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Using Markers to Cut Interviews Quickly in Final Cut Pro X
David Smith on Tue, February 28th 3 comments
While many FCP 7 users may be feeling the lack of sub-clips in FCP X, David Smith finds a way around using the keywords for selections to quick-edit interviews in FCP X.

One aspect of FCP X that I hear a lot of people dislike is the fact that once a Range Start and End point are set in the Event Browser the range only remains selected while the clip is selected. The moment you select another clip the range is gone, and would need to be re-selected. Bring back subclips, I hear you say? Well that’s where Keywords step in, of course. 

However there is, in my opinion, a quicker method for cutting dialogue, particularly interviews, and it involves using Markers. Markers in FCP X are a little different than they were in FCP 7, where I think they had grown to become a very useful feature. Here is the method. 

Step 1 - Add the first Marker

Play an Interview clip in the Event Browser, stop at the beginning of the first answer by the interviewee. Press Option-M to place the first marker and at the same time open the Modify Marker window. 

Modify marker

Modify marker

Name the marker Answer 1 and click Done. The name of the marker for now is just for demonstration, normally you should name it based on the actual content of the video. 

Step 2 - Add More Markers

Repeat step 1 and name each marker Answer 2, Answer 3, etc. until the interview is complete. 

Other markers

Other markers

Step 3 - Navigate to the Markers

If you need to check each section before editing you can do this by clicking on the markers named Answer 1, or Answer 2, etc. that have appeared under the clip in the event browser list. This will move the playhead to each marker for you. 

Markers in EB

Markers in the Event Browser

Step 4 - Edit to the Project

Create a new Project in the timeline (Command-N), and name it Interview. Edit the entire clip, with its markers to the timeline. It looks like this: 

Timeline with markers

Timeline with markers

Step 5 - Navigate to Markers in the Timeline

Open the Timeline Index with Shift-Command-2 and from the buttons above the index choose Tags. From the options at the bottom of the Tags window click the Show Markers Icon. The clip markers are listed numerically: 

Timeline Index

Timeline Index

Click on each marker to navigate to that marker, just to see how it works—you don’t need to do that to edit these clips. 

Step 6 - Cut the interview into sections

Pick up the blade tool from the Tools menu or press B to select it. To make it a little easier make sure that snapping is switched on (press N if it's not). 

With snapping on hover the Blade over the clip at the Second marker (Answer 2) and cut the footage there. 

Cut clip

Cut clip

Do the same for the remaining markers until the whole interview is cut up into its separate parts. 

Step 7 - Re-order the clips

Utilizing the Magnetic Timeline pick up the section marked Answer 3 and drag it between Sections Answer 1 and Answer 2, so it inserts between them.

Re-ordering clips

Re-ordering clips

Continue to do this until the edit begins to take shape and the structure of the interview takes shape as a rough cut. Any unused sections can be deleted from the Project. 

Without the Magnetic Timeline this just wouldn’t realistically be an option. 

Step 8 - Tidy up

Now use the Trim Tool T to tidy up the edits on either side. The hard work is done now that you have got the content and structure of your edit the way you want it. 



Step 9 - A quicker method

Next time, don’t name the markers first, just watch the clip and press M every time something key to your edit is said. Then edit them together from there. If you need to edit the Marker names just double-click on the Markers in the Timeline Index later. 

It's not perfect, but it's quick and easy. You might want to try it and see if it works for you. I’d love to hear any alternative suggestions for doing something similar!

Comments (3)

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  • Sturzen
    I really like this straight forward tutorial and I've been teaching this technique myself in the video classes at my Apple Training center in Sweden. I definitely will links this page in the future. Keep up the good work! Thanks! /Fredrik Sturzenbecker, Apple Certified Trainer - FPCX10.1
    • 4 years ago
    • By: Sturzen
  • Thanks for the tutorial, interesting take on Markers and the blade tool. When you say bring back sub clips, don't we have sub clips in the form of compound clips? (Select a clip and choose File > New Compound Clip and you can name the clip. I've heard that compound clips can slow down FCPx too. ) I assume that your your interview was a single camera shoot hence the need to move the bladed clips around? I've been trying to wrap my head around FCPx's many different ways of tagging clips and it appears there are numerous ways to tag a section you like - favorite, marker, keyword. Favorite are nice but you can't see them in the Timeline index, a range selection with a keyword just show the entire clip with a blue keyword line and markers obviously can't show ranges ....... here's hoping 10.0.6 will fix some of these issues :)
    • 7 years ago
    • By:
  • David Smith
    Sorry I've taken some time to get back to you, I've been otherwise indisposed. Your right in saying that Compound Clips can be used in the same way as Sub-Clips. Although without the ability to storyboard clips a'la the Thumbnail view in FCP 7, I can't yet see the benefit of using them instead of Keywords. I'm going to keep looking though. I would use this method to cut together one or a series of of one Camera interviews, yes. If I was editing a 2 camera interview I'd use the fantastic Multicam workflow. The technique I've described isn't to everyones taste, but it's an option for dealing with interview footage that needs to be cut together quite quickly.
    • 7 years ago
    • By: David Smith
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