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This chapter is from the book

Putting Them All Together

I edit primarily with one hand, my right hand (since I'm right handed). I mostly use a mouse (or trackball) to click on things on the screen, but I let go and switch to slamming the space bar or settling into the JKL or arrow keys to do more detailed selecting and marking. Ultimately, I go back to the mouse to make the edits and move the Timeline around.

You will find your own balance. Here's a chance to practice.

A Scavenger Hunt

Now we move on to VidClip2. It's been sitting in your Browser, hopefully abandoned until now. Double-click it and begin to play it in the Viewer. Use your thumb on the space bar to start and stop it.

Marking In and Out

Playing around through your video, and having fine control of that motion, is important for the editor, but the all important moment of editing is when you "tell" the computer that you have found what you are looking for by marking a frame.

Figure 45An In mark says "this is the beginning."

Figure 46An Out mark says "this is the end."

Vocabulary: Marking

Marking a frame means placing a special "mark" onto the clip at a specific point. The hole punch used to mark the clap at the beginning of a shot is one kind of filmmaker's mark. The most important kind for our purposes are the marks you make that tell FCP "this is where the shot I like begins" and its sibling "this is where the shot I like ends."

When you edit, you are marking the in and out of a segment of a clip, and moving just that segment into your sequence.

Figure 47This button marks an In.

Figure 48This button marks an Out.

Marking In and Out is so critical that you should be equally adept at doing it with hands on the keyboard.

Figure 49The I key marks In.
The O key marks Out.

Notice how conveniently close they are to the J, K, and L keys. (It's lucky that I and O are next to each other. It makes this all so much more logical.)

We aren't going to do any editing right now, but I want you to practice using the Mark In and Mark Out buttons to mark frames I have designated in VidClip2. Use mouse or keyboard or both to get to the desired frames and mark them. Most of what you do as an editor relates to your fluidity at performing this little activity.


As you play through this clip, you'll notice six kinds of flash frames. I'm using three punches: circle, square, and triangle. I have two sizes: large and small. And I have three lengths: one, two, and three frames. I've created nine "targets," which I have hidden within the 100 seconds of VidClip2. The background video (of my friend Chris playing around in his yard) is designed to be somewhat distracting, although I have not buried these targets as invisibly as I could have done. All are readily locatable.

When you double-click on VidClip2 in the Browser, the first frame will pop up in the Viewer:

Figure 50

Here I have placed examples of the three shapes in their "small" size. You are looking for these flashes in the rest of the clip.

As you go through this obstacle course, take mental notes:

  • How "long" does 1.30th of a second feel versus 2.30ths (1.15th) and 3.30ths (1.10th)? Savor this sensation.

  • How quick is your reaction time using different methods of stopping the moving video? At playspeed, after a target first flashes how many frames are you from it when you stop?

  • How good are you at noticing small targets versus large ones? Sometimes the thing you search for in your video is not a scene, but something within the scene: a hand opening or a ball touching the floor. These can be subtle.

  • How distracting is the background "content?" As an editor, you have to be able to turn on and off your attachment to what is going on in the narrative of your project in order to find things you are looking for in the shots.

The Hunt Is On

Play through the video, and mark an In on the first frame of the two-frame small circle target.

Mark an Out on the one-frame small triangle.

Figure 51


Figure 52I want to point out something to you: the timecode window. Not the big one I burned into the picture (called a "burn-in window"—embedded permanently in the picture itself), but the small window at the top left of both the Viewer and the Canvas. It's called the Timecode Duration window, and it provides a handy little bit of information: the elapsed time between the In mark and the Out mark.

If you marked the In and Out points correctly on the first two targets, your duration timecode counter should say:


Got it? You should be getting the feel for shuttling around, stopping, and moving to a specific frame. You need to be very comfortable with this. You will do it all the time. More than any other single thing in editing.

This is probably a good time to look down at the bottom of the Viewer. Look at the scrubber bar. As we discussed earlier, the bar represents the entire duration of

Figure 53

this 100-second video. You should clearly see two marks now within this bar, near the front. The first is the In mark you made at the circle target; the second is the Out mark you made at this triangle target. Keep an eye on the scrubber for the marks you make as you go along.

Figure 54

There is a pull-down menu devoted to aspects of these head and tail marks—including putting them in and taking them out.

Figure 55On the top right of the Viewer (and Canvas, too) is a second timecode window, called the Current Timecode display. This shows you the source timecode number of the clip in the Viewer; in the Canvas it presents the master timecode number wherever the playhead is parked. Since my burn-in window began at 00:00:00;00, it turns out the number on the burn-in will pretty much match the small "live" number on the FCP interface (except for the 01 in the first position—but let's ignore the hours right now). Check to see that at the Out point the running time is 12 seconds, 22 frames. That's all you need to know at this point about the on-screen timecode windows.

128 49

To complete this scavenger hunt, I want you to fill in the blanks with the last four digits of timecode as they appear in the burn-in window at the bottom center of the screen.

  1. The timecode for the large, one-frame circle:____________

    Mark a new Out here. (Look at the scrubber bar. Also notice the Out mark on the top-right corner of the video. This is one of a handful of little marks called overlays that FCP superimposes on special frames for you.)

  2. Find the one-frame small square; enter the timecode here:___________

    Mark a new In here.

Notice that when an In point falls after an Out point, the Out point disappears (similarly, if an Out falls before an In). Also be aware that you are only allowed one In and one Out per clip. Thus every time you press In or Out, the location of this mark moves to the most recent spot. This can be useful.

While still on the small one-frame square, mark an Out. There are now both an In and an Out here. Note that the two marks appear simultaneously on the screen (as well as in the scrubber).

  1. The duration between these marks: ____________

When you are parked on a single frame, it can be both the beginning and the end of a shot, and the shot would therefore be one frame long.

Now go back toward the beginning of the video clip, back to the first target we found—to the first frame of the two-frame, small circle target. Mark a new In here.

Why am I asking you to return to the first target? Because you're learning one of the great advantages of using the scrubber bar to navigate here. You know sort of where you're looking, because we started at the scrubber a few moment ago when it was marked. So we're not randomly searching for it, but have a general idea. Clicking in the scrubber bar pops you to that location without forcing you to scroll through video. Then, once you're close, it's easier to scroll around looking for the frame you want.

At any rate, if you did it right, the duration should read 36;14.

Now go ahead and find (and write down the timecode for) the rest of these marks, listed here in no particular order:

  1. The large one-frame square:___________________________________

  2. The large one-frame triangle:__________________________________

  3. The last frame of the small three-frame square:____________________

  4. The middle frame of the small three-frame triangle:________________

  5. The small one-frame circle:____________________________________

(Answers appear in the back of the book.)

Now that you've mastered moving your video around, been up and down the interface, and shuttled in every direction at every speed, with fine control, you are ready to cut something. As you edit more, you will be rehearsing without even trying the skills we have focused on in this chapter.

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