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Getting iMovie World Travel Maps into Final Cut Pro X the Easy Way

We have often looked at the animated globe maps in iMovie and wished they could have been included in FCPX. Thanks to a clever trick, you can have access to the maps and globes directly in Final Cut Pro X without having to re-render each one out as a movie.

Whilst writing up the review on the latest Retina MacBook Pro, it reminded us of a great trick we used a year ago to get those great automatically animating globe maps out of the latest iMovie and into Final Cut Pro X.

FCPX imovie maps 1

The range of animating maps available in iMovie.


There are three ways of achieving this. One easy but limiting, one hard but very flexible and the last, very easy, very quick and very flexible. Let's run through them all.


1) Use iMovie to pre-program all cities and moves and then render out a self contained QuickTime and import that into FCPX. Once all the info has been baked in, you cannot change anything, including the duration. 


2) Write a Motion wrapped plugin of the effect. Yes we really thought of doing this. The globe and map effects in iMovie are written in Quarz Composer, a visual programming language using patches and noodles to draw up a 'composition.'

This QC file can be imported into an effect management system such as FxFactory and published to FCPX via a Motion wrapper. A complicated workaround that involves digging into the iMovie program package contents and then re-wrapping the effect. Not easy, not quick and all done at the users' own risk.

FCPX imovie maps 2

The location of the Quartz Composer map files in the iMovie package. (Enter at your own risk!)  Open in window for larger image.


3) Use the generator directly in Final Cut Pro X. 

Yes this is possible and probably the quickest way to get the maps (and background generators) into FCPX.

Simply put your animating globe of choice onto a timeline in iMovie. Here for the example we have put three back to back, one rotating globe, one flat map and the plain zoom. It doesn't really matter as long as you have one on the timeline and don't worry about destinations e.t.c.

FCPX imovie maps 3


Then go to the File menu and select 'Send Movie to Final Cut Pro.' Take your hands off the keyboard and watch the magic happen...

FCPX imovie maps 4


A new Library and Event are made in Final Cut Pro X. In the new Event, you will find a project, and in that project you will find the maps that we made in iMovie.

 FCPX imovie maps 5


Here's the clever stuff. The maps are not movies, they are the map generators from iMovie and we can prove that by looking at one in the inspector.

FCPX imovie maps 6


You have access to every parameter that you would expect if in iMovie. You can change the start and end locations, zoom in to the globe or map and decide to show the animating line and superimpose clouds.

As the clip is now a generator within FCPX you can do everything you would expect. Not only cut and paste or alt drag to make new instances, but you can also lengthen or shorten the globe or retime the generator putting a speed effect such as holds on either end. All without losing quality. We like putting them back to back with holds and dissolves to show flying around the world with stops.

They will also go to 4K, some of the lines have some aliasing, but worth an experiment.

Unfortunately this trick only works with the maps and background generators from iMovie, the trailers do not have the option to export in this way to FCPX.

It is however an example of a Quartz Composer effect being used directly in Final Cut Pro X without a third party wrapper or Motion's help. As iMovie shares code with FCPX that isn't really a big surprise, but it does open another possible door for plugin writing and publishing in the future.

So next time you get a client who wants an animating line around the world in FCPX, you'll know how to do it without having to resort to buying a plugin or stock footage.


Written by
Top BloggerThought Leader

I am the Editor-in-Chief of FCP.co and have run the website since its inception ten years ago.

I have also worked as a broadcast and corporate editor for over 30 years, starting on one inch tape, working through many formats, right up to today's NLEs.

Under the name Idustrial Revolution, I have written and sold plugins for Final Cut Pro for 13 years.

I was made a Freeman of Lichfield through The Worshipful Company of Smiths (established 1601). Though I haven't yet tried to herd a flock of sheep through the city centre!

Current Editing

great house giveaway 2020

2020 has been busy, the beginning of the year was finishing off a new property series (cut on FCP) for Channel 4 called The Great House Giveaway. I also designed and built the majority of the graphics as Motion templates. It has been a great success and the shows grabbed more viewers in the 4pm weekday slot than any previous strand. It has been recommissioned by C4 for 60 episodes, including prime-time versions and five themed programmes. The shows have also been nominated for a 2021 BAFTA.

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Although both were postponed to later in the year, I worked again on ITV's coverage of the Tour de France and La Vuelta. 2020 was my 25th year of editing the TdF and my 20th year as lead editor. The Tour was the first broadcast show to adopt FCPX working for multiple editors on shared storage.


BBC snooker the crucible

BBC's Snooker has played a big part in my life, I've been editing tournament coverage since 1997. I'm proud to be part of a very creative team that has pioneered many new ideas and workflows that are now industry standard in sports' production. This is currently an Adobe Premiere edit.

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Covid cancelled some of the regular corporate events that I edit such as trade shows & events. I was lucky however to edit, from home, on projects for Amazon Kindle, Amazon Black Friday, Mastercard and very proud to have helped local charitable trust Kendall & Wall secure lottery funding.

As for software, my weapon of choice is Final Cut Pro and Motion, but I also have a good knowledge and broadcast credits with Adobe Premiere Pro, MOGRT design and Photoshop.

Plugin Design & Development

I'm the creative force behind Idustrial Revolution, one of the oldest Final Cut Pro plugin developers. It hosts a range of commercial and free plugins on the site. One free plugin was downloaded over a thousand times within 24 hours of release.

I also take on custom work, whether it is adapting an existing plugin for a special use or designing new plugins for clients from scratch. Having a good knowledge of editing allows me to build-in flexibility and more importantly, usability.


Now in its 10th year and 4th redesign, running FCP.co has given me knowledge on how to run a large CMS- you are currently reading my bio from the database! Although it sounds corny, I am pretty well up on social media trends & techniques, especially in the video sector. The recent Covid restrictions has enabled live FCP.co shows online. This involves managing a Zoom Webinar through Restream.io to YouTube and Facebook. 

The Future

I'm always open to new ideas and opportunities, so please get in touch at editor (at) fcp.co. I've judged film competitions, presented workflow techniques to international audiences and come up with ideas for TV shows and software programs!


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