Better Lightrays


Video Tutorial



One of my favorite filters in motion is the Lightrays effect. It looks awesome on text, and bright parts of your image. The only problem with it is well….it adds it to the whole image and not just part of it. This is were my Better Lightrays comes in. I’ve included two different effects here, both the original lightrays filter from Motion 5 and my Better lightrays effect and really take a look at what you can do.


The Power of Threshold

One of the things I used to create this effect for Final Cut Pro X, was to use a image mask with threshold. This way you can control what is affected by the light rays filter. I even added a blur option so it wont be so hard on the mask. As I started to use this and see how it worked I quickly realized that I needed to be able to limit the effect even more at times. Thats where the mask 4 point mask comes in, and the ability to even colorize the rays.




  • Custom Installer
  • 4-Point mask built in
  • Brightness Threshold Mask
  • Blur Mask Control to soften the edges of the mask
  • Custom On Screen Controls
  • Colorize the Light Rays


Coremelt’s Slice X

Coremelt’s Slice X

  • This is an amazing plugin. It does exactly what you expect it to do. Slice X allows the user to create custom masks. Now you may be telling yourself “But Mikey there are lots of free plugins that do that already.” and well you would be right. But there is not a single plugin that does it as eloquently and effortlessly as Slice X.

OK now that I have you interested let me really explain Slice X. Unlike a lot of the other masking tools for Final Cut Pro X, Slice X does not limit you to the amount of points for the mask, it also doesn’t force extra points on you. The default mask in Final Cut Pro X, only has 4 points. The one from Ripple Training is an 8-point Garbage Matte. There are others with 10-points, 20-points, or 30-points, but what if you needed say 11 or 13 points, or maybe 5 points. You would be stuck using one that had more points than you needed or trying to make due with a matte that had too few points.

Custom Interface

Slice X is a native plugin. Meaning unlike the motion template effects that are very popular (I even make quite a few of these), this has custom on screen controls that are not limited to what we can bring over from Motion 5. It also means that the on screen options that give us an overlay with text and addition info does not need to be turned off like on some other effects. It also means instead of a slider that says “Roundness” we have bezier handles for each point (when using the bezier mask tool). For anyone who has used motion, the on screen controls are very intuitive. I was able to install the plugin and start playing with it. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t read the supplied PDF material. In fact you really should it mentions some great shortcuts and tips to help you out. Once I had my fun just playing with Slice X, I sat down and read the PDFs. Now to get to these PDFs you need to open each use of Slice X, there are 6 different effects all with the same on screen controls but different inspector controls. Each time you apply Slice X you get the option to click on the heads up display that says “SLICE X “CLICK HERE FOR HELP”” I think they make it pretty easy to figure out what to do with the effect you have just applied.

How to use it.

As I mentioned above there are 6 different types of effects that come with Slice X, all are similar in the sense that they all use a mask.

  • Blur Shape Mask
  • Color Correct Shape mask
  • Depth of Field Shape Mask
  • Object Remover
  • Shape Mask Layer
  • Vignette Shape Mask

I am not going to go into detail about each one, since Coremelt has some great videos on their website showing off each feature and I even made a demo showing some of my favorites. The biggest thing to take away from this on how to use Slice X is that it is Keyframeable. I wouldn’t suggest trying to do rotoscoping in Final Cut Pro X, but Slice X does make it harder to say you have to jump to either Motion or After Effect to create some unique composites. I actually just used the Depth of Field Shape Mask to cut out a sign on a project, and keyframed the camera movements. Overall I would say if you ever used as matte in FCP7 or are thinking about any of the others. This plugin is well worth the money. Slice X is currently on sale for $49 as an introductory price. But latter on it will go up to $79. Also while you visit go ahead and check out Lock and Load X, Coremelt Complete and if you are on a budget they even have Coremelt Free, with some of their most popular effect. I use all of Coremelt’s effects and highly recommend them to my students.