FCPX and Keyboard Maestro

Keyboard Maestro makes short work of repetitive tasks by giving you the ability to easily record macros. I find this really useful in FCP X. - by David R. Beebe
I've used Keyboard Maestro for many years to create macros of repetitive steps. I did this with Final Cut Express and now for FCP X. While the interface FCP X is different and the macros previously recorded for FCE don't apply, there are plenty of opportunities to be explored.

The first step is to refresh yourself with the keyboard commands already reserved by FCP X. You can do this from the Final Cut Pro menu, Commands, Customize. Hold down each modifier key and make note of the keys not color coded. These are available for your use.

Start up the Keyboard Maestro editor, add a macro for FCP X, enter a hot key trigger. The easiest way to build a macro is to record the steps and trim out the app switching from the recording.

For example, clicking in the middle of a 10-second still image from the list in the event library creates a 4 second in-to-out point that can be inserted to the project timeline. Doing this for each still image is repetitive so I created a Keyboard Maestro macro to do the work for me. Here is how I recorded the macro...

Start with an image in the event library selected. Switch to the Keyboard Macro editor. Create a new macro and name it "Insert still image", set the hot key to "command-`" and record. Switch to FCP X with "command-tab", click in the middle of the image's thumbnail in the event viewer, insert the image into the timeline at the cursor position with "w". To make this really streamlined, end with a down-arrow to select the next image in the event library. Switch back to Keyboard Maestro and stop recording. Remove the steps that involve switching into and out of FCP X.

Another useful pair of macros use "option-`" and "control-`" for hot keys. These are for placing two portrait-oriented still images side by side into a 16:9 video frame. The images are 4:3 aspect ratio, other rations will require different X positions and Scale. For the left offset image, select Transform Position X and enter -45. For the right offset image use 45. Set Scale to 117 for both. You can adjust scale, Y axis and cropping from there but this is a good starting point that will work more often than not.

Here are some other ideas for macros:

  • 4 landscape, 16:9 in a single frame, x = +/- 46 y = +/- 25
  • 3 portrait, 16:9 in a single frame, x = +/- 61 for outside images, center image at 117%
  • 3 portrait, 3:4 in a single frame, x = +/- 53 for outside images, center image cropped +/- 6

Don't forget when you are done to set the duration of each to a second longer if you will have a transition on either side. When you group the images into a compound clip (option-g), any transition will require a full overlap which reduces the duration of the clip.