The Link Selection Button is Dangerous

Posted on by Larry

[ This article was first published in the September, 2004, issue of
Larry’s Monthly Final Cut Studio Newsletter. Click here to subscribe. ]

This whole issue crystallized for me during a class this past week, where most of my students kept getting their clips out of sync.

This is, perhaps, partly a technique and partly a rant. But bear with me, you’ll find a better option at the end.

There is a button in the Timeline, next to the Snapping button, that drives me absolutely nuts. It’s called the “Linked Selection” button and putting it in the Timeline is, in my opinion, a significantly unwise decision.

Let start with a definition: A linked clip is a clip where the audio and video are linked together — indicated by an underlined file name in the Timeline. Linked clips are generally used for synced audio and video. There is absolutely nothing wrong with linked clips. It assures that the audio and video will travel together, remaining in sync, wherever the clip is moved. This is a good thing.

The Link Selection button, though, is not.

Here’s the problem. This is a linked clip, called “Train,” that is on the Timeline. What you decide to do is create an edit where the video edits before the audio. (In editing parlance, this is called an “L” edit. It’s opposite number, where audio precedes video, is called a “J” edit. Why? Because that’s the shape of the edit points on the Timeline.)

So, you click the Linked Selection button to turn it off (gray) and start to move the video. The nice thing about the Linked Selection button is that when it is off, you can select just the video or the audio of a linked clip. The bad thing about this button is that it is very, VERY easy to get a clip out of sync.

Here, for example, I just bumped the video clip and now, those red flags indicate that I am out of sync by a second.


Sigh… This is foolish.

(By the way, if you get out of sync, simply Ctrl+click on the red flag of the clip that’s out of sync, and select Move Into Sync.)

Now, I realize there are times when you need to unlink, or link, or relink clips. My objection is not that this button exists, but that it is on the Timeline. The Timeline should have only “safe” buttons on it. And this button is BOTH unsafe and unnecessary. It should be a menu item, hidden away from innocent hands.

Here’s the secret to moving the edit point of one side of a linked clip, without running the risk of getting your audio and video out of sync:

  1. Hold down the Option key



  3. Select the edit point you want to move, the Video out, in this case.



  5. Drag the Out where you want it.



  7. Release the Option key.

No sync problems, with total flexibility to move, select, or delete any portion of a linked clip.

Now, granted, if you use the option key to select the whole video or audio side of a linked clip, you can still drag it out of sync. But, most of the time, what you mostly need to do is to move one side of an edit point to create a split edit. And using the Option key is much safer, and faster, than using the Linked Selection button.

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