You can't have failed to notice that Wes Plate from Automatic Duck has just released Xsend Motion. Ronny Courtens has taken it for a thorough test drive for FCP.co. What transfers and what doesn't when you send media from Final Cut Pro X to Motion? (and back!)
When Wes Plate from Automatic Duck posted a teaser video about his new application Xsend Motion, he really got our attention. Because bringing back the familiar “Send to Motion” option for FCP X has been on many feature-request lists for a long time now. Now the utility has been released, how does it fulfill our need for bringing FCP X projects into Motion 5 and back? That’s what we will try to answer in this overview. But first, have a look at the teaser video if you haven’t seen it yet:
Looks great, but how does it perform in the real world? Let me spoil it for you right away: it actually works very well. Especially when you compare it with the “old” Send to Motion functionality in classic FCP. We will discuss this in more detail later in the review, now let’s go through the app step by step.
Xsend Motion can be purchased via the FxFactory plugin store. If you are not familiar with FxFactory, here’s the link to their website.
Make sure to install the latest version of FxFactory (free), launch the FxFactory application and you will find Xsend Motion in the Catalog tab under “Automatic Duck”.
Xsend Motion works with FCP X 10.2.1 and later, and with Motion 5.2.1 and later. To install the app, click the Purchase button and enter your e-mail address and user code. If you are not a registered user yet, registration is free and just a few clicks.
As opposed to most FxFactory plugins, there is no “trial” mode for Xsend Motion. According to the developer, the reason for this is that there is no easy way to watermark the translation app. But FxFactory offers a 30-day refund policy for all its products, so your purchase is always safe.
2. How does it work?
The easiest and fastest way to use Xsend Motion is directly from Final Cut Pro X using the Share menu. To make this possible, Xsend Motion adds a new Destination into your FCP X Share Destinations window when you install the app.
To send a complete FCP X Project to Motion 5: click the Share button, select the Xsend Motion Destination and press “Next”. Depending on your settings, the Xsend Motion app will launch where you can customize the way your FCP X project will be translated, or Motion 5 will be opened instantly without showing the Xsend Motion app. Easy as that.
Only Projects can be sent via the Share menu. At the time of this writing FCP X can not successfully “Share” a Compound Clip via Xsend Motion. If you want to send a Compound Clip to Motion, you can manually export an XML file and open the XML in the Xsend Motion app. Xsend Motion will automatically create a new Motion 5 project for you, which will launch when you click Continue. Let’s have a closer look at the app.
A. The top section of the Xsend Motion app is where you supply the XML file from Final Cut Pro X.
- If you use the Share menu to transfer an entire Project, the source file section of Xsend Motion will be filled-in automatically and the FCPXML created by Xsend Motion will be stored in a dedicated folder in Username > Movies.
- If you export an FCPXML for a Compound Clip, you can drag it onto the Source XML field or click the Browser button to navigate to the FCPXML. You can also drag an FCPXML file onto the Xsend Motion icon in the Finder.
XML exports of Projects and Compound Clips are supported, Event and Library XML files not. But, honestly, no-one wants to send an entire FCP X Event or Library to Motion anyway.
B. The Settings section is where you control how your media from FCP X will be translated to Motion 5.
Xsend Motion offers far more control than the old “Send to Motion” feature. Basically, the Settings section allows you to tell Motion 5 how it should create layer groups from the clips contained in your FCP X Project or Compound Clip. I won’t go into this in this general overview. The Xsend Motion app has a detailed Help section that clearly explains the different options, and how they affect the translation of your Project or Compound Clip to Motion 5.
C. The bottom section is where you decide where your new Motion 5 project will be stored.
By default, Motion projects created by Xsend Motion will be saved in the same folder as the FCPXML created by Xsend Motion when you use the Share menu. But you can set this location to anywhere you wish. The location you set is stored in preferences, and it will automatically appear the next time you use Xsend Motion.
TIP: Once you have Xsend Motion set the way you like, you may not want to bother with the settings again. Having to click Continue in the Xsend Motion interface every time again would slow you down. When you enable “Automatically continue from Share menu” in the Source XML section, the next time you use Xsend Motion from the FCPX Share menu will bypass the Xsend Motion app and Motion will automatically be launched with your new Motion project.
3. A little test
To test the workflow, I am going to send a small FCP X Project to Motion 5. It’s a short video that is totally irrelevant, but that contains different elements such as retiming, PIPs, keyframe animations, keys, title clips, generators, third-party filters, an audio track cut up in a secondary timeline etc… Some of these would not have made it into Motion in a classic “Send to Motion” workflow. So let’s see how Xsend Motion deals with this.
This is the timeline in FCP X:
And this is the little video:
First I will send the complete Project to Motion 5 using the Share menu. In the Xsend Motion app I have used the default settings, and I have enabled the “Automatically continue from Share menu” option.
I have recorded the Share action so you can see how fast the FCP X Project gets transferred to Motion 5:
I found the process pretty fast and seamless. But how much of the FCP X timeline has been correctly ported over to Motion 5? Let’s play the FCP X project in Motion 5:
Actually, everything from this FCP X project has been translated correctly to the Motion 5 project. If you have noticed some stuttering in the Motion playback, that is only because I have been doing these tests on a 2010 Mac Mini with 8 GB RAM.
The ProRes 4444 clip with alpha channel has been keyed perfectly over the video. The end dissolve on the superimposed clip has been translated to a Fade In/Fade Out behavior:
The Oval Marker title that was placed over the video appears with all its attributes in Motion 5. The Position animation in FCP X has been faithfully transposed to Motion keyframes:
The Cartoon Speech Color generator also appears with all its attributes in the Motion 5 project. Every aspect of the generator can be modified in Motion 5:
The clip under the generator was retimed to 33,33% in FCP X, this exact retiming is also applied to the clip in Motion 5:
The third-party Vignette filter on the cutaway clip is also applied to the cutaway clip in Motion 5, and every setting of the effect can be modified in the Motion project:
The animation of the PIP at the end is faithfully reproduced in Motion 5, all keyframes and keyframe interpolations of the animation can be fully tweaked using the powerful Motion keyframe editor:
All in all, this is a pretty impressive translation between FCP X and Motion 5.
4. Sending partial Projects and groups of clips from FCP X to Motion 5
If you only want to send a part of your FCP X timeline, or just a number of clips, you need to put them into a Compound Clip first.
Then you export an XML from the Compound Clip that has been created in the Browser, and you open the XML in the Xsend Motion app.
When you press Continue, the contents of the Compound Clip will immediately open in an new Motion project.
5. Sending the Motion project back to FCP X.
When you’re finished working in Motion and want to return your work to Final Cut Pro X, you have two choices. You can publish your Motion project as a generator to be played back directly inside FCPX, or you can export a movie from Motion and then import that movie into FCPX like any other movie file. Each has advantages and disadvantages, so use the method that works best for you and your project.
Let’s add an animated title to the partial timeline we have just sent to Motion. I have added “Snowboarding is fun!” on top of the image, and I have applied a “Rotate In” Text animation behavior to the title.
I publish the Motion project as a Final Cut Generator, and I create a new Category so I can easily find the Motion generators inside FCP X.
When I launch FCP X, the generator is there with the new animated title.
Now all I need to do is to replace the Compound Clip on the FCP X timeline with the new generator. If I want to make any further changes to the title, I can do this right inside the FCP X Inspector for simple text changes or for any parameters that I have published in Motion 5. Or I just can R-click the generator to open it in Motion, save it again with the changes and replace the existing generator on the timeline. And the generator plays without rendering on this old little Mini. That’s what I call roundtripping!
I think Xsend Motion is a very promising application. There are some things that don’t translate properly to Motion yet, and these are clearly explained in the Xsend Motion Help menu. Just to name some:
- The FCP X Color Board because there is no equivalent for it in Motion 5. Third-party color corrector filters such as Colorista or Magic Bullet do translate properly.
- The FCP X stabilizer.
- Multi-line text generators are not currently supported.
- “Crop” and “Ken Burns” from the Crop menu in FCP X won’t translate, but “Trim” will.
I have had a great time testing this new app. And knowing the reputation of Wes Plate and Automatic Duck, I’m sure we will see this application grow very quickly. Even at version 1, it is already much more powerful than the old “Send to Motion” ever was.
Automatic Duck Xsend Motion is priced at $99.00 USD. Customers who purchase before June 8, 2016 receive a discounted price of $79.00 USD.
©2016 Ronny Courtens/FCP.co