My appreciation for the magnetic Timeline in Final Cut Pro X continues to grow.
Since it always snaps one clip to the next, it guarantees that there are no gaps in my Timeline. This also makes it much faster to move a clip from Point A to Point B, because I only need to drag a clip “close enough,” then the magnetic Timeline will take it the rest of the way.
To my way of thinking, anything that speeds me up is a good thing. However, all this speed comes at a price – it is impossible to leave a gap between two clips.
For instance, here, when I try to move these two clips, the blue highlight indicates the magnetic Timeline is in force. This means that when I let go of the clips, they snap back into place, with no gap between the clips before and the clips I was moving. (This is why the small, black timecode box shows 00:00, indicating nothing is really moving.)
However, there are times when you WANT gaps in the Timeline. That’s where the Position tool comes in. You select it from the Tool menu, or type “P“.
When you use the Position tool to move clips, they stay MOVED! Here, for instance, I am moving these selected clips 2:03. And, because I am using the Position tool, when I let go of the mouse, the clips move right and stay put.
NOTE: If you move a clip with the Position tool, but don’t select any of the clips to the right of the clip you are moving, FCP X will do a ripple trim to the In of the next clip to the right of the clip being moved.
The best rule to follow is to select all clips to the right of the clip you want to move before moving the clip.
This black clip is called a “gap.” This provides TV-safe black and you can trim it the same way you would trim any other clip:
MORE POSITION TOOL TRICKS
The ability to put a gap between two clips is an essential element of editing. However, there is more to the Position tool than you might suspect. Specifically, you can use the Position tool with keyboard shortcuts and timecode, without ever touching the mouse!
Here are some other Position tool tricks that you may not know. All of these examples start the same way:
Movement Option 1
Movement Option 2
A PRACTICAL EXAMPLE
I was editing an interview recently and discovered that I needed to trim the audio REALLY tight. So much so that the timing of his speech sounded forced; there was about one frame between the end of one sentence and the start of the next.
NOTE: I’ve found that for most speakers in normal conversation, there is a six to ten frame space between the end of one sentence and the start of the next of the next. Human speech is rhythmic, and it is important to find and maintain that rhythm for each speaker. Don’t edit the audio of two clips too tight.
So, I selected all the clips to the right, selected the Position tool, then, typed period [ . ] six times to move all the selected clips six frames to the right. Now when I played the Timeline, the timing between the two clips sounded perfect.
Since I was planning on using B-roll to cover other portions of the interview, I left myself a To-Do reminding me to cover this gap with B-roll. (Sometimes, when I zoom out on a Timeline, it becomes very hard to see very short gaps. The To-Do will remind me I need to cover this.)
Now, I can use the Arrow tool and magnetic Timeline to snap clips together, or the Position tool to keep them apart. Cool.
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