Adjustment Layers are INCREDIBLE – but they aren’t built-in to Final Cut Pro. I use them in EVERY.SINGLE.PROJECT I create to do stuff such as colour grade a whole film, colour correct a section of a video, manipulate a group of clips or just create an FX segment. You can even use them to create moveable markers.
There’s so much you can do with them – so why aren’t they part of the core product? Honestly, I don’t know. And I’m still surprised when Apple releases a new update and doesn’t introduce them. It’s probably something to do with muddying their vision of the magnetic timeline.
Ultimately, all they really do is allow you to apply effects and transformations to one layer (the adjustment layer) that then get applied to all the clips below. That’s right – it’s the same principle that Adobe brought in for Photoshop years ago and then introduced into Premiere Pro. Yes, you can sort of do similar things using Compound Clips – but it’s just not the same.
Fortunately, there’s a way to create them if you have Apple’s Motion software but it’s your own time that’s better saved for other things. Especially when I’m giving them away. You’re welcome.
Once you’ve put it into your Users/username/Movies/Motion Templates/Titles/ folder you can find it in Final Cut under….you’ve guessed it, the Titles browser. Then just add it into your timeline above the clips you want to affect and drag it to be the right length. (My custom ones come in 3 flavours – 30seconds for your IG Reels, 1 minute for your YouTube Shorts or 10min for your longer projects that you can then customise to fit.)
That’s it All that’s left to do is whack whatever effects, corrections and transformations you desire onto that layer. Typically, at the end of an edit, I’ll drop a LUT (or two) onto it, play with the Mix levels and add some final colour wheels to tweak the overall look of the project.
One handy thing about Adjustment Layers is you can turn them on and off as you would a clip – which means you can use V to compare the before/after look of your section very quickly as you watch through numerous clips. Winner.
Let me know what you use them for in the comments and what other video/photo tips you’d like to see.