To those of you who know us, it will come as no surprise, that my regular partner in crime, Chris Roberts and I have been busily immersed in learning all that we can about Final Cut Pro X. We’ve committed ourselves to the task of better understanding the nature of this curious new beast. Indeed Chris recently posted a list of shortcuts he’s found to be invaluable on the journey so far. Each new discovery or quirk results in a flurry of emails that see our inboxes overflow. Though we ask each other all manner of questions about a particular feature or workflow sometimes we’re just looking for a sanity check. Which brings us to the way the new Broadcast Safe effect works.

In legacy versions of Final Cut Pro you could apply a Broadcast Safe filter to any individual clip or Nested Sequence. It was always important to apply the filter last to prevent any subsequent changes overriding the limiting effect of Broadcast Safe. In Final Cut Pro X you can also apply the new Broadcast Safe effect to a clip or a Compound Clip. However any corrections you make to an individual clip appear to be applied after Broadcast Safe in the effects pipeline. As before any adjustments you make afterwards will overrule the effect and if you’re not careful you could push the clip outside the regulatory requirements.

Lifting Highlights

  1. Select a clip in the Timeline.
  2. Choose Window > Show Color Board [⌘6].
  3. Click Exposure to select the Exposure pane [^⌘E].
  4. Choose Window > Show Video Scopes [⌘7]
  5. Select the Waveform scope from the settings pop-up menu.
  6. Selecting the Waveform scope in FCP X

    Tip: You can use the keyboard to navigate directly to the Waveform scope with the command: ⇑⌘7.

  7. Drag the Highlights slider up to increase the brightness of the clip outside the broadcast safe range (past 100 IRE on the Waveform scale).
  8. Lifting highlights with the Color Board in FCP X

Applying Broadcast Safe to Individual Clips

  1. Choose Window > Media Browser > Effects to open the Effects Browser [⌘5] (or click on the Effects button in the toolbar).
  2. Select Basics category and double-click the Broadcast Safe effect to apply it to the selected clip.
  3. Applying the Broadcast Safe effect in FCP X

  4. Choose Window > Hide Color Board [⌘6] to return to the Video inspector.
  5. Confirm that the Broadcast Safe Fix Method parameter is set to Reduce Luminance.
  6. Determining the Broadcast Safe Fix Method in FCP X

    In this context the Broadcast Safe effect will not bring the highlights down within legal limits. To properly benefit from the application of the Broadcast Safe effect you need to collect your footage together in a Compound Clip.

  7. Click to select the Broadcast Safe effect in the Video inspector and choose Mark > Delete [←] to remove the effect.

Applying Broadcast Safe to Compound Clips

  1. Click in the Timeline and choose Edit > Select All [⌘A].
  2. Selecting all the clips in the Timeline in FCP X

  3. Choose File > New Compound Clip [⌥G] (or right-click one of the selected clips and choose New Compound Clip from the menu).
  4. Compound Clip in FCP X

  5. Double-click the Broadcast Safe effect to apply it to the selected Compound Clip.
  6. Skim through the clip to see that the problem clip has been adjusted and the luminance is now safely within legal limits.
  7. Broadcast Safe and Compound Clips in FCP X

In many ways the steps of applying Broadcast Safe to a Compound Clip mirror a technique we would commonly use with nested sequences in legacy versions of Final Cut Pro. The key is to understand that in both situations the order in which effects are processed defines the final outcome. With FCP X corrections you make to individual clips are addressed after all of the effects. By applying an effect to a Compound Clip you ensure it appears after any effects on individual clips in the render pipeline. In the case of Broadcast Safe this is the best way to achieve predictable results.



  1. Tapio Haaja says:

    Hi Jonathan and thanks for this very important information! Another way to achieve same result without compound clips is to use ‘adjustment layers’ and using broadcast safe effect with that. Read more from my blog ( This way everything stays in same timeline and you don’t have to render everything once again after applying broadcast safe to compound clip.

    Tapio Haaja

  2. JET says:

    Thanks for the great tip Tapio. I just tested your method and it worked extremely well. It will be interesting to see which approach wins out as I tackle larger projects with FCP X.

  3. Jonathan – Good detective work! Thanks for taking the time to figure it out… maybe one day Apple will document this stuff.

  4. Thank you for this info. I also noticed that the BS filter invariably defaults to NTSC, even when applied to a PAL clip…


  5. JET says:

    @Patrick Thanks, I can’t take all of the credit, Chris was with me all the way. I was going to say I’m not sure if we could ever agree on who’s Holmes and who’s Watson in the relationship, but I think we’d rather be Starsky and Hutch! And I agree it does seem to be a bit of an odd omission.

    @Patrice, I don’t think the Broadcast Safe effect is designed to automatically detect which format it has been applied to.

  6. Tapio Haaja says:

    Thanks for sharing Jonathan! The reason I like to do broadcast safe with adjustment layer is that background renderer is not rendering anything outside current timeline. So compound clip timelines upper/lower in hierarchy are not rendered even if you wait forever. So for example if I have color corrected 30 min timeline with lots of effects propably background renderer have had enough time to render it while I have had breaks etc.. But if I have go one level up to compound clip with broadcast safe it will be totally unrendered and so rendering had to be done completely done again. And it has to render everything. Not just broadcast safe because it’s not referencing to intermediate prores renders you might have.

    Tapio Haaja

  7. Ben Scott says:

    Think it’s best to rebuild an effect with adjustment layer and broadcast safe rigged for PAL and cut on top.

    Why 2 correction for luma and chroma and then through some adjustment layer fudge?

    Compound clip is poorly implemented at the moment in my opinion. Check this

    Also thinking the parade scopes make no sense with the colour board and needing to get curves to fix thinking free ones from fxfactory but still to try or build a Motion project with motion filter for levels.

    I have been adding shortcuts for moving between nudge points and then no need for mouse, like that!

    Overall Apple had way to implement Aperture style copy and paste and colour correctionon clips it really needs to.

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