A many-layered question
Hey guys, a quick final cut question. I'm making a commercial in FCP, where a series of animated photos fade in and out, each one fading in above the other. The pictures are each up for about a second before the next one fades in over it. There is an animated background behind the photos, and several layers of graphics that sit over the photos as a lower-third for the entirety of the spot. Since each one fades in over the previous photo, I have thirty tracks just for the photos. This isn't really a problem, but I don't like having to scroll up and down through all those layers. I know you can re-size the tracks, but even then there are so many layers I have to scroll up and down to be able to see them all. And yes I know I could just re-size the window to see them... I'm just curious, as this might come in handy one day - does anyone know of a way to have a higher layer appear behind the layer below it.. In other words, can track v1 appear above track v2? Then I could just alternate my pictures between a few tracks rather than having to spread them across 30 tracks... You may be thinking, "this question is stupid" but I can think of times when this trick may come in handy. Any suggestions?
There is no way to re-arrange tracks. What I would do is put only the overlapping part of the incoming clip on the layer above the outgoing clip.
My suggestion is to build this kind of spot in Apple Motion instead of the FCP timeline. If there are a LOTof pics, set Motion's render preferences to low rez, to improve realtime performance, then re-set the max rez at the end after you've worked out all your timing and placement.
I work in both, but for layering more than four or five tracks, I prefer to use Motion now. It's highly intuitive. You have a timeline below, and a pane with all your layers easy to organize.
@Michael A: I don't need to re-arrange tracks, I was looking more for a composite mode or something that would make the picture appear in front of a picture on the layer above it. Cutting the pictures part way through leaving only the overlapping bits of the clip on track 2 does work, but it is impractical and confusing, because although the new pictures are appearing every second or so, the old pictures take a longer time to fade out. So really you end up having three overlapping tracks. If I cut the end off of v2 and drop it down to v1, then cut the end off of v3 and drop it down to v1, I end up with 6 clips spread across 3 tracks, representing 3 pictures. Remember I'm dealing with 30 pictures... If I have to go back and change out one of the pictures, it would get confusing and I would be adding a lot of extra steps. I'm willing to add the inconvenience of adding something like a composite mode to every other picture for the sake of being able to see my whole timeline without having to re-size all my windows, but not willing to deal with that kind of confusion. Not to mention other editors coming along after me, trying to figure out what in the world I was doing...
@Mark S: I would rather do this sort of spot in motion, although honestly I don't think the interface is that much simpler than FC in this situation, you still have to scroll through 30 different tracks, plus their transitions (don't get me wrong I love motion's interface)... It is much quicker to animate this sort of thing in Motion, I prefer Motion overall for animation, but on this old outdated editor using motion for this spot wasn't an option, it just doesn't run well enough on this machine. Believe me, it's an unfair trade-off between faster animation and a super slow editor - I've produced a ton of spots with this editor in both FC and Motion, and for this particular spot with the turnaround deadline motion just wouldn't cut it. I didn't want to use After Effects either.
@Gus S: No, each picture has to appear in front of the last picture... If one picture is on a track below another picture, it will not appear in front of it... And as I mentioned above there are at the most three pictures overlapping, so even if there was a way to have v1 display above v2, I would still have to use three tracks.
And @Mark S again: the crop tools idea would actually work but it would be way more work than it was worth. This is really just me being picky about the way my timeline looks. There's no reason I can't leave it how it is, but it drives me crazy to have to scroll up and down through so many tracks when any given picture is only using a few seconds on each track... My timeline looks like a big giant Z. I wish I could've just made this in motion in the first place, but since they haven't sent me my fancy new editor yet, I'm just going to have to slog it out in final cut.
If each pic is only up with one other at any given time, shouldn't you just be able to use only two tracks? IE, the first pic on track 1, the second above it on track 2, the third below that on track 1, and so on ad infinitum?
I think his concern there is the appearance of one layer over another. It wouldn'tt be a problem if it was all dissolves, but if he's flaying layers one over another, then he's got to somehow re-set the layer order after every other image switch. As was alraedy suggested, that could happen by subtituting a still for the few frames fo teh transition, but that's kind of kudge-y. He might fix that layer issue by using crop tools in the motion tab of the canvas, to cut invisible holes in the layer to show thru to the lower layer.
But really think the best answer is to do it in Apple Motion, which he already has available, and Motion is specifically built for just this kind of work... including a lot of shortcut tools and canned moves and effects.