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Five Quick Tips Every Editor Should Know

By Kevin McAuliffe

I get alot of fan-mail each week, most of which comes from editors asking how to speed up their workflow in different areas of their editing.  For this article I will take a look at five simple ways/shortcuts to speed up your editing workflow, that in most cases, you may overlook. Let's count down the top five starting with:

5. Four Channel Split Audio Output

Editors that work on shows for international distribution know that in most cases once your edit is done, you will need a superless submaster, in case the show is sold to a foreign country, and all your supers will need to be redone in their native language (French, Spanish, Dutch, etc.).  One thing that many people forget is that you need to output your master with split audio channels (Voiceover on Channel 1, On Camera Dialogue on Channel 2, SFX on Channel 3 and Music on Channel 4), so that voiceovers can be redone in the corresponding language as well.  This is a quick and easy thing to do, and can be done in an "Easy Setup" if you want, but I prefer to do it on a sequence-by-sequence basis. 


With a sequence open, press "CMD+0". When your "Sequence Settings" window is open, select your "Audio Outputs" tab on the far right side.  Now, depending on how many audio tracks your sequence has, simply change "Stereo" to "Dual Mono". Once that is done, press "OK". We're not done quite yet, as we need to assign our tracks to output channels. That is done by simply right clicking beside your channel number, and selecting "Audio Outputs". Now you can assign your tracks to individual output channels. 

4. Finding Used/Unused Clips

This one is a great one for all you documentary cutters out there. To find out which clips you have not used in your sequence (or have used for that matter), simply select your sequence, then go to EDIT>FIND, and under the "FOR" drop down you will notice "Unused Media" and "Used Media" as other options.  Once either of those are selected, you will see a new check box appear beside the drop down that says "In Selected Sequences".  Now, simply click "Find", and a new window will open showing you either the "Used" or "Unused" media in your project. 

3. Multiclip Redigitizing

I've always found the Multiclip editing to Final Cut Pro to be great, and extremely frustrating at the same time.  Great because it is extremely easy to use, but frustrating because if you are offlining using the Multiclip feature, when you go to "Create Offline" in your Media Manager to redigitize at a "Final" resolution, the program always wants to redigitize the entire duration of all your camera angles.  If you're working in HD, this is extremely annoying.  I have been told by other editors to simply nest each one of my clips, and redigitize my sequence that way.  I'm not going through 400 clips and nesting each one to get this to work right, so, here is my quick workaround.  Once your multiclip sequence is the way you want it, simply export it as an EDL to your desktop.  The great thing about EDLs is that there is no other information other than your in point, out point and duration associated with each clip.  Once exported, simply re-import your sequence, and Final Cut will prompt you to tell it what easy setup you want the clips to conform to, and now just sit back and digitize only the clips you want.

2. Adjusting Your Audio Levels - Relative vs. Absolute

How often have you gotten to the end of a two hour project, done your final mix, and the producer has said "Great, now can we bring the audio up 3 db on all the sound effects"?  Most editors might want to start weeping openly at this point, but fear not, there is a quick and easy way to adjust all (or some of) your clips in one shot.  Simply select all your audio, and press "CMD+OPT+L".    As you can see, the "Gain Adjust" window has opened, and you see that it's ready to have you input a number and press " O.K.".  Notice below the slider is a drop down menu with "Relative" selected.

If you selected your entire (or some of your) sequence, and were to input "+3" as the value to adjust your gain by, and have "Relative" selected as your method of adjustment, pressing "OK" will add +3db to each clip relative to what is already applied.  What I mean by this is that if you had a clip in your sequence that was already at +8 db, the clip would now be at +11 db.  This is an extremely handy feature to use to quickly adjust the levels of a group of audio clips.  On the flip side, by adjusting the drop down menu to "Absolute", entering +3db will put the audio level of that clip at +3db, regardless of what the clip originally was.  

1. Copy /Pasting Attributes

This has substantially sped up my workflow, and is a quick trick that most editors might overlook.  All editors know how to copy and paste a clip from one area of your timeline to another.  Simply press CMD+C to copy and CMD+V to paste.  Simple, right?  Well, did you also know that by copying your clip, you are also copying it's attributes?  The attributes that are being copied are:

  • Content
  • Basic Motion
  • Crop
  • Distort
  • Opacity
  • Drop Shadow
  • Motion Blur
  • Filters
  • Speed
  • Clip Settings (Capture)

As you can probably notice, all but four of the attributes are from your clips "Motion" tab.  Now that you have copied your attributes, you're probably wondering how to paste them onto another clip.  Simple, select the clip you want to paste the attributes to, and  instead of pressing "CMD+V", press "OPT+V".  You will now be prompted as to what attributes you want to paste. 

The ones that are grayed out, are attributes that were not adjusted on your original clip.  The great thing about this trick is that keyframe information is also copied over, and if your clip lengths are different, it adds the keyframes, and adjusts them relatively to the length of your new clip.

Hopefully these quick tips will help even the most seasoned editors add a little bit more speed to their work.

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Kevin P McAuliffe is currently a Senior Video Editor working in HD post production in Toronto, Canada. He has been in the television industry for 12 years, and spends his days onlining on a Final Cut Pro HD. Kevin's high definition onlining credit list includes concerts for Coldplay, Sarah McLachlan, Barenaked Ladies, Snow Patrol, Sum41, Paul Anka, Il Divo and Pussycat Dolls, to name a few. Also, Kevin is an instructor of Advanced Final Cut Studio 2 at the Toronto Film College. If you have any questions or comments, you can drop him a line at kevinpmcauliffe@gmail.com

Related Keywords:nle, video editing, video editor workflow, editing tips

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