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Replace Editing in Final Cut Pro X

Check out our Final Cut Pro: Editing In The Magnetic Timeline course!

Replace Edits have been a key part of Final Cuts workflow for every user. In Final Cut Pro X Apple have made replace edits just that little bit easier. If you haven’t ever tried to use Replace Edits in your edit workflow, to put it simply there is a way to exchange a clip in the timeline with another clip from the Event Browser. If you are currently using Overwrite edits to do this, then this article will show you how replace edits don’t require accurate range setting and playhead placement to successfully swap clips over accurately, saving you time and effort.

Step 1 - Select a clip in the Timeline

Scrub through the timeline until you find a shot you need to swap for another angle, take, or perhaps clip. 

It’s important to know how long a clip is before you replace it, as trying to replace a 6 second long clip with a shorter clip, say a 4 second clip will change the duration of the sequence, which you may not want to have happen. 

clip duration

Press Control-D to open the clips duration field in the Dashboard to see its length.

Step 2 - Locate the Replacement Clip

Open the Event Browser and find the clip you intend to use. It's best to do this with the Event Browser in List View as the duration of the clip is visible in the Duration column. 

The duration column

Check the duration is longer, so as to enable you to follow this article.

Step 3 - Set the Range

Skim through the clip and set a range start point by pressing I or using the range selector. Use the end of the clip as the end point.

The range selected

This should still be a longer clip than the one in the Timeline. 

Step 4 - Replace the Clip

Drag the selected range from the Event Browser down to the timeline, placed over the original edited clip. The clip should turn white when you lay it directly over. 

Replace pop-up

A pop-up window appears asking what type of replace edit you intend to use. Start by choosing Replace. 

The whole Clip Range from the Event Browser (which is longer than the original clip) replaces the shorter original clip in the timeline. As the clip is longer than the original the Magnetic Timeline moves all the Necessary clips down the timeline to compensate. 

Press Command-Z to undo that last edit and try another method. 

Step 5 - Replace from Start

White clip

Drag the selected clip range from the Event Browser once again, only this time from the Replace menu choose Replace From Start.

The clip is replaced again, only this time the end point of the clips range is trimmed so that it fits the duration of the original clip. The timeline no longer has to extend in order to fit the replaced clip. This is great if the length of your edited project has to remain the same, however you don’t really have control of the end point of the shot. 

Press Command-Z to undo that last edit and try another method. 

Step 6 - Replace from End

Drag the selected clip range from the Event Browser once again, only this time from the Replace menu choose Replace From End.

The clip is replaced, just as with the Replace with Start, however this time it's the end point of the clip range that is placed at the out point of the edit, and the start point is trimmed. This is a better option for when the end of a clip is of more value than the start. 

Another option is to use Auditions when you replace edit, for which there is another article written by me in the MacProVideo HUB archives, blow the dust off and have a look at that why don’t you. 

Check out our Final Cut Pro: Editing In The Magnetic Timeline course!

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.


Jan 17, 2012
The replace edit function in FCP7 needs to be re-instated.

So easy. Put your playhead on a frame of the shot you want replacing. Put you playhead on a frame of a shot in the viewer. Hit 'Replace' and it's done. Far simpler and more elegant than the current FCPX method.
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