Navigating in the Viewer and Canvas

Aside from using the transport controls, there are numerous ways to move around within clips and sequences in Final Cut Pro. You can navigate more quickly using the specialized jog and shuttle controls, moving through your media at slower or faster speeds. You can also enter absolute or relative timecode values directly into timecode fields to move the playhead within your clips and sequences. All of these methods work with external video enabled, and external video output will be continuously updated.

How the Viewer and Canvas Are Different

Although the Viewer and Canvas windows are very similar in appearance and use many of the same controls, the video displayed in the Canvas is not the same as that in the Viewer. In the Viewer, you open and play clips in preparation for editing, while the Canvas shows video from a sequence in the Timeline. You can think of the Viewer as the source monitor and the Canvas as the record monitor from a traditional tape-to-tape editing system.

For information about controls in the Viewer, see Viewer Basics. For information about controls in the Canvas, see Canvas Basics.

Playing Clips and Sequences

You use the transport controls in the Viewer and Canvas to play forward, backward, between In and Out points, one frame at a time, or loop playback. You can also move around within clips and sequences by jogging, shuttling, and scrubbing, and by entering timecode numbers.

To play a clip in the Viewer or a sequence in the Canvas
  1. Open a clip in the Viewer or make the Canvas or Timeline active.

  2. Do one of the following:

    • Choose Mark > Play > Forward (or press L).

    • Click the Play button.

    • Press the Space bar.

To stop playback, press the Space bar or click the Play button again.

You can navigate backward at 1x (normal) speed, for instance, if you want to search for precise locations to set your In and Out points.

To play media in reverse
  1. Open a clip in the Viewer or make the Canvas or Timeline active.

  2. Do one of the following:

    • Choose Mark > Play > Play Reverse (or press J).

    • Shift-click the Play button.

    • Press Shift-Space bar.

Once you set In and Out points for a clip to define what part you want to use in your sequence, you may want to review the In and Out points. You can use the Play In to Out feature so that playback starts precisely at the In point and stops at the Out point, to make sure that the edit points are exact. This is useful if you’re editing dialogue and you want to make sure you’re cutting on the proper sound at each of your edit points. You may also want to use this feature if you’re matching action and want to make sure you’re starting and ending at the right frames.

To play a clip or sequence between In and Out points
  1. Open a clip in the Viewer or make the Canvas or Timeline active.

  2. Do one of the following:

    • Choose Mark > Play > In to Out, or press Shift-Backslash (\).

    • Click the Play In to Out button.

If you want to preview how the cut you’ve made at the Out point will play, you can play to the Out point. This is useful because it quickly shows you if you’ve left out a frame, or if you need to shave off more frames. For example, if you’re editing dialogue, you can make sure you cut out on the very last frame of a pause at the end of an “s” sound, while leaving out an “i” sound that follows in the actor’s next sentence.

To play a clip from the current position of the playhead to the Out point
  1. Open a clip in the Viewer or make the Canvas or Timeline active.

  2. Do one of the following:

    • Choose Mark > Play > To Out (or press Shift-P).

    • Command-click the Play button.

You can also play around the current playhead position. This is useful if you want to watch the outgoing and incoming media around an edit point, perhaps to decide how you want to trim one side or the other.

To play a clip around the current playhead position
  1. Open a clip in the Viewer or make the Canvas or Timeline active.

  2. Do one of the following:

    • Choose Mark > Play > Around, or press Shift-Backslash (\).

    • Click Play Around Current Frame.

Note: The amount of video played depends on the pre-roll and post-roll settings in the Editing tab of the User Preferences window. For more information, see Choosing Settings and Preferences.

You can also play every frame of a clip. This is useful for getting a preview of a clip or sequence with effects applied, without rendering first. While the clip won’t play back at 1x (normal) speed (it plays back somewhat more slowly, depending on the number of effects applied and on the data rate of the clip), every frame plays back, with no frames dropped.

To play every frame of a clip
  1. Open a clip in the Viewer or make the Canvas or Timeline active.

  2. Choose Mark > Play > Every Frame, or press Option-Backslash (\) or Option-P.

Scrubbing, or Moving, Through a Clip or Sequence

The scrubber bar represents the entire duration of the clip that’s open in the Viewer and the entire duration of a sequence that’s open in the Canvas. Dragging the playhead in the scrubber bar lets you scrub through your clip or sequence, with a one-to-one correspondence between the movement of your mouse and the playhead’s movement through the clip or sequence.

This is the fastest way to move through a clip or sequence in order to find the point you want. How quickly you can move through the clip or sequence depends on the duration of the clip or sequence. In a short clip or sequence, moving the mouse a given distance in the scrubber bar will move through less footage than in a clip or sequence of lengthy duration.

As you scrub through your clip or sequence, audio also plays back more quickly, but it doesn’t play back smoothly—it will seem to stutter (not speed up) as individual audio samples are skipped. This is normal. For smooth playback of audio at speeds under 1x, use the shuttle control instead.

To scrub through a clip or sequence
  • Drag the playhead along the scrubber bar.

Figure. Viewer window showing the playhead being dragged in the scrubber bar.

You can also use the scrubber bar to jump to a different part of your clip or sequence instantly, without playing all the footage between the previous location of the playhead and the new location.

To jump to a new location in the scrubber bar
  • Click the desired location in the scrubber bar.

Shuttling Through a Clip or Sequence

While using the scrubber bar is a great way to quickly navigate to different parts of your clip or sequence, sometimes you want to play through your clip or sequence smoothly at varying speeds as you make decisions about where to place your edit points. The shuttle control gives you this kind of smooth control, playing back your video and audio at various speeds in either direction, much as the shuttle of a video deck does.

In particular, the shuttle control is useful for playing back at less than 1x speed. As the audio slows down, it’s sometimes easier to distinguish individual words, and to set your In and Out points more accurately.

The shuttle control can play your clip or sequence at five speeds in each direction: 1/4x, 1/2x, 1x, 2x, and 4x. The shuttle control snaps to the closest available speed. When the shuttle control is at 1x speed, or 100 percent, the slider turns green.

To play clips or sequences at varying speeds using the shuttle control
  • Drag the shuttle slider to the left or right.

Dragging to the right moves the clip or sequence forward; dragging to the left moves the clip or sequence in reverse. The farther you drag the slider from the center, the faster the clip or sequence plays in that direction.

Figure. Viewer window showing the shuttle control.

You can also use the J, K, and L keys on your keyboard to shuttle through your clip. When you use the keyboard shortcuts, the only speed available under 1x is 1/3x. However, you can use the keyboard commands to speed playback up to eight times normal speed, faster than you can play back using the shuttle control.

Figure. Diagram showing the uses of the J, K, and L keys for playing a clip.
To begin forward playback at normal (1x) speed
  • Press L.

To begin reverse playback at normal (1x) speed
  • Press J.

To pause playback
  • Press K.

To double the current playback speed
  • Press L or J again.

You can play back up to eight times normal speed, switching from 1x to 2x to 4x to 8x normal speed (pressing either key a total of four times).

Pressing the key for playback in the opposite direction halves the playback speed, slowing playback in that direction down until it reaches 1x playback. Playback then begins doubling in reverse, starting from 1x.

To immediately reverse the playback direction
  • Press K to pause, then press the key for the direction you want.

To move the playhead one frame at a time
  • Hold down the K key, then press J or L.

To move the playhead at below 1/3x speed
  • Hold down the K key, then press and hold down J or L.

Note: When using keyboard shortcuts for device control, the speed of forward (L) and reverse (J) may differ depending on your video equipment.

Jogging Through a Clip or Sequence

To move through a clip or sequence more precisely, you can use the jog control. The jog control offers a one-to-one correspondence between the mouse and the playhead’s movement, but also provides frame-by-frame accuracy that’s not dependent on the duration of the clip or sequence. It’s a good tool to use to play through a section of a clip or sequence very slowly, looking for the right frame to cut on.

To move forward or backward using the jog control
  • Drag the jog control to the left or to the right.

The playhead moves with a one-to-one correspondence to the movement of your mouse. Moving your mouse slowly moves the playhead slowly, even frame by frame. Moving the mouse faster moves the playhead faster. If you stop dragging, the playhead stops instantly.

Figure. Viewer window showing dragging the jog control.

You can also move the playhead one frame at a time or one second at a time, by using the arrow keys on the keyboard.

To move forward one frame at a time
  • Press the Right Arrow key.

To move back one frame at a time
  • Press the Left Arrow key.

To move forward one second at a time
  • Press Shift while you press the Right Arrow key.

To move backward one second at a time
  • Press Shift while you press the Left Arrow key.

Looping Playback

Normally, playback of a clip or sequence starts at the current playhead position and stops at the end of the clip or sequence. If you turn on looped playback, the clip or sequence plays over and over again until you stop playback.

When looped playback is turned on:

  • Using Play In to Out loops playback only between your two edit points.

  • Playing in reverse loops playback from the end of your clip to the beginning.

  • In all other playback modes, playback always starts over from the beginning of the clip.

Note: When you loop playback, there is a split-second pause at the end of your clip or sequence before the next loop starts. For this reason, enabling looped playback to loop a sequence during output to tape from the Canvas might not give you the results you want. For more information on outputting to tape, see Printing to Video and Output from the Timeline.

To turn on looped playback
  • Choose View > Loop Playback (or press Control-L).

If it’s already turned on, you’ll see a checkmark next to the command in the menu.

To turn off looped playback
  • Choose View > Loop Playback (or press Control-L) again, so that the checkmark next to the menu item disappears.