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Using Markers to Cut Interviews Quickly in Final Cut Pro 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!

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.


Jun 30, 2012
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 :)
Jul 10, 2012
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.
Dec 02, 2014
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!
/Fredrik Sturzenbecker, Apple Certified Trainer - FPCX10.1
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