Adding 2D graphics to 360 projects in Final Cut Pro

Adding 2D graphics to 360 projects in Final Cut Pro

Learn how to import and manipulate custom 2D graphics in Final Cut Pro 360 video projects

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Categories:Create & Build
Tags:Compositing Post ProductionSoftware ToolsVideo Editing
Skill Level:

Read Time: 5 Minutes

Updated 09/09/2022


Adding 2D graphics and rectilinear video clips to a 360 video project allows for a broad range of creative freedom. Using custom graphics rather than the built-in title and generator clips means not having 3D lighting and texture controls, but it allows full control over the graphic content.

To minimize the aliasing of fine details it helps to create the canvas or sequence size of your graphic to be the full pixel height of your output. This ensures that it will always be rendered cleanly into the footage with no visible pixelation. If the graphic is to be used fairly small in the scene it doesn’t have to be the full vertical resolution of your intended output, but it is always better to err on the side of caution and work with relatively large graphics wherever possible.

The following steps walk through placing a graphic into a 360 video, scaling and positioning it, and, optionally, using blending modes to make it merge more convincingly into the scene. This last step can make a logo appear to be painted directly onto a wall, for example, rather than simply placed on top of the video.

Remember, when placing 2D elements in a 360 project do not use the regular Transform panel to scale and position elements. All scaling and positioning should be done using the 360 Transform controls.

Problems finding the 360 features?

If your project’s video format is not set to 360 then Final Cut Pro won’t handle the 360-specific features properly and the 360 Transform panel won’t even be visible. It is important to set this correctly when you first create your project. You may be able to change this after a project has been created, but only by removing all clips from the timeline, and this doesn’t always help. Setting this correctly at the start is very important.

PSD bug

Unfortunately, using a native Photoshop (PSD) graphic will also prevent the 360 Transform panel from showing. Export from Photoshop and use PNGs with transparency instead.

Tutorial steps

1. Prepare the graphic

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Final Cut Pro supports a number of different formats for still images. For most uses native Photoshop is preferred as it means not having to export separate production versions of a master layered graphic. However, Final Cut Pro doesn’t show the 360 Transform panel for PSD graphics, so stick with JPEG and PNG – the latter being perfect when transparency is required. Make sure the canvas size is large enough to avoid having to scale the image up and cause pixelation in the final output.

2. Import the media

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Choose File > Import > Media and find the image file. When it’s in the Projects panel (if necessary choose All Clips from the options at the top of this panel to see it), select and drag it to the timeline. Here is where the start and end point of the clip can be set in the normal manner.

3. Adjust parameters to fit the scene

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With the clip selected in the timeline, use the Video Inspector on the right to adjust its parameters. The 360 Transform panel helps position and scale the item to fit the scene appropriately, with coordinates set either as spherical or cartesian values, and X, Y and Z rotations helping fit items to planes in the scene, if required. Spherical is generally simplest for positioning stationary clips, while Cartesian can be better when animating a clip or title through the scene.

The Compositing panel offers control over its blending mode. The Overlay blend mode frequently helps make graphics look like an integral part of the captured scene, if that’s the desired effect.