10 Tips For Final Cut Pro X

Here's a few tips to help Final Cut Pro X users move through their work easily. Hope this helps a few of you out there. Enjoy!
10 Tips For Final Cut Pro X

Here's a few tips to help FCPX users move through their work easily and quickly. Hope this helps a few of you out there. Enjoy!

1- Performance Settings
Playback performance can be effected by several things. I always recommend 16GB RAM minimum. Apple says FCPX only needs 8, but that is 8GB to launch and run, not do heavy lifting. Best GPU you can get helps, as well as a very fast (USB 3.0 or T'bolt, 7200rpm or SSD drive) external drive for all Libraries and media.

But hardware aside, there are setting in FCPX you should be aware of. If your hardware isn't playing back well enough to edit, first turn off "Background Rendering" in the Preferences. Next try going to the View menu (top right of the Viewer) and setting "Quality" to "Better Performance". After that, if you are importing a native codec that is highly compressed (H.264, AVCHD, etc), that takes a lot of GPU/CPU power to playback. Try Optimizing while importing. That gives you full quality ProRes files that are easy for your Mac to playback. Downside, they eat up more drive space. Finally, if that isn't going to work of you, during the Import process, create Proxy media. Then when editing, go to the View menu, set "Media" to "Proxy". Be sure to reset that to "Optimized/Original" before exporting, or you'll get the lower quality proxy export.

2- Assign Keywords During Import
Before the Import process, if you have created Keyword collections before hand (right-click an Event, from the pop-up menu select "New Keyword Collection", shift-command-k), then you can assign that Keyword to the media you're going to import automatically. Select one or more (via Cmd or Shift key) Keyword collections first, then open the Import window. Whatever you import at that point will be assigned to the Keyword collection(s) you had highlighted previously.

2- Verify Handles
Handles are the extra media that is hidden while working in the Timeline. If I set and In Point and an Out Point to a clip in the Browser, hit E for an append edit, I only see what is between those two edit points in the Timeline. The original media before the In and after the Out points are what we refer to as Handles. You need these to add transitions and do ripple, roll and slip edits. To verify if, and how much Handles are available before doing any trimming operation, simply double-click the edit point. This opens up the Precision Editor. You can now clearly see all that hidden media, or Handles, and know exactly how much wiggle room you have to do your trims or transitions.

3- Keyboard Trimming
The more time you spend working via keyboard shortcuts, the faster you'll get your work done. The keyboard is infinitely faster than the mouse or trackpad. But, mice and trackpads are vital to editing. The up and down arrow keys in the Timeline will move you from one Edit Point to the next. Once your playhead is at an Edit Point, you can use the [ and ] keys (left & right brackets) to chose which side of the Edit Point you want to perform a
Ripple Edit to. Or you can use the \ (backslash) key which sets up to do a Roll Edit. Once you have the Edit Point set up to do a specific type of edit, use the < and > (comma/less than and period/greater than) keys to perform that edit one frame at a time. Or hold them down to move multiple frames quickly. I call the < and > keys my Trim Arrow keys. Use Shift-/ (shift with the forward slash/question mark key) to Play Around that edit point. Adjust as needed, Play Around to verify again, when done, use the up and down arrow keys to move to the next Edit Point to trim.

4- Trim With Transitions
If you have applied a transition to an Edit Point, you an still trim, without removing the transition. Zoom in enough to see the Ripple Trim Handles on the Transition. These are the double vertical lines at the top right and top left of the transition. The top left handle is the head of the incoming clip (right side of Edit Point) and the top right handle is the end of the outgoing clip (left side of Edit Point). Dragging these edit trim handles will add or remove frames from the respective clip, causing a ripple trim edit to be performed.

The bow tie, or double arrow icon in the top center is the Roll Trim Handle. Dragging this will perform a roll edit, adding and subtracting frames form each side appropriately, so the Edit Point moves, but nothing else in the Timeline moves.


5- Fit To Window
You are able to zoom in and out of the Timeline, Viewer and the Browser's filmstrip-view panes, using the Command key along with the - or + keys (to the left of the "delete" key). When you are zoomed out way to far, or too far in, and need to see the whole project at once, use Shift-Z. This is the Fit To Window keyboard shortcut. I use it very often. In the Timeline, you'll see the whole edit vertical start to finish. In the Viewer pane, you'll see the whole video frame large enough to fill the pane's current size. In the Browser's filmstrip-view pane, all clips will revert to a single frame icon.

6- Effects Presets
Often you'll spend time setting up a really nice effect using one or more filters and/or Inspector settings. Perhaps even a color grade along with that, or by itself. That's a lot of work! And now you want to use it in multiple other clips, because you're so creative, and this overall effect is so cool, it just ROCKS! With that clip selected, go to the Inspector pane, to the Video section, and at the bottom right is the "Save Effects Preset" button. Click this, in the Effects Preset window, check what to include, uncheck what exclude, give it a name, and a category. You can even select "New Category" at the bottom of the list to assign a brand new custom Category. This will always be available in the effects browser for future use.

Notice at the bottom of that window are two radio buttons you can choose from: "Maintain" and "Stretch To Fit". This refers to any keyframes you may be including in your custom effect preset.

"Maintain" keeps the keyframes the same number of frames from the start of the clip, as originally done in your first clip, when applied to a new clip. If in the original clip the first keyframe was set 47 frames from the start of the clip, it will be set exactly 47 frames from the start of any new clip it is applied to.

"Stretch To Fit" saves the keyframe spacing as a percentage. The keyframes are set the same percentage from the start of the new clip, as they were in the original clip. If the first keyframe was 25% of the total clip's duration, from the start of the original clip, it will be set 25% of the total clip duration, from the start of any new clip it is applied to.

7- Mute Clips
Audition Clips are amazing, yes indeed they are. But there are times you want a clip to stand on its own in the Timeline, and just go invisible and silent for a bit. Such as if you're editing beneath a cut-away, and want that cut-away to just disappear until you're done, then reappear in place. You can Mute any clip in the Timeline with the V key. I remember it as the
Visual enable key. This simple Mutes and Un-Mutes any selected clip, or group of clips, in the Timeline.

8- Non-Magnetic Storylines & Connection Stems
We brag about FCPX's magnetic Storylines. But they're not permanently magnetic. Only when the Arrow, or Select Timeline tool is active (A). Switching to the Position Timeline tool (P) simply removes the tail from the arrow cursor icon, AND turns off the magnetic properties. Now you can drag clips left and right, and you get the traditional overwrite behavior. Horizontally, the Select tool will perform a ripple edit when you lift a clip out of the storyline to be a Connected clip. The Position tool will leave a gap clip in its place.

Speaking of Connected clips, those stems move them when you move the Storyline clip they are connected to, right? Right! BUT… that's not always desirable. Again, it isn't permanent. Simply hold the Tilde, or Grav key (` ~), while moving a Primary Storyline clip, will override the Connection Stem, and the Connected clip will remain in its original place.

9- Change Clip Appearance Fast
Often I'm changing the Clip Appearance from more filmstrip and less audio waveform, to more waveform and less filmstrip. Or I need full filmstrip, or full waveform, depending on what exactly I'm editing to at the moment. Instead of taking time to move the mouse cursor all the way to the Clip Appearance menu and changing this, I use the keyboard shortcut of Control-Option with the up and down arrow keys. Very fast, very easy. Unfortunately we don't yet have a keyboard shortcut to change the clip hight. Y'all fill out that
feedback form to request this. Cause I change those heights often, and that would save tons of time!

Note: Shift-Command with the - and + keys are assigned to change clip heights in the Browser, but it doesn't work on my system. If it would, and also work in the Timeline, that's be fantastic, IMHO.

10- Nudge Timeline Elements Vertically
Moving things in the Timeline left and right with a mouse or trackpad may not be very accurate, unless you take the time to zoom in close enough, and move your hand or finger very slowly. The fast way to do this is using the < and > keys (comma and period). These will move clips 1 frame at a time. Holding them down continues to move them multiple frames quickly. This works with both Storyline and Connected clips. When moving Storyline clips, no matter what Timeline tool is selected, it will perform a
Slide edit.