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Reference 4.2 Defining the Primary Storyline

Every project in Final Cut Pro is based around the primary storyline, identified by the dark stripe across the Timeline. The primary storyline contains the clips that drive your project. For a documentary, a combination of sound bites and a narrator's VO could constitute the primary storyline. For a project that starts with a montage, you could consider placing the music intro in the storyline followed by the on-camera host. The primary storyline is flexible content-wise.

By default, clips in the primary storyline interact with each other and incoming clips. This interaction is similar to that of two magnets: attraction or repulsion.


Dragging a clip to the end of a project


The storyline appends the clip to the project.

When you drag a new clip from the Browser to the far right of the project, that clip is attracted to the end of the primary storyline, and "magnetically" snaps to the preceding clip.


Dragging a clip to a project for insertion between two storyline clips


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Positioning the clip on the storyline clips reveals an insert bar, and a gap for the clip is created.


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The clip is wedged between the storyline clips.

Dragging a clip between two existing clips creates a repulsion that pushes the existing clips far enough apart to insert the new clip.

These two behaviors form the basic concepts of the magnetic storyline: As you add clips, shift clips around to change their order, or remove clips, the magnetic storyline keeps the clips snapped together, ensuring that the clips play back-to-back in a continuous stream.

Knowing the basic concepts of a primary storyline as the magnetic backbone of a project, you can start assembling your first edit.

Exercise 4.2.1 Appending the Primary Storyline

You are ready to edit your first clips into the Lifted Vignette project. Because this project is sound bite–driven, you will edit the sound bites into the primary storyline. Let's first alter the interface so you can see as many clips and notes as possible in the Browser.

  1. If necessary, in the Browser, select the list view.
  2. With the Interview collection selected in the Libraries pane, click the Hide Libraries button.

  3. Drag the toolbar down to create more vertical room in the Browser.

    Expanding each clip listing reveals the favorites you marked previously, along with the notes you applied to each clip. You'll use these to create the rough cut of the sound bites.Remember that "great passion" sound bite that Mitch started with when you were marking favorites? Let's search for it.

  4. In the Browser search field, type passion.


    As you begin to type, the Browser updates immediately with the matching results: MVI_1042and MVI_1055.

  5. In the Browser select MVI_1042,and skim the clip to review the marked favorite.


    As you skim the clip, notice that its audio is pitch corrected, which allows you to quickly review the clip's contents at variable speeds while maintaining the aural clarity of its contents.

    Your search results include a second clip tagged with the word passion.

  6. In the Browser, play MVI_1055, and review its contents.

    With a little trimminglater in the edit, both sound bites could fit back to back into your storyline. Let's edit these into the project as the first two sound bites.

  7. In the Browser, select the favorite with the "passion when kid" note listed under MVI_1042.

  8. Click the Append button, or press E, to add this clip selection to the project.


    The clip's selection is edited into the primary storyline. The E stands for "End." No matter where the skimmer or playhead is currently located in the project, you can press E to quickly edit the active Browser selection to the end of the storyline.


    Currently, the playhead is at the end of MVI_1042.The playhead always jumps to the end of the clip you append edited to the project. This default playhead behavior in Final Cut Pro anticipates your next edit. But what happens if you move the playhead before the next append edit? Let's find out.

  9. Move the playhead to the left by clicking the empty gray area above MVI_1042.


    This cues the playhead over MVI_1042,which you can see in the Viewer. Now you will append edit with the playhead placed in the middle of MVI_1042 and observe the results.

  10. Returning to the Browser, notice the Used entry under MVI_1042.


    The Used listing identifies the clip's selection used in the open project. As that was the only favorite for that clip, you will go to the next clip for the next edit.

  11. In the Browser, select the "really the passion is" favorite in the MVI_1055 clip, and then press E to append this clip to the end of the storyline.


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    Clip selected in the Browser


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    Clip append edited into the primary storyline

That was quick. The clip was edited to the end of the storyline immediately following MVI_1042.The playhead's position had no impact on the append edit. You are two sound bites into the edit with several more to go. You could continue with this one-at-a-time approach to editing, but Final Cut Pro offers a slightly faster edit method.

Appending a Batch Edit to the Primary Storyline

You can use the append function to edit more than one clip at a time into the primary storyline. As you are building your first edit,you will be looking for your next clip in the Browser. Append allows you to remain in the Browser and storyboard the next few clips with one edit. This batch editing technique is a fast and simple way to edit several clips into your project at once.

  1. In the Browser, switch to filmstrip view.


    Currently, you are looking at two clips that were identified in your earlier search. You'll need to clear the search field to reveal the rest of the sound bites.

  2. In the Browser, click the Reset button (X) in the search field to clear the previous search.


    The remaining clips in the Interview collection appear. You may select multiple sound bites to append at one time, and the order in which you select the clips is the order they will be edited into the project.

  3. If desired, you may increase the size of the filmstrips by changing the Clip Appearance's Clip Height slider.

  4. In the Browser's filmstrip view, click within the first green range in MVI_1043.


    The favorites you marked earlier appear as green stripes that you may use to quickly select the favorited ranges.

  5. Command-click the following clips in this order to add them to the selection: MVI_1046, MVI_1045,and MVI_1044.

  6. Press E to perform an append edit.

    The clips appear at the end of the project in the same order you selected them in the Browser.

  7. To see the entire project within the Timeline, click once in the Timeline gray area, and press Shift-Z.

Playing the Project

To play the project, you may press the Home key to cue the playhead to the beginning of the Timeline; but on Apple Wireless Keyboards and laptops, the Home key is not labeled.

  1. Hold down the fn (function) key at the lower left of keyboard, and then press the Left Arrow key to simulate pressing the Home key.


    The playhead is now cued to the beginning of the project.

  2. Press the Spacebar to start playback.

    Playback will stop when the playhead reaches the end of the project.

Exercise 4.2.2 Rearranging Clips in the Primary Storyline

The sound bites don't quite flow yet. It's time to rearrange them into an order that more fully supports your storyline. Working in a storyline makes such changes incredibly easy. Just drag a clip to a new location in the Timeline, wait for the interface to preview the results, and then release the mouse button.

  1. In the project, select the fourth clip, MVI_1046.

    The playhead must be located over this clip to preview it. Your playhead is currently located at the end of the project. You do not need to move the playhead because the skimmer relocates the playhead if the skimmer is visible when you start playback.

  2. Move the mouse pointer slightly to verify that the skimmer is active.

    The skimmer extends vertically up to the timestrip across the Timeline pane, the same as the playhead; however,the skimmer does not have an arrowhead on top as does the playhead.


    Skimmer (left) compared to playhead (right)

  3. Press the Spacebar to play the clip.

    The playhead relocates to the skimmer's position and the clip plays. MVI_1046 starts with Mitch saying, "At the end of the day." It sounds as if that phrase should be placed nearer the end of the storyline.

  4. Drag MVI_1046 toward the end of the storyline, but don't release the mouse button just yet.
  5. Position the clip so that a blue clip box appears in the primary storyline after MVI_1044. Release the mouse button.


    Click to view larger image

    MVI_1046 is edited in as the last clip in your storyline.

    Some extra words, phrases, and syllables remain in your clips. One clip may cut Mitch off too early. That's OK.We'll trim those troubled frames later in this lesson. For now, let's try moving another clip in the storyline.

  6. Locate MVI_1044, which is now the second clip from the end of the project. Drag the clip between MVI_1043and MVI_1045.


    As you drag MVI_1044between the two clips, an insert bar appears. If you continue to hold the clip in that position, MVI_1045 will slide to the right to allow MVI_1044 to drop into place. The magnetic storyline enables these quick, reorganizing edits as you explore your story flow.


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