FCP X: The Power of the Position Tool

One of the problems with the Primary Storyline is that it does not allow gaps between clips; everything always snaps together.

Well… that’s not completely true. It’s only true when you use the Arrow tool. Still, to get things to move, you really need to use the Position tool. Here’s how.

For instance, here are two clips in the Primary Storyline that are touching. The second clip also has a connected clip attached to it. In this example, we want to create a gap between the two clips in the Primary Storyline. (To move a connected clip, all you need to do is drag it somewhere else.)

This can’t be done using the default Arrow (or Selection) tool.

However, it is easy to do using the Position tool (keyboard shortcut P).

Using the Position tool, select all the clips you want to move – in this case, I dragged a rectangle around them – then drag them to the right.

This automatically adds a gap – which, in FCP X is an actual object – between the selected and non-selected clips. This gap can be any duration you want. In this example, I just created a short one, but there truly is no limit to how far apart you can drag clips.

When you are done dragging, type A to select the Arrow tool again.


You can insert a gap at the position of the playhead by selecting Edit > Insert Gap (type: Option+W). The default duration of an inserted gap is 3 seconds.

You can also use keyboard shortcuts to change the duration of a gap. Using either the Arrow or Position tool, select the gap who’s duration you want to change.

Type Control+D (this is the same Duration keyboard shortcut that’s in FCP 7).

In the blue numbers in the Dashboard, enter the duration you want the gap to become.

You can also trim gaps the same way you trim clips.

Finally, you can add transitions between gaps and clips the same way you add transitions between clips.

In other words, a gap acts just like a clip, except it displays black video and no audio. Could you use a gap as a slug? Yes.


Once a gap exists in front of a clip in the Primary Storyline, you can easily move it left or right using timecode “offsets.”

Negative numbers move the selected clip(s) left, positive numbers move the selected clip(s) to the right.

Very cool and very fast.

Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to FCP X: The Power of the Position Tool

  1. James says:

    Larry’s training materials are fantastic! His Final Cut Pro X traing brought me up quickly so in a shirt amount of time I moved from FCP 7 to FCP X. I do mostly high end corporate and music videos – for moneybso I guess that makes me one professional who likes FCP X. I can’t wait to see how good it becomes in a couple of years. Thanks Larry for all your training materials!!

  2. Jeff Orig says:

    Just another thing I found out about gaps, is that if you connect a video clip underneath the primary storyline (not typical) it will show up through the gap. Sometimes you want this. I’ve done this once, long story but it worked out to be a nice solution to connect the video clip underneath as opposed to on top. Then I would use the full audio from the connected clip and used gaps to show that video sometimes.

    So the gap is not exactly like a slug. If you want a slug (or something slug-like), use “Custom” from the Generators Panel.

    Also, on a full size keyboard if you use the delete key next to the home button it will leave a gap. It’s been a while since FCP7 but I think these behaviors were reversed, whereas in FCP7 the opposite keys did the opposite thing. (Sorry I can’t confirm, this computer does not have both installed.)

  3. Steve Roberts says:

    “Using the Position tool, select all the clips you want to move – in this case, I dragged a rectangle around them – then drag them to the right.”

    So Larry … how would I move them to the left?

    • Steve Roberts says:

      Ah — I see now. Grab the grey border, not the clip. Sorry, Larry, just getting used to this newfangled X-thing after years of FC Studio. I’d better buy your book!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Larry Recommends:

FCPX Complete

NEW & Updated!

Edit smarter with Larry’s latest training, all available in our store.

Access over 1,900 on-demand video editing courses. Become a member of our Video Training Library today!


Subscribe to Larry's FREE weekly newsletter and save 10%
on your first purchase.