Macworld Masterclass: Getting up to speed in FCP X

Tips to work faster in FCP X and learn the new interface

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  • Auditioning Clips Intro
  • Setting Projects Up Step 1
  • Range Selections Step 2
  • Skimming Step 3
  • Show Skimmer Info Step 4
  • Quick Comparisons Step 5
  • Adding Clips Step 6
  • Playback Preferences Step 7
  • Magnetic Timeline Step 8
  • The Position Tool Step 9
  • Auditioning Clips Step 10
  • Switching Tasks Step 11
  • Managing Transitions Step 12
  • Full Screen Playback Step 13
  • The Command Editor Step 14
  • Background Rendering Step 15
  • More stories
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Intro

Apple has certainly caused a stir with the introduction of its new editing software. Yet even though FCP X has a new interface, there are similarities to FCP 7; after all, we still need to collate and edit clips, add transitions and effects, and hit production deadlines.

FCP X was developed with productivity in mind, and to help users edit faster. Adopting a a new software application can seem daunting, but there are steps you can take to help with the learning curve and increase your productivity. For example, many shortcuts in FCP X will seem familiar to FCP 7 editors. We’ll be looking at some of these, plus offering tips to help make the most of the new interface and help speed up your workflow and editing.

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Next Prev Auditioning Clips

Apple has certainly caused a stir with the introduction of its new editing software. Yet even though FCP X has a new interface, there are similarities to FCP 7; after all, we still need to collate and edit clips, add transitions and effects, and hit production deadlines.

FCP X was developed with productivity in mind, and to help users edit faster. Adopting a a new software application can seem daunting, but there are steps you can take to help with the learning curve and increase your productivity. For example, many shortcuts in FCP X will seem familiar to FCP 7 editors. We’ll be looking at some of these, plus offering tips to help make the most of the new interface and help speed up your workflow and editing.

 

Step 2 of 16: Step 1

When you create a new project in FCP X (File > New Project, or Cmd-N), ensure that in Video Properties you select Set automatically based on first video clip. You can set your render files to high quality by selecting Custom and choosing from the ProRes and Uncompressed options.

 

Step 3 of 16: Step 2

To mark in and out points in the Event Browser, you can use the I and O keyboard shortcuts, but it’s faster to create a Range Selection by clicking and dragging the clip. Add keywords to selections in the Keyword Editor (Cmd-K). If a clip has a range selected, hold the Option key while dragging to set a new range.

 

Step 4 of 16: Step 3

If you select a clip from within an event, you can control playback using the Spacebar and the J,K and L keys. The skimming feature previews footage when you drag the mouse over the clip. It’s faster than selecting a clip and then pressing playback, but you can toggle the skimmer off using the S key.

 

Step 5 of 16: Step 4

Viewing additional information about clips helps you make faster editing decisions. Go to View > Show Skimmer Info (or press Control-Y) to view the extra information, including the name of the shot, the current time under the Skimmer and which Smart Collection the clip comes from.

 

Step 6 of 16: Step 5

Use the Skimmer and Playhead to quickly compare frames. Choose Show Clips in List View in the Event Browser, and click to position the playhead on a clip. Skim through the clip and those frames will be shown in the Viewer. Move the mouse away from the clip, and the Viewer returns to the playhead position.

 

Step 7 of 16: Step 6

Although it might feel natural to drag your footage to the timeline, it’s more efficient to use the Q, W and E keys to connect, insert or append selected clips to the storyline. The Append To End (E) command automatically adds clips to the end of the storyline, which is a fast way of populating your edit.

 

Step 8 of 16: Step 7

If your Mac is struggling to play high resolution footage, help it become more responsive. Set the Playback Preferences (Cmd-,) to let FCP X manage playback using proxy media. Alternatively, select the Better Performance option if you’re working with original or optimised media.

 

Step 9 of 16: Step 8

To swap clips quickly, use the Magnetic Timeline (called Shuffle Edit in FCP 7). Using the Select Tool, click a clip and then drag right or left until it snaps to the edit point of an adjacent clip. Let go of the mouse, and FCP X will swap the position of the two clips, without leaving a gap on the timeline.

 

Step 10 of 16: Step 9

FCP X lets you move and add clips without leaving gaps. Press the P key to use the Position tool, to work in a similar way to FCP 7. FCP X will let you move or add a new clip to specific locations on the timeline, automatically adding a gap clip where necessary. Press the A key to return to the Select Tool.

 

Step 11 of 16: Step 10

Add to Audition makes it easy to replace clips, and lets you choose between clips on the timeline. Drop a new clip onto the target clip on the timeline and from the pop-up menu choose Add to Audition. You can add multiple clips and cycle through them by clicking the spotlight icon to show the Audition window.

 

Step 12 of 16: Step 11

It’s useful to hide panels you’re not using. The Window menu lists the different panels that you can show or hide depending on your task, but it’s faster to learn the shortcuts, especially for the Inspector (Cmd-4), the Color Board, (Cmd-6), the Video Scopes (Cmd-7), and the Effects Browser (Cmd-5).

 

Step 13 of 16: Step 12

The default transition length is one second, but if you need a different duration you can save time adjusting transitions by manually changing the default length in the Editing Preferences. You can apply a transition to both the beginning and end of clips by clicking to select it and then pressing Cmd-T.

 

Step 14 of 16: Step 13

It’s easier to notice errors when you review your edits at full screen. To do this in FCP X go to View > Playback > Play Full Screen (Shift-Cmd-F). To leave full screen view, press Escape. Using the Show/Hide the Event Library button in the Event Browser (Shift-Cmd-1) maximises space when editing on a laptop.

 

Step 15 of 16: Step 14

The Command Editor in FCP X (Option-Cmd-K) is a way to add new shortcuts to speed up edits. If there’s a particular key combination that you like to use, you can assign it to a command. The Command Editor can also help you learn shortcuts; type a command in the search box to find the

 

Step 16 of 16: Step 15

In FCP 7 we could set the Auto Render settings to process sequences while FCP 7 wasn’t being used. FCP X now renders transitions, filters, speed changes and effects automatically while you’re using the software. Make sure Background Rendering is checked in the Playback Preferences (Cmd-,).

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