December 11

Video Editing on FCPX: A Beginner’s Quick Start Guide to Learning to Edit on Final Cut Pro 10

Final Cut Pro 10 is still a popular video editing program after being in the market for over a decade.  Honestly, I’m shocked.  It seemed like the worst marketing debacle since New Coke at the time, which was June, 2011.

FCPX introduction was met with outrage by most of the professional video editing community, which indeed is a passionate group.

Apple had changed a much beloved video editing program quite drastically and lovers of the old way did not take kindly to the new ways!

I think they built fcpx for a different market, intentionally or not.  It’s perfect for  newbies even though oldsters like me find it aggravating as heck, which is sad because I loved FCP since I first learned v2.  Oh well.

Progress!

I used FCPX with great success when teaching video editing to grades 6-12.  It was absolutely perfect for them.  Most of them took to it like a duck to water.

This page contains several video tutorials and links I dug up to help my high school and middle school students learn FCP10.  I’ve added explanations and text definitions of the basics so you can get those quickly without having to wade through the entire manual yourself (unless you just want to.)

Some of this content comes straight from the definitive source, the FCP manual.

For your own copy oof the entire manual, here is a link to the FCP owner’s manual.

 

STEP ONE: GETTING TO KNOW THE INTERFACE

The first thing any beginning editor should do is sit down and learn the interface of their software.   You also need to understand the basic work flow of video editing and how all the many windows  translate into that work flow.

FCPX has a fairly complex interface with many windows and options.  Video editing programs probably have more windows than other program you might have used before.  Every inch of screen space contains important information about every single element of your show.

If you are in doubt about what something does, hover your mouse over it while editing. That will bring up a pop-up box with a name and description of the function.

Here are some of the main areas of the monitor screen.

Event Browser: This is where you see and organize all your project files. All video clips, music clips, still pictures, narration clips, etc will be seen here. Many ways to adjust precisely what you see, thumbnail size, etc.

Viewer: Similar to a TV monitor, here is where you see what clips you have. The viewer has its own sidebar. Many ways to adjust viewer.

Timeline: Where you build your project. Place clips where you want them to be in your final show. Darker line in middle is story line. Every single element and aspect of your show will be represented on the timeline.

Toolbar: Icons to perform various functions. Horizontal line in the very middle. You can also access many tools through icons in other places on your screen. Tools exist outside of the tool bar.

In addition to all of those windows, you also have the inspector, the timeline index and other small windows that can be set to either show or hide.

ORGANIZATIONAL HIERARCHY OF FILES

A video editor need to be aware of how files and projects and named and stored in whatever video editing program they use.

In FCPX, Libraries are containers grouping Events and Projects.  Your hard drive contains the libraries, libraries contain events, events contain projects and media.  iMovie works the same way .

ICONS FOR FCPX: LIBRARY, EVENTS, CLIPS, PROJECTS

TERMS FOR FCPX

Event: Functions like a folder in other programs. Icon for an event is a purple square with white star. The only way you can import a media file to FCP is to add it to an event.

Event Library: Displays all available events. Contains all the media ever imported. You can show/hide media clips.

Projects Library: A project holds all of the information for your final movie, including your editing decisions and links to all the source clips and events.

Roles: Roles are metadata text and color labels that you assign to clips. Final Cut Pro analyzes existing clip metadata and automatically assigns one of five default color-coded roles (Video, Titles, Dialogue, Music, and Effects) Because roles are color-coded, you can instantly recognize clips of the same role in the browser and the timeline.

INSPECTOR’S: Final Cut Pro provides a number of inspectors you can use to view and change the attributes of selected items. For example, you can adjust video effects and apply color corrections in the Video inspector. Other inspectors include the Audio, Info, Transition, Title, Text, Generator, Library Properties, and Share inspectors. The inspectors appear on the right side of the Final Cut Pro window.

Blade tool: One if your most common tools. Blade tool allows you to cut clips in the timeline. You can select the Blade tool by pressing the B key or ay of the onscreen icons. Razor blade icon

The magnetic property of the timeline is called snapping. Without it, you would more than likely have small gaps between edits where you attempted to match clips together. Snapping can be turned on and off by clicking on the snapping icon, or by pressing the N key on the keyboard. You may find it may be easier to press the N key instead of trying to navigate to the small snap icon in the upper right corner of the timeline window.

Playhead: This is the term for the white vertical line on your timeline.  The playhead lets you actually play it.

Skimmer: Pink vertical line in the timeline quite similar to the playhead: Lets you preview the clip, which is faster than playing it.

Timecode: Attached permanently to the clip itself, can easily be confused with other ways of timing your show. TC is an 8 digit number the computer uses to identify clips. The human eye can not read the timecode.  It should be put on the video clip when you shoot it.  It is used for organizing your clips so you can find specific things easily.

custom musical score

Waveform: Wavy line that is a visual representation of your audio. Here you see one in hot pink.  The audio waveform is incredibly useful in many ways and using it correctly can make life a bit easier.  The wavy line is actually the amplitude  according to the underlying sound’s volume and duration.

This lets you “read” the waveform and know what you are looking at without listening to it.  A short, loud sound such as a drum beat has a sharp, peaked waveform, whereas low-level crowd noise has a lower, more muted waveform. This makes it easier to find specific edit points when trimming clips and can really speed up the editing process.

Editing is a process of deciding which storytelling elements should go in your movie in what order in order to tell an understandable story.

Video editors will constantly be asking themselves these questions:

  • Where should each individual elements go on the timeline?  The timeline position translate to the final video product as you watch it.
  • How should clips look or sound? Can you improve what you see?  Should you add a filter?  Do some color correction?

Editing is making decisions about where IN points and OUT points of any element should go. Then you arrange clips in a creative order, always altering and modifying them to look and sound as good as possible.

Editing is a PROCESS.  You edit, and then you tweak it. And then tweak it again.  The first edit is called a rough cut.

Video can always be improved usually by further editing.  How much you edit on any project is usually determined by your budget.  Since video editing is a slow process, it can be expensive because as we all know TIME = MONEY.

Video editing is by nature a slow and tedious process, but I find you can really get absorbed by it and the time flies.  That’s not true with every project but  generally speaking, a video editor needs patience.

As a longtime editor, I can verify these truisms.

  • Video editing means you examine every tiny detail in great detail!
  • You will have to watch it over and over.  And over again.  OMG, you will watch it so many times it can haunt your dreams.  🙂

STEPS FOR EDITING A PROJECT IN FCP 10, AKA WORKFLOW

First, you have to create the environment where your project will live.  In FCPx, they are organized like this:

DRIVE: LIBRARY> EVENT. PROJECT> IMPORTED MEDIA

If an appropriate library is not already created, do that first.   Then create an event within the library. At the same time, you can create a project. The project will be unnamed so you should name it right away.

NAME EVERYTHING WELL!  That’s an incredibly important rule in video editing.  If you don’t use a logical naming protocol, files will get mixed up and hard to find.  Organization is paramount.

Import all of your elements, which should also be named well.

Source files can be tagged and categorized by FCP for easier file management.

  • FCPX CONTAINS THESE READY-MADE STORYTELLING ELEMENTS FOR YOU TO EASILY ADD TO YOUR MOVIE:
    Music (called Jingles)
    Sound Effects
    Graphics
    Transitions
    Effects
    Video generators: Themes

Here are two helpful video tutorials, followed by a list of keyboard shortcuts, which can be extremely helpful

Here is a 13 minutes by MATTHEW PEARCE

Here is a much longer and detailed video at 1 hour and 10 minutes by David Cox

Keyboard Shortcuts for FCPX

Keyboard shortcuts can make editing easier and faster. Here is a list keyboard shortcuts you should know.

UNDO (CONTROL Z) IS AN EDITOR’S FRIEND. BUT EVEN SO, MAKE SURE AND CHECK YOUR WORK WITH EVERY EDIT. THIS MEANS YOU WILL LOOK AT YOUR VIDEO IN MICROSCOPIC DETAIL AND CHECK AND DOUBLE CHECK AND MODIFY AND DOUBLE MODIFY, ETC.

The most common keyboard shortcut is to press the “a” key. It will take the cursor back to normal after turning it into a razor blade, or hand etc.

I – Sets IN Point. (Where video should begin)

O – Sets OUT Point. (Where video should end)

Space Bar – Plays footage

Q – Connects to Primary Storyline

W – Inserts at Playhead. This will shift everything after it down.

E – Inserts at end of Storyline

D – Overrides footage at playhead to insert shot.

Command + Z – Undo

Command + Shift + Z – Redo

Command + A – Select All

B – Blade (cut/splice)

Command + B – Splice all clips

A – Arrow (normal cursor)

Z – Zoom (click where to zoom into your timeline)

V – Disable Clip, use this when you are not sure if you want to delete yet.

M – Set Mark

N – enable/disable snapping

Space Bar – Plays Clip from Playhead

Delete Key – Deletes selected clip

Shift + F – Show Clip in Browser

Control + Shift + S – Detach Audio

Period (.) – Nudge one frame to the right

Comma (,) – Nudge one frame to the left

Shift + C – Crop

ALWAYS LOOK AT YOUR EDIT IMMEDIATELY AFTER DOING IT. YOU WANT TO MAKE SURE YOU LIKE IT BEFORE YOU GO ON AND EDIT MORE OF YOUR SHOW.

As a beginner, if you aren’t careful, you can mess your show up really badly before you realize it and have a hard tine fixing it,  Ask me how I know!

GREEN SCREEN TUTORIALS for FCPX

Since green screen is such a popular effect, I’ve included some tutorials on how to do green screen with fcpx.

And in case you need it, here is a link for Apple support.

 

 

And the Final Word is…

I hope all of this helps you learn fcpx. Video editing has a notoriously high learning curve. On a scale of one to ten for difficulty compared to other programs, I’d put fcpx at about a 3, maybe 4. That’s why I found it so good for my students in video production grades 6-12.  The characteristics that it good for beginners were  also the same basic reasons it was unpopular with so many professional video editors, like me.

It’s automated enough to make it easy for beginners to learn be fairly easy, so shows tended to have a cookie-cutter look from all the templates. They had also changed some of the very basics, like what a folder is called. I found all of that unnecessarily confusing, but if someone is new to editing, it would not matter.

A decade after its release, I guess people have finally gotten over the upset. Or maybe just forgotten. 🙂  Generally speaking, it’s a good program, but I bet the marketing folks who brought it to the world wish they’d framed its birth differently.

Thanks for reading Video Production Tips.
Lorraine Grula


Tags

fcpx video editing, final cut pro video editing, how to edit final cut pro 10, how to learn final cut pro 10


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