything that wasn't needed, then played with the Chroma Key filter till I got it right, or close enough.

The Wave:

screen shot from movie screen shot of timelineclouds at sunsetphoto of wavewave composited over backgroundThis wave came all the way from Point Lobos to be in this movie. The beach where this was shot is dark, which makes for high contrast that is perfect for the "Extract" effect. So we start out with the Santa Cruz beach clip on the bottom, and next up is a sunrise clouds still with reduced opacity that I put in to jazz up the color. I had thought originally that I would use an alpha channel that I had created with the "Extract" effect to screen out the beach that came with the wave, but I found out that after the initial break, all the foamy stuff behind the edge of the wave had been rendered too contrasty and harsh. I wanted the new background that I brought in after the Santa Cruz clip to show through the foam in a softer way. So... I used the blade tool to cut the Point Lobos clip at the point when the Santa Cruz clip was completely covered, and used the "Extract" effect just on this first part. In the controls for that effect there is a very important pull-down menu next to "Copy Result," where you can choose "To RGB" or "To alpha." I chose "RGB," so now I had a clip that started out totally black and white, with a straight cut to normal. With this clip over the background, I put a copy of the same clip on top of it with no effects applied, and set the Composite Mode to "Travel Matte-Luma." Now the visibility of the top clip is determined by the luminosity of the second clip, which is identical to it except for the first part which is totally black and white. This gave a clean edge for the initial break, with a softer transparency effect for the foam.

movie still of water with tint appliedSo what is this background that is showing through? It starts out as a shot of reflections on the surface of Peace River, near the town where I grew up in Florida. I applied the "Tint" filter, which allows you to pick a different color for the darker and lighter shades of a clip. I put a key-frame at the beginning and end of the clip, with different tints on each end, so that the color changes in both light and dark areas over time.

The Last Bit:

frame from end of movie

neon lights reflecting off a metallic surfacescreen shot of FCP timelineblack and white alpha for ripplesneon lights reflection composited with ripples alphaThe background for the whirling stars sequence consists of three clips. The top and bottom clips are actually different parts of the same clip, a shot of Las Vegas neon lights being reflected off a shiny metal panel on the cornice of a building. Both of these clips have been blurred to make them less gaudy. In between is an alpha travel matte that was extracted by applying the Chroma Key and Extract filters to a clip of swirling water under a pier at the Monterey Bay Acquarium. I also scaled the clip up, moved it to get the action closer to the center of the frame, and rotated it to change the direction of movement. These three clips were then nested, and after the result was edited into the whirling stars sequence, I slowed the clip down to 11% of its original speed to make it less frantic.

With the background in place, I opened Live Type and imported the multi-pointed star glyph from the character palette. I gave it a little emboss and filled it with the very same background clip. I then brought the star into FCP, scaled it up, put it on the second track, gave it some rotation in the motion tab, and set its composite mode to "difference."

screen shot of timeline from FCP

You can see from the timeline how the rest of it was built: make a copy, scale it down, give it a rotation, fade it in and play with the composite mode till you like the effect. The third track is in "lighten" mode, the fourth switches back to "difference," then it's "screen," "difference," and finally "difference" again. Another thing you can see clearly here is that "clip overlays" are turned on. That seems the easiest way to deal with opacity for me: set the key-frames with the "pen" tool and move them around till you're satisfied.

The Credits:

end credit frame from movieThese were a pretty straightforward build in Live Type--nothing fancy. The sound effect I did by doing a tone-less whistle near a mike, recording it in Soundtrack. That's where I did the "music" for the last sequence, too, recording several tracks of my imitation Tuvan throat-singing, looping them and stacking them up. If you want to know why I'm giving the Universe credit, you'll have to read the Journal. If you're interested in some of the other things I've done, you can start at the beginning.