… for Apple Final Cut Pro X

Tip #235: Faster YouTube Compression

Faster is actually better.

Compression settings for YouTube in Apple Final Cut Pro X
Compression settings for YouTube.

Topic $TipTopic

Your project is done and you need to get it to YouTube, Facebook or Vimeo. While I normally recommend always exporting a high-quality master file – both for archiving and future compression – sometimes, you just don’t have the time.

So, you are looking at this screen and debating between Faster Encode and Better Quality. You spent a LOT of time on this project – which should you pick?

Faster Quality.

In the past, before hardware acceleration, Better Quality created smaller files and higher image quality. Today, that’s no longer the case. Tests I recently made with Apple Compressor show that Faster Quality – which uses hardware acceleration is:

  • Much faster
  • Creates smaller files more than 1/2 the time
  • Creates image quality equal to or better then Better Quality


The compression engine used by Compressor is the same engine used by Final Cut. The only difference is the interface each has to prep a file for compression.

Please rate the helpfulness of this tip.

Click on a star to rate it!

… for Apple Final Cut Pro X

Tip #264: Set Opacity Keyframes in the Timeline

The Video Animation bar allows timeline control for a variety of settings.

The Video Animation bar in Apple Final Cut Pro X.
Every timeline clip has a Video Animation bar attached to it.

Topic $TipTopic

Hidden in the Final Cut timeline is the Video Animation bar. In it, you can set keyframes for automating changes in opacity, cropping, distortion and position. Here’s how to find it.

Let’s illustrate how to set opacity keyframes in a clip in the timeline.

  • Select the clip you want to modify and type Cntrl – V. This displays the Video Animation bar.
  • Click the arrow in a box at the right of the Opacity layer. This opens the opacity keyframe timeline.
  • Option – click on the white line to set a keyframe. (Control – click to remove a keyframe.)
  • Drag the keyframes down to make a clip translucent. (All the way up is 100% opaque.)

Preview your results. Drag a keyframe sideways to change it’s timing. Drag a keyframe up or down to set the amount of change.


… for Adobe Premiere Pro CC

Tip #241: 3 Faster Ways to Render

Render faster by clip or by selecting a portion of the sequence.

An Adobe Premiere Pro CC timeline with In and Out set.
Set an In and Out, then choose Sequence > Render In to Out.

Topic $TipTopic

The only problem with rendering is that it takes time. Sometimes a LOT of time. Worse, Premiere wants to render the entire sequence, when that may not be what you need or have time for. Here are three options.

  • Render and Replace. this lets you flatten video clips and After Effects comps by rendering the clip, then replacing the clip with the render file. Choose Clip > Render and Replace.

NOTE: You can revert to the original clips using Clip > Restore Unrendered.

  • Render In to Out. This allows you to set a range in the sequence using In and Out shortcuts, then rendering only between them. Choose Sequence > Render In to Out.
  • Render Effects In to Out. This only renders the portions of those clip that have video effects applied to them between the In and the Out. This tends to be a much faster option. Choose Sequence > Render Effects In to Out.


You can render and replace most of the clips including After Effects compositions except for the following:

  • Special clips or synthetics
  • Nested sequences
  • Adjustment layers

… for Apple Final Cut Pro X

Tip #213: Secrets of the [Hidden] Delete Key

Two different ways to delete clips.

The two different delete keys on a Mac keyboard.
Two delete keys on a full-size keyboard. (Arrow points to Return.)

Topic $TipTopic

Whether you edit on a laptop or full-size keyboard, there are two Delete keys at your disposal. One is above the Return key, indicated by the red arrow in the screen shot, the other is… hidden.

The big Delete key, which deletes going backwards, is the normal delete key for most Final Cut operations. In addition to deleting text as you would expect, it also deletes clips.

The smaller Delete key, next to the End key, deletes going forward. You can quickly see the difference by deleting text from the middle of a paragraph. The big difference in Final Cut, though, is when you use this smaller key to delete a clip: It deletes the clip AND replaces it with a gap. Many students find this very distracting.

When deleting clips, the big Delete key always changes the duration of the timeline. The small Delete key does not.


The forward delete key exists on laptops, too, but it’s hidden. Simply press the Fn key (in the lower left corner of the keyboard) while typing the big Delete key.


… for Apple Final Cut Pro X

Tip #215: Tricks to Moving Stuff

Copy or move … it’s your choice.

The Copy -or- Move media dialog box
Checking these saves time, but requires more storage space.

Topic $TipTopic

You can easily drag clips or projects from one Event to another in the same library. Keep in mind that you can’t store the same clip in more than one Event.

But, what happens if we want to move media or projects between libraries? Well, we have options:

  • We can COPY them
  • We can MOVE them

When you copy an item from one library to another, the corresponding files are duplicated on the storage device that contains the receiving library. When you move an item from one library to another, the corresponding files are moved from the library file in the first storage location to the library file in the second location.

Copying or moving items between libraries lets you:

  • Use multiple libraries on the same storage device to organize a large number of active projects and media assets.
  • Work on your project and media files on a different Mac that has Final Cut Pro installed.
  • Back up your project and its media files to a storage device, a network volume, or other storage media.
  • Allow multiple users to access your media in an external folder on shared storage.
  • Free up space on your Mac or storage device.


To copy one or more selected clips from one library to another, simply drag them. Or choose File > Copy Clips to Library.

In the resulting dialog, you can choose to copy optimized or proxy media. If you decide not to do this, you can always recreate it later.


To move one or more selected clips from one library to another, press the Cmd key while dragging. Or choose File > Move Clips to Library.

Again, moving provides the option of also moving optimized and/or proxy media.


NOTE: If you have created or customized any Final Cut Pro effects, transitions, titles, or generators in Motion, set the storage location for your Motion content to In Library before starting any copy or move operations between libraries or storage devices. Otherwise, the Motion content is not included in those operations. Regardless, you must manually track and move any third-party (FxPlug) content, because it is not managed within the Final Cut Pro library.

… for Apple Final Cut Pro X

Tip #236: Faster Color Correction

Custom shortcuts make color grading a LOT faster!

Apple Final Cut X color grading shortcuts
Color grading shortcuts that don’t have keys assigned.

Topic $TipTopic Iain Anderson writes in MacProVideo:

There are several color correction commands that are inaccessible, if you don’t create custom keyboard shortcuts for them. For example, open Final Cut Pro > Commands > Customize and search for Color. Then, assign shortcuts to:

  • Apply Color Wheels
  • Apply Color Correction from Previous Edit
  • Apply Color Correction from Two Edits Prior
  • Apply Color Correction from Three Edits Prior
  • Color Board: Toggle Correction on/off

Suddenly, all your color corrections will go a LOT faster!

… for Random Weirdness

Tip #155: Change the Dock Icon to Show Disk Activity

Larry Jordan – https://LarryJordan.com

Monitor disk activity directly from the dock.

Change the Dock icon in Activity Monitor.
Activity Monitor must be running for the Dock icon to display data.

Topic $TipTopic

There’s a “hidden-in-plain-sight” option in Activity Monitor that allows you to monitor your system in real-time directly from the dock.

  • Open Activity Monitor (Applications > Utilities)
  • Choose View > Dock Icon
  • Pick what you want to see

Most of the time, I’m monitoring either Network or Disk activity.

NOTE: Keep in mind that Activity Monitor must be running to see these icons. However, you don’t need to have any of Activity Monitor’s windows open.

… for Adobe Premiere Pro CC

Tip #217: Growing Files Grow on You

Larry Jordan – https://LarryJordan.com

This is a highlight for sports editors.

Growing file options in Premiere's Media preferences.
For best performance, uncheck these options – unless you need them.

Topic $TipTopic

A Growing file is a file that has not yet finished recording. A classic example is capturing the video from a sports contest. You need to start editing highlights before the game is complete. So, you capture the sports video as a growing file, which Premiere allows you to edit while the capture is on-going.

Not all video formats support growing files. QuickTime, for instance, does not. However, OP1a MXF does, which is why broadcasters depend upon this format.

The growing files preference setting (in the Media panel) allows you to import files that are not yet complete. Additionally, depending upon your preference settings, Premiere will automatically refresh the Project panel and Source Monitor as new material is recorded.

NOTE: The second preference setting allows you to determine how often you want these files refreshed.

If you don’t use growing files, turn this option off, as it will improve Premiere’s performance.

However, if editing sports is in your future, growing files will make your life easier.

… for Apple Final Cut Pro X

Tip #214: Event Secrets

Larry Jordan – https://LarryJordan.com

Events are a fast way to organize media.

The Library List in Apple Final Cut Pro X.
Rename Events by selecting them, then pressing Return.

Topic $TipTopic

An Event, in Final Cut, is similar to a folder that can hold dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of video clips, audio clips, and still images, as well as projects. Each event in the library refers to media on your storage device, and a database file keeps track of where everything is.

  • Events are automatically named with the date they are created. To rename an Event, select it then press the Return key to “open” the file name for renaming. (See screen shot.)
  • Events are actual folders stored on your hard disk, inside the library package. For this reason, you need to use Event names that the macOS will support. (In other words, avoid most punctuation and special symbols.)
  • To create a new Event, type: Option – N – or choose File > New > Event.
  • You can not store an Event inside another Event; though it would be REALLY nice if we could.
  • There is no limit to the number of Events you can create in a single library.
  • A file can only exist in one Event in the same Library. However, you can easily move any clip from one Event to another by dragging.
  • When creating a new Event, you also have the option to create a new Project file. This is the same as using File > New > Project, only faster.

Events are an easy way to organize your media, though keywords provide more precision and search options.

… for Visual Effects

Tip #173: 4 Tips to Better Chroma-Keys

Larry Jordan – https://LarryJordan.com

The first rule is great lighting. But, you also need more…

A green-screen example screen shot.
A good chroma-key requires more than perfect lighting.

Topic $TipTopic

This tip first appeared at NoFilmSchool.com.

The first rule of great keys is great lighting. But, there are other things you can do improve the quality of your keys. Here are four tips that can make your keys cleaner and easier.

  1. Choose the right background color. We pick green because it isn’t in skin tone and most of us don’t wear green clothes. But, when there’s green in the foreground, use blue. (Also, green is more reflective, which means it tends to contaminate your shots more.)
  2. Don’t overexpose the background. Both foreground and background need to be properly exposed.
  3. Avoid wrinkles and folds in the background. If you use fabric, iron it. If you use paint, paint on a very smooth surface. Both the background lighting and surface need to be flat.
  4. The less compressed the video codec, the better the key. Chroma-key looks for specific color values – and the first thing that gets compressed in any video format is the color information.

Ideally, when your lighting is flat and you follow these tips, you should be able to create a clean key with one click.