Using the Transition Editor

If you want to make more precise changes to a transition than editing in the Timeline allows, or if you want to create custom settings for transitions that you use frequently, you can use the Transition Editor.

The Transition Editor allows you to:

Controls in the Transition Editor

When you double-click a transition in the Timeline or the Effects tab of the Browser, a special tab for the transition opens in the Viewer. This Transition Editor window indicates that the transition is “loaded,” or opened, so you can view and modify the transition’s settings.

Figure. Transition Editor window showing the controls for modifying transitions.
  • Timecode Duration field: This timecode field displays the current duration of your transition. Changing the value in this field shortens or lengthens the duration of the applied transition up to the maximum amount of overlapping frames available at the edit point. (To change the duration in the Timeline, see Changing the Duration of a Transition in the Timeline.)
    Figure. Timecode Duration field in the Transition Editor.

    How the duration changes depends on the alignment of the transition. If the transition occurs before the edit point, the duration affects the clip to the left of this point, or the outgoing clip. If the transition is centered on the edit point, changes in duration extend in both directions. If the transition occurs after the edit point, the duration affects the clip to the right of this point, or the incoming clip.

  • Alignment buttons: The selected button indicates the current alignment of your transition. You can change the alignment of a transition by clicking a button (if there are enough overlapping frames in the direction in which you want to realign the transition).
    Figure. Alignment buttons in the Transition Editor.
  • Drag hand: If you want to apply the current transition to another edit point in your sequence in the Timeline, you can drag this to the edit point. This is true for transitions opened from the Browser and from a sequence in the Timeline.
    Figure. Drag hand in the Transition Editor.
  • Ruler: The ruler displays a close-up view of the frames surrounding the transition in your sequence. The ruler and playhead in the Transition Editor are locked to those in the Timeline. The time scale of the ruler can be changed by using the Zoom In and Zoom Out tools or pressing Command-Equal Sign (=) or Command-Hyphen (-).
    Figure. Ruler in the Transition Editor.
  • Outgoing and incoming clip handles: A transition that appears as two overlapping clips on the same track in the Timeline is represented differently in the Transition Editor. The outgoing clip and its Out point appear on the top track, the incoming clip and its In point appear on the bottom track, and the transition itself appears on a track between the two.
    Figure. Transition Editor window showing the outgoing clip, the incoming clip, and the transition.

    Both the Out point of the outgoing clip and the In point of the incoming clip are handles that you can drag to perform ripple edits, modifying the edit points of these clips in your sequence in the Timeline. (A ripple edit adjusts the length of a clip by changing the In or Out point of the clip. Ripple edits do not cause gaps in your edited sequence. For more information, see Adjusting the Length of a Clip in a Transition with a Ripple Edit.)

  • Transition bar with start, stop, and edit handles: The transition appears as a bar with start and end points that you can drag. Depending on the alignment of your transition, the edit point appears to the right, in the center, or to the left of this bar.
    Figure. Transition Editor window  showing the edit point in the center of the transition bar and the transition's start point being moved.

    Dragging the transition bar from the middle results in a roll edit, which moves the edit point between two clips in a sequence. Dragging either of the transition edges shortens or extends the transition.

    Note: A roll edit adjusts the location of an edit point shared by two clips; the Out point of the first clip and the In point of the second clip are moved simultaneously, or rolled. This changes the location of the edit point in the sequence, as well as the duration of each clip. For more information, see Using the Roll Tool to Change Where a Cut Occurs.

  • Start and End percentages of transition: These sliders allow you to set the starting and ending percentages of the transition’s visual effect. For example, if you are using an edge wipe, the default starting percentage of 0 percent places the border of the wipe all the way to the left of the image, essentially revealing all of the outgoing clip.
    Figure. Start and End sliders in Transition Editor.
    Figure.  Canvas window showing the start of an edge wipe transition.

    Halfway through the wipe, at the edit point, the wipe is at 50 percent, placing the border of the wipe in the middle of the picture. You can now see half of the incoming clip to the left and half of the outgoing clip to the right.

    Figure. Canvas window showing the middle of an edge wipe transition.

    At the end of the edit, with the transition finished and the default ending percentage of 100%, the border of the wipe is all the way to the right, revealing the entire incoming clip.

    Figure. Canvas window showing the end of an edge wipe transition.

    You can change the starting and ending percentages for the transition. This is an excellent way of creating split-screen effects if you plan to export your sequence as an EDL for import into another editing system. For more information on exporting EDLs, see Importing and Exporting EDLs.

    For example, you can set both the starting and ending percentages to 50 percent. At the start of the transition, a split-screen effect is created; half of the outgoing clip and half of the incoming clip are revealed simultaneously and throughout the duration of the transition.

    Figure. Transition Editor window showing the start of an edge wipe transition and the Canvas window showing the start of the transition.

    When the transition is complete, the image becomes the full-screen picture of the incoming clip.

    Figure. Transition Editor window showing the end of an edge wipe transition and the Canvas window showing the end of the transition.
  • Reverse Transition button: Some transition effects have a default direction. For example, a wipe goes from the left to the right, a clock wipe’s border travels in a clockwise direction, and the spin 3D transition spins the outgoing clip out to the right.
    Figure. Reverse Transition button in the Transition Editor.

    To reverse the direction of an effect, click the Reverse Transition button. If you reverse the direction for the above examples, the wipe moves from right to left, the clock wipe moves in a counter-clockwise direction, and the spin 3D transition spins the incoming clip in to the left.

  • Reset button: Click this button to reset all of a transition’s parameters to the default values.
    Figure. Reset button in the Transition Editor.
  • Custom parameters: Many transitions have additional parameters that you can use to further customize their effect. These parameters appear below the controls for the properties and may include such visual effects as the center point of the effect, the width of the transition border, and the color and feathering of this border. More complex transitions have more elaborate effects.

Displaying Clips in the Transition Editor

The way clips are displayed in the Transition Editor depends on the current thumbnail display setting for the sequence. (For information on changing this display in the sequence settings, see Sequence Settings and Presets.) You can also increase or decrease the scale of the ruler in the Transition Editor by zooming in or out.

To zoom in on the ruler in the Transition Editor
Do one of the following:
  • Click the Transition Editor to make it active, then choose View > Zoom In, or press Command-Equal Sign (=).

  • Select the Zoom In tool, then click either clip or the transition shown in the Transition Editor.

To zoom out of the ruler in the Transition Editor
Do one of the following:
  • Click the Transition Editor to make it active, then choose View > Zoom Out, or press Command-Hyphen (-).

  • Select the Zoom Out tool, then click either clip or the transition shown in the Transition Editor.

To zoom to fit the ruler in the Transition Editor
  • Press Shift-Z.

This zooms the ruler to a medium size in the Transition Editor.

Opening and Modifying Transitions in the Transition Editor

When you open a transition from your sequence in the Timeline in the Transition Editor, you can modify and trim it much more precisely than you can in the Timeline. All the transitions that come with Final Cut Pro are different, but all of them share some essential properties and edit points that you can modify in the Transition Editor.

  • If you open a transition from a sequence in the Timeline: Changes you make immediately alter that transition in your edited sequence.
  • If you open a transition from the Effects tab of the Browser: This opens a copy of the transition. Changes you make have no effect until you apply the modified transition to an edit point in the Timeline or save the transition as a favorite.
To open a transition from the Timeline
Do one of the following:
  • Select the transition’s icon, then choose View > Transition in Editor.

  • Control-click the transition, then choose Open from the shortcut menu.

  • Double-click the transition.

To open a copy of a transition from the Effects tab
Do one of the following:
  • Control-click the transition, then choose Open Viewer from the shortcut menu.

  • Double-click a transition in the Effects tab.

  • Select a transition, then press Return.

This opens a copy of the transition. If you change settings and want to use the changed version, you need to save it as a favorite (see Saving a Transition as a Favorite) or apply it directly to an edit point in the Timeline by dragging its drag hand to an edit point. For more information, see Applying a Modified Transition Directly to a Sequence in the Timeline.