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Final Cut Pro X Tutorial: Creating the Rough Cut Part 3: Connecting Clips

The first thing you might notice is that I'm not talking about Overwrite editing. As a workflow overwrite editing does still exist in FCP X. It's a simple 3-step process:

  • Mark in and out points in the Event Browser
  • Select the target clip in the Project timeline and park the playhead at the in point of that clip
  • Press D (instead of FCP 7's F10) or choose Edit > Overwrite from the menu (there is no Overwrite button anymore)

Overwrite in menu.

Overwrite in menu.

The reason I have chosen to ignore Overwrite editing is the same reason that FCP X has relegated it to a menu item: it has been superseded by a new and improved function called Connect Clip.

Step 1 - Connecting Clips

This time I'm going to mark a clip in the Event Browser using the J, K & L keys to navigate just as in FCP 7. You may never have tried this before in which case press L to play forward, K to stop and J to play backwards. Just above J, K & L on the keyboard is to mark in and O to mark out points. These 5 keys give an editor all the control over a playhead they need. 

Tip: To refine the edit points try pressing and holding K while tapping J or L to move the playhead in 1-frame increments in either direction. Press I or O to move the corresponding edit points to the new position. Once mastered, this is a very efficient method for marking clips .  

Marked Clip.

A marked clip.

In the timeline, skim to the desired frame you want to edit to (this would normally be the in point for the Overwrite edit) and click to park the playhead on that frame. Note that the clip highlights with a gold outline, this indicates that the connection will be made to that clip. 

Parked playhead.

Parked playhead, selected clip.

Unlike FCP 7, FCP X does not use the concept of tracks. Instead it uses Storylines and Clip Connections to create the equivalent of multi-track sequences. 

To connect the marked clip to the Primary Storyline Press Q or drag the clip above the selected clip to generate a connected clip.  

Connected Clip

A Connected Clip sits above the main clip in the timeline.

As you can see the clip is placed at the playhead position to begin what looks like a new track, but is not. Notice that there is a small bridge linking the clip to its Primary clip; this indicates a connected clip. The connected clip will now remain attached to the Primary clip regardless of what edits take place around it. 

Step 2 - Lasting Connections

To test the connections resilience pick up the Primary clip in the Storyline and try an insert edit by dragging it to a new position between 2 other clips. When the edit point highlights drop the clip. 

Utilizing the magnetic timeline, the connected clip stays fixed firm to its connected position. 

The Magnetic Timeline and Clip Connections make it so much easier to shuffle and re-shuffle edits in  the timeline than could ever be achieved in FCP 7's cumbersome "Option-Drag/Drop-Release option" workflows.

TIP: Clip Connections can still be moved if required by simply dragging them to a new position along the timeline.

Step 3 - Connecting Audio or Video Only

You may require just the Audio such as a V/O or Sound FX, or video of an alternate camera angle or B-roll footage connected to a clip at a specific point. The Method for this is exactly the same up until the point of Pressing Q or dragging. In this instance click and hold on the Connect Clip at Playhead button and choose either Both, Video Only or Audio Only to insert what's required. This is the closest equivalent to using the Source/Destination patch panel in FCP 7.

Connect Clip Button & Menu.

Connect Clip Button & Menu.

Using all 3 editing methods outlined in this series gives you great tools with which to quickly create a basic edit. I'm sure you'll agree it's a little different from FCP7.

Learn more about editing with these tutorials by editor and expert Michael Wohl: FCP X 103 - Editing in the Magnetic Timeline and FCP X 104 - Advanced Editing Techniques

David Smith

David Smith | Articles by this author

David Smith is Scotland's most qualified Apple and Adobe certified trainer. Having completed his education at Edinburgh College of Art's BAFTA winning Film School, David moved straight into TV production, first as a Vision Mixer then quickly becoming, at the age of just 24, a director of live TV studio productions. In 2001 he moved into Higher Education where he became a lecturer in TV Production, specializing in post-production and live studio production. During this time, and working with the support of the BBC, Channel 4 and independent production companies, David was instrumental in the design, development and implementation of industry-approved vocational courses across Scotland's Colleges. In 2006, after working closely with Apple Computers to create a unique multimedia studio for education at the Music and Media Centre in Perth, David became Scotland's first Apple-Certified Trainer for Pro Apps. This led on to David forming the first Apple Authorized Training Centre for Education, north of Manchester. In 2008 David made the move to full time training and joined the ranks at Academy Class, Ltd. where he continues to train industry professionals as a certified trainer across the Adobe Creative Suite and Apple Pro Apps range.


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