FCP X: Those Strange Yellow Dots

Posted on by Larry

Hidden in certain select transitions inside Final Cut Pro X are some mysterious yellow dots. (Cue sinister music…)

Ever wonder what they are? Or, even more likely, ever wonder why you haven’t seen them?

If the only transition you use is a dissolve, you’ll never see these. But, if you look carefully in the Replicator/Clones or Stylize categories, you’ll find several transitions that use these. (See the list below in the Extra Credit section.)

Each yellow “dot” creates a poster frame which is used as part of the background of a transition. All the built-in transitions in Final Cut only allow two moving images, but several transition presets allow up to eight still images from selected clips to be displayed in the background of the transition.

The two moving images are the two clips on either side of the transition itself. But the yellow dot allows you to specify which frames should be displayed as still frames.

To display a yellow dot, select a transition in the Timeline. If it supports poster frames, the yellow dots will be displayed above the clips. To move a yellow dot, drag it until the frame you want is displayed in the Viewer. You can place a dot on any frame.

You can place yellow dots all inside a single clip, or spread across multiple clips.

NOTE: However, you can only place yellow dots in the same storyline that contains the transition.

For example, here you see a transition between the tree against the skyline and the spinning globe; while the other six images are labeled with yellow dots. (Image 3 and 6 are still mostly off-screen.)


You can use transitions that contain poster frame dots in a connected storyline, except that the dots are not displayed, nor can they be moved.

The workaround is to first place the clips you want to use for the transition in the primary storyline. Add the transition and adjust the dots. Then, select Edit > Lift from Storyline. This converts the clips into a connected storyline which you can the relocate wherever you want. The dots won’t be displayed, but their position will match the position you set when the clips were in the Primary Storyline.


As with all Final Cut effects, these transitions are highly-detailed Motion projects. To modify a transition, or to see how these are constructed, right-click a transition and select Open in Motion.


The power these yellow dots provide is the ability to further customize the look of very complex transitions without needing to create them ourselves in Motion.


This list isn’t complete, but here are some transitions that contain these poster frame controls. You are most likely to find them in the Stylized category, though Replicator/Clones has two, as well:

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One Response to FCP X: Those Strange Yellow Dots

  1. stephen says:

    thanks for this info larry. i have having trouble with moving the ‘yellow dots’. i am using ‘pan down fast’. i move the numbers ‘1’ and ‘2’ and it seems to render but then the poster frame does not change. the position of the yellow dot has changed. any ideas why the poster frame doesn’t change?

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