A free Final Cut Pro for Mac effect that adds overlays to clips which are useful in feature film production.

Use this effect when handing edits over to sound, VFX and subtitling collaborators who use feet and frame counts.

This effect is designed for 23.976 fps clips and projects. It adds a header, a label and two timecode counts: in feet+frames and video.

This plugin was created in response from a request by Michael Matzdorff to update my 35mm 4-perf feet and frames counter, and was used as part of the production workflow for a Hollywood studio feature film. Follow Mike’s Final Cut Pro feature film production tips on Twitter.

The footage in the video is from EditStock.com – clips individuals and film schools can download to practice editing with.


You can enter heading text, which you can change the size and colour of. You can also label the clip. If the effect is selected in the clip inspector, you’ll see text boxes for the labels which you can resize and reposition.

Final Cut Pro for Mac effects cannot read the timecode or frame count of clips they are applied to. If you don’t want the feet and frames counter to start at 0, use the Start Feet and Start Frames to choose where the effect counts from. This effect is designed to be used on film reels lasting up to 48 minutes long, so the timecode doesn’t count past 48 minutes. It does have an extra digit so footage count can start at 10,000, or 20,000 etc. Including a decimal value in the footage will be included in the start offset: i.e. 11.5 and 2 frames will start the timecode at 00011’+10 – 11.5 (11 feet 8 frames + 2 frames).

The video timecode counter always uses the timecode value of the timeline in which the clip has been placed. If you want to use the clip’s timecode, select the clip, control-click and choose the Open in Timeline command to see the clip in its own timeline with time set to the timecode in the clip. If you apply Alex4D Feature Overlays to the clip in its timeline, the timecode shown will match the timeline.

You can position the counters by changing the values of the Feet + Frames and Timecode parameters. If you want to see on-screen controls for the counter positions, check the Position Controls checkbox, deselect the clip in the timeline. When you next select the clip, on-screen controls will be visible.

Use the Size, Colour and Background controls to set the size, and colours of the counters. The Background control includes a Opacity slider. If you want the background behind the frame counters to be slightly transparent, reduce the Opacity value.

Applying this effect to parts of a timeline

As well as applying this effect to individual clips, you can also apply it to a time range of a project using an adjustment layer. Adjustment layers (named after a similar kind of layer in Adobe After Effects) are used to applying colour, transform and other effects to multiple clips at once.

Drag the ‘Alex4D Adjustment Layer’ from the Alex4D section of the Titles browser to a timeline. Position it and set its duration. Doing this has no initial visual effect. If you then apply the ‘Alex4D Feature Overlays’ effect to the adjustment layer, the feature overlays appear for the duration of the layer. Any transformations,  colour corrections and any other effects applied to the adjustment layer will also apply all the layers below.

Copying the settings from one instance of Feature Overlays to another

Once you are happy with the header and the counter settings of one instance of the effect, you can use the same settings on other clips. Copy the clip the effect is applied to, select the clip or clips you want to apply the effect to, choose Paste Attributes from the Edit menu and select Alex4D Feature Overlays:

Download the free Alex4D Feature Overlays effect plugin for Final Cut Pro for Mac

Click to download the Mac installers:

These plugins are free to download and use, but if you’d like to show your appreciation for my work, please donate here:

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Once you run the installer, you’ll find the ‘Alex4D Feature Overlays’ effect in the Alex4D section of the effects browser:

The ‘Alex4D Adjustment Layer’ will install into Alex4D section of the Titles browser.

If when you try to run the installer you get a message stating it can’t be opened “because it was not downloaded from the Mac App Store” – your Mac OS X security preferences are protecting you. To change them, or work around this, visit this post at blog.alex4d.com.