Asymmetric Trimming in the Timeline

Posted on by Larry

[ This article was first published in the February, 2006, issue of
Larry’s Final Cut Pro Newsletter. Click here to subscribe. ]

I’ve of two-minds about this technique. I’m intrigued that Final Cut decided to include it and I can’t, for the life of me, figure out how it would be useful.

Anyway, Final Cut has the ability to do asymmetric trimming. What that means is that you can trim the video in one direction, while trimming the audio in the opposite direction. Here’s how it works.

  1. Turn Snapping off (press n)
  2. I’ve created a simple sequence, where I want the audio and video edits to occur at different times.
  3. Select the Ripple tool from the Tool palette (or press rr).
  4. Option+click the side of the video edit point (either the In or the Out) that you want to trim. In this example, I’m trimming the Out.
  5. Command+click the opposite side of the audio edit point. In this case, I clicked the In.
  6. Drag the mouse in the direction you want to trim. Notice how the video and audio selections move in opposite directions.

What you’ve just created is a split edit. While this is quite neat and I hope you find it helpful, I never use this. And the reason is that I never want to trim my audio and video by the same, but opposite, amounts. My issue is not with the technique, but the symmetry.

I use split edits all the time, but first I work to make one edit point, either audio or video, perfect. Then, I use Option+Roll to split the edit point that needs adjusting. I can’t think of the last time that I needed to move both audio and video by exactly the same amount in opposite directions.

My Avid friends tell me that they use this technique all the time on an Avid, because it’s the easiest way to create a split edit. For me, using the Option+Roll tool is much faster and easier.

Tom Wolsky adds:

Asymmetrical trimming is only useful if the video supports it. For instance in dialog if you have a pause at the end of one shot and a pause at the beginning of another, you could just cut the pauses or you could asymmetrically trim them to create a split edit at the same time.

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One Response to Asymmetric Trimming in the Timeline

  1. Gerard Martin says:

    Walter Murch discusses his need for asymetric trimming, mentioned first I believe on page 152 — and then again at the bottom of page 154 of BEHIND THE SEEN: HOW WALTER MURCH EDITED COLD MOUNTAIN USING APPLE’S FINAL CUT PRO AND WHAT THIS MEANS FOR CINEMA (New Riders, 2005) by Charles Koppelman. This feature did not yet exist when he was first using it — and he missed it.

    Gerard Martin
    1st Assistant Camera
    ICG | IATSE 600 | AQTIS
    Tel. 514-983-0333 (mobile)

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