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Five Final Cut Tips Guaranteed to Save You Time

If you want great editing tips, go to a great trainer. Sterling Ledet of Sterling Ledet and Associates [1] has been in the Final Cut Pro business since the program first launched.

Headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, Ledet has grown from a self-employed trainer to the owner of a company with branches in Chicago, Denver, San Diego, and Washington D.C.

Here are five tips that should prove to be big time-savers when editing. The list was put together by Sterling’s brother Damon, who is also a trainer at the company.

As for that upcoming radically different version of Final Cut coming out next month, Ledet says that some of his trainers are excited about it and some think it will be too consumer. Ledet thinks that Apple might have given the program a different name, considering how different it will be, but notes with a laugh, “Apple doesn’t ask my opinion about it.”

Even though Final Pro X will be much less expensive than previous versions, Ledet thinks people will still need training on it. “Any product is easy once it’s already known,” he says.

“It’s our job to adapt and be flexible, to dance to the music that Apple plays,” he adds.


Five Time-Saving Tips for Final Cut Pro

1. Add a Waveform Button
Having the audio waveform visible is necessary for much editing, but other times the waveform just takes up space. You can add a Toggle Waveform Display button to your timeline window, letting you call the waveform up and put it away with ease. Go to the Tools menu and choose Button List. Search for the Waveform button. Once you’ve got it, drag the button from the button list palette to the tool well of the waveform. Now you can turn the waveform on and off without a remembering the keyboard shortcut.

2. Make a Transition a Favorite
If you have a customized transition for your project, you’ll want quick access to it. Make it a favorite so that it’s easy to drop in place. With the transition open in the viewer window, adjust the settings so it’s just the way you like. Click Option-F. The transition will now appear in the Favorites folder in the Effects palette. You can also make this favorite the default transition by right-clicking on it and choosing Make Default. Once done, just hit Command-T to drop the transition in place.

3. Get Keyframe Velocity
Sometimes you’ll need to tweak your keyframes so that  objects or effects fly in at a more natural-looking rate. Select the Smooth Point Tool and click on the keyframe points in the viewer for the content you just keyframed. You’ll then get tanget handles on the chart. Click and drag them to adjust the velocity of the keyframed effect.

4. Create Eye-popping Color
Use this color-correction trick to sweeten your colors and make them pop onscreen. Don’t overuse it, though: Many shows sweeten colors during the opening credits only, Damon says, not for the whole show. Duplicate your clip in the timeline by Alt-Shift-dragging it to the track on top of itself. Boost the brightness and contrast of the top clip, turning both up to about 30. Add the Gaussian Blur filter to the top clip and set it to 8 or 10. Right-click on the top clip and choose composite mode overlay. You should then have deeper, richer colors in your work.

5. See Your Entire Timeline at Once
You wouldn’t want to do this all the time, but at the end of the project it’s handy to see all your work at once. With the timeline selected, press Shift-Z. The whole timelines will show up.