Using the Timeline Patch Panel

Posted on by Larry

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


Over the holidays, I received several requests for help in how to edit only video, or only audio, to the Timeline.

In looking through over 400 tutorials that we have posted in our website over the years, I discovered that I have never written about this. So, this is a perfect opportunity to remedy that lack.

WHAT IS THE PATCH PANEL?

The Timeline Patch Panel determines which elements from the clip in the Viewer edit to the Timeline. It is called that because for many years, production facilities would route signals by connecting short wires (called “patches”) between plugs in a patch bay.

Patch

Note: The patch panel also affects clips dragged into the Timeline from the Browser, however, because we have more control over clips in the Viewer, I’ll be using them in this technique.

The Patch Panel allows us to edit video-only or audio-only into the Timeline. And it allows us to determine the tracks to which we edit a clip. However, the Patch Panel only works when we are editing clips using what I call the Power Tools – F9/F10, dragging a clip into the Canvas, or onto the red envelope at the bottom left of the Canvas. If you drag a clip directly into the Timeline, you can override the patch panel.

Note: If you want more information on these high-speed power tools, here is a video tutorial that describes how to use them.

The Patch Panel has two sides. The left side, labeled with lower-case letters, represents the clip in the Viewer. The right side, labeled with upper-case letters, represents the tracks in the Timeline. The left side of the Patch Panel is smart; that is, it looks at the clip in the Viewer and only displays the tracks that are there. If there is no audio with a video clip, there will be no audio patches on the left.

Think of the Patch Panel as indicating the SOURCE of the clip on the left and the DESTINATION of the clip on the right. Since we can’t move tracks around in the Timeline, we use the Patch Panel to do it for us.

EDITING ONLY THE VIDEO OF A CLIP TO THE TIMELINE

To edit just the video of a clip from the Viewer into the Timeline:

1. Load the clip into the Viewer and, if necessary, set an In and Out.

Patch

2. Click the a1 patch, on the left. Then, do the same to the a2 patch. When you do so, a small gap appears between the two sides of the patch panel. This gap means that the audio will NOT edit from the Viewer to the Timeline.

3. Edit your clip by clicking the small red envelope in the lower left corner of the Canvas.

Patch

Ta-DAH! Just the video edits into the Timeline.

EDITING ONLY THE AUDIO OF A CLIP TO THE TIMELINE

To edit just the audio of a clip form the viewer into the Timeline:

1. Load the clip into the Viewer and, if necessary, set an In and Out.

Patch

2. Click the v1 patch, on the left. (Since you can only have one video clip at a time in the Viewer, there will always be only one v1 patch.) When you click it, a small gap appears between the two sides of the patch panel. This gap means that the video will NOT edit from the Viewer to the Timeline.

3. Edit your clip by clicking the small red envelope in the lower left corner of the Canvas.

Patch

Ta-DAH, again!! Just the audio edits to the Timeline.

EDITING CLIPS TO DIFFERENT TRACKS

Patch

 

Another benefit of the Patch Panel is its ability to edit any clip to any track, simply by dragging the patches to where you want the clips to appear.

For instance, to edit the video to track 2, and the audio to tracks 3 and 4, simply drag the patches on the left to match up with where you want the tracks of your clip to go on the right. (Remember, the Viewer source is on the left, and the Timeline destination on the right.)

There are keyboard shortcuts you can use to move the patches:

 

  • Shift + F6 – Disconnects the v1 patch
  • Shift + F7 – Disconnects the a1 patch
  • Shift + F8 – Disconnects the a2 patch
  • F6 + a number – Patches v1 to that track
  • F7 + a number – Patches a1 to that track
  • F8 + a number – Patches a2 to that track
  •  

    PATCH PANEL PROBLEMS

    What if there is no patch tab for audio or video in the Timeline? This means that the clip you have in the Viewer is audio-only, or video-only. Final Cut’s patch panel is smart. It looks at the clip in the Viewer and only displays patches for the media that the clip contains.

    Patch

    What if you get this error message? This error means that you are trying to edit a stereo clip to the timeline, where one of the two needed patches is not connected. See the gap next to the a1 patch? When you connect both patches everything edits properly.

    What if I want to reverse the order of tracks edited to the Timeline? Easy. Just drag the patches where you want the audio to go. There’s nothing that says the audio patches need to be in order.

    Patch

    What if you don’t have a Timeline track where you need it? Easy. Just Control-click in the gray area above your video tracks, or below your audio tracks, and select Add Track. Poof! Instant new track.

    I use the Patch Panel constantly. It works great and it makes all my editing a lot easier.


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