Those Amazing Angle Brackets

Posted on by Larry

[ This article was first published in the November, 2009, issue of
Larry’s Final Cut Pro Newsletter. Click here to subscribe. ]

Eric Mittan, Chief Editor at WSIL-TV, sent me this great set of tips:

My favorite keyboard shortcuts are those that are contextual. The function of the keys in question change in the context of what task is being performed, or what item is selected, or what tool is chosen in order to get a different, if slightly related result.


The angle bracket keys are a perfect example. While technically, they are the period and comma key, its easier to think of them in terms of the angle brackets, as the brackets point in the direction the action will take.


With the default selection tool chosen, highlight a clip in the timeline and press the angle left angle bracket key, or comma. As long as there is room for the clip to move on the timeline without colliding with another clip, the clip will move to the left by 1 frame for each time you use it. The right angle bracket (period) does the same in the other direction. its a very precise way of adjusting clip placement on the timeline.


But that’s not all! Now select the slip tool. With the same clip highlighted, press the left angle bracket key. The clip remains in the same place in the timeline, but now the clip has been “slipped” by one frame backward. The right bracket does the same one frame at a time forward. This trick can be ESPECIALLY useful if you’re working with a piece of live captured video that may not be in sync with the audio that was captured at the same time. By fine-tuning a frame at
time, you can achieve much more precise results.


For even more context specific uses, try using the angle brackets to “slide” a clip by single-frame increments using the slide, tool. Trimming or moving an edit point? With an edit point selected, the angle bracket keys move the edit point in single-frame increments, whether you’ve selected just the in point of one clip, the out point of one clip, or the adjacent in and out points of two clips.

Larry replies: Thanks, Eric! These are great.

UPDATE – Dec. 28, 2009

Loren Miller adds:

I enjoyed Eric Mittan’s recent discovery of the coolness of the Angle Brackets in FCP.


He should also be aware the same capabilities, from Trim, to Slip and Slide with those tools selected, to Clip Move when a clip is selected, are available using the Square Brackets as well! So all the brackets are now “live!” This is also covered in the FCP manual.


A couple of kickers of recent vintage. In FCP 7, you can actually slip and slide a clip with transiitons attached at one or both ends, limited only by available media…watching these slide with the clip is unearthly! This can be a major timesaver.


As with Square Brackets, you can multiply bracket actions by holding down Shift and the action will increase by however many frames you’ve plugged into your Final Cut Pro > User Preferences > Editing pane (the default is 5 frames).

Larry replies: Loren, these, too, are very cool ideas. Thanks!


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