10.3 Quick & Dirty Audio Roles Guide

The latest update to Final Cut Pro X (FCPX) we see that Roles, especially Audio Roles have been greatly enhanced. We have colors, organization, and more. (“These roles prioritize so fast!” If anyone gets the reference…) In this blog post I’ll briefly (as possible) go through how they function now, based on the FCPX window pane that the function is specific to.
Quick & Dirty Update Guide To:
Final Cut Pro X 10.3's New Audio Roles

Please backup everything first!
Never backup mid-production!
Read and follow Apple's upgrade guidelines!
Be sure all your third party plug-ins are compatible with the upgraded application!
  • Read THIS article about audio and updating older Libraries from Apple!

1 - Introduction
The latest update to Final Cut Pro X (FCPX) we see that Roles, especially Audio Roles have been greatly enhanced. We have colors, organization, and more. In this blog post I’ll briefly go through how they function now, based on the FCPX window pane that the function is specific to.

Audio Roles are greatly enhanced, and the single most popular subject about this new upgrade. Here is Apple’s document explaining how they work.
FCPX 10.3 - Understanding Audio Roles

2 - Odds & Ends
Import window can assign Roles to audio clips via iXML data, if your audio recording device supports this, or you can manually assign Roles via the drop-down menu.

01 import window

Voice Over recorder allows us to assign Roles to our recordings.

02 Record Window

Custom Roles are no longer saved per Mac user account like before, but per Library. When you create custom Roles, they live with that specific Library, no where else. That can be handy to some, a pain for others. But here's a way to live with that limitation comfortably.

If you use the same Custom Roles repeatedly in Libraries, create a Template Library. Create a new Library, title it Template, create all your Custom Roles, as well as Collections, Events, etc. Then in the Finder, select the Template, Command-D to duplicate it, rename it. Or, inside FCPX, once the Template Library is finished, export and XML of the Library, and use that to create new ones. An actual Library (empty) will only take up about 175 KB or so max. An XML of an empty Library will take up 1-4 K or so max. *Neither file size will have any impact on drive space or sharing with others online or via email. When sharing, zip it up first!
* Personally, I just make a Template Library and keep it on my Desktop. Then when I start a new production, I select it, Copy (Cmd-C), go to where I want to store it, Paste (Cmd-V), rename. I find this faster and easier than importing an XML folder each time I make a new Library. But everyone has their own way of working.

3 - Role Editor Window
It has no keyboard shortcut by default, but I assigned it Option-E on my system, as this is something I'll be accessing A LOT.

From several places (I will point out as we go) you are able to Edit Roles. The new and improved Role editor window separates Video and Audio roles, and Subroles, better before. And they’re easier to deal with, and we have colors.

03 Role Editor

There is a plus sign button to the right in each of the Video and Audio Roles section headers. This adds a new custom Role to that particular section.

Custom Roles can be renamed by mousing over the name, when the cursor changes to the Text tool, click and type. The built-in Roles can not be renamed, nor removed.

Mouse over a Role and you’ll see four buttons appear: Remove, Color, Add Subrole, Show/Hide Subroles.

The minus sign button on the left is Remove, and will delete that role (or Subrole). The rest of the buttons are to the right.

Click the Color button and you have a pallet of 12 colors available to choose from. This assigns that specific Role or Subrole the selected color.

Click the Add Subrole button to add a new custom Subrole to the main Role. These can be renamed, colored, or removed as desired.

Click the Show/Hide Subroles button to do exactly that; show or hide the Subroles of that main Role.

Subroles only have Remove and a Merge/Move (parallel horizontal lines icon, right) buttons.
- Remove deletes the Subrole.
- Merge/Move allows you to grab the Subrole and drag it on top of another Role or Subrole. When dropped on another Subrole, the Subrole being dragged is then merged with the new Subrole. When you click the resulting Apply button, a warning makes sure you are aware of what you’re about to do, and authorize it. When done, all clips in the specific Library you’re working in, with that Subrole, now adopt the Subrole you merged it with.

SubRoles can be Moved from their current parent Role, to a different parent Role. This is a Move, not a Copy! Once Moved, the Subrole will no longer exist in the original parent Role.

4 - Browser
Both views can sort clips by Role via Clip Appearance menu.

Role colors show in the Filmstrip view of the Browser only, not the List view.

Audio Role colors seem to override Video Role colors.

Showing Audio (or Video) Roles in List view allows for making changes by clicking in that field. Edit Roles accessible here.

04 List View

Filmstrip view allows for making changes via right-click on the clip and accessing the Roles sub-menus. Edit Roles accessible here.

04 Filmstrip View

* Notice in the two images above, how when the Timeline and Inspector are collapsed, you have tons of room in the Browser for organization.

5 - Inspector
In the audio section of the Inspector pane, in the Audio Configuration block, if working with multichannel audio, you can assign each channel its own Role / Sub-Role.

12b Channel Roles

Video & Audio Roles each have their own individual fields / drop down menus. Edit Roles accessible here.

05 Inspector-Info

6 - Timeline
The new Timeline in FCPX 10.3 is now referred to as “Timeline 2.”

Role assignments can be shown on clips via the Clip Appearance menu.

Right-click a clip in the Timeline allows for changing Roles, as well as accessing Edit Roles.

Audio Role colors show in Timeline.

06 Timeline Colors

To mix Roles as single lanes simply do a Select All (Cmd-A) in the timeline pane. Right-click any clip or use Option-G to enclose it all in a Compound Clip. Then turn on "Show Audio Lanes" and that Compound Clip shows the clips of each Role in one single Audio Lane. You can then keyframe levels, pan, and apply audio filters to each Role lane. The only caveat is that if you select this Compound Clip, and use Break Apart Clip Items command, you lose all of your mixing. But your mixing work remains in the Parent Compound Clip in the Browser. Combined with the ability to use the "Reference New Parent" command to do alternative audio mixed. Combine them into an Audition clip, and you have some very powerful, flexible, and easy ways to work.

CC Audio Mixing

7a - Timeline Index > Clips
In the search field type in a Role or Subrole name, Stereo, Mono, or any word used in a role or subrole labeling to find all clips with that metadata.

Right-click headers to add Video Roles and Audio Roles columns separately.

Clicking a Role field allows making changes and accessing Edit Roles.

7b - Timeline Index > Roles
Highlighting a Role in the list highlights all Timeline clips assigned that Role / Subrole.

07 Role Lanes 1

Check box to the left of each Role / Subrole allows for muting all clips assigned that specific Role and/or Subrole.

Roles in Index list can expand / collapse to show / hide Subroles.

Three buttons to left of Roles: Arrange, Expand Audio Components, Focus.

Arrange Roles button takes all clips of that Role / Subrole and groups them together in as few “Lanes” as possible. When enabled, audio clips of a specific parent Role group stay in their group. They can be dragged up and down to rearrange within their own group. They can not be dragged outside of their group’s lane(s).

Each Lane has its Role assignment labeled at its top left.

Edit Roles and All Audio Role Lanes button at bottom of Index. The All Audio Role Lanes turns the audio lanes function on and off without having to click buttons for each different role in the Index.

Expand Audio Components button expands audio components of all clips assigned to that specific Role / Subrole. Automatically enables Arrange button function, by necessity.

08 Role Lanes 2

Audio Role's Lane button arranges only the audio clips of that specific role to show in their own Lane.

Focus button can only be turned on for one Role at a time.

Focus button switches all clips not in that Role to line view (furthest right mode in Clip Appearance menu), so that only Clips of that Role can be seen fully. Thus, “focused” on for arranging and mixing work.

09 Role Lanes 3

When using a Compound Clip, Arrange and Expand Audio Components buttons show Role Lanes, the full length of the Compound Clip. All clips of each individual Role are shown in one single Lane. Adjustments and effects can be applied to each Role Lane, which effect all clips of that Audio Role together at the same time.

When using Compound Clips, the Focus button works the same as usual.

When using the above features, groups of Roles and Role Lanes can be rearranged, moved above or below each other, in the Timeline, by dragging that specific Role up or down in the Index pane.

10 Role Lanes 4

8 - Conclusion
There you have it, the new colored Roles, and Audio Roles functionality. I’ll be posting to my blog and video tutorials soon in more detail about how to actually use all of these new tools efficiently. Enjoy!