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Cut Lines: Using the Replace Edit Tool in Final Cut Pro 7
Posted Nov 12, 2009 Print Version     Page 1of 1

This month, I’ll show you how to use the Replace Edit tool as well as some cool tricks you can do with Replace Edit when you combine it with other handy tools. At its most basic, a Replace Edit is when we replace a clip that already exists in the Sequence (as viewed in the Timeline window) with a new clip, without disturbing anything else in the Sequence. The new clip fits in the exact same space, on the exact same track, as the original clip. That’s a nice feature to have, but it gets even better: When we combine the Replace Edit tool with other nifty tools, we can come up with some really cool tricks that will help you change out and clean up your edits quickly.

Let’s start with a project where we’ve already done our rough edit. We may or may not have gone through and refined the edit points after that (see September’s Cut Lines on editing workflow for more detail on moving methodically from rough edits to refinements). Upon reviewing what we have so far, we see a clip that fills up a needed space in the Sequence, but it doesn’t have the impact we wanted. Maybe we know of a better clip, now that we’re looking at the Sequence as a whole, that would fill that space with more impact. In the accompanying screens, I’ve placed Markers at the edit points in the Timeline so you can see how the Edit Point locations are unaffected by a Replace Edit.

Replace Edit Basics
So here’s how you do a quick replace edit. In or Out points are not needed. We’ll work strictly with the playhead positions in the Viewer and Timeline windows. I’ll start by opening the new clip I want to use from the Browser into the Viewer. (Make sure that the patch tab in the Timeline window is set to the proper track.) Then, I’ll place my playhead over the old clip in the Timeline window. Figure 1 (below) shows the full setup at this point. I can now hit F11 to perform a Replace Edit, or I can click the blue Replace Edit button found at the bottom left of the Canvas window. (Note that you can’t drag and drop a Replace Edit; you shouldn’t be wasting hours every day with drag-and-drop editing anyway.)

The full setup in the FCP timeline

But before I do my Replace Edit with F11, let me explain the mechanics of how a Replace Edit works. It allows you to be really creative. Basically, in one keystroke, you’re doing several things. First, Final Cut Pro (FCP) deletes the clip that the Timeline playhead is sitting on (on the track our patch tab is targeting). Second, FCP fills in that empty space with a copy of the new clip that is open in the Viewer window. Here comes the cool trick.

In or Out points have nothing to do with a Replace Edit. How then does FCP know what section of the new clip to use? FCP will take the frame that the playhead in the Viewer is on and line it up with the location of the playhead in the Timeline. Then, it will fill in both before and after the playhead in the Timeline with the new clip’s content to fill up the space that was occupied by the original clip. With the setup in Figure 1, hitting F11 results in what you see in Figure 2 (below).

Note the red line along the bottom of the replacement clip, which indicates that it's duplicating a clip already used in the sequence.

Thus, I could place the Timeline playhead on the first frame of the original clip, place the playhead where I want the In point to be in the Viewer, and hit F11, which would be the same as setting two In points that I want to have lined up. But in our example here, FCP determines how to line up the clip during the Replace Edit from the frame my playhead is on in the Viewer. Those are the basics of a Replace Edit.

Side note: In Figure 2, the new clip that replaced the old one has a red line along the bottom of it in the Timeline track. This means that it’s duplicating something I’ve already used in this Sequence. Figure 3 (below) shows the two locations, indicated by the Duplicate Frame warning; the red line along the bottom of the clips shows me all of the frames that are used more than once in the whole Sequence.

The two locations shown in the timeline track; note the two red lines

Replace Edits for Speed Changesa: The FCP 6 (and Before) Way
Now, I’ll show you a really neat trick that changed dramatically from FCP 6 to FCP 7. Since many folks may not upgrade to FCP 7 for some time, we’ll look at how it was done in FCP 6 (and previous versions) first. Let’s say I’ve got everything laid out in my Sequence. It’s all coming together, but there’s one clip I’d like to make 25% slow motion. If I simply right-click that clip in the Timeline window and set Speed to 25%, one of two bad things will happen. Either it will shove everything down to the right as the Out Point of the clip moves over (decreasing the speed lengthens the duration between In and Out points), or FCP will say it can’t change the speed because I have some audio files that will be thrown out of sync with video files. We don’t want either of those things to happen, do we? Of course not! Here’s how we would have handled this in FCP 6.

Place your playhead in the middle of the clip you want to slow down in the Timeline. To make it even more realistic for our example here, I chose a clip with a filter (Color Corrector 3-Way) on it. Right-click the clip, and from the drop-down menu, select Copy. Next, hit Cmd+Opt+F. This opens a representation of the original physical clip into the Viewer.

Another side note: Hitting the F by itself (instead of Cmd+Opt+F) does what’s called a Match Frame function. FCP looks at the clip where the playhead is in the Timeline, finds the Master clip in the Browser, and opens it up in the Viewer; the playhead will be on the same frame as it is on in the Timeline. With the command and option modifier keys, FCP opens the physical file that’s on your hard drive, or, rather, a temporary representation of it, because you don’t want the edit to affect the Browser’s Master clip; this approach won’t mess up the physical QuickTime .mov file on your hard drive either. All right, back to the editing process.

Now that you have the original file open in the Viewer and the playhead on the same frame as it is on in the Timeline copy of it, go to the Motion tab in the Viewer. Click the disclosure triangle of the Time Remap section, click in the Speed% numerical box, type in “25,” and hit enter (Figure 4, below). This changes the speed of this representation of your original physical QuickTime clip on your hard drive to 25% but does nothing to screw up your Master Clip in the Browser window.

Using the Time Remap section of the Motion tab in the Viewer to change your clip speed

You’ve probably guessed the next step already: Hit F11 to do a Replace Edit. Remember, the playheads in the Viewer and in the Timeline are on the same frame in both copies of this clip. Poof! You’ve slowed your Timeline clip down to 25%, you didn’t throw anything else in the Sequence out of whack, and your Master Clip in the Browser is unchanged. Did you physically change the speed of the QuickTime .mov clip on your hard drive? No, you changed only this temporary representation of it. Once you open a different clip into the Viewer, that representation is gone into thin air, leaving no indication that you ever did anything to it.
One issue remains. What about that Color Corrector 3-Way filter

that you worked so hard to tweak on this clip? Right-click on the new 25% speed clip in the Timeline. From the pop-up menu that appears, choose Paste Attributes. In the Paste Attributes window, check Filters and then click OK. Presto change-o! Your color-corrected filter is back, just like magic!

Replace Edits for Speed Changes: The FCP 7 Way
In FCP 7, it’s much easier to do this same trick. Simply right-click on the clip, and from the pop-up menu that appears, select Change Speed. In the new FCP 7 Change Speed window (Figure 5, below), type in the new speed of 25%, uncheck the Ripple Sequence box, and click OK. It’s as simple as that.

The new FCP 7 Change Speed window

Replace Edits as Slip Edits
If you don’t know what a Slip Edit is, you really need to learn. I covered it in an earlier column (see http://tinyurl.com/June06-CutLines and scroll down to the Slip section). But basically, it does what I’m about to show you with one mouse click. Doing the same function with a Replace Edit gives you more precise control, though. What you have is a clip you like in the Sequence, and you like where it is, but it comes in too soon or not soon enough, or it ends too soon or not soon enough. You need to reposition its In and Out points. But you don’t want to upset the placement of anything else in the Sequence.

So just as in the previous examples, place the Timeline playhead in the middle of the clip you want to slip. If there are any filters on the Timeline copy of the clip, copy the clip right away. Hit the F key to do a Match Frame to bring up the Master Clip from the Browser. Make the Viewer window active, and use Opt+X to remove any In and Out points. That’s not really necessary, but it’s something that’s become so habitual for me that I do it without thinking.

Now, here’s where you can get creative. Remember, when you hit F11 to do your replace edit, the frame that the Viewer playhead is on will be lined up with the location of the Timeline playhead. In the example I’m giving here, I want the clip to end when the red ball is last seen before disappearing into the side pocket. Thus, I line up my Viewer playhead on that frame. Then, I line up my Timeline playhead on the last frame of the clip in the Timeline. Figure 6 (below) shows the whole setup at this point.

Here's how the whole setup looks now in the FCP 7 timeline.

Finally, I hit F11 to perform the Replace Edit, which in this setup makes the frame that my playhead is on in the Viewer the last frame in the Timeline, and FCP backfills the content appropriately.

Shuffle Edits

The last technique I’ll tell you about you isn’t actually a Replace Edit function; it’s called a Shuffle Edit, which is basically what it sounds like: You can shuffle one clip in your Sequence to another place easily and quickly. Simply put, you select one clip and click and drag it over another clip in the Timeline window. When you get it lined up at the Edit Point where you want it (while still holding it with the mouse button), press the Option key; when you drop it, the clip is moved into its new location, and everything to the right of it is rippled down to the right to make room. At the same time, the empty space that is left is deleted and closed up.

Well, that’s it for this month. I hope the Replace and Shuffle edit functions help you edit more quickly, more easily, and more creatively. And, as always, I invite your feedback and requests. Until next time, rock your edits!

Ben Balser (benb at bbalser.com) is an Apple Certified Trainer and Support Professional based in New Orleans. Along with training and consulting, he also produces
documentaries and educational material, and he designs digital signage systems.

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