Understanding Three-Point Editing

Unlike drag-to-Timeline editing, three-point editing allows you to use both source clip and sequence In and Out points to specify the duration of a source clip and where it should be placed in a sequence. In most cases, only three edit points are necessary, and the fourth edit point is inferred automatically by Final Cut Pro.

Overview of the Three-Point Editing Process

To edit content into a sequence using three-point editing, you first set edit points in your source clip and sequence, and then you perform the edit. Three-point editing gets its name from the fact that Final Cut Pro needs no more than three In and Out points (in the Viewer and in the Timeline or Canvas) to determine what part of the source clip to place in a sequence. The result of the edit is dependent on which three points are set in the clip and in the sequence.

Note: If you set fewer than three edit points, Final Cut Pro infers In or Out points using the playhead in the sequence and the Media Start or End times in the source clip.

Basic three-point editing follows several main steps.

  1. Stage 1: Setting Clip In and Out Points in the Viewer

    Specify which part of a source clip you want to place in your sequence. You do this by opening it in the Viewer and setting the In and Out points (where the clip should start and end). If you only set an In point, the Out point will be determined by the sequence In and Out points or the Media End time of the clip.

  2. Stage 2: Setting Sequence In and Out Points in the Timeline or Canvas

    Specify where you want the clip to appear in your sequence by setting In and Out points in the Canvas or Timeline. If the sequence has both In and Out points set, these determine the edit duration, regardless of the duration set in the source clip. If no In or Out points are set, the playhead is assumed to be the In point of the edit.

    For information about setting In and Out points, see the sections that follow and Setting Edit Points for Clips and Sequences.

  3. Stage 3: Specifying Destination Tracks

    Choose the tracks in the Timeline where the video and audio items from your source clip should appear.

  4. Stage 4: Adding the Clip to the Timeline

    Edit the clip into the Timeline by dragging it to the Edit Overlay in the Canvas, clicking a Canvas edit button, or using a keyboard shortcut.

Important: Sequence In and Out points always take precedence over source clip In and Out points. This means that if you set both In and Out points in a sequence, the duration of the edit is determined by the In and Out points of the sequence, regardless of the In and Out points of the source clip. This allows you to restrict the portion of your sequence affected by your edit.

Different Ways to Do Three-Point Editing

There are several basic methods for three-point editing into a sequence: dragging a clip to the Edit Overlay in the Canvas, using the Canvas edit buttons, or using keyboard shortcuts. For information on the seven types of edits you can perform, see About Edit Types in the Edit Overlay.

Dragging to the Edit Overlay in the Canvas

When you drag a clip from the Browser or Viewer to the image area of the Canvas, the Edit Overlay appears. The overlay appears translucently over the image, with seven sections corresponding to seven types of edits you can perform. Drag to a section to perform the corresponding edit.

Note: If you don’t drag directly to one of the overlay choices, the default edit is Overwrite, meaning the clip overwrites anything located at its destination in the Timeline.

Figure. Canvas window showing a clip being dragged to the Edit Overlay.

When you drag a clip to a specific section of the overlay, that section is outlined in its own color. If you drag your clip to the area to the left of the Edit Overlay, an overwrite edit is performed by default.

Using the Edit Buttons in the Canvas

With a clip open in the Viewer, you click one of the edit buttons at the bottom of the Canvas to perform that type of edit. You can also drag a source clip to one of these buttons. These buttons perform the same edits as the sections of the Edit Overlay.

There are initially three edit buttons shown. When you click the arrow to the right of the three buttons, buttons for additional edit types appear. If you select one of these other edit types, that edit becomes the default function of the third button. Tooltips identify each of the buttons so you know which one to use.

Figure. Edit buttons in the Canvas.

Using Keyboard Shortcuts

With a clip open in the Viewer, you can also use keyboard shortcuts to perform each of the seven types of edits. All of the keyboard shortcuts use the function keys along the top of the keyboard. (If you forget a keyboard shortcut, position your pointer over one of the edit buttons and pause for a moment. A tooltip appears with that button’s function, as well as its keyboard shortcut.)

  • F9: Insert edit
  • Shift-F9: Insert with transition edit
  • F10: Overwrite edit
  • Shift-F10: Overwrite with transition edit
  • F11: Replace edit
  • Shift-F11: Fit to fill edit
  • F12: Superimpose edit

Important: Some Mac OS X keyboard shortcuts may conflict with your Final Cut Pro keyboard shortcuts. For more information, see Customizing the Interface.