Creating a Rough Edit

During the rough editing phase of your project, the overarching structure of your movie begins to take shape. A rough edit is like an outline of your finished movie, and many details remain to be worked out. At this point, you arrange, copy, delete, and work with large groups of clips at once. You may even be missing footage still, but you can use placeholder clips, such as slug or text, to note areas that need work.

Basic Steps Involved in a Rough Edit

Basic rough assembly and editing involves the following steps.

  1. Stage 1: Adding Clips to the Sequence

    Final Cut Pro allows you to add clips to your sequence in several ways. The simplest method is to select clips in the Browser or Viewer and drag them to the Timeline. You can also add clips to a sequence in a more precise way, setting In and Out points in both your source clip and destination sequence, and then dragging the clip to the Canvas. This is called three-point editing.

  2. Stage 2: Arranging Clips

    This is where you assemble the clips in the Timeline into the order you want by selecting, moving, copying, cutting, pasting, and deleting.

  3. Stage 3: Making Rough Adjustments to Clips in the Timeline

    In the process of assembling the rough edit, you typically find you want to change the duration of some clips, trim the heads or tails of some clips, or divide clips into smaller pieces and reposition them.

How Clips Appear in the Timeline

Before you begin editing and arranging clips in a sequence in the Timeline, it’s a good idea to look at how clips are represented when they’re first edited into a sequence. When you edit a clip into the Timeline, an affiliated copy of that clip is placed in your sequence. The clip in the Timeline looks like this:

Figure. Timeline window showing the video and audio tracks of a clip.

In the example above, a clip containing one video item and two audio items was added to the sequence. Each of these items is called a clip item.

The video clip item is placed in track V1 of the Timeline, and the two audio clip items are placed in tracks A1 and A2, respectively. Each of these items is named after the master clip in the Browser from which it came. All three clip items are linked together, which is indicated by the line under each clip item name. Linking clip items together keeps the items in sync with each other.

Since the audio and video items of each edited clip are linked, selecting the video clip item also selects the audio clip items, and edits you make to one are automatically made to the others. For example, if you move a video clip item from track V1 to track V2, the audio clip items move from tracks A1 and A2 to tracks A3 and A4.

Figure. Timeline window showing a video clip item on V1 and audio clip items on A1 and A2.
Figure. Timeline window showing that the audio clip items also move to  different tracks when you move a video clip item to a different track.
Figure. Timeline window showing that the video clip item and audio track items moved.

Video and audio clip items can be linked or unlinked at any time. For more information, see Linking and Editing Video and Audio in Sync.

Undoing and Redoing Actions

As you begin to edit in Final Cut Pro, rest easy with the knowledge that you can undo actions you take in your projects, sequences, and clips, including editing clips into sequences. The Undo command is helpful if you make a change you don’t like, or make a mistake and want to revert to an earlier version. You can also redo actions that you have undone.

By default, you can undo 10 of your previous actions before quitting Final Cut Pro. You can set Final Cut Pro to undo up to 99 actions in the General tab of the User Preferences window. The more levels of Undo you select, the more memory is needed to save all of your changes. For more information on modifying the number of changes to undo, see Choosing Settings and Preferences.

Figure. User Preferences window showing the Levels of Undo option.
To undo a change
  • Choose Edit > Undo (or press Command-Z).

To redo a change
  • Choose Edit > Redo (or press Command-Shift-Z).