FCP X: Create & Export Still Frames

Posted: November 16, 2012

Final Cut Pro X Logo[ There are more than twenty significant new features in the 10.0.6 update to Final Cut Pro X. This article looks at one of them. Check out our latest training covering the Final Cut Pro X 10.0.6 update here ]

In this Final Cut Pro training, we will look at how to create and export still frames, which changed with the 10.0.6 update to Final Cut Pro X. (These are also called “freeze frames,” I use these two terms interchangeably.)

The benefit to still frames is that, unlike Hold frames, they just stop. Hold frames have a built-in ease-in/ease-out speed transition that often distracts from the actual freeze itself. Also, freeze frames can be moved anywhere in a project, while Hold frames are trapped inside the clip from which they were created.

CREATING TIMELINE STILL FRAMES

We can create still frames in the Event Browser or the Timeline. To create a still frame in the Timeline, put the playhead on the frame you want to freeze.

Choose Edit > Add Freeze Frame, or type Option+F.

Instantly, a new clip is inserted at the position of the playhead into the Primary Storyline: a four-second freeze frame. (I’ve highlighted it here so you can see it.)

NOTE: All freeze frames default to a four-second duration. You can change this in the Editing tab of Final Cut Pro > Preferences by adjusting the Still Images setting.

Once the still image is created, you can trim it, add effects, or do anything else with it that you can do with a clip; except, that is, change its speed.

CREATING EVENT BROWSER STILL FRAMES

Still frames created from the Event Browser are even more flexible.

First, put your playhead in the Timeline where you want the freeze frame to appear.

Next, put your playhead, or skimmer, on the frame in the Event Browser that you want to freeze.

Type Option+F. (You could also use the Edit menu, but making sure a playhead or skimmer doesn’t move out of position becomes trickier.)

Instantly, the still frame appears as a connected clip at the position of the playhead in the Timeline. At this point, you can treat it just like any other connected clip – including changing its duration, moving its position, adding transitions, color grading, or effects. (Again, you can’t change the speed of a still frame.)

EXPORTING STILL FRAMES

The method we use to export still frames also changed and I like the options in this new version better, but it is a bit harder to find.

With the update, the Share menu morphed. It is now this blue button on the far right of the Toolbar and in the File menu (File > Share).

Click the Share button (or select File > Share) and a list of potential export locations is displayed. This is the only tricky part, because exporting still frames is not a default. Select Add Destination.

NOTE: A Destination is both a compression setting and a place to send/save a file.

A new Preference tab is displayed (you can also get here from Final Cut Pro > Preferences). On the left are all the active destinations. On the right are additional destination options. (Your screen may look a bit different from mine, because I’ve changed the list on the left prior to writing this article.)

Drag Save Current Frame from the list on the right to the list on the left. You can insert it anywhere you like.

In fact, you can rearrange the list on the left by dragging icons. Right-click an icon to rename, duplicate, or delete a setting.

NOTE: Duplicating and renaming settings is the method to use when you want to set up multiple YouTube or Vimeo accounts, for example.

Select Save Current Frame on the left and set it to the file type you prefer. I used to recommend TIFF, which is still a good choice. You may prefer PNG, or DPX. I recommend against saving images as JPEG because of the lower quality JPEG contains.

Be sure to leave Scale Image to Preserve Aspect Ratio checked if you want the images to look good on a computer. (Uncheck this if you plan to import the still into another video project.)

THE ACTUAL EXPORT

To actually export a still, put your playhead on the frame you want to export; this can be in the Timeline or the Event Browser. Click the Share icon (or use File > Share) and choose Save Current Frame.

In the window that appears, add a title and description for the still. The text along the bottom indicates the technical specifications for the file you are saving.

NOTE: This metadata is pulled from the project metadata, which is stored with the project. To change this, select the project in the Project Library. Go to the Inspector and click the Share tab. All the settings displayed on export are available here.

Click the Settings tab to change the file format of the still, or change the pixel aspect ratio of the image. (Checking this creates an image with square pixels, which is the preferred format for print and web.)

Click the Next button.

Give your soon-to-be-exported file a name and location, click Save and you are done.

The setup to export a still takes a bit of time, but once complete, exporting is very fast, with more metadata options and file formats to choose from.

  • For a list of all my Final Cut Pro X video training, click here.
  • For a list of all my Final Cut Pro X written tutorials, click here.

 

Comments
31 Comments to “FCP X: Create & Export Still Frames”
  1. Hi there

    I have tried this and suprisingly it does not work. I am 100 percent that I do it correct. It seems that the file just does not want to be saved in the folder I choose to save it with. I did it exaclty as desicribed here. It just doesnt make sense. I go to file-share-save current frame. It does not want to save

  2. Paul says:

    Hello Thankyou!
    How do you export just a section of a scene in FinalcutX – the first 30 seconds say of a 4 minute scene- 2 cameras multiclip
    [I have disabled clips after 30seconds]
    without having to export the entire length of clips. Can you highlight the clips and share that way ?
    Paul

  3. Ross Campbell says:

    Thanks Larry! Was having a frothy about the a still frame export option seemingly being removed from this version

  4. STONEY XL says:

    Hi Larry, I’ve come home after a 2 year affair with PP, tho’ the last thing I did I cut in PP and 7toX’d it to FCP X for keying and FX. The client is interested in using some of the text fx as stills to make t-shirts. I’m not sure if PNG or DPX is the way to go. How should I go about this? Thx

  5. evan estern says:

    what about the photoshop option? is that lower, higher or similar quality to TIFF?

    Thank you so much!

    • Larry Jordan says:

      Evan:

      Sorry, I didn’t see this until now… sigh.

      The quality between Photoshop and TIFF is, essentially, the same. What you are creating is the format for the image to be stored it. PSD is also a good choice.

      Larry

  6. Chris says:

    I am using FCPX 10.0.8 and I was trying to create a still frame similar to how I do in FCP 7 where it creates a frame of the composite of the layers of video as one. FCPX seems to only want to give me the still frame out of the primary video track.

    Am I doing something wrong or is this not possible in X?

    Thank you

    • Larry Jordan says:

      Select the clips that you want to create a still frame of.
      Create a compound clip
      Create the still frame
      Remove the compound clip.

      A bit awkward, but it will work.

      Larry

  7. gy says:

    Turns out that selecting “Save Current Frame” produced a white / blank frame while “Export Image Sequence” worked but with more frames – overriding the freeze frame. In any case, clearly a bug.

    • Larry says:

      Gy:

      Generally, a white frame indicates a missing codec. What seems puzzling is that Export Image Sequence worked and Save Current Frame. I agree, that’s weird.

      Larry

      • gy says:

        Playing back Canon C300 footage – works fine and edits fine. The freeze frame only shows up in the Export Image Sequence on the right frame. Doesn’t do the same in Save Current Frame – which defaults to another part of the shot. Thanks

  8. David Lyon says:

    I had better luck with this if I used share from the top menu as opposed to the share button. So if the share button does not work, try the menu from the top.

  9. john says:

    Thanks Larry it was dead simple with your explanation, incredibly frustrating without it.

  10. Ghisleen De Westelinck says:

    Hello, i am from BELGIUM and i have a big problem with exporting in FCPX.
    Exporting stops at 36% exporting and that in different codecs like pal MPEG2 720×576, HD 1920X1080 H264 OR PRORESS 422.. I wait a long period but it stays on 36%

    Sorry for my bad english writing,
    Sincelery Ghislain

    • Larry says:

      Ghisleen:

      Generally, when exporting freezes it is caused bad media. Try deleting project render files — File > Delete Project Render Files — or check all your media around 1/3 into your project. Often, stock footage clips are the cause of the problem.

      Larry

  11. Steve says:

    Thanks a lot for this, saved me a lot of time. Cheers

  12. David says:

    Howdy,

    Export a single still frame worked fine, thanks :)
    Is there a way to export multiple still frames all at once?

    Thanks :)

  13. Bob says:

    TWO CAMERA SHOOT USING FREEZE FRAMES.. I record seminars with one camera. When the speaker shows a new power point slide, I zoom up to the screen, record the slide, then go back to the speaker. When editing, I freeze frame each slide, drag the frozen point above the timeline, then I stretch both sides to where I left/rejoined the speaker. When replayed I get a clean jump to and from each slide. It is much quicker than importing slides from a clients CD or USB unless you must have best quality.

  14. Bob Abbate says:

    fcpx 10.1.1.

    export current frame does not work for me.
    I’ve tried everything but the export always results in a blank picture.

    does anyone have some answers?
    Thanks :)

    • Larry Jordan says:

      Bob:

      Personally, I’ve found this happens when I don’t select a clip or storyline before starting the export. Or, I have the wrong portion of the interface selected.

      Larry

      • Bob Abbate says:

        No, I tried to select a range in the sequence or just the clip, nothing worked. I ended up by just taking a print screen of the frame i needed when in full screen mode. did lose some quality… But it seemed there was no other option..

        thanks Larry :)

  15. Mark says:

    Thanks Larry, worked perfectly for me first time. I’ve been using your training materials which I think are the best around. You’ve got me up and running from a base of zero knowledge in a few weeks, thanks. Keep up the good work :)

  16. Frank says:

    export works fine but still has interlaced lines – how can I get rid of this?

  17. Frank says:

    export still works fine but image showing interlaced lines – how can I get rid of these?

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