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Learn how to build and refine your story with the redesigned editing toolset in Final Cut Pro X. In this course, author Ashley Kennedy focuses on getting you comfortable with each aspect of the editing process in Final Cut—from preparation and organization, to editing and refining, to audio and effects, to media management and exporting. Each stage of the postproduction workflow is explained thoroughly and concisely, and uses real-world examples from both narrative and documentary workflows.
NOTE: This course and its exercise files are not compatible with Final Cut Pro X v. 10.1 or later. If you are running v. 10.1 or later, please watch Final Cut Pro X 10.1.1 Essential Training instead.
Getting the right material in the timeline in the right order is certainly only part of the story. Truly anyone can edit in that sense, because honestly the mechanics of editing are not that difficult. The real art of editing comes in the trimming process, one frame at a time. In this chapter on trimming we are going to jump over to our other project, which is a dialogue scene from the film Castles. So, I'm going to pop into 4.1, and right now keep in mind that this is a very basic rough cut.
It still needs a lot of work. So let me play the first part of this sequence so we can get some context on what we will be editing. (male speaker: So, how's the coffee?) (male speaker 2: It's cold.) (male speaker 1: Did you finish it? You know, I'm taking a big risk putting you on this Columbia project. Firm could be on the line here. Six p.m. tonight. Simple deadline. Meet it.) (male speaker 2: That's it? Six p.m., huh? And if I'm a risky choice, then don't use me.
We all know what risky decisions lead to.) Okay, I am going to stop there for now. So the shots are laid in, but we have got some pretty glaring timing and pacing issues. Also, just so you know, this is the second scene in the film, and its job is to set up the problem, which is that Joseph, the architect, is in some trouble. He's on a serious deadline to come up with an idea for a building design. So there's got to be some tension here between these two men. We need to use timing and pacing to help tell this story.
Now where exactly do we start? Well, we need to watch each and every edit very closely. We need to take a look at each of the transitions in the sequence and ask ourselves does this edit need to be changed? Do we need to add frames or subtract frames? And to do this we are going to use the Ripple tool. And just real quick, it's easy enough to figure out how we subtract frames, but how exactly do we add them? Well, that goes back to when we were selecting the In and Out points for the clips in our sequence. Let me show you.
I am just going to select this clip and right- click and choose Reveal in Event Browser, and as you can see, this selection right here matches with this selection right here. So, this is the In and Out points, and we have all of the frames to the left of the In point and all of the frames to the right of the Out point that are still available to me during the trimming process. This extra material is called Handle, so we are going to use that a lot while we trim. So, let's start at the beginning and work our way forward. Okay, so I am just going to park on the first edit here, and Command+Plus to sort of zoom in, and first, because I want to watch this edit, I am going to use the Play Around command.
If you take a look up here in View > Playback, Play Around is Shift+Question Mark, so it's going to play a certain number of seconds before and a certain number of seconds after this edit. This is called Pre-Roll and Post-Roll. And to determine those settings, you can go to Final Cut Pro > Preferences and then under Playback, Pre-Roll and Post-Roll Duration, we're going to be going 2 seconds before and 2 seconds after. All right, so I am going to press Shift+Question Mark, and let's see what we think about this edit.
Okay, so what do we think? Now, I recommend we take it one side at a time. We are going to start with the A side of the edit and then move to the B side of the edit. And as far as this edit goes, I think we need to try to match on action so that Joseph's boss walks continuously through this edit. Right now it's not very fluid. All right, so I am just going to select the A side, and I'll perform a basic ripple trim. Now I can did this one of two ways, I could just grab the edit and move it, like so.
or if I want to use the keyboard, I just want to make sure the side is selected, and then just use the Comma and Period keys. I press Comma to trim one frame to the left and Period to trim one frame to the right. Again, because I'm always stressing keyboard editing, I'm going to use the keyboard commands. So, I think I'm going to let out the edit by using the Period key to trim to the right so that he walks a little bit further into the space. All right, I'm going to stop there for now. Now I am going to jump over to the B side, so I'll select the B side of the edit, and we want to make sure that we see him coming into the frame right there.
I'll probably be trimming all of this away. So, I'll press Period to take away frames, and let's go ahead and Play around the edit. I'll just press Shift+Question Mark. (video playing) That's much more fluid. It's matching on action. I think I like it. All right, let's move on to the next edit. I am just going to go ahead and select it and press Shift+Question Mark. (video playing) We have got some problems there.
He is still walking here and he is standing still there. Let's try to do the same thing. Let's try to match on action. This time I am just going to drag to kind a see what I have got. And notice that when I drag, I see two monitors. What I'm seeing are the last frame on the A side clip and the first frame on the B side clip. Now if you don't see that this, then again, you would need to come up to Final Cut Pro > Preferences, and then under Editing you need to choose Show detailed trimming feedback.
If you have this unchecked, you are not going to get those two monitors. All right, so let's go ahead and make sure that he is still moving on the A side, and you can kind of see that I have about the right moment there, and let's drag over here and make sure that he is still moving in this shot. He is got the forward momentum. Many times editors try to match on action like this. It really tends to hide the edit.
All right, so I'm going to Play Around the edit, let's go ahead and press Shift+Question Mark. (video playing) All right, well, I think that the forward momentum works. It does help hide the edit. This is quite short. Let's just check, Ctrl+D, it's a little over a second long, but I do like that it sort of sets up the space between the two men, and I'm going leave it there for now.
I think it's working well. But that is something that I might let out and make longer in a second pass on my trimming. This also opens up quite a few seconds before he starts talking, but I think it really works, because we have this tension between the two men that we need to show. So, I am just going to play here and into the next edit and see what I think. (male speaker: So, how's the coffee?) (male speaker 2: It's cold.) (male speaker 1: Did you finish it?) All right, so I do think that this works pretty well.
Let's go to this one, though. He answers much too quickly for the tension that's in the scene. So, let's go ahead play around this edit and see what we think, Shift+Question Mark. (male speaker: So, how's the coffee?) (male speaker 2: It's cold.) He really can't even look at his boss until this moment, and I think we need to stress that. So let's go ahead and just let out some frames on the B side to increase the tension here and see what we think. So, I am just going to press the Comma key to trim to the left. He still can't look at him, he still can't look at him, and I think maybe about right there.
All right, I am going to Play around the edit, Shift+Question Mark. (male speaker: So, how's the coffee?) (male speaker 2: It's cold.) Maybe a couple more frames. Okay, let's see if we like it. (male speaker: So, how's the coffee?) (male speaker 2: It's cold.) Very good! And if I wanted to include this entire line there, I could go up to Final Cut Preferences and increase my Post-Roll, but I think that's pretty good. So, I'm going to continue on in this manner going from transition to transition, watching, making sure the A side is looking good, making sure that the B side is looking good and then playing it and watching it again.
And remember, we're using the timing and pacing to speak the scene's mood and intention. We have got a lot of tension here, and we have got to show that. Then once I get through each and every edit in the scene, I am going to watch the whole thing again and make sure that I'm happy with my decisions. Trimming is so much about relying on your instincts. So, take your time and make sure you do this part well. It's truly a thing that sets great editors apart from the rest.
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