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Cut Lines: Working With Video Favorites in Final Cut Studio
Posted May 4, 2010 Print Version     Page 1of 1

In this installment of Cut Lines, I'll show you how to create video Favorites and access them quickly, to help speed up your editing process, making it more enjoyable, productive, and profitable. There are three types of Favorites: transitions, filters, and motion keyframes. These get stored in the Favorites Bin under the Effects Tab of the Browser. There are also audio Favorites, but the limited space of this article limits me to cover just the video Favorites for now.

Keeping Favorites Organized
The first technique to help keep our Favorites organized is to create new Bins inside the Favorites Bin. For example, I have a Bin called Cross Dissolves inside my Favorites Bin (Figure 1, below). In that bin, I have two-second, one-second, 15-frame, and eight-frame versions of the standard Final Cut Pro (FCP) Cross Dissolve transition. This way, any time I need to access them, I can do it quickly and easily. I’ll also show you some keyboard shortcuts that will help you quickly and easily access your most common Favorites. So let’s take a look at each of our three Favorites types.

Figure 1. The Cross Dissolves bin inside my Favorites bin in Final Cut Pro
Figure 1. The Cross Dissolves bin inside my Favorites bin in Final Cut Pro

There’s more than one way to skin a cat; likewise, there’s more than one way to create a Transition Favorite. Remember, this is in addition to the Default Transition, which you set by right-clicking (or Cmd-clicking) a transition and selecting Make Default Transition from the pop-up menu. As you’ll see in just a bit, this actually gives you a total of five keyboard shortcut-accessible transitions.

The first method of creating a Transition Favorite is to open a transition into the Viewer by double-clicking it in the Browser. Once you’ve opened it, you can tweak the controls as you wish; then, go to the Effects menu, and select Make Favorite Effect. It will appear in the Favorites Bin with its original name, followed by the word “copy.” Rename it something you’ll easily recognize.

The second way to create a favorite transition is from the Timeline window. Once you place a transition into your Sequence in the Timeline window, tweak it, get the length correct, and so forth, and then make sure that transition is highlighted. Again, go to the Effects menu, and select Make Favorite Effect. It will appear in the Favorites Bin with its original name, followed by the word “copy.” Again, rename it something you’ll easily recognize.

The third way to create a favorite transition is to drag and drop the effect from its original Bin in the Effects tab of the Browser into the Favorites Bin in the Browser. There, you can change its duration by clicking in the Browser’s Length column. This is how I create custom durations for the collection of Cross Dissolve transitions I mentioned before (and showed in Figure 1).

The order FCP gives these keyboard shortcuts is “binary alphabetical,” so you can put 001, 002, 003, 004 at the beginning of the names to control the order in which they show up in the favorites list. This way, you can control what shows up first in a sub-bin, as with my custom Cross Dissolved transitions.

Transition Favorites can be very easily and quickly used when accessed by keyboard shortcuts. Two things to remember: First, there are only four transition keyboard shortcuts; second is the binary alphabetical listing scheme mentioned previously. Because they’re in various sub-bins, this listing scheme holds true. Figure 2 shows how my 001, 002, 003, 004 naming scheme keeps the shortcuts associated with my four custom Cross Dissolves. Remember, my custom Cross Dissolves in Figure 2 (below) are listed with keyboard shortcuts, not for any other reason than they are the first in the binary alpha listing order. The bins make no difference; it’s strictly by name only.

Custom Cross Dissolves in FCP
Figure 2. Custom cross dissolves are listed with keyboard shortcuts because they're first in the binary alpha listing order.

Here’s a list of the keyboard shortcuts. Notice that these custom favorite shortcuts run down the left side of your keyboard in a visually easy-to-remember pattern (Figure 3, below left):

Keyboard shortcuts in Final Cut Pro• Cmd+T adds the default video transition

• Ctrl+Shift+1 adds the first listed video Favorite transition

• Ctrl+Shift+Q adds the second listed video Favorite transition

• Ctrl+Shift+A adds the third listed video Favorite transition

• Ctrl+Shift+Z adds the fourth listed video Favorite transition

A filter, or a group of filters, can be saved as Favorites too. Filter Favorites are very similar to Transition Favorites, with the additional perk that they can be grouped together in Filter Packs. Thus, when you achieve an effect by using a series of filters, each tweaked properly and in a specific order, you can save that filter grouping as a Pack for future use.

Creating a Filter Favorite is similar to creating a Transition Favorite. You can open a filter directly from the Browser into the Viewer, tweak it, go to the Effects menu, and chose Make Favorite Effect (Option+F). The effect is now in your Favorites bin, and you'll need to rename it something that will remind you of what it is and how it's tweaked. Be aware that with Filter Favorites, if you open a Favorite directly from the Browser into the Viewer and click the red "reset" button (the red X at the top right), FCP will reset all parameters to the original filter's defaults, and you'll have to manually tweak it again. But you'd be unlikely to open a Favorite filter from the Browser into the Viewer.

A filter applied to a clip, tweaked in the Viewer window, can be made into a Favorite is the exact same way: Effects > Make Favorite Effect. The difference is that with a clip open in the Viewer window, in the Filters tab, you can have multiple filters stacked there. When you have more than one filter stacked in the Viewer's Filters tab and use the Make Favorite Effect feature, it creates a Filter Pack (Figure 4, below). This is a sub-Bin that contains all the individual filters, all tweaked properly.

Figure 5. Filters in Final Cut Pro
Figure 4. Creating a Filter Pack using the Make Favorite Effect function

When you make a Filter Pack, you'll want to go into its bin and do two things right away: First, rename it something you'll remember; second, do not double-click and open it up into its own window, but do click the disclosure triangle, add 001, then 002, and so on to the beginning of each filter's name, as shown in Figure 4. If you double-click this bin to open it in its own window, the filters will revert to alphanumeric order. They could all be switched to a different order, which changes the overall effect. Adding three-digit numbers is a safety device that ensures they will always stack up in the correct order. When you're ready to use a Filter Pack, just drag and drop the whole bin onto a clip in the Timeline. All of its contents will be applied, stacked in the proper order, to that clip.

To apply the first four Filter Favorites to a clip quickly and easily, highlight the clip in the Timeline window, and go to the Effects > Video Filters > Favorites. You'll see the first four Favorites in alphanumeric order. You'll also see they have keyboard shortcuts, and if you look at your keyboard, you'll see it's an easy pattern to remember, just like the video transitions. There is no default filter. Here are the relevant keyboard shortcuts for adding these Favorites:

• Ctrl+Shift+2 adds the first listed video Favorite filter
• Ctrl+Shift+W adds the second listed video Favorite filter
• Ctrl+Shift+S adds the third listed video Favorite filter
• Ctrl+Shift+X adds the fourth listed video Favorite filter

When you set up keyframes on a clip to create some sort of animated motion effect, and it's a set of animated behaviors you want to keep and apply to other clips later, first go to the Effects menu. Near the bottom, select Make Favorite Motion (or just click Ctrl+F). This will create a Motion Favorite in the Favorites bin (Figure 5, below). The name is followed by "(Motion)," which you want to leave attached when renaming it. This reminds you that it's not a filter but a set of keyframes.

Figure 5. Creating a Motion Favorite
Figure 5. Creating a Motion Favorite in the Favorites bin

To apply this Favorite to other clips, drag and drop it onto the target clip in the Timeline window. You can also access them from the Effects menu, in the Motion Favorites submenu. Or use the keyboard shortcuts-again, it's an easy-to-remember pattern (note that there is no default Motion Favorite):

• Ctrl+Shift+5 adds the first listed video Motion Favorite
• Ctrl+Shift+T adds the second listed video Motion Favorite
• Ctrl+Shift+G adds the third listed video Motion Favorite
• Ctrl+Shift+B adds the fourth listed video Motion Favorite

So there you have it: video transitions, filters, and keyframed Motion Favorites that you can create and access quickly and easily, making your editing experience faster, more efficient, and more enjoyable. I hope you take advantage of these tips so that you'll have more time to be creative and spend less time hunting and pecking for tools.

For more information and tips, keep reading Cut Lines. Check out my Tip of the Week (TOTW), blog, and support forum, which are all accessible from my website, www.bbalser.com. Until next time, rock your edits!

Ben BalserBen Balser (benb at bbalser.com) is an Apple Certified Master Trainer and Support Professional based in Louisiana. He produces media, consults for studios, and teaches media production nationally.

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