How to use Final Cut like a white guy in Brooklyn


When I leave the YouTube compound and venture over to Vimeo, the quality of content increases dramatically. The footage is crisp, it’s cut to the beat of the soundtrack and the title sequences are not your generic Arial Narrow Bold in a lower third. You can tell this is a site where white guys post their video. It looks good. It looks expensive and glossy and aesthetically pleasing. They have my attention. I want to watch their video.  But the shots lead no where. There’s no story or substance. It’s just images. Shot and framed really well. Why do I care?

So how can we steal their tactics for better causes outside of design aesthetics?

For remixers, we don’t have the luxury of being able to shoot and edit high-quality original footage so high definition, pure and crisp images aren’t going to happen. Making archival, found, ripped or YouTube footage look non-compressed and un-pixelated is tough, especially if you’ve got multiple sources for materials. It’s not going to look perfect. Let’s give that up now.

I’ve realized the trick to using Final Cut like a white guy who lives in Brooklyn is to never use Final Cut text generator for titles. Titles & text are what made those Vimeo videos look so good and differentiated them from the generic YouTube video. Again, I wanted to watch these videos because they were so pretty. Unfortunately they led no where. For those of us making socially conscious work, we need all the views we can get. Clean titles and text in remix is so important because everything else is cobbled together.  Literally. So, titles can be used as the visually appealing aspect that unites our disparate clips and makes our subversive video remix more aesthetically pleasing.White guys on Vimeo don’t use Final Cut for titles. They use Photoshop. Here’s how:

  1. Open up Photoshop and and command N will make a new document.
  2. Name your file and change preset to ‘custom’
  3. Change the width and height of your file to the frame size of your Final Cut project. (In FCP, command 0 will bring up Sequence settings. Frame Size is the first detail.)
  4. Change background contents to “transparent” and click OK.
  5. Use the text tool to design your text.  You’ll see there’s a much wider selection of typefaces to chose from and you can actually preview what they look like vs. Final Cut’s guessing game. I like to use Helvetica Neue Light and Edwardian Script on a few key words.
  6. When finished, save as TIFF.
  7. In TIFF options select “save transparency” – this will ensure your titles fall over your video, not on a white background.
  8. Click OK.
  9.  Import into Final Cut.
  10. Drag and drop over video. Render.

Final product:


6 thoughts on “How to use Final Cut like a white guy in Brooklyn

  1. Hooray for simple, to-the-point tutorials that explain the purpose of what you’re teaching as well as the method. Excited to try this out on my next project!

    • I couldn’t find anything like it online so I’m glad it was helpful to you, too! I had some trouble with pixelation in fcp but exported in ProRes – LMK if that works for you.

      Sent from my iPhone

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