Final Cut Pro (FCP) is a non-destructive, non-linear editor (NLE) that uses 3-point edits. At its most basic level, it gives you the ability to assemble multiple clips into a single movie and tieing them together with other media such as still images and sound. Final Cut Pro has many editing tools, and many ways to use each tool. This Web site only touches on the most basic editing tools in FCP. More information is available in the manuals and online.
- Learn about editing concepts
- Understanding the interface
- Use basic editing tools to modify media
- Move media to the Timeline
- Understand the basics of 3-point editing
An NLE gives you the ability to move between any two points in the Timeline without h aving to scrub through the material between them. For example, on an audio cassette, if you wanted to listen to song 3 and you were on song 1, you would need to fast forward thr ough song 2: this is linear editing. On a compact disc however, if you are on song 1 and you wish to hear song 3, the unit simply jumps to song 3 without having to move through song 2: this is non-linear.
Basics of 3-Point Editing
The basic concept of 3-point editing is that when you add media to the Timeline, you are defining 4 points. The In and the Out point of the clip, and the In and Out points on the Timeline. Editing this way is based on the idea that you really on ly need to define 3 of those 4 points, and the last one can be computed by the program. In the “drag and drop” methods above, we have been defining the In and Out points of the clip, and then used the position of the playhead in the Timeline to define the In point on the Timeline, then the clip is placed and the final Out point is calculated. This is the most common form of 3-point editing, but you can define any 3 of the points, and the 4th will be calculated for you. This becomes very usefu l when you are trying to get media to fill a gap in your Timeline, or you are trying to match up a sound track to media. This is one of those things you have to play with to get a feel for, but once you do, your proficiency as a DV editor goes way up.
In order to edit video efficiently, you must first become familiar with the layout of the basic working windows in FCP. These windows can be moved about, but most of the time they will be in this general layout.
- The Viewer: This is where you can make editing choices about your media. Here is where you mark In and Out points in your media.
- The Canvas: This is where you can view your edited film and preview changes you are making.
- The Browser: This is where your media is stored.
- The Timeline: This is where your edited work lives, and where most of the basic editing takes place. To the right of the Timeline are the Tools palette and audio meters.
Once you have material in the Timeline, there is a great deal you can do with it. This section is going to briefly go over each of the tools in the Tools palette usually found to the right of the Timeline. These basic tools are:
Most of the tools have sub-tools that are available by clicking and holding on the main tool itself. These sub-tools provide modifications to the basic tool. These tools also have contextual menus that can aid in the editing process. To display the contextual menus for a tool, hold down the <Control> key then single-click the mouse while using the tool. The <Option> and <Shift> keys also modify the actions of most tools. Each tool has help available from within FCP.
Many of the tools in FCP will not work if the clip they are being used on does not have enough data before and after its In and Out points. This is the main reason to capture a bit of film before and after the actual frames of a clip you are interested in. Things such as transitions and slip and roll edits depend on this extra material.
Moving Media to the Timeline
The most basic way (and the most like iMovie) to put clips into sequence is to simply drag them from the Browser to the Timeline. You can then move the clips around in the Timeline to organize them as you wish. This, however is usually not very practical, as you will most often only want a part of each clip you have in the Browser.
The more effective way to bring items into your time line is to set “In” and “Out” points for a clip in the Viewer (you can get a clip into the view by dragging it there, or just double clicking on it). See the “Capture from DV Tape” section of the Acquiring Media section for instructions on how to set In and Out points. Once the clip has its In and Out points set, you can drag it to the Timeline, and only the part of the video between those points will be copied to the Timeline.
If you drag a clip from either the Viewer or the Browser to the Canvas, then you get even more choices. You can choose to perform any of the following inserts when you use this method:
- Insert – puts the clip you are moving into the Timeline at the point of the playhead. Any other media is pushed forward to make room.
- Overwrite – is similar to “Insert” but rather than pushing clips out of the way, it writes on top of them.
- Replace – replaces a clip or section of clips in your sequence with the one in the viewer. It is very difficult to use without a lot of practice.
- Fit to Fill – changes the speed of the incoming clip to fill a gap in the Timeline, or fits In and Out points you have in the Timeline.
- Superimpose – places the incoming clip on new video and audio tracks.
Common Problems Regarding Timeline:
“When I play from the timeline the playbar moves but the image in the canvas and on the video monitor does not. When I stop playback the image updates to the correct spot on the timeline. What is going on?”
- Check that the video size in the canvas window is set to “Fit to Window”. If this is correct then go to the Final Cut Pro menu and select Audio/Video Settings… Click on the External Video tab and make sure Mirror on desktop during Playback is selected.
“My computer crashed, are all the edits I did gone?”
- If you are unable to locate the original Final Cut project file or if your most recent edits are missing do a search (File -> Find…) for “Autosave Vault”. You should find at least one Autosave Vault folder. Contained in this folder should be another folder with the name of the Final Cut Pro project (or Untitled if the project was never saved). In this second folder should be a bunch of files with the same name plus a timestamp. Set the folder to list view and sort by date modified. Open the most recently modified file. With any luck this will be a fairly recent version of the project.
These basic steps should get media into FCP in a useful way for most people.