Sunday, October 18, 2009

Final Cut Pro Without A Mouse, Part One

Want to work fast in Final Cut Pro? Learn to work without the mouse.

Oh, you'll need the mouse sooner or later. Some tasks are best done with the mouse. If you want to edit fast, however, you may want to learn a few useful key commands that will speed up your editing process. Besides: it's cold and flu season, and who knows what's on that thing. So let's try a little mouse-free editing.

Get prepped:
Let's do the basics first so you'll be ready for this adventure. (In fact, you'll probably do this step with the mouse, just to keep things simple, but that's okay.) Start Final Cut Pro.

First, you'll need some sort of video clip to work with. You should have your "easy setup" set to match -- so if the clip is in DV-NTSC format, set your "easy setup" (located under the Final Cut Pro menu) to the same format. Close any project that's open, choose New > Project and then save it somewhere using an easily-understood filename and keeping the .fcp suffix.

Now choose New > Sequence and give it a name you'll understand -- like "tedshandsfreeedit01" or something appropriate. You don't want "Sequence01" or anything default or unclear.

Now, let's import your video file: choose File > Import and select your file. Set that mouse aside and let's practice. Hit Control-u to change to the standard interface. That will arrange your windows in a way that's good for the type of work we'll be doing.

Now let's work.
  • Hit Apple-4 to activate the Browser window.
  • Use the Up-arrow and Down-arrow keys to select what file is active. When you are on the video file you want to work with, hit the the return key and that will "load" the video clip into the Viewer window and activates the Viewer window.
  • Now you can use the j, k and l keys to move the playhead around. Tap "l" and the playhead will move forward at normal speed, tap it more and it will move forward faster. Hitting "k" will pause. Hitting "j" will move the playhead backwards; hitting it more will move the playhead backwards faster. The spacebar can also be used: it toggles "play" and "pause." To move by single frames, use the leftarrow and rightarrow keys. To move in one-second intervals, hit shift-leftarrow or shift-rightarrow.
  • Move to where you think a useful part of the clip starts. Once you have your playhead there, hit the "i" key to mark your inpoint.
  • Move to where you think a useful part of the clip ends. Once you have your playhead there, hit the "o" key to mark your outpoint.
  • Now, let's preview if you have the right inpoint and outpoint. Hit shift-\ and you'll see the clip play from the inpoint to the outpoint. If it is wrong, move the playhead to a better point and hit "i" or "o" to set a new better point.
  • Once you have the clip like you want it, hit apple-u to make a subclip.
  • You will see this new clip appear in the Browser. It will have jagged edges (note that the main clip has smooth edges) and it will have the text selected -- it's ready for you to type in an appropriate name. Like "Moe pokes Larry in the eyes" or something that will later help you identify the clip.
Now, repeat these steps and you can make subclips out of your single video clip, all ready to edit or to hand over to another editor. How do you get those on the timeline and edit them? That will be in our next edition of "Final Cut Pro Without A Mouse."

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