Monthly Archives: April 2009

Final Cut Pro: Free plugins to make all fonts available

Final Cut Pro: Free plugins to make all fonts available

For those of you who have been using Final Cut Pro for a while, there is a bug that has been hanging around for very many years. It usually crops up when a client brings you a font they want to use. You install it onto your Mac, but the font doesn’t work properly in the Final Cut generators and filters.

For example, your client might want to use various members of the ITC Century font family:

The various weights of ITC Centrury

Once you install the font, there are two problems:

1. Final Cut Pro doesn’t give you the option to use all the weights available
2. It displays an incorrect weight (boldness) of the font when you choose the ‘Plain’ style.

In some cases, the font install doesn’t appear in Final Cut Pro’s font menus at all.

This bug is due to the internal names of fonts. Final Cut assumes all fonts come in four variations: plain, italic, bold and bold italic. It also assumes that the ‘Plain’ variation doesn’t have a name ending in ‘Book’ or ‘55.’ I have 19 variations of Univers installed on my computer. I can only choose one of these within Final Cut Pro.

It turns out that the problem is in the part of the Application that builds the ‘Currently available fonts’ pop-up menu that appears in text generators and a filter (’Viewfinder’ in the Video category). Final Cut can display any font installed on your computer, but there isn’t a way of telling it which font you want to use: ‘ITC Century Light’ doesn’t appear in the pop-up menu.

Luckily text generators and the filter are written in Final Cut’s effects scripting language, fxScript. That gives us a workaround: I’ve modified the plugins that use different fonts to provide the option to type in the name of the font you want to use. It is less convenient to have to type it in, but much more convenient when it comes to using your whole font library in Final Cut.

Download alex4d_FCP_fonts_plugins
Installing the plug-ins

Download the ZIP archive of the plugins. Drag the plugins from the ‘alex4d_FCP_fonts_plugins’ folder to one of two places on your computer:

Your Startup HD/Library/Application Support/Final Cut Pro System Support/Plugins


Your Startup HD/Users/your name/Library/Preferences/Final Cut Pro User Data/Plugins/

Restart Final Cut, and you’ll see a new set of generators and a video filter.

Due to the litigious nature of the world, I need to add the following weasel words: These plugins are provided ‘as-is’ and come with no warranty whatsoever. Under no circumstances is the author liable for any data loss or corruption. Use them at your own risk. Save copies of your critical projects when using these plugins. I’ve tested them on Final Cut Pro 6.0.4, but they should work on any version of Final Cut Pro or Express released in the last five years back to FCP4.

Using the plugins

They use the same names as the generators and filter you already know, but with ‘+ fonts’ on the end. They work the same way as before except where there were popup menus for choosing the font, there is a text box for you to enter the name of the font you want to use:

Getting the correct name for the font you want to use

If you want the correct name of the font you want to use, you can copy it from the name shown in the formatting palette in Word:

If you don’t have Word, you can use Apple’s Font Book application to get the correct name:
1. Select the font and weight you want to use
2. Choose Show Font Info from the Preview menu
3. Select the black text next to ‘Full name’

4. Use Command-C or choose Copy from the Edit menu to copy the full name of the font

As you can see from the Final Cut Pro screenshot above, both ‘ITCCentury Light’ and ‘ITC Century Light’ are equally valid when entering a name into the font field. However ‘ITCCentury Light Italic’ doesn’t work whereas ‘ITC Century Light Italic’ does.

I’ve tested this with the whole Univers family (eg “Univers 39 Thin Ultra Condensed” and “Univers 85 Extra Black Oblique”), the Helvetica Neue family, and many others – including a font with a very long name: “ITC New Baskerville Bold Small Caps & Old Style Figures”:

Future possibilities

Ideally it would be great if Final Cut’s font menus were more comprehensive, but the menus available to fxScript plugins aren’t. If you visit Andy’s plugin site, you’ll be able to download an improved version of the ‘Text’ generator – he made this fxPlug generator using XCode and a more advanced programming language than fxScript.

I might be able to compile a simple fxPlug filter that does nothing to the video output but simply displays a pop-up of installed fonts and puts the chosen font into a text field that can be copied from within Final Cut… but don’t hold your breath!