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Avid Editor's Guide to Trimming Clips in Final Cut Pro

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In this chapter, author Diana Weynand covers the basic Avid approach to trimming video and shows how to perform those same functions in Final Cut Pro.
This chapter is from the book


  • Use the Trim window
  • Perform dual-roller and single-roller trimming
  • Use J-K-L trimming
  • Trim in the Timeline
  • Trim by dragging edit points
  • Trim with keyboard shortcuts
  • Trim by time amount
  • Work with Linked selection
  • Create split edits using trim tools
  • Asymmetrical trimming
  • Trim in the Viewer

In this chapter, we will cover the basic Avid approach to trimming and show how to perform those same functions in Final Cut Pro. In general, FCP is far less modal than Avid. You can perform trims in FCP without entering a “trim mode,” whereas in Avid, to trim you always enter Trim mode. Both, however, have similar trim windows that behave in similar ways. Like Avid, FCP lets you trim clips by dragging directly on an edit point in the Timeline or entering a trim duration. In addition to these options, FCP also has dedicated trim tools located in the Tool palette. There are numerous ways to trim clips in FCP. The trick is to find your comfort zone of what’s familiar and then to explore the new alternatives.

Also in Avid, unless you lock tracks, you are free to adjust individual tracks separately. In FCP, the default is to bind or “link” the video and audio portions of a clip so that when you select one track, all tracks become selected. This is covered in more depth in Lesson 8, but this lesson includes steps to select just the audio or video portion of a clip so that you may trim one track at a time to create a Split edit or L-cut.

While most of the trim functions are covered in this lesson, a few additional techniques for changing the length of a clip in the Timeline, such as trimming an edit using the Extend function, or dividing a clip by using Add Edit, are covered in Lesson 6.

Working with the Trim Edit Window

While Avid has you select a separate mode to trim, in Final Cut Pro, you do not change modes. You do, however, have a Trim Edit window, which is much like Avid’s big trim window. Inside the Trim Edit window, FCP handles trimming virtually the same way Avid does. To open the FCP Trim Edit window, you can lasso an edit point with a special tool, or simply double-click the edit point. If you want to map a Trim Edit button to simulate clicking Avid’s Trim Mode button, you can map it to one of the button bars. You can also use keyboard shortcuts.

To open the FCP Trim Edit window:

Do one of the following:

  • Double-click the edit point between two clips in the Timeline.
  • From the Tool palette select the Edit Selection tool (the second tool), or press G, and lasso an edit point.
  • Add the Trim Edit button from the button list (Option-J) to your Timeline button bar, and click that to open the edit point closest to the playhead.
  • In the Timeline, press V to select the edit point closest to the playhead. Then press Cmd-7 to open that edit point in the Trim Edit window.

    A familiar “big” trim window opens on top of the Viewer and Canvas window areas.

For every function on the A side of the window, you will find corresponding functions on the B side. The preview and trim keys are in the middle of the window, beneath the A and B images.

To close the Trim Edit window:

Do one of the following:

  • Press Cmd-W.
  • Click anywhere in the Timeline except an edit point.
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