How to Use Drop Zones in Templates

Published on December 7, 2018

This video demonstrates how to use template Drop Zones in Final Cut Pro X.

It also demonstrates how to handle a super common problem that can happen when you're working with drop zones - frozen images.

I hope the information is helpful!


Hey, there. It's Izzy here again. In this video, I'll demonstrate how to work with drop zones when you're using templates in Final Cut Pro, and also show you how to deal with a very common hiccup you can run into when you're working with drop zones.

Okay, the first thing is, I have an empty project here, and I want to find a template that has a drop zone in it. So I'll go to the Titles and Generators Sidebar, and then I'll go under generators in the Izzy Video category. And there are quite a few different themes in here. These are all themes that are part of my recent theme collection. I'm going to scroll down to the theme, that's called minimum. And there's a template here called image left minimum. And if I skim through this, you can see that there's a drop zone, the drop zone is that gray area, it's a placeholder for an image or a video clip or something like that.

I'm just going to add this to my project by clicking and dragging it and bringing it get down. So here we go. I'll click and drag it, bring it down into my project. And then with it selected, with that template selected, I can come up here and take a look at the duration. It's a six second long template by default, but I can change that duration, I can make it longer or shorter just by dragging it, I could shorten it like this or make it longer by dragging it out like that. I'm gonna hit Command-Z to undo that. What I want to do instead is add a piece of music and then make this match up with the music. So I'll go to the library sidebar, and then go down to the media event. And then inside there, I have this piece of music called Simple, I'm just going to click it and drag it, bring it down into the project. And then I'm going to reduce the volume. I'll select it, come up to the audio inspector under volume, I'll just type negative 12 db. And then I'll play this back. So we can take a look and see what it looks like with the template. So here we go. Move the skimmer or play head to the beginning and hit the spacebar to play it back.

The timing that works pretty well. But let's say I want to make it shorter. So what I'm gonna do is I'm going to count a couple bars, I'm going to move the play head or skimmer back to the beginning, and I'll count as it plays back. And then I'm going to stop it on a downbeat. So here we go.

So now it's going to be much shorter, I'm going to trim the template like this, I'll move the playhead over it. So I can see see a drop zone easily. In fact, at the very beginning, there's this animation, so I can't really see the drop zone there. So what I'm going to do is move it to right around there to where I can very easily see the drop zone. And I think this is an important step, what you need to do is make sure you have the playhead over the template in a place where you can very clearly see the drop zone. So in a moment here, we're going to be choosing frames, choosing video clips to go in here. And I want to be able to easily see what is under the playhead.

Okay, so here I go, I'm going to select the template. Now to use the drop zone, all I have to do is go to the inspector. And if you're not seeing the inspector, you can open it by clicking on the inspector button here. But under the generators Inspector, there's a section here called drop zone. And here is the drop zone well. To use this, all I have to do is just click on it. And then I get into a new mode here in the viewer on the left side, I'm going to see different frames that I'm selecting. On the right side, I'm seeing the frame that's underneath the playhead. So it's underneath the playhead right here, here's the playhead, the frame that's right there underneath the playhead is what's showing up on the right side.

Okay, so let's choose a frame, I'll go to a clip here that is in my browser. And what I can do is just kind of skim to a specific frame, so maybe right around here, and I could just click once, and that selects a frame. Now here's what you're selecting, when you select a frame here in the browser, you're not selecting the frame that goes underneath the playhead here, what you're selecting is the first frame that matches up with the beginning of the generator. So when I select the very first frame of the clip here, hover over there, and then just click on it to select it. I've selected that frame. So the first frame in this video clip will also be the first frame that plays along at the very beginning of this generator. So that frame matches up with the first frame of the generator. And this is something that's kind of confusing about the way drop zones work in Final Cut Pro. You might think that when you skim to select a frame, and you click on it, then this frame here that I've got selected, you would think that that frame here would be the same frame that showing up underneath the playhead. But that's not the case. This frame here the frame that I selected, where the skimmer is, that is the first frame that's showing up here where the generator starts. And so the frame I see underneath the playhead is some frame that's after that. Hopefully that makes sense.

Now what I'm going to do is I'm just going to click on different frames. So you can see that every time I click on another frame here, it's changing what frame is showing up underneath the playhead in the drop zone. So I'm just going to click at the very beginning, and then I'll click Apply clip to get out of that mode. Now what I've done is I've assigned that video clip to that drop zone, and I should be able to play it back and see the video clip in it. Let's take a look.

Another thing you'll notice is that the audio from the video clip is not included in the drop zone drop zones don't include audio. If I want to clear out what's in that drop zone, I just got to make sure I have the clip selected here, the template selected, I'm going to come up to the inspector and I could click on this little x here to clear out what's in the drop zone. And then I could click on this again to go into the mode and I'm going to choose a different video clip. This time, I'll go to the statue one. And I'll just skim to the beginning. And I'll click on the very first frame. Now once again, the frame that I'm selecting there is the first frame at the very beginning of the template here. And so what I'm seeing underneath the playhead, this frame here is different from the very first frame in the video clip here, which is the one that I selected. When I've found a frame that I want, I just come over to apply clip. Now let's take a look. I've added that to the drop zone. I'll play this back.

That looks pretty good. But now let's take a look at this hiccup that you can run into when you're working with drop zones sometimes. And this is a very common circumstance. And that is you have a template that's longer than the source media, than the video clip that you're trying to bring into the template. So for example, let's say I'm gonna make this much longer, I'll just drag this out until it's, let's say nine seconds long ish, somewhere around there, I'll move the playhead towards the beginning, where I can see that drop zone. And then I'm going to come up here and clear out what's in there already. I'm going to click in there. And I'll select a clip here or frame at the very beginning of the clip, and then I'll click Apply clip. Now the thing to keep in mind here is this template is longer than this video clip. So let's see what happens when we run out of the media. So I'm going to play this back, it's going to take a few seconds, and then we'll see a hiccup. Here we go.

You can see it froze in place. Now what I could do is I could reduce the duration of the template. If I make this shorter than the source video clip that I'm working with. Then I could get rid of the frozen drop zone that way. But I'm going to command Z, I want to show you a better work around in a lot of situations. I'll start by clearing this out. So I'll select it and go to the drop zone well and click the little reset button. And there's more than one way to do this. But one of our options is to make a longer clip and what we'll do is use a compound clip to do that.

I'll temporarily bring this clip down into my project. I'll select it and bring it down into my project. You can see that sure enough, it is much shorter than the template here. I'm going to control click or right click on it and choose New compound clip. I'll call this cc laughs So compound clip version of the last clip, and then I'll store it in the event called media and click OK. And then let's go inside this clip, I'm just going to double click on it to go inside the compound clip. And then I'll select the clip here, hit Command C, Command C for copy, copies it to the clipboard, and then I'll move the play head to the end of the clip and I'll hit Command V to paste the clip. Command V. And then I'll do it again command V command V command V. I'll just do it a few times. Right now it's saying it's 23 seconds long, I'll make it a little bit longer. So now I have a 30 second long clip. And to get out of the compound clip, I'm just going to click on the little back button. And then I'll delete the compound clip that's in my project. So I'll just select it and hit Delete. Now that's okay, because that compound clip is still up here in the browser. If I scroll down, you can see here it is, cc laugh.

So now that I have this longer clip, this compound clip I can work with, I should be able to avoid having a frozen drop zone. Let's give it a try. I'll move the playhead over the drop zone area, select the template, hit the drop zone button again, and then I'll skim to the beginning of the compound clip. I'll click Apply clip. And now when it gets to the end of the clip, instead of having a frozen image, it should just loop again, let's take a look.

And sure enough that worked. Now a couple additional tips I'll give you is: first of all, I have a lot more success when I'm using a video clip in the browser as a source for a drop zone image, versus if I'm picking a frame from the project area. So I like to choose frames from the browser, which is this area up here versus the timeline, which is this area down here. I like to use imagery from the browser.

Also, if you already have an edited video that you want to use as the source of the video that you're going to be putting inside the drop zone, then what you can do is take that whole project and create a compound clip from it. That'll put it in the browser as a compound clip and then you could skim to a frame in that project. I think it's helpful sometimes to think of compound clips as miniature projects. So it's like a way of using a project within another project.

Anyway, that's a quick introduction to using drop zones inside templates within Final Cut Pro. Hopefully you found the information this video helpful. I'll see in the next one.

This article was last updated on October 6, 2020


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