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Using Split Edits For Dialog in Final Cut Pro 5

Whether you're cutting a piece for a magazine news show or meticulously laying down dramatic dialog, the Split Edit feature in Final Cut Pro gives you the power to set the pace and tone of a scene. The ability to overlap the audio and video of character's having a conversation is a great way to visually soften a straight cut.

Perhaps you've never payed close attention to it before, but you have see this technique used all over television and film: such as the intense reaction shot of Jodie Foster's character in "The Silence of the Lambs" as she's being sized up by a caged Hannibal Lecter or the look of defeat in a criminal's eyes as he hears the evidence in "CSI". Much like many other functions in Final Cut Pro, there is more than one way to execute a split edit.

You can simply edit the clip to the timeline, unlock the audio and video, then use the ripple tool to trim the audio and video or you can designate separate in and out points for audio and video in the Viewer before laying the clip to the timeline. This example will explain the latter of the two on account that it may include procedures that you are unfamiliar with.

Performing a Split Edit in the Viewer Window

1 Double-Click on a clip in the Browser to load it into the Viewer. This particular exercise will work best if you use footage of a conversation between two people, but it can be performed on any clip allowing for audio lead ins to a new scene or cutaways.

2 Place the Playhead at the point where you want to make a video only in or out, then press CONTROL - I for a video in point or CONTROL - O for a video out. In this example, I have placed an in point for the audio at the beginning of the actor's conversation and placed a video out point where I want to cut to the reaction shot of the person he is talking to.

maneditfcp.jpg manfcp51.jpg

3 Place the playhead at the point where you want the audio in or out to be, then press OPTION COMMAND - I or OPTION COMMAND - O. In this example, I set the audio in a few frames before the video in and set an audio out after he had finished articulating his thought. If I were to have set the video and audio in at the same point, FCP would have then just created a typical edit point. For the sake of this example, I wanted you to see the visual difference between split edit points and the typical edit point.


The actor's audio is now longer than his video, when edited into the timeline,


allowing me, through the same procedure, to place the pleasant smile of the actress Amanda over the dialog of an old and dear friend as a reaction shot.


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