Synchronizing the Canvas/Timeline Playhead and the Viewer Playhead

When a sequence clip is open in the Viewer, you can keep the Viewer playhead in sync with the Canvas/Timeline playhead. If you want to work with a sequence clip in the Viewer instead of the Timeline, you can synchronize the Viewer and Canvas/Timeline playheads together so you see the same frame in both windows.

Final Cut Pro has several options for synchronizing, or ganging, the Viewer and Canvas/Timeline playheads together, so that if you move one, the other moves by the same amount. When the playheads are synchronized, you can control the playheads from the Viewer, Canvas, or Timeline. Playhead sync only works between the Canvas and Timeline windows and the Viewer window.

Why Synchronize Playheads?

Reasons for using playhead sync include:

  • Automatically opening sequence clips in the Viewer to quickly make filter adjustments (for example, adjusting each sequence clip’s Color Correction filter).

  • Using the Viewer as an alternative to the Trim Edit window, to look at prospective new In and Out points for a sequence clip. Although the end result is the same, this method provides a different experience than editing in the Timeline or the two-up view you see in the Canvas while trimming.

  • Temporarily syncing a Browser clip to a sequence, using any sync relationship you want.

  • Enabling real-time multiclip editing. When the Multiclip Playback option is selected, the Open playhead sync option is automatically selected.

About Working with Playhead Sync

The Playhead Sync pop-up menu appears in both the Canvas and the Viewer. You can choose only one playhead sync option at a time in Final Cut Pro, but you can do so in either window. The playhead sync option you choose remains active until you close the Viewer or Canvas. Once either window is closed, playhead sync is set to Sync Off.

To synchronize (or gang) the Viewer and Canvas/Timeline playheads
  • In the Viewer or Canvas, choose an option from the Playhead Sync pop-up menu—Sync Off, Open, or Gang.

    Figure. Viewer window showing the Playhead Sync pop-up menu.

    The playhead sync options are:

    • Sync Off: Disables playhead sync. This is the default behavior.
    • Open: Automatically opens the sequence clip beneath the Canvas/Timeline playhead in the Viewer. The Viewer playhead is set to the same frame as the Canvas/Timeline playhead. For more information, see Using the Open Playhead Sync Option.
    • Gang: You can sync the clip in the Viewer with the sequence in the Canvas and Timeline arbitrarily, regardless of what clips or sequences are open. You set a new sync relationship between the Canvas/Timeline and Viewer playheads each time you choose the Gang option from the Playhead Sync pop-up menu. For more information, see Using the Gang Playhead Sync Option.

Using the Open Playhead Sync Option

The Open playhead sync option opens the sequence clip at the current location of the Canvas/Timeline playhead in the Viewer. Navigating from one clip to the next in the Canvas or Timeline causes the corresponding sequence clips to open in the Viewer. The tab currently selected in the Viewer remains the selected tab, even though a new clip has been opened in the Viewer.

The Open ganging option is useful for making filter adjustments to multiple clips in a sequence. For example, if you have multiple clips that have color correction filters applied to them, you can move the playhead from clip to clip, and the Color Corrector tab changes to the current clip’s filter settings.

Using the Gang Playhead Sync Option

You can lock the playhead in the Viewer to the playhead in the Canvas and Timeline so that they move together while scrubbing through clips. This is known as ganging the clip in the Viewer window to the sequence in the Canvas and Timeline windows.

When this option is selected, the offset between the current position of the Canvas/Timeline playhead and the current position of the Viewer playhead is maintained as both playheads move together. This mode is useful for editing operations in which you want to set In or Out points in the Viewer using durations defined by items or markers in the Timeline as your reference.

Example: Trimming a Browser Clip by the Duration of a Sequence Clip

The Gang playhead sync option can help you perform precise trimming operations. For example, suppose you want to trim the Out point of a Browser clip in the Viewer by the duration of the last sequence clip in the Timeline.

To trim a clip in the Browser by the duration of a sequence clip
  1. Double-click a Browser clip to open it in the Viewer.

  2. Press Shift-O to move the playhead in the Viewer to the Out point of the clip.

    Figure. Viewer window showing the Out point of a clip.
  3. Move the Canvas/Timeline playhead to the Out point of the last clip in the sequence.

    Figure. Timeline window showing that the Out point of the last clip in a sequence is the sync point in the Timeline.
  4. In either the Viewer or the Canvas, choose Gang from the Playhead Sync pop-up menu.

  5. Move the playhead in the Timeline to the In point of the last clip in the sequence.

    Figure. Timeline window showing the playhead moved to the In point of the last clip in the sequence.

    The playhead in the Viewer moves to the left by the same amount.

  6. In the Viewer, press O to set a new Out point.

    The clip in the Viewer is now shorter by the duration of the last clip in the sequence.

This is just one example of how you can use playhead sync relationships between the Viewer window and the Canvas and Timeline windows.