First Flight: Final Cut Express (Part 2)

Damn. In iMovie, I can just tap the spacebar and see what the final video will look like. In Final Cut, I have to “render” the edit first…though I can scrub through it in the final video window.

Okay, well, if I’m going to sit through a render, I might as well make it worth it. I want the intro voiceover to go over the first bit of the first clip. I drag the audio file into the viewer and release it into the “Insert” hopper that pops up…it’s one of the several options available.

Awesome. Final Cut Express is already saving me time and more importantly letting me make the video I want to make instead of knucking under to iMovie’s limitations. The existing clip scoots over to the right in the timeline so that it doesn’t begin until the audio ends. The spot where I start talking in the clip comes after several minutes of ambient car noise. So now, it should be easy to merely extend the video clip backwards so that the video starts with the voice-over, and I start talking inside the car almost as soon as the v/o ends.

Hooo-kay, I know in the video that the tool I want is one of the three or four in the tool pallete next to the timeline. It uses what I assume to be classic film-cutting terminology…each tool icon depicts a Moviola-style pair of film reels in various postures.

I guess wrong on my first try so I go back to the tutorial video series. Ah! Okay, I want the “Ripple” tool. In the video, it’s described and shown as the thing you use to extend a clip so that it starts or ends in a different place.

Mmmm…no. It seems like I’m on the right track, but no. As it is right now, the 90-second voice over plays, with no accompanying video. Then the video kicks over to me inside the car, and I immediately start talking. I want to grab the left side of that clip and stretch it all the way back to the start of the voice-over so that the video begins 90 seconds sooner, but I still don’t start talking until the v/o is done.

What happens instead is that I still have no video until the end of the voice over…but now the video starts 90 seconds later. Damn and blast.

What the heck is wrong? Is FC stamping its feet because the video I want to extend is the first video clip in the whole thing?

I give up on logic and just randomly try the other editing tools. Ah! Okay. The fact that there was absolutely no video to the left made me think “extend the clip to the left,” ie, use the Ripple tool. In fact, I needed to use the “Roll” tool, which extends a clip by stealing time from the clip next door.

I was thinking “There is no video there to the left.” Final cut was thinking “There is indeed video to the left. It is a video of no video.”

Very Zen.

But it makes some sort of sense. My bad.

Now let’s render this clip and see what I did. I hope the audio is synced. Push the button, Frank…

“Estimate time: About 15 minutes…”

(Sigh.) Okay, breakfast.

4 thoughts on “First Flight: Final Cut Express (Part 2)

  1. Blake Helms

    Sometimes when you drag audio in it defaults to the end of an existing audio layer (in this case the video’s). Whats worse is when it decides to put it in the middle of an existing audio layer.

    P.S. Please don’t use “Springtime for Hitler” as the background music again. It has taken several days to get it out of my head.

  2. Fuzzy

    Here’s my number 1 tip for someone moving from iMovie to Final Cut: learn to use the power of sequences. In iMovie you just have one sequence: the timeline. But in Final Cut you can have many sequences that all reference the same footage and you can embed them and so on.

    In iMovie I can remember getting very nervous if I wanted to try something different in already edited footage. In Final Cut, just make a copy of the sequence and got to town.

    It’s also great for anything over a few minutes long — you can divide it into scenes and then you can be sure that some change you make in the title sequence doesn’t ripple down and accidently push something out of sync in the end credits.

  3. Andrew Gingerich

    I’m a Final Cut Pro guy myself and I’m not sure what the exact differences between Pro and Express anymore, but you should have some kind of control over what video codec is native in your sequence. You want to match up your sequence’s codec and dimensions with those of your original footage, or Final Cut will keep trying to re-render your video in a new format.

    It’s possible, though, that Express can’t edit MP4 natively, in which case you’re stuck with lots of renders. But depending on your system specs, RT Extreme may come to your rescue! Check and make sure it’s enabled, and you should be able to watch your edits (albeit at reduced quality) in real time without waiting for renders.

    Yes, this is all very complicated and involved, and the learning curve from iMovie to Final Cut is very steep. That’s because you’re essentially going from a consumer software interface to a top-tier professional interface. It definitely takes some getting used to.

  4. Dave Bittner

    The risk with any of these de-tuned version of pro apps, be it Final Cut Express or Photoshop Elements, is that sometimes the features they decide to save for the Truly Pro version can appear arbitrary, so you find yourself bumping into what seem like bone-headed limitations. “I just want it to do X!!!” “Sorry, feature X is only included in the Pro version.”

    So, Andy, keep in mind that you’re driving the four-cylinder, base model version of that editing package. Final Cut Pro is the muscle car. :-)

    When we switched our edit suites to FCP a few years back, it was extremely frustrating, learning a new system after years of editing on Media 100 systems. But soon the frustration shifted to respect and joy, as the power under the hood started to reveal itself and we found ourselves with a new level of creative freedom.

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