Final Cut Pro: What are Composite Modes?

In Final Cut Pro, composite modes dictate how the brightness and color values of two clips interact with each other. You will only use composite modes if you are compositing and layering. When you are compositing, you are stacking multiple clips on top of each other. Composite modes are often referred to as blending modes. This guideline will go over how the different composite modes offered by Final Cut Pro affect the clips that you have stacked.

Normal Composite Mode

When you have stacked two or more clips on top of each other, Final Cut Pro will automatically apply the Normal composite mode. When using the Normal composite mode, you can still adjust the transparency levels.

Add Composite Mode

With the Add composite mode, Final Cut Pro will add together the color values of every overlapping pixel. This results in all mid-range color values being lightened. The Add composite mode also tends to emphasize the color white. If one of the clips that you are using has the color black in it, the Add composite mode will make those images transparent.

Subtract Composite Mode

The Subtract composite mode darkens all overlapping pixels. If the foreground image contains white, the Subtract composite mode will turn the white to black. The Subtract composite mode will not affect black background images, but black foreground images will become transparent. For colors other than black and white, the Subtract composite mode will darken images based on the color of the background image.

Multiply Composite Mode

If you are using the Multiply composite mode, images that contain mid-range color values will be evenly mixed together. The main purpose of the Multiply composite mode is to emphasize the darkest portions of every overlapping image. If a lightly colored image has been stacked on top of a darker image, the Multiply composite mode will make the lighter image translucent, which allows the darker image to show through.

Screen Composite Mode

While the Screen composite mode will emphasize the lightest parts of every overlapping image, images that contain mid-range color values will not be touched. The Screen composite mode, like the Multiple composite mode, will mix mid-range color values together more evenly. If an image contains black, the Screen composite mode will allow the lighter color to show through the black completely.

Overlay Composite Mode

The Overlay composite mode causes black and white on foreground images to become translucent. With background images, the Overlay composite mode will allow black and white to replace overlapping areas. For mid-range color values, the Overlay composite mode will use the brightness of the background image to determine how the mid-range color values are mixed together. Lightly colored background images will be mixed together by using the Screen composite mode, while darkly colored background images will be mixed together by using the Multiply composite mode.

Hard Light Composite Mode

With the Hard Light composite mode, portions of the foreground image that are black and white will block any overlapping areas in the background image. The white and black of the background image will interact with the mid-range color values of the foreground image. The Hard Light composite mode will use brightness levels to determine how mid-range color values are mixed together.

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