Exporting EDLs

You can export an EDL from any selected sequence. You can only export one sequence to an EDL at a time.

To export a sequence to an EDL file
  1. Select a sequence in the Browser or open the sequence in the Timeline.

  2. Choose File > Export > EDL.

  3. Select your settings, then click OK.

    For more information, see Settings and Options in the EDL Import Dialog.

    Figure. EDL Export Options dialog.
  4. Choose a location and enter a name for the file, then click Save.

    Note: If you selected the B-Reel Edits option from the “Reel conflicts” section, another dialog may appear where you can choose a location and enter a name for a second EDL for the B-Reel list.

    If your sequence exceeds the maximum number of events for the format you specified, Final Cut Pro creates additional EDL files.

    If an error message appears, you may not be able to export an EDL in the specified format. Try changing the options and exporting again. You may also need to simplify your sequence further and try again.

    Tip: You should also output your original sequence to tape, DVD, or QuickTime movie. Bring this tape to your online session along with your EDL as a reference. The online editor can use the original sequence to double-check edits and re-create effects that the EDL left out.

Settings and Options in the EDL Export Dialog

This section describes the options in the EDL Export dialog.

EDL Title

The title entered here appears on the first line of the EDL and is limited to 60–77 characters, depending on the EDL format. By default, the title entered here is the name of the exported sequence.

Note: Changing the EDL title does not change the filename of the exported EDL.

Format Pop-Up Menu

This menu allows you to choose which format your EDL is exported to. There are several EDL file formats, each named after a particular manufacturer and model of a linear, tape-to-tape editing system. Final Cut Pro supports the following EDL formats:

  • CMX 340

  • CMX 3600

  • Sony 5000

  • Sony 9100

  • GVG 4 Plus

CMX 3600 is one of the most common EDL formats, so you should use this one unless you have a specific reason to choose another. Check with the person receiving your EDL to determine what format will work best.

Sorting Pop-Up Menu

This menu allows you to choose the order in which your sequence clips are sorted in the exported EDL.

  • Master, Audio Merged: Clips appear in the order in which they occur in the sequence. Audio clips that start and end together are merged into one event line where possible. This sorting method allows you to re-create your sequence in order of clips in the Timeline.
  • Source, Audio Merged: Clips are ordered based on their arrangement in the original source tapes. Event number 1 has the earliest starting timecode on the lowest–numbered reel. This sorting method allows you to re-create your sequence one reel at a time, regardless of clip order in the Timeline.

Target Video Track Only

This option allows you to select whether or not your EDL includes keying events when you have clips on track V2.

An EDL can only include edits that are possible with a tape-based editing system. Since videotape formats typically have only one video track, you can choose only one video track in your Final Cut Pro sequence.

When you select the Target Video Track Only option, Final Cut Pro uses the current destination video track in the Timeline to determine which video track is exported to your EDL, and no key events are created in the EDL. For example, you can export only the clips on video track V3 by setting it to the current destination track in the Timeline. For more information about setting destination tracks, see Working with Tracks in the Timeline.

This option is useful for exporting separate EDLs, one at a time, for each video track above V1.

When this option is deselected, Final Cut Pro includes keying (K) events. Video track V1 is treated as the background layer and track V2 as the foreground layer of the key effect.

Figure. Timeline window showing V1 holding a video clip and V2 holding Title clips.

The following event refers to the first text generator clip in the sequence shown above.

001002VK B02:10:42:13 02:10:52:13 01:00:00:00 01:00:10:00
001GENVK000 00:00:55:00 00:00:55:00 01:00:00:00 01:00:00:00

This option does not affect audio track export.

Omit Transitions

Check this box to ignore all transitions in your sequence so the EDL contains cuts only. This keeps your EDL as simple as possible, so transitions won’t complicate your online session. The online editor can create the necessary transitions.

Reel Conflicts

If you create a transition between two clips from the same reel in your sequence, Final Cut Pro considers this to be a reel conflict, because the resulting EDL event would be impossible to perform in a tape-based editing system. This is because in a linear editing suite, a transition requires two video sources, but you can’t put the same tape in two decks at the same time.

Figure. Timeline window showing two clips from the same reel.

Reel conflicts can be addressed in several ways, depending on the abilities of the tape-to-tape editing suite you are using:

B-Reel Edits

In a linear editing suite, transition events that require two different shots on the same reel can be performed by first copying the second shot of each transition to a new tape, called a B-reel. Final Cut Pro can automatically create a B-reel EDL, which you can use to assemble a tape with any necessary shots. The B-reel tape is automatically assigned its own reel name, and shots in the EDL for your main sequence are replaced with corresponding shots on the B-reel.

001002AA/VC02:18:32:07 02:18:56:19 01:00:00:00 01:00:24:12
001002VC02:10:42:13 02:11:16:18 01:00:00:00 01:00:34:05
001BREEL1VD024 02:18:32:07 02:18:56:19 01:00:34:05 01:00:58:17

Pre-Read Edits

Some high-end digital video decks can actually perform transitions by using the master tape as one of the sources. A digital VTR with the ability to pre-read video off the tape before recording is required. Pre-read is a technical feature that allows a deck to read the signal off tape, send it to a device for processing, and then record the processed signal back onto the same tape in the same location. In this case, the record deck actually becomes the source deck, or one of two source decks in the case of performing transitions.

Pre-read transitions always begin with the master deck and then dissolve to a source deck. For example, a pre-read dissolve is performed in an online edit suite by making a cut to the master tape signal, then dissolving to another source deck.

In the example, the first event is a cut to Reel 002. The second event is a cut to the master tape itself, which then dissolves to Reel 002.

001002VC02:10:42:13 02:11:17:18 01:00:00:00 01:00:35:05
002PREREADVC01:00:00:00 01:00:34:05 01:00:00:00 01:00:34:05
002002VD024 02:18:32:07 02:18:56:19 01:00:34:05 01:00:58:17

Important: Check with your online editor before you select this option.

Generic Edits

This option allows transitions from two places on the same source tape. You should use this option when exporting your EDL for use in another nonlinear editing system, or if specifically requested by your online editor. Some online editors may prefer to receive generic transition EDLs and modify them manually.

001002VC02:10:42:13 02:11:16:18 01:00:00:00 01:00:34:05
001002VD024 02:18:32:07 02:18:56:19 01:00:34:05 01:00:58:17

EDL Notes

EDL notes are useful for including details about your Final Cut Pro sequence, even though the information can’t be used directly by the editing system that imports the EDL.

  • File or Clip Names: This pop-up menu allows you to include either the file or clip names as a note beneath each edit.
  • Comments pop-up menu: Choose one of the comments columns in the Browser (Master Comments 1–4 or Comments A–B) to include in the EDL. This is a useful way for offline editors to provide notes about shots to the online editor.
  • Filters: Includes names of video and audio filters applied to a clip.
  • Video Levels: Opacity levels of each clip, if they are not 100%. Opacity keyframes are also included, displayed by clip timecode and percentage level. Bezier curve information is ignored.
  • Audio Levels: Audio level changes of a clip, along with keyframe timecode and relative gain adjustment (in decibels). The audio channel (A1, A2, and so on) is specified next to each audio level note.
  • Transitions: Includes notes about the transitions used in your edit.


These settings allow you to set the starting timecode number for the master tape. This overrides the Starting Timecode field in the Timeline Options of Sequence Settings.

  • Start Time: The timecode for the first edit on the master tape. This number defaults to the starting timecode of the sequence, but you can set it to any number you want.
  • Drop Frame: Defines whether the timecode on the master tape being edited to has drop frame or non-drop frame timecode. This appears as the first element under the title in the EDL and defaults to the type of timecode of the sequence you’re exporting. This option is only relevant for sequences that have a timebase (frame rate) of 29.97 fps.

Audio Mapping

You can choose which audio channels in your sequence are edited to the audio tracks of the master tape. Some EDL formats support two audio channels, and others support four. Each track in your sequence can be mapped to any audio channel in the EDL format. For example, you can map sequence audio tracks 2, 6, 10, and 14 to audio track 2 in the EDL. The resulting master tape created from this EDL will have audio clips from sequence tracks 2, 6, 10, and 14 edited onto track 2.

Reviewing an EDL

After you’ve exported an EDL, you should open the text file to compare it to your original sequence. You can open most EDL formats directly in a text editing application.

Important: It’s best to avoid making changes to the contents of an EDL file. If you do make changes to the EDL, make sure you don’t change the formatting (such as accidentally adding or deleting whitespace characters such as Space, Tab, or Return characters); otherwise, the resulting EDL may not be interpreted properly. Also, make sure you always save the file in a plain text format (.txt), not Rich Text Format (.rtf).

You can open an EDL in Final Cut Pro to review it. This is different from importing an EDL, which actually translates the EDL into a new sequence.

To open an Edit Decision List
  1. Choose File > Open.

  2. Locate the EDL file, select it, then click Open.