A “split edit” is an edit where the audio and video transition (change) at different times in the Timeline.
In this article, I will explain what split edits are, show you how to create them, then provide some additional options you can use to make the sound even better.
This is what a split edit looks like. (I highlighted the right-hand clip to make the difference between the edit points more visible.)
Normally, when you edit, the audio and video transition at the same time. And, for many edits, this is fine. (Again, I highlighted the edit point to make it easier to see.)
However, especially in dramatic scenes, you often want to hear one person speak while watching the reactions of another person. Split edits are perfect for this.
Best of all, creating them is simple.
CREATE A SIMPLE SPLIT EDIT
To create a split edit, select the two clips on either side of an edit point. (You can actually do this for any number of selected clips. I’m just using two to keep my illustrations simple.)
Type Control+S (or choose Clip > Expand Audio/Video).
This separates the audio from the video, while still keeping them in sync.
NOTE: Another way to separate audio from video is to choose: Clip > Break Apart Clip Items. This separates and unlinks the audio from the video.
This is the best choice when you want to delete the audio or delete the video. It is also a good choice when you need to move the audio to get it in sync with the video. But for split edits, this is the wrong option because the risk of getting the audio and video out of sync is too high.
At this point, with the audio and video separated but linked, you have two options:
1. Select the Trim tool (type T), click the video edit point, and drag it where you want it to go. This is essentially doing a video-only Roll trim.
2. While the Trim tool doesn’t work for audio, you can drag either the audio In or Out with the selection (arrow) tool to the position you want. Then, drag the edge of the other audio clip over to join it.
When the two audio edges touch, you’re created a perfect split edit. This process works great and is used every day. But there’s still more we can do.
The reason the Trim tool doesn’t work to move audio edits is that, for most audio transitions, we don’t want the two audio edges to touch, we want them to overlap.
For instance, here, I want to blend the room tones between two clips. So, I dragged the edges of each clip so they overlap.
The problem with this overlap is that when a clip starts, or stops, the audio instantly starts, or stops, with it. This sudden audio change is oftentimes very harsh.
When you select a clip, look in the very top right corner (for the Out) or top left corner (for the In) and you’ll see a small dot. This is called the Fade control.
Drag this dot to create an audio fade.
You can change the shape of the fade by right-clicking (Control-clicking) the dot itself to display four fade “shapes” that you can apply to the fade.
When in doubt, use +3 dB.
Here, for instance, I’ve applied a Linear fade to the out-going clip (top) and a -3 dB fade to the incoming clip (bottom). Notice that FCP X displays the shape of the fade at the end of each clip.
While you need to use the audio meters to determine whether your audio levels are acceptable, when it comes to split edits and cross-fades, your ears are the best judge of what’s right.
Once you start working with split edits in your project, you’ll wonder how you lived so long without using them. They can make an edit invisible, or truly powerful, simply based on how you handle the transition between one clip and the next.
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