Xsend Motion solves a problem that has been bugging Final Cut users since Final Cut Pro X was first released. You can’t send a sequence or timeline to Motion, create a composite and replace your original clip with the composited one. For all of its power and XML savviness, Final Cut Pro X simply doesn’t support that out of the box. The people at Automatic Duck have now succeeded at developing an app that lets you do it anyway. It’s a huge step forward, but it’s not a seamless integration.
Xsend Motion is developed by Automatic Duck, the same people who developed the Media Copy and Ximport AE plug-ins. Xsend Motion is sold through the FxFactory management system, so when updates become available or if you want to turn it off for some reason, the process is painless.
Xsend Motion is an app and a Final Cut Pro X Share extension. The Share extension makes things totally transparent and easy. You start out with a Final Cut Pro X timeline that you want to send to Motion. Most movie or video projects will have a timeline that’s stuffed with transitions, titles, effects, colour grading, etc. Xsend Motion will translate many of these elements from Final Cut Pro X lingo to something that Motion understands.
However, the key term here is “many”. Not everything will translate — which is why I told you it’s not a seamless integration. The basic workflow is simple enough, though. You select the timeline, choose Xsend Motion from the Share menu, set a few preferences and Motion will automagically launch and load your timeline. If you want to send a Compound Clip to Motion, you must manually export an FCPXML file and open it in Xsend Motion. The preferences you can set are clearly described in Xsend Motion’s online HTML-based user guide. There’s not that much to set either, as it’s all straightforward.
What isn’t straightforward is what the Automatic Duck guys were able to translate one-on-one. Some of the things that you add to a Final Cut Pro X timeline simply cannot be translated, or only partly. If you take care not to add those things to your FCPX sequence, you’ll be in awe at the exact translation from the Final Cut Pro X timeline to Motion’s. It looks identical and behaves identical. If you want to be able to round trip between Motion and Final Cut Pro X, then Xsend Motion definitely should be on your shopping list.
What doesn’t work frustrates
Frustration kicks in when you won’t be sure if it’s possible for something to translate from Final Cut Pro X to Motion. For example, I added KineticBadge icons to my FCPX project and was informed at sharing time that KineticBadge isn’t supported by Motion and therefore can’t be translated. I clicked OK in the warning dialogue and found myself back in FCPX again. In many cases that makes sense, as you can replace the plug-in/generator/effect with something else or remove it altogether and then try again.
When I tried a second time without KineticBadge icons, the project successfully translated, but there were still minor problems. I had a TrackX flare added to the first clip. It ended up on a layer below the videoclip in Motion — where it didn’t show as it did in Final Cut Pro X.
Motion doesn’t support Crumplepop’s SplitScreen image wells, so their content was gone. My carefully set up Hawaiki Super Dissolve transition was gone too. The user guide does clearly mention the lack of support for image well content and most fancy transitions you can add from within Final Cut Pro X. I should have checked first.
Round tripping is not exactly the word for it, but you can send back your final composition from Motion to Final Cut Pro X as well. You’ll have to either save as a generator, which makes the results pop up in the Final Cut Pro X Generators Inspector, or save as a movie and import that one into your project.
Xsend Motion gives you round tripping between FCPX and Motion, but the results depend on whether you’ve gone through the caveats in the user guide. The guide warns for the few effects, generators and transitions that do not translate well from Final Cut Pro X to Motion. The problem, however, is that sometimes you may not know in advance if a plug-in belongs to one of the categories mentioned — as with my KineticBadge plug-in.
Still, I wholeheartedly recommend this FxFactory plug-in. That’s because no other developer has even bothered trying to find a way to correctly and accurately send timeline projects from FCPX to Motion and back again. Automatic Duck has and in 99% of the cases it works like magic.
Xsend Motion costs about €90.