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Organizing Tips for Final Cut Pro

Organzing your cilps and media within Final Cut Pro is a critical step before you begin editing. Here is a detailed courseware module or some things to consider.

- Managing Media
- DV Scene Detection
- Labeling Clips
- Creating Storyboards

bin_icon.jpg Bin: A subfolder in the browser window where elements can be placed so you can stay organized.

clip_icon.jpg Clip: A pointer or reference to raw media that is stored on a media drive.

sub_clip.jpg Sub Clip: Represents a portion of a clip.


If you have a large clip in Final Cut Pro that that you would like to break apart into subclips, you can manually create markers at the beginning of each scene change.

Double click on the clip to load it into the Final Cut Pro viewer window. You can then begin adding markers. In this example, a long running clip has been loaded into the viewer window.


You can play through the clip by pressing the play button at the bottom of the viewer window. Pressing the play button again will stop the video.

Pressing the M key on the keyboard will place a marker icon based on the where the position indicator is parked.


Final Cut Pro supports the use of the J, and L keys to while navigating. You can use them to find each spot in a clip where the scene changes. Press the K key to stop and then nudge backward or forward 1 frame at a time by using the arrows keys on your keyboard.

Then, by placing a marker at the first frame of each scene change, you can easily divide a large clip into subclips.

Remember, you can use the left or right arrows to advance a frame forward or backward when looking for the first frame of each scene change.



You can label the markers as you move along by pressing the M key. To remove a marker, place the position indicator directly on the marker, and press the M key to bring forward the edit marker dialogue box. Within the edit marker dialogue box, you can delete the marker.


The shortcut keys (shift + M), or (option + M) will jump the position indicator forward or backward to the next marker.

*Final Cut Pro now supports the use of special markers that can be brought over to either DVD Studio Pro, iDVD, or Soundtrack. Chapter markers are automatically translate as chapters points when used in DVD Studio Pro, or iDVD.


You can save a step by using a feature called DV_Start_Stop_Detection. This will automatically create the markers for you. You can read up on some rules and limitations to make DV Scene Detection work properly. The most important rules is that you shoot on DV, older analog formats will not work.


As you add markers in the viewer menu, Final Cut Pro will embed the markets within each clip. You can view the individual markers embedded within the clip by twirling down the arrow next to the clip to see them.


Final Cut Pro automatically assigns each marker with a duration of 00;00;00;00. To force Final Cut Pro to create sublcips from markers, you can highlight the markers in the browser window and drag them into the name column. The same task can be accomplished by dragging the markers into a separate bin. The markers will turn into subclips.


The duration of each sub-clip is determined by the amount of time between each marker. The original master clip can now be removed the browser window.


In terms of media management, creating sub clips within Final Cut Pro is a critical technique. Sub Clips reference 'one large clip' making media management much easier. You can also rename sub clips without the fear of losing relative links within Final Cut Pro.



To create a new bin within the browser window, control click on an empty area and select New Bin. Final Cut Pro will then create an empty folder that you can use to store additional clips.


When using Final Cut Pro, it is critical that you keep everything organized. Organizing clips into bins will help you accomplish this. Clips can be dragged into individual folders to keep everything organized. Typical bin folders may include music, graphics, and sequence folders. The example to the right shows how the Jamaica footage could be organized.



Final Cut Pro by default, is set to show a bunch of different column headings. By control clicking on any heading at the top of the browser window, a contextual menu will appear showing you a list of available headings.

Final Cut Pro automatically displays 30 different column headings. An additional 11 are hidden. You may not want all these columns to be shown. You can hide the ones you do not need, by control clicking on a column heading and selecting Hide Column. Final Cut Pro will not allow you to delete all of the columns. There will always be at least one column shown.


You may not want all the column headings that Final Cut Pro displays within the browser window. To add or recover a hidden column, control click on any available heading and select the hidden column from the pull down menu.


The thumbnail column is a common heading that many Final Cut Pro editors may choose to make available. This column will show a picture icon that represents the first frame of media that was captured. This thumbnail icon can be changed to represent a different poster frame.


When using Final Cut Pro it is tempting to double click on a thumbnail icon to load its contents into a viewer menu. This will not work. The thumbnails for are preview purpose only, and you cannot double click or drag them.

Final Cut Pro does however allow you to change what the thumbnails displays. If the first frame of a captured clip does not accurately represent what the clip contains, you may want to change the thumbnail image to display a different frame of video. In this example, The ‘Lounge Chair’ thumbnail does not represent the contents of the clip.


To adjust the thumbnail, click and hold your mouse button down inside the thumbnail area. Drag the mouse to the left or right to adjust the thumbnail image. When you find the frame you want to use hold down the control key and then release the mouse button.


If you do not hold down the control key, the thumbnail image will revert back to its original frame.

To move a column from one location to another, simply drag the column to its desired location. The other columns will automatically move over to the right to make room.

By single clicking on any individual column, it will sort numerically, or alphabetically. In this example, clicking on the duration column will sort the clips by their duration. Clicking on the column again, will perform a reverse sort.


Final Cut Pro will allow you to move any column heading by moving the mouse cursor to the end of a column and clicking on its edge. You can make the column heading shorter or longer.

Before you begin editing, you should save a column layout. Control click at the top of any available heading in the browser window. Navigate down the contextual menu, and select Save Column Layout. Final Cut Pro will then ask you to give your layout a name.


Final Cut Pro is set to show 30 different columns as its default setup. It is recommended that you show only the columns that are useful for your editing workflow. A minimum recommendation is to display the length and duration columns. The length column specifies the amount of captured material. The duration column specifies the distance between IN / OUT points.

Column layout files are small files that can be stored and taken to another Final Cut Pro system so you can keep your current configuration. Since these files are hard to differentiate between other files, it is recommended that you add the extension (-layout) to the end of each name so you can tell it apart from other files.

To recover a saved column layout, control click at the top of a column heading and select Restore Column Layout.


Some columns allow you to modify the information inside them. Simply click on the text field, and edit the information in the field. Final Cut Pro will remember this information next time you return to the software.

Notice, by clicking in the log note column for the ‘Boat in Ocean’ clip, you can type in additional information.


When a clip is named in the log and capture window, it will point to an identical name on your media drive. It is recommended that you change the description or the log note, and not the original name. If you change the original name, Final Cut Pro will be unable to re-link its media if the original media is moved.

Be careful about changing the actual clip name once it has been captured. Otherwise, the clip in your browser window and the name of the media file it is pointing to on your hard drive will no longer match. It is recommended that you change the sub clip, description or the log note, and not the original name. If you change the original name, Final Cut Pro will be unable to re-link its to it's associated media if the original mediafile is moved. Otherwise, your clips will show up as offline and you may need to manually re-link the files yourself.

If you control click in your browser window, and select View as Large Icons, everything in the browser window will change to large picture icons. You may find it easier to work in this mode. It works well for short programs that have a minimum amount of clips.

Remember, Final Cut Pro supports the use of a two button mouse. You can right click in the browser window instead of holding down the control key to access the contextual menu.


These large picture icons can be moved around on the screen and re-arranged in any position you wish. Some editors refer to this concept as storyboard editing. While in small, medium or large icon mode, no column headings will be displayed. To go back to viewing your columns, control click in the browser window and select View as List.

Once the large picture icons are arranged on screen, it makes it easy to begin editing.

The hand tool is a subset of the zoom tool in the tool palette. By activating the hand tool, you can scrub through the thumbnail image when viewing your clips as large icons.


After the hand tool is activated, hold down the control key while dragging through the image, and then let go of the control key to set a new poster frame. This example shows the clip ‘Sailboat at Beach’ with the hand tool parked over top of it.


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A Tip for Widescreen for Final Cut Pro and Avid Xpress Editors was the previous entry in this blog.

Avid Xpress Pro / Media Composer Logging Clips is the next entry in this blog.

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