Using Shake with Final Cut Pro

Shake is a powerful visual effects application with features such as motion tracking, rotoscoping, and node-based compositing. Final Cut Pro can send a group of clips directly to Shake for further effects work.

For example, you can use Final Cut Pro for basic editing, setting In and Out points, and placing clips on multiple video tracks. You can then send the edit information and the clip’s media to Shake, ready for further processing.

Sending Clips from Final Cut Pro to a Shake Script

You can send two kinds of selections to Shake from Final Cut Pro.

  • An entire sequence in the Browser: All the clips in the sequence are sent to a new Shake script.

  • One or more selected clips in a sequence: Only the selected sequence clips are sent to a new Shake script. In addition, a new placeholder QuickTime media file is created where the final rendered Shake media will be stored. Final Cut Pro automatically creates a new sequence containing a clip that links to the placeholder QuickTime media file.

To send one or more clips or a sequence from Final Cut Pro to Shake
  1. Arrange your project’s Timeline so that you are able to select only the clips you intend to send.

  2. Do one of the following:

    • In the Timeline, select one or more sequence clips you want to export.

    • In the Browser, select a sequence.

  3. Do one of the following:

    • Choose File > Send To > Shake.

    • Control-click the selected clips or sequence, then choose Send To > Shake from the shortcut menu.

  4. When the Send to Shake dialog appears, select the appropriate options.

    • Resulting Sequence Name: Enter a name for the new sequence that’s created inside the Final Cut Pro project file to contain the selected media when you click Export. This applies only if you select one or more clips in the Timeline; a new sequence is not created if you select a sequence in the Browser.
    • Save as Shake Script: Enter a name and choose a location for the new Shake script to be created.
    • Save Placeholder QuickTime movie (FileOut) to: Type a name and choose a location for the placeholder QuickTime movie that will correspond to the FileOut node in the newly created Shake script.
  5. Select the Launch Shake checkbox if you want the newly created Shake script to open automatically so you can start working on it.

    Important: This requires Final Cut Pro and Shake to be installed on the same computer.

  6. Click Export.

    When you click Export, several things happen:

    • If you selected sequence clips, a new sequence is created in your Final Cut Pro project that contains a copy of all your selected clips.

    • A placeholder QuickTime file is created on disk that will eventually contain the rendered output from Shake. A clip referring to the placeholder file is created and placed on a disabled video track at the top of the new sequence. The original media file positions are unchanged.

    • A Shake script is created on disk.

The timeRange of Scripts Generated from Final Cut Pro

The timeRange Global parameter in the Shake script that’s created by the Send To Shake command is automatically set with the appropriate range of frames for the media to which it refers.

Important: Clicking the Auto button to update the timeRange is not recommended. This can result in many more frames being referred to than expected, depending on the total duration of the source media files.

How Imported Clips Are Arranged in Shake

Imported Final Cut Pro clips are arranged within a Shake script node tree using Select and MultiLayer nodes. The way imported clips are arranged in Shake depends on whether the clips in Final Cut Pro are arranged sequentially on a single video track or layered vertically on several video tracks.

  • Final Cut Pro clips edited sequentially on the same video track are connected to a single Select node in Shake. The Select node places each clip in the proper Timeline position, preserving clip In and Out points.

    Note: The actual edit points for each File In node attached to the Select node are stored within the branch parameter. The data stored within this parameter is not intended to be editable; any attempt to do so will have unpredictable results.

  • Each Final Cut Pro track that contains a clip is exported to a new Shake Select node.

  • Each Select node is connected to a single MultiLayer node, which determines which clips are in the foreground of the composition and which are in the background.

If you want to change the temporal position of clips after they are imported into Shake, you should use the Time View tab.

Important: Audio clips from the original QuickTime files are not imported into Shake. Video timing changes you make in Shake can cause audio sync problems if you import the finished Shake composite back into your original Final Cut Pro sequence.

Unsupported Media and Effects

The following items are not transferred when exporting Final Cut Pro sequences to Shake:

  • QuickTime audio tracks

  • Standalone audio files

  • Still-image files

  • Generators

  • Composite modes

  • Parameters in the Motion tab

  • Filters

  • Transitions

Sending Media from Shake Back to Final Cut Pro

When you’ve finished working in the Shake script that was generated from Final Cut Pro, you need to render the originally created FileOut node. The newly rendered media file takes the place of the placeholder QuickTime file, ready for use by the original Final Cut Pro project.

When you reopen the Final Cut Pro project file containing the original placeholder QuickTime file, you’ll need to use the Reconnect Media command to relink the clip in your sequence to the media that was rendered out of Shake.