Using the Ripple Tool to Trim an Edit Without Leaving a Gap

A ripple edit adjusts a clip’s In or Out point, making the clip longer or shorter, without leaving a gap in the Timeline. The change in the clip’s duration ripples outward, moving all subsequent clips earlier or later in the Timeline. If you don’t use a ripple edit when you change the duration of a clip, you will either leave a gap when you make a clip shorter, or overwrite part of an existing clip if you make a clip longer. Using the Ripple tool is the main way that you perform ripple edits, but you can also select one or more clips in the Timeline and perform a ripple cut or ripple delete. This is when a clip is deleted and all subsequent clips move earlier in the Timeline to fill the gap.

A ripple edit is a one-sided edit, meaning that only an In or Out point of a single clip item is affected. All clips following the shortened or extended clip are moved accordingly in the Timeline, so ripple edits affect both the trimmed clip and the position of all subsequent clips in the Timeline. This is a much more major operation than simply trimming an individual clip’s length.

Figure. Diagram of a sequence with clips A, B, and C, showing that a ripple edit to shorten clip A moves clips B and C to the left, leaving no gaps.

Important: Ripple edits can be dangerous if you are trying to maintain sync between clip items on different tracks, since all of the clip items on one track may move forward or backward while the clip items on other tracks don’t.

To perform a ripple edit, you use the Ripple tool.

Figure. Ripple tool in the Tool palette.

Note: You can select an edit point in the Timeline when you are using the Ripple tool. You can also open a sequence clip in the Viewer when the Ripple tool is selected by double-clicking the clip in the Timeline.

Which Clip Items Move in the Timeline After a Ripple Edit?

Clip items with In points later in the Timeline than the edit point (or edit points) you are adjusting will move, or ripple, after you perform a ripple edit. All other clip items remain in the same position in the Timeline.

Take special care when performing ripple edits with complex edit point selections on multiple tracks. To make sure you understand how an edit affects the clip items in your sequence, you can undo (Command-Z) and redo (Command-Shift-Z) your edit several times to compare the sequence before and after the ripple edit was performed.

Tips for Edits Made with the Ripple Tool

Keep the following in mind when using the Ripple tool:

  • If you lengthen a clip item, clip items on the same track move forward in time. Clip items on other unlocked tracks that begin after the original location of the edit point you are adjusting also move forward in time.

  • If you shorten a clip item, clip items on the same track move backward in time, as do clip items after the initial location of the edit you are adjusting on other unlocked tracks.

  • If you can’t ripple because of a “Collision” message, it is because clip items on other tracks can’t move back in time without bumping into other clip items.

  • All tracks are affected when you use the Ripple tool. If you don’t want other tracks in the sequence to be affected by the Ripple tool, lock those tracks (see Locking Tracks to Prevent Edits or Changes).

  • You can temporarily turn the Ripple tool into the Roll tool by pressing the Shift key. Release the Shift key to return to the Ripple tool.

  • While dragging, press the Command key to “gear down” and make a more precise edit.

Performing a Ripple Edit in the Timeline

When you use the Ripple tool to adjust the duration of a clip in the Timeline, always pay attention to where Final Cut Pro previews the location of the new clip Out point. Even when you are adjusting a clip’s In point with the Ripple tool, the location of the clip’s Out point is what you should pay attention to.

When you adjust a clip’s In point with the Ripple tool in the Timeline, it appears that the clip’s In point is moving in the Timeline, and that the clip’s duration is changing from both its In and Out points. This is not true. The position of the clip’s In point in the Timeline never changes after a ripple edit is performed. Final Cut Pro is actually showing you two things at once:

  • The duration by which the clip is being trimmed

  • The new Out point that will result from performing the ripple edit

    Figure. Timeline window showing a clip being trimmed with the Ripple tool.
    Figure. Timeline window showing that a clip has been shortened by a ripple edit and the following clips have moved earlier in the sequence, leaving no gaps.
To do a ripple edit in the Timeline
  1. Select the Ripple tool in the Tool palette (or press the R key twice).

  2. Select a clip item’s In or Out point by clicking near the clip item boundary.

    The Ripple tool changes direction to indicate which clip item boundary you are about to select. If linked selection is on, the edit points of linked clip items are also selected. For more information, see Selecting Edits and Clips to Trim.

  3. Do one of the following:

    • To lengthen or shorten the clip in the sequence: Drag the edit point. Pay attention to the clip boundary previewed in the Timeline.
    • To move the selected edit point one frame earlier in the clip: Press Left Bracket ([).
    • To move the selected edit point one frame later in the clip: Press Right Bracket (]).
    • To move the selected edit point by a precise number of frames: Type a plus sign (+) or a minus sign (-) followed by the number of frames to add or subtract from the current edit, then press Return.

    Note: You can also press Shift-Left Bracket ([) or Shift-Right Bracket (]) to move the selected edit point five frames at a time. The number of frames can be adjusted in the Multi-Frame Trim Size field in the Editing tab of the User Preferences window.

    Figure. Timeline window showing an edit point being trimmed with the Ripple tool.
    Figure. Canvas window showing a two-up display of the Out point of the outgoing clip and the In point of the incoming clip during a ripple edit.

    While you adjust the clip with the Ripple tool, the Canvas shows a two-up display with the Out point of the outgoing clip item on the left and the In point of the incoming clip item on the right (see also About the Two-Up Display in the Canvas).

    Use these two frames to decide exactly where to place the edit point.

All clip items after the edit point move either left or right to accommodate the new duration of your clip.

Figure. Timeline window showing that a clip has been trimmed with the Ripple tool and subsequent clips have moved left, leaving no gap.

Note: By default, sequence markers (markers in the Timeline ruler and the Canvas scrubber bar) ripple after any ripple edit or insert edit.  For more information, see Using the Ripple Sequence Markers Setting.

Performing a Ripple Edit in the Viewer

In some cases, you may want to look at the media for an entire clip before deciding at which frame to make an edit. In this case, it can be easier to open a sequence clip in the Viewer. As long as the Ripple tool is selected when you set an In or Out point in the Viewer, a ripple edit is performed in the Timeline.

To do a ripple edit in the Viewer
  1. Double-click a sequence clip in the Viewer.

  2. Select the Ripple tool in the Tool palette (or press the R key twice).

  3. Do one of the following:

    • Use the transport controls or the J, K, and L keys to move the playhead in the Viewer to a new point in your clip. Then set a new In or Out point using the Mark In and Mark Out buttons or the I and O keys.

    • Drag the In or Out point along the Viewer’s scrubber bar to a new point in your clip.

Look in the Timeline to make sure the ripple edit did what you expected, since other clips in the Timeline move when you perform a ripple edit.

Ripple Edits and Sync Relationships of Clip Items on Other Tracks

When you perform ripple edits, it is fairly easy to cause linked clip items across tracks to go out of sync with each other. This usually happens when you perform a ripple edit on one track while other tracks are locked, so the clip items on that track can’t move in sync after the ripple edit.

For example, if you have video clip items edited to the rhythm of a music track, rippling clips in the video track moves them out of sync with the music. In this case, you probably shouldn’t use the Ripple tool. Instead, you can change the length of a clip item without moving other clips in the Timeline. If you shorten the clip item, this means there will be a gap in the video track that you need to fill, but at least all of your other clips won’t be out of sync with the music.

Figure. Timeline window showing video clips in sync with markers in the audio tracks, and a video clip item selected for a ripple edit.
Figure. Timeline window showing the altered sync relationship between video and audio clip items after a ripple edit.

Final Cut Pro tries to prevent you from performing ripple edits that will cause linked clip items to go out of sync. Final Cut Pro assumes that any overlapping clip items should maintain the same sync relationship before and after an edit. Furthermore, a ripple edit cannot cause any clips to overwrite other clips.

Note: In the figure above, the sequence markers (in Timeline ruler) ripple with the video clips.  The Ripple Sequence Markers setting is enabled by default. For more information about the Ripple Sequence Markers setting, see Using the Ripple Sequence Markers Setting.

In the example below, Final Cut Pro won’t allow you to perform a ripple edit because the second music clip in tracks A3 and A4 would either need to be shortened or would overwrite part of the first music clip in order to stay in sync with the clip items in V1, A1, and A2. Because the ripple edit cannot force the second music clip to overwrite the first music clip, Final Cut Pro warns you that the ripple edit cannot be performed because there is a clip collision on track A3 (and A4).

Figure. Timeline window showing a Clip Collision warning.

There are three ways to solve this problem:

  • Lock tracks A3 and A4 so that Final Cut Pro does not attempt to ripple the second music clip (see Locking Tracks to Prevent Edits or Changes).

  • In addition to selecting the clip Out points in tracks V1, A1, and A2, you can also select the first music clip’s Out points in A3 and A4.

  • Instead of selecting the first music clip’s Out points, you can perform an asymmetric edit by selecting the clip Out points in tracks V1, A1, and A2, and the second music clip’s In points on tracks A3 and A4. This causes the first clip to be shortened from the Out point while the second clip is shortened from its In point. For more information about asymmetric editing, see Asymmetrical Trimming with the Ripple Tool.

Doing Ripple Edits on Multiple Tracks at Once

You can perform a ripple edit to edit points in multiple tracks to modify several video and audio items simultaneously.

To perform a ripple edit on multiple tracks simultaneously
  1. Do one of the following:

    • Press the Command key while clicking to select multiple edit points.

    • Select the Edit Selection tool in the Tool palette, then drag to select multiple edit points.

  2. Do one of the following:

    • Drag one of the edit points using the Ripple tool to perform a ripple edit across all tracks with selected edit points.

    • Enter timecode values to edit numerically.

Asymmetrical Trimming with the Ripple Tool

Asymmetrical trimming allows you to simultaneously ripple edit points for clip items in different tracks in opposite directions. For example, suppose you want to extend the Out point of a video clip item by 2 seconds. If you do this by extending only the video clip item, a 2-second gap is created on other tracks. If you select the In point of clip items on other tracks and use asymmetrical trimming, you can simultaneously extend the In points of the clip items, making them start 2 seconds earlier. The result is that the video clip item is 2 seconds longer, and the audio clip items fill in the gap because they are 2 seconds longer.

Asymmetrical trimming is a convenient way to create a split edit between two adjacent sequence clips, but you can also use this feature with audio-only and video-only clip items.

Asymmetrical trimming can be done either in the Timeline or in the Trim Edit window.

Tip: If you are doing a lot of asymmetrical trimming, you may find it helpful to turn off linked selection by pressing Shift-L or clicking the Linked Selection button in the upper-right corner of the Timeline. For more information about linked selection, see Linking and Editing Video and Audio in Sync.

To create a split edit using asymmetrical editing
  1. Select the Ripple tool.

  2. Hold down the Option key, then click the Out point of a video clip to select it.

    Holding down the Option key while selecting an edit point selects only that point, ignoring any other items linked to that clip.

  3. Hold down the Command key, then click the In point of an adjacent audio clip.

    Holding down the Command key while selecting an edit point allows you to add edit points to the current selection without deselecting previously selected edit points.

    Figure. Timeline window showing the intended video edit point, the current Out point of the outgoing video clip, and the In point of the incoming audio clips.
  4. Use the Ripple tool to trim the above selection.

    The video and audio edit points move in opposite directions, creating a split edit. Audio/video synchronization is maintained in both clips.

    Figure. Timeline window showing that the outgoing video clip is trimmed shorter from its Out point and the incoming audio clip is trimmed shorter from its In point.

Note: In this example, Command-clicking the In point of a stereo pair of audio clip items results in adding both audio items to the selection. You can also Command-Option-click a single audio item to add it to the selection individually, without including other audio items linked to it. This can be especially useful for clips in which many audio items are linked to a single video item in the Timeline.