… for Apple Final Cut Pro X

Tip #438: Secrets of the Precision Editor

The Precision Editor is a great way to learn about trimming clips.

The Apple Final Cut Pro X Precision Editor.
An edit point opened for trimming in the Precision Editor of Final Cut Pro X.

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The Precision Editor in Final Cut Pro is an incredibly useful teaching tool in Final Cut Pro. If you haven’t played with it, you are missing a treat. Here’s what it does.

To access the Precision Editor, double-click any edit point in the timeline. The Out-going clip is displayed on top.

The darkened portions of each clip are the “handles,” extra media that we need for trimming and transitions. Trimming ends when we run out of handles.

  • To trim the Out, drag the top white line.
  • To trim the In, drag the bottom white line.
  • To roll trim both clips, drag the middle white line.

This is the best illustration of trimming I’ve ever seen, making it understandable even to people who are new to editing. I use it in every class.

To close the Precision Editor, press the ESC key.


The reason I don’t use the Precision Editor for my own trimming is that it does not allow me to trim audio separately from video; which is a technique I use all the time.

Still, from a teaching point of view, the Precision Editor is unequaled.

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… for Apple Motion

Tip #446: Move Text on a Path

Text can move around paths or shapes.

Text following a path in Apple Motion.

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This article is an excerpt from an Apple KnowledgeBase article.

The Path layout method lets you place text on a baseline path that you can warp to create curving or angular trails of text. After you create text on a path, you can modify or extend the path, add or remove control points, or animate text on the path.


  1. In Motion, select text in the canvas, Layers list, or Timeline.
  2. In the Layout pane of the Text Inspector, click the Layout Method pop-up menu, then choose Path.
    The Path Options controls become available, near the bottom of the Layout pane.
  3. In the canvas toolbar, select the Text tool (shortcut: T), then click the text in the canvas.

NOTE: Step 3 is important—the Text tool must be selected to view or edit the text path.

  • The path appears below the text. The default path shape is a straight line (an open spline) with three control points.

NOTE: To add a control point, Control-click the path and choose Add Point.

Read the rest of the article to learn how to adjust, extend or modify the path.

… for Visual Effects

Tip #340: Quick Green Screen Lighting Tip

The sun makes a great set light.

Using the sun as a set light is OK by me.

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Looking for a fast way to evenly light a green-screen background?

Move outside.

Let the sun light both your talent and background. However, to avoid screaming at your screen during editing, make SURE your green – or blue – background is as smooth as possible. Wrinkles are almost impossible to key well.

… for Adobe Premiere Pro CC

Tip #298: 2 Tricks to Moving Clips

These two tricks save time when moving clips.

Swapping a clip from one location to another. The moved clip can be placed on any track.

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Once we have a rough cut complete, it is often necessary to move or replace clips in the timeline. Here are two tricks that make that easier.


To move a clip to a new position, press and hold both Command and Option. Drag the clip so the In of the clip you are moving is at its new location. While you would generally place it on the same track that it came from, you can actually place the swapped clip on any track.

As soon as you let go of the mouse, the clip shuttles into its new position and the clips to its right scurry down to fill the gap.


To replace a clip without losing any transitions or effects applied to it:

  • Select the clip in the timeline you want to replace
  • Drag the new clip from the Project panel on top of the existing clip while pressing Option (Alt).

… for Adobe Premiere Pro CC

Tip #337: Three Ways to Sync Audio to Video

Double-system sound provides the best audio, but requires an extra step in post.

Recording a clapper slate is critical for all double-system audio syncing.

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This article, written by Rachel Klein, first appeared in PremiumBeat. This is an excerpt.

Recording audio and video separately on set ensures you get the highest quality sound for your project. Using an external shotgun microphone and syncing your audio with a slate, snap, or a clap is essential.

Your three main options for syncing audio to video are Red Giant’s Plural Eyes software, Premiere Pro’s Merge or Synchronize options, or doing it manually.

  • Automatically. The best option by far (but with a price tag of $200) is Red Giant’s Plural Eyes. To synchronize, simply open Plural Eyes and click Add Media or drag your clips directly into the app. Next, hit the Synchronize button and watch the program do its thing. Successfully synced clips will show up in green, while clips with errors are red. If you get a red error, navigate to the Sync drop-down tab and make sure you’ve selected “Try Really Hard.”

    Once everything is synced, click Export Timeline and drag the exported project directly into Premiere Pro. As an added bonus, Plural Eyes also can help correct audio drift in your project.

  • Merge. To merge clips using Premiere, select the video and audio files you want to merge in the Project panel. Right-click the selected clips and choose “Merge Clips.”

    A menu will open up, allowing you to name your newly synchronized clip. Select “Audio” as your “Synchronize Point” and make sure to select “Remove Audio From AV Clip.” Hit OK and you’re all done.

  • Manually. Edit the audio and video clips into the timeline. Then, align the spike in the waveform of the clapper slate with the frame where the slate just closes.


… for Adobe Premiere Pro CC

Tip #375: Tips for Better Auto-Reframing

The Auto-Reframe dialog in Premiere Pro CC.

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Auto Reframe intelligently identifies the actions in your video and reframes the clips for different aspect ratios. This feature is really handy for posting your video to different social media channels such as Instagram, YouTube, or Facebook.

You can use Auto Reframe to reframe sequences for square, vertical, and cinematic 16:9, or when cropping high-resolution content like 4K and beyond. Here are some best practice tips from Adobe:

  • Reframing can be adjusted: Auto-reframe applies Position keyframes to your video. Any of these can be changed, if Premiere guesses wrong on the framing.
  • Filming: Frame your videos with a little more space around the subjects so that you can repurpose the footage later for any medium.
  • Using text titles: Auto Reframe works best when titles are created using Premiere Pro.
  • Using still images: Auto Reframe does not work with still images. Reframe still images separately.
  • Apply Auto Reframe only once: Applying Auto Reframe multiple times (especially with nested clips) can cause unpredictable results – such as black bars on the sides of your videos. If you need to re-apply the Auto Reframe effect, make sure you apply it on the original clip.


Here’s an Adobe support article that covers this feature in detail.

… for Apple Final Cut Pro X

Tip #406: What’s the Best Way to Backup a Project?

There are two options to backup a project. Which is best?

Duplicate Project is faster, Duplicate Project as Snapshot is a better choice.

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One of the big benefits of Final Cut Pro X is its ability to instantly save whenever you do something. Which is fine, most of the time. But, what if you want to make a protection copy of just a single project? Now you have two options:

  • Duplicate Project.
  • Duplicate Project as Snapshot.

Which do you use? Duplicate Project as Snapshot. (To view this menu, Control-click the Project image or name in the Browser.)

These each create an identical protection copy until you are using multicam or compound clips. When you duplicate a project as a snapshot, Final Cut Pro embeds copies of compound or multicam “parent” clips in the duplicate, so any changes to other instances of those clips do not affect the duplicate.

If you work on projects that contain compound clips and multicam clips, you can use the Duplicate Project as Snapshot command to create a self-contained backup version of a project that includes referenced compound clips or multicam “parent” clips. Changes you make to other instances of the compound clips or multicam clips do not affect the versions in the duplicate, so your project is protected from accidental changes.

… for Apple Final Cut Pro X

Tip #449: Display Scopes on a Second Computer Monitor in FCP X

A second computer monitor is a big help when editing video.

Video scopes displayed vertically on a second computer monitor running FCP X.

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Tip #392 showed how to use a second computer monitor attached to your Mac when editing with Final Cut Pro X. One of the benefits of using a second monitor is that it allows us to display both a larger video image in the Viewer and much larger video scopes. Here’s how.

NOTE: Displaying Final Cut Pro X to a second monitor is always full-screen; you can’t scale the interface.

  • Display the Viewer on the second monitor.
  • Type Cmd+7 to display video scopes. (They appear on the second monitor along with the Viewer.)
  • Go to the View menu in the top right corner of the video scopes and change them to a vertical alignment (top row, second box).

Depending upon the size of your monitor, you can display a 4K image full screen, and still have room for the scopes.


… for Apple Motion

Tip #434: Create Smoother Gradients in Apple Motion

The default gradient settings in Motion are not that good. These are better.

Changing Start and End to equal, but opposite, values creates a much smoother gradient.

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This tip was suggested by a comment from Mark Spencer to Tip #93.

In that original tip, I wrote that the gradients in Motion are not particularly smooth; rather, I recommended that you create smooth gradients in Photoshop, then import them into Motion. While this works, Mark pointed out that we can create much smoother gradients if we “play with the numbers.”

For instance, in this screen shot, I’ve created a gradient where the same color (lower blue bar) fades from transparent to fully opaque (top white bar).

The problem is that the default settings for a gradient create a very abrupt change.

To fix this:

  • Twirl down the small arrow to the left of the word “Gradient”
  • Change both the Start and End values to equal, but opposite, larger numbers.

For example, to create a smooth gradient that fills the frame, change Start to a positive value equal to 1/2 the horizontal width of your project and End to a negative value equal to 1/2 the width of your project. In this screen shot, I created a smooth gradient for a 1280 x 720 project. Half of 1280 is 640.

… for Codecs & Media

Tip #427: Create a LUT in Photoshop

Photoshop can create LUTs that work in Premiere, Resolve or Final Cut Pro X.

Save LUT settings in Photoshop using the CUBE format.

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LUTs are a great way to take log or RAW images and convert them into something pleasing to look at. You can even use this technique for Rec. 709 media, which we use every day in HD projects.

Here’s a technique that creates LUTs that work in Premiere, Final Cut or Resolve.

  • In Photoshop, import a still frame from your video that you want to create a LUT for.
  • NOTE: This image needs to retain some detail in the highlights. TIFF or PNG are the best export formats to use.

  • Select the layer containing the image and choose Layer > New > Background from Layer. (This setting is important.)
  • Add at least one Adjustment layers, then adjust Levels and other settings to the adjustment layer to create the look you want.
  • NOTE: Do not adjust the image, only modify the adjustment layer.

Here’s the magic part – as long as you convert the image into a background and use adjustment layers, you can take your look and convert it into a LUT which can be opened in Premiere, Resolve, or Final Cut.

  • In Photoshop, choose File > Export > Color Lookup Tables.
  • Give the file a description that makes sense to you. Then, and this is a KEY step, select the CUBE format. This format is required by all our NLEs.
  • Click OK,give it a name and location, then save it.
  • Switch over to your NLE and import your new custom LUT and apply it to your footage.

Done. This LUT can be used across multiple projects and multiple NLEs.


Here’s an article that walks you through all the steps in more detail.