You can save yourself some time and headache getting started editing in Final Cut Pro X with these nine tips for your workflow.
Video editing sucks. There’s nothing more frustrating, soul-crushing, and time-consuming than mastering non-linear editing software. However, it also just might be the most creatively rewarding and uplifting career you can get into.
There are limitless possibilities once you master the basics of these programs, and the doors to greater opportunities and experiences open quickly. But, there are a few basic features that you can learn to help with the transition to pro editor. Let’s start with nine simple Final Cut Pro X tips.
1. Magnetic Timeline
One of the most contentious arguments for people avoiding FCPX is the magnetic timelines. Basically, when you place your clips down on the timeline, it auto-sets them to be the next-playing clip. If you’re editing very quickly, this can come in handy as you pick and place your clips down sequentially, but, realistically, that’s not how most of us edit.
So to turn off the magnetic timeline, just Press P, or go down and set the timeline to Position. After you’ve done this, if you delete a clip, the rest of the timeline will be “magnetized” back and fill the gap. But you can avoid this by pressing Fn while you delete the clip. This will leave an empty space where the clip used to be.
2. Marking In and Out on Your Clip
With clips viewed as filmstrips in the event browser, you can easily scrub through your clips without opening them in the source monitor. This will save you a lot of time if you’re editing a documentary or something with a ton of footage.
Once you’ve found the right clip, you can set your in and out points by dragging the yellow ends of the clip to fit whatever length you need. Then just drag it onto your timeline.
3. Find and Replace Text Tool
Whether you’re editing documentaries, weddings, news packs, or vlogs, you’re bound to have a lot of titles, lower thirds, and quotes. The find and replace tool allows you to instantly change any misspelled or unwanted words. Just go to Edit > Find and Replace Text, then swap out the wrong spelling with the correct one by hitting Replace All. This is just another example of how FCPX is great for quick editing — you can fly through and make your changes at the end once you’ve finished v1 of your video.
4. Using Effects
One cool aspect of FCPX is how the effects integrated into the system play into your editing workflow. So when you’re actually deciding which effect to use on a clip, just hover over the effect in the effect browser, and it will automatically apply to the clip selected on the timeline. This way you don’t have to apply the effect first before actually seeing what it will do to the clip.
5. The Range Tool
This applies four keyframes simultaneously so you can lower or raise the volume of a clip. Hit the R key, and lasso the part of the clip you want tweaked, and it should apply the keyframes instantly. This saves you time raising or lowering audio. You won’t have to go in and set keyframes yourself — or add transitions.
6. Assigning Roles
FCPX excels at organization. Keeping your audio clips labeled by assigning “roles” will help when your edit gets more complicated. Basically, using these roles is just a way to categorize your audio clips in a way that keeps your head from exploding while you edit.
To do this, right-click on a video or audio clip and hit Assign Video Roles or Assign Audio Roles, and then you can choose the category for the clip.
7. Color Grading
Previous versions of Final Cut weren’t fine-tuned for color correcting and color grading, but after recent upgrades, you can now take care of every step of the post-production process in one place.
If you’re in a rush, and you just need to get the edit to the first round of approvals or quickly post it to YouTube/Instagram/etc., you can tweak or set the white balance by going to the Color and Audio enhancements menu — or go to Modify then hit Balance Color. This doesn’t work for every situation, but you can manually play with it by going to the video inspector and changing it from Automatic to White Balance and from there on out, you can tell Final Cut which part of the image to focus on.
For a tutorial on getting a blockbuster look for your footage, check out our Final Cut Pro X Editor Kits.
Let’s say that while you’re editing a film, commercial, music video, or ad, you put the placeholder on the timeline and maybe you’ve figured out exactly what needs to go there. One of FCPX’s strongest features is its extension compatibility. One of the biggest extensions is Frame.io’s, which allows editors to work directly with clients and project managers by communicating through FCPX.
Shutterstock also has an extension for FCPX that allows you to search and insert a clip instantly. All you have to do is find it, license the clip, and bam — it’s in your video. This is a great way to send rough cuts to clients or to get a better idea of how your video will look with all the right footage in place.
9. Choosing the Computer
Now this might seem like an obvious one, but when asking around about making this video, the majority of people I talked to had forgotten or weren’t aware that Final Cut Pro X is an Apple product. It only runs on Mac OS. I mean, duh, but there’s no way I could make a video and write an article on the basics of FCPX without coming right out and stating the facts.
So before you start planning to purchase the NLE, or even start considering making the jump, think about whether or not you like the program’s interface as you’ve seen it thus far in this video. And make sure you’re willing to buy a Mac if you don’t already have one.
Another consideration is your career. Obviously you can’t know where you’ll be down the road because this industry is always changing. But are you willing to stick with Mac? You don’t want to master this program only to have to switch it up five years down the road. It’s not about money; rather, it’s about the time you’ll spend learning.
And remember, everybody — there’s so much more to talk about regarding Final Cut, so if you’re editing on FCPX and want a deeper dive into the software, or just want more FCPX content in general, let us know what you’d like to see!
Interested in hear the tracks we used for this video?
- “Live Your Dream” by Sound Fox Music
- “The Flow” by Sound Fox Music
- “Wild Life” by Kevin Maison
- “Triton” by Cosmo Lawson
- “Inner Urge” by Chill Study
- “Mind Games” by Chill Study
- “Oblivion” by Immersive Music
- “Beautiful Nothing” by Arthur Basov
- “Wholesome Goodness” by Elizabells
Interested in more FCPX content? Check out our previous posts:
- Exporting Video in Final Cut Pro X
- Final Cut Pro X Editor Kits
- 5 Essential Audio Editing Tutorials for FCPX
- Advanced Audio Features in FCPX
- How to Pull Off Slow Motion in FCPX
- How to Make 3D Titles in FCPX
Cover image by witaya ratanasirikulchai.