There are two primary ways to creatively edit Music and Video: edit music to fit to picture or edit the video to fit to a music track. In today's tutorial we'll take a look at how to do the later in Final Cut. This can be especially useful if making a music video and particularly if you want to edit music to fit to the beat of your music track.
If you've ever used iMovie '09 or watched the iMovie '09: Core iMovie tutorial you may have discovered Beat Markers. These are an ingenious way to quickly add markers to an audio track. These markers then allow iMovie to fit imported clips between these beat markers. As the name suggests, Beat Markers are designed to be placed on beats so that at every beat marker a new clip starts.
However, that's in iMovie 09. In Final Cut, at first glance there's not an easy way to do this. Sure you can add Markers a-plenty... but there's not an obvious way to fill the space between markers with the selected clip... or is there?
Simple first step: Create a new project and import your music clip into the Browser. At this point I like to bring in my video clips and/or image files. Also a good idea to save you project. Drag your audio file into the Sequence on Audio tracks A1 and A2.
Another personal preference is to show the Audio Waveforms. Click on the Timeline Layout Popout button at the bottom of the Timeline to access this option.
This is where this technique comes into it's own. We're going to add what will essentially be a dummy track to the Timeline, edit it to the beat and replace these edits with our own clips.
Click the Generator button in the Viewer window. From the drop-down menu choose Slug.
You'll notice the Viewer window now displays a 2 minute black clip in the Viewer. Before we drag it into the Sequence lock the Audio A1 and A2 tracks. (Click on the padlocks next to the tracks).
Drag the viewer contents into the sequence.
Resize the slug clip in the sequence to match the length of the Audio clip. It's a good idea to turn snapping on (N) to do this more easily.
Now we've got everything nicely setup it'd be a great idea to listen to you music track, become familiar with it and get a feel for where you'd like to place the markers / have a new video clip start.
Next choose Tools > Keyboard Layout > Customize
In the Search field type in edit. Select 'Add Edit' from the list and either remember the shortcut or create your own. You're going to use this shortcut to add edit points on every beat (or other musical value you wish)
Once you're ready, press the play button and use the shortcut for Add Edit on every beat. When you reach the end press K or the Space bar to stop. At this point you'll notice that the Edit points have been created in the Slug video clip in the Timeline. It may look something like in the picture below.
Now, we'll utilize the slug clips. Position the Playhead on a slug clip. Remember that in Final Cut, when the playhead rests between two edit points or on a clip, and you add an effect or perform an action, it will be applied to that clip if nothing else is selected.
Drag a video clip from the browser into the Viewer. Find the desired start point for that clip. Now click on the Replace button at the bottom of the Canvas window. (The Blue Square).
Your selected clip will replace the slug clip.
Repeat this replace process for each clip. By the end of the process you should have a conveniently created video edited to the beat of the music track!
Rounik is the Executive Editor for AskAudioMag.com & the quarterly print magazine by the same name. As an Apple Certified Trainer for Logic (and a self-confessed Mac fanatic) he's taught teachers, professional musicians and hobbyists how to get the best out of Apple's creative software. He is a Visiting lecturer at Bath Spa University's Teacher training program, facilitating workshops on using music and digital media tools in the classroom. If you're looking for Rounik, you'll most likely find him (and his articles) on AskAudioMag.com & macProVideo.com.