FCPX Tip: Subclips and Marking

Before I get into Final Cut Pro X, I want to illustrate a few tasks that I perform quite often.


Organizing clips into sub clips:

On some longer shots, my first task is to break up these into shorter clips (sub clips) and name them. I will either mark an in and out point and make a sub clip, or watch the clip in the Viewer and hit "M" to put markers at various places. I can then break that clip into sub clips with each subclip's in-point starting from each marker. If I used markers to mark out-points as well, I have a few gap clips to cleanup and delete with my naming. This seemed easy and let me do some tedious cleaning up.

In Final Cut Pro X, there are no sub clips and no Bins.
Just Keywords and Smart Collections.

Marking In and Out in the Viewer:

Before editing a shot/clip into my timeline, I would refine the in/out points further in the viewer. Those in/out points would stay appended to that clip for future use, which was quite handy. No matter what Bin I moved that clip into, those in/out points would remain until I changed them in the viewer. Great.

In Final Cut Pro X, you can still add in/out points with "I" and "O" while using the same J, K and L keys. That's good. But when you leave a clip and move on, those in and out points you set are gone! Fabulous.

Now it's time to open your mind, Neo


Sub clips to Keywords

Was the sub clip method in Final Cut Pro (previous) the best way to work? No. Was it easy to get lost in a sea of clips? Yes. But is this new way of working better, because it seems to require more work?

People who have experience with Keywords will be fine. Everyone else that want a folder structure is going to hate it—initially. The fact is, this is a much more powerful way to work. Since this is a new application for you, default Keywords aren't setup. But we can work on that. Just start adding Keywords to clips and it will start to form. Photographers and Graphic Artists are good at this. After all, aren't all photo, video and sound libraries based around keywords to help us easily find what we are looking for?


Keyword-friendly people are also versed in Rating. That's no iLife concept. Aperture, Lightroom, Bridge—you can rate or reject files to remove them from view. It's very handy—and more friendly than endless bins and folders.

  1. Setup a smart collection for your audio-only files
  2. Setup a smart collection for images or graphics you plan to use
  3. Create a few more for various keywords you would normally make as bins (broll, beauty shots, vfx, etc)

While this seems a bit tedious, all new files you add to the project will automatically go into these groups for you. Others can move in and out by simply adding or removing keywords. You can even Reject clips in your smart collection and set it to hide disabled clips. You can toggle this function as needed.


New selection theory with In and Out

Up above, I had mentioned a scenario where in/out points stayed with a clip after you deselected it. In Final Cut Pro X, this selection disappears. But why? Well, after taking the red pill, we have jumped down the rabbit hole into a new world of Keywords and Ratings. While the old Final Cut Pro would maintain an in and out point, it wouldn't stay forever. You could easily update this in the Viewer with a new in/out point or by dragging the range handles. Well that system is a bit broken.

Anyone use any 3D software? When you make a selection, you might want to save it for future use. But, you might want multiple selections depending on what your task is for a particular shape. And all of those selections you will want to save for later. With this new line of thinking for editors, keywording and rating is a new way of saving selections. You can rate a selection of a longer clip and that selection is never lost. You can always bring it back by selecting the upper portion of the clip. That's handy, but I liked my in/out points before. Really? No you didn't. We both complained when we went back to a clip and sighed because we had to set a new in/out point or clear the already selected in/outs. Now, because they clear on deselect, this isn't an issue anymore. And I will say that the already present in/out points were more of a hassle making use of them being there from a previous edit.

A few other annoying things:

  1. Remember your frustration going through 100's of clips that you had already seen? First, you had to double-click a clip to load it in the Viewer, then your playhead was somewhere near the tail of the clip because you had already skimmed it before. You had to scrub through the clip to remind yourself what else was in the shot. With no Viewer in FCPX, this is much faster and easier to see what media you really have. You can't argue that! And Avid and Premiere have the same problems.
  2. If you loved the scopes and 3-Way Color Corrector in earlier versions, you really overlooked a lot of hassles and issues. While you never really could get any precision at all (which is why the artistic editors turned to Colorista) and having to load clips in the viewer, select the effects tab and then open the corrector took forever. Not to mention all the workarounds to match color visually. No wonder we have specified colorists in task-specific apps to do this. Now that FCPX has much better tools and views to correct color, it is easier and more intuitive to do this in the same app. I will say that there will be a need for colorists and XML export will be key for FCPX in the future. Editors aren't colorists and rarely know what good color or style look like. Leave that to the CD. You tell the story and get the timing.

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