10 Tips For Beginner FCPX Editors 

For those just making the reluctant jump to FCPX from older versions, or anyone just starting with FCPX, here are ten tips that may save you some time and frustration. 

Reconnect Media 

This is now called Relink Files in FCPX and it is under the File tab. This feature was not present on the first version of FCPX, so be sure you have updated to have this oh-so-useful tool. 

One of the new features of FCPX is that it tries to automatically connect your media for you, so you can swap hard drives, etc. and it won't cause major havoc. It does work well but it doesn't relocate your media if you change its location. It just doesn't work. So use Relink Files to connect your files manually. 


FCPX uses things called storylines, which are really like tracks. There is the main storyline which is track 1. Storylines work differently in that anything attached to them stays in that exact same place on the storyline, not the timeline. This is very convenient for times when you're making changes to your entire timeline so everything stays put downstream of your changes. But this can be very frustrating in the instance that you want to move a clip that is attached to a storyline because it will immediately pop back into its place when you release. Clips love to glue themselves into place especially when you have a transition effect on them. To detach a clip from the main storyline clip, you can either turn it into a compound clip (which I discuss below) or erase the transition you have applied to it and then pull the clip over to its new location. You can also attach the clip to the new storyline by right clicking and clicking attach to storyline. 

Compound Clips

At first this concept is strange but you quickly realize it's very useful, one of the most useful new elements of FCPX. You can create an animated series of clips and compound them together, then you can add new effects to that compound as a whole instead of having to add it to each individual clip. For those of you just starting out, to create a compound clip just highlight what you want to compound and right click and then click create new compound clip. Once it's created you can view and edit it in its own timeline (double click on it) or open it up in the main timeline (go to Clip and find break apart clip items). If you open it up in the main timeline you'll have to recreate the compound clip once you're done editing it. Any effects you had on it will also need to be reapplied. When you create a compound clip it's also saved in your event library so you can use it in other timelines. 

Filters and Transitions

FCPX was missing lots of filters and transitions that were simple and fundamental features on older versions. Again, make sure you've updated as some of these are now included. Drop Shadow was one of those missing filters, but is now included in the 10.6 update. 

www.fcpeffects.com has some very high quality and useful effects at decent prices. They often give discounts on multiple purchases. I personally have about six or so of these awesome filters and transitions. I use their drop shadow, white balance, and other filters daily. Their filters generally give you more customization options than the standard filters in FCPX.

FCPX color match and color balance work wonders

Sometimes they work wonders, but sometimes they make the footage look like crap. It just depends on the lighting of each clip. FCP Effects makes a must-have alternative or addition to FCPX's color tools in their "white balance plugin 2" filter. It gives you tons of light and color control over your image, similar to the tools in Photoshop.

You can tell that Apple wanted FCPX to include tons of automated features like auto color balance, and really none of these automated features work 100% of the time, and they definitely don't allow you to do much customizing. So for quick projects these features are great, but for professional work they are just annoying.

Using Photoshop with FCPX

I always used Photoshop in conjunction with FCP6 and 7 and naturally wanted to use it in FCPX. I can do this, but with some drawbacks. One example is an issue when using PS files. I can create a PS file and import it into FCPX. But if I go back into Photoshop and make a change while FCPX is still open, the changes are not translated correctly to the file as it exists in FCPX. To do this correctly I have to close FCPX, open Photoshop, make the change and save, then quite PS and reopen FCPX. Voila, the file will have the correct changes. I recommend doing this for all files, not just PS files. This is a pretty big drawback as it slows down my workflow considerably, and it's especially frustrating if all I need to change is a letter or something simple.

The cool thing about using PS files is that once they're in FCPX, you can open them up and edit the layers. This was possible as well in old FCP version, but for you beginners this is key to know. So basically you can animate a PS file's layers. 

Save Does Not Exist

Finally, a program that gets rid of the old school "Save" option. To me this is revolutionary. Apple may not be the first to have started this trend, but hopefully others will follow. I have always hated Save. The computer should be smart enough to not need me to remember to hit Save every time! AutoSave sort of got us to this point but just outright not having Save as an option is awesome. 

However, this means for those who are used to using Save as a fallback when your edit goes awry, you'll have to reply on the new FCPX auto save vault to pull up old drafts. 

Projects live in FCPX for Eternity! 

You used to have to open up your FCP6 and 7 projects separately, but not anymore. In FCPX your projects live in the project library and can be access anytime you'd like. This is a swell feature as I'm often browsing through different projects.

The only issue with this is that when you start up FCPX it has to load up all your projects to give you their thumbnail images. This makes FCPX a ram and processor hog. The more projects you create, the slower FCPX will run. It's a nice feature but means it will demand faster and more expensive computing power. 

Export a portion of your project 

You can export just a piece of your project by clicking the cursor menu and clicking Range Selection, or just taping R to change your cursor to the Range Selection tool. Once you do this just go to your timeline and click where you want to select and drag each side of the highlighted area to your in and out points. Then just go to File>Share to export that portion of your video. This is ideal when you want to give someone a preview of a certain part of your video without exporting all of it, saving your lots of time. You don't have to create a new timeline or anything. 

*I don't claim to know everything in FCPX. In fact, I don't want to know. I do use it every day for my full time video production job, but I use it for what I need and that's it. So, if you have any of your own tips or even suggestions for some of mine, by all means comment so everyone can learn and develop as editors! 

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