The Primary Storyline is a special place in Final Cut Pro X. It’s the first place clips go when we edit them to the Timeline and it is the clips in it that all other clips are connected to.
Most of the time, this works fine. But, problems arise when we want to delete clips in the Primary Storyline without deleting the clips that are attached to them.
In this case, we have four options:
Which option works best for you depends upon what you are trying to do. In most cases, we want to make the Primary Storyline clip disappear, without affecting the timing of any other clips.
START WITH THE AUDIO
If you are creating a music video, your audio track is almost always pre-recorded. So, start your edit by putting the audio track into the Primary Storyline.
This means that all your video clips, and any natural sound associated with them, become connected clips which can be easily moved and removed without affecting the main audio in the Primary Storyline.
This is the recommended procedure for creating music videos. However, this also means you need to decide which audio clip you want to use before starting your edit.
NOTE: Another requirement is that you need to manually set the project settings when editing your audio. However, an easy workaround for this is to edit a video clip in the format you want to use for your project into the Primary Storyline. This automatically sets project settings. Then, edit the audio clip you want to use as the main audio track for your project immediately after this initial video clip so that it, too, goes in the Primary Storyline. Now that the project settings are correct, delete the video clip. The audio will remain in the Primary Storyline and all your video settings will be correct.
REPLACE A CLIP
By default, the Primary Storyline does not allow any gaps between clips. However, this is easy to override by using the Position tool, which allows you to drag any clip anywhere and leave a gap behind it. This works, except, that any connected clips also move when the Primary Storyline clip moves.
There are two ways to replace one clip with another:
This second option is the best choice when you want to keep the timing of all connected clips the same, but remove all references to the original Primary Storyline clip.
MAKE A CLIP INVISIBLE
You can keep a clip in the Primary Storyline, but make it invisible by selecting the clip and typing V.
Or, if you want to make the video invisible, but keep the audio (or vice-versa) select the clip and choose Clip > Detach Audio. This separates the audio from the video. At which point, select the side of the clip you want to make invisible/inaudible and type V.
The only problem with this approach is that the audio becomes a connected clip, while the video remains in the Primary Storyline.
NOTE: What I wish we could do, but can’t, is to select just the video or just the audio of a Primary Storyline clip and make it invisible/inaudible. We can kinda do this by turning the audio volume off, or setting video opacity to 0, but its an awkward workaround.
EDIT A CONNECTED CLIP INTO THE TIMELINE
The option I tend to use the most, aside from replacing a clip with a gap, is to select the connected clip you want to keep and choosing Edit > Overwrite to Primary Storyline.
This takes the selected clip and does an overwrite edit into the Primary Storyline. The existing Primary Storyline clip is replaced, and all connected clips are reconnected into the new clip. This is an ideal way to separate the audio from the video, then edit the audio back into the Primary Storyline to replace the video that we no longer want.
NOTE: The inverse of this function (Edit > Lift From Storyline) takes the selected clip, replaces it with a gap and moves it into a connected clip. This, also, is another way to delete a Primary Storyline clip without screwing up all the timing of connected clips.
Its worth playing with all these options to see which ones work the best for your Project. And, if I’ve forgotten any techniques that you like to use, let me know in the comments below.
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