Trimming Your Edits with Ripple and Roll

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. ]

Trimming is the process of getting rid of extra frames around the edit point in order to make your edit flow smoothly. Trimming is essential to editing. So essential, in fact, that Final Cut provides a number of different ways to trim. This technique highlights some of these options.

The venerable Arrow tool (shortcut: A) is the first choice for beginning users because they already know how to use it. The problem with using the Arrow tool to trim is that you can’t make an In start earlier, nor extend an Out, when the clip you want to trim is sandwiched between two other clips. For that, you’ll need to use a more specialized tool — the Ripple or the Roll tool.

The Ripple tool (shortcut: RR) allows you to change one side of an edit point — either the In or the Out, but not both. This is the tool to use when you need to adjust the timing of one shot without making any changes to the other shot — for instance, if you are cutting from a wide shot of someone walking up to a door to a tight shot of them walking through the door, you would use the Ripple tool to make sure the actor’s position matches between the Out and the In.

The Roll tool (shortcut: R) allows you to simultaneously change both the Out and the In so that you can adjust the timing of the edit point. For instance, in the example from the last paragraph, you would use the Roll tool to move when the edit occurs — just before she walks thru the door, just as she is walking through the door or just after she walks through the door.

A Ripple always affects the duration of your Timeline, A Roll never affects it. A Ripple only changes one side of the edit point, a Roll changes both sides.

In this technique, I’ll show you several different ways you can create Ripple and Roll edits — some with the keyboard and some with the mouse.

(As a side note, trimming always works better with Snapping turned off. Go to View > Snapping, or use the shortcut: N).


From my point of view, an edit point has three sides: the Out of the out-going clip, the In of the in-coming clip and both the In and Out.

Because you have these options, there are a variety of techniques to use to select an edit point:

  1. Select the Ripple tool (shortcut: RR) or the Roll tool (shortcut: R) and click the edit point you want to adjust (In, Out or Both).
  2. Position the playhead near an edit point and type the letter, V. The playhead jumps to the nearest edit point (either earlier or later in the timeline). Then, type the letter U to toggle between selecting the In, Out or Both.
  3. With an edit point selected, press the Up or Down arrow keys to jump to the next/previous edit point. When an edit point is selected, the Up and Down arrow keys will select it in the same manner.

As with selection, there are a variety of ways to adjust an edit point. As with all trimming, handles are critical. No handles means no trimming. Handles are extra video before the In and after the Out.

(To see if a clip has handles, double-click it to load it into the Viewer. Video before the In is an In-handle, and video after the Out is an Out-handle.)

To adjust the edit point:

  1. Drag it with the mouse
  2. Type the comma key to move the edit point earlier, or the period key to move the edit point later
  3. Press the Plus ( + ) or Minus ( ) key on your keyboard, then a number, followed by the Enter key. (For instance, – 20 Enter.) This moves the selected edit point an amount of frames equal to the number you just entered; in this case, 20 frames.

When you are done adjusting, preview your edit by typing the Backslash ( ) key. The playhead will back up a few seconds, play through your edit, and stop.

Very cool.

Tips from the Classroom: More Trimming Techniques

I just finished teaching edit point trimming to one of my Introductory Final Cut Pro HD classes when Laura, one of my students, pointed out another trimming technique:

  • Select an edit point (In, Out or Both) and type Left bracket to move earlier one frame, or Right bracket to move later one frame.
  • Now, hold down the Shift key. Shift+Left bracket trims the edit point back (to the left) 5 frames.
  • Type Shift+Right bracket and the edit point moves forward (to the right) 5 frames.

The amount of frames you you move when holding down the Shift key is determined by the Multi-frame Trim Size text box, located in Final Cut Pro HD > User Preferences > User Settings > Editing tab. The default setting is 5 frames.

After some additional testing, we also discovered that:

  • Shift+Option+Left or Right arrow does the same thing
  • And, for that matter, so does Shift+Comma and Shift+Period.

Whew! That’s almost too much of a good thing — and all these shortcuts don’t even include the Trim Edit window, which I’ll cover another time.

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2 Responses to Trimming Your Edits with Ripple and Roll

  1. […] Larry Jordan on FCP 6/7 triming with ripple and roll – not FCPX […]

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