Masking overview

When you draw shapes to create areas of transparency in an image, you are masking that image. Final Cut Pro has a number of powerful masking tools for creating areas of transparency in a video clip or still image.

You can use onscreen controls to precisely define the mask area. For example, if you want to isolate a clip’s foreground subject, you can create a detailed mask to cut out the background. You can also animate mask effects to create complex regions of animated transparency that change over time.

Diagram comparing the original image, the mask alpha channel, and the masked image

The following mask effects are available in the Masks category of the Effects Browser. Add them to any clip in the Timeline as you would any other clip effect. With the exception of the Draw Mask, all of the following mask effects are considered “simple masks,” with relatively straightforward masking controls.

  • Draw Mask: Draw a complex custom mask using control points and spline drawing methods to adjust shape and curvature. See Create complex masks with the Draw Mask effect and Editing complex masks overview.

  • Graduated Mask: Create a mask based on a gradient (from fully transparent to fully opaque).

  • Image Mask: Create areas of transparency in a clip using a chroma channel, a luma channel, or an alpha channel from a different image.

  • Shape Mask: Create a mask in any shape on the continuum from ellipse to rectangle. See Create simple shape masks. This is the only simple mask that can be converted to editable control points for making complex custom masks.

  • Vignette Mask: Create a horizontal ellipse mask with graduated edges.

Final Cut Pro also features effect masking. Most clip effects have built-in shape masks and color masks that allow you to isolate and control which areas of the video image are affected by clip effects and color corrections. For more information, see Effect masking overview.

Note: Masking blend modes (including Add, Subtract, and Intersect modes) for combining multiple masks are available for effect masking only.