I had to create a clock that was counting down for a spinning lesson video I created but couldn't find anything useful while searching for it.

The top hit on Google when searching for 'fcpx countdown clock' is from Larry Jordan’s website, which is an excellent resource by the way, but his solution is pretty complex and involves creating different generators for minutes and seconds.

I hoped there was an easier and better way to do this and found this solution for which you do need Apple Motion:

Create a Final Cut Pro Generator in Apple Motion

Create a new 'Final Cut Generator' from the 'Blank' category in the Apple Motion Project Browser, I choose a 1920x1080 24 fps project with a 10 second duration but you can choose whatever you like / need.

Go to the Library and then to Generators -> Text Generators and add the Time Date generator to the timeline.

Go to the inspector and change the format and style of the generator to match how you would like your countdown clock to look.

Go the 'Generator' sub tab in the inspector and make sure:

  • Animate must be checked
  • Select a start and end date, because I have a timeline that has a 10 second duration I will select the current date and 00:00:10 as start datetime and the current date and 00:00:00 as end datetime.
  • Time Units must be set to ‘Seconds’
  • Time Format must be set to ‘Medium’.
  • Date Format must be set to ‘None’
  • Set the region to whatever you like

When you play the sequence you will see that it counts down from 10 to 0 seconds.

The most important thing you need to do now is:

  • publish the ‘Start’ and ‘End’ parameters so you can set those in Final Cut Pro X

Save the Generator (and close Apple Motion).

Final Cut Pro X

When you open Final Cut Pro X you will see your own generator when you click on the 'Generators' button.

Add the generator to your timeline and adjust the duration of the clip and make sure that the duration of the clip corresponds to the start and end time that you select for the Generator Clip (which you can edit in the properties window). So for example if your clip duration is 30 seconds, make sure you select 00:00:30 as start time and 00:00:00 as end time (the date doesn't matter because that won't be displayed anyway). If the duration is 1 hour and 10 minutes your start and end time must be 01:10:00 and 00:00:00 respectively.

When this has been set you can adjust other properties of the clip to make sure it's positioned the way you want.

That's it. Hope you like it. Please let me know in the comments below what you think.

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