Welcome to the Digital Toolkit tutorial on using Final Cut Pro X. Final Cut Pro is a non-linear video editing software developed by Apple and is available only on Apple computers. Final Cut is fairly easy and intuitive to use. In this tutorial you will learn how to sync external audio to video clips, and how to add B-roll and music to your story. B-roll is footage that you shoot to supplement your main story.

In Final Cut, you will create a ‘Library’ which will store your ‘Events’ and ‘Projects.’  Your assets (video, stills, and audio) will be stored in folders on your hard drive. The footage in your project points back to your files on your hard drive with pointer files.

Let’s begin by managing our assets in our hard drive and then creating a Library on Final Cut Pro X.

Managing assets on your Hard Drive formatted to MAC

Create a folder called Asset Management on your Hard Drive. Within the folder, create subfolders for your media.. Import your respective assets into these folders. Once you’ve done this, eject your SD card. You may later add a folder with copyright free music if you choose to use some.

Elements of the Final Cut Library:

Image source: StreamingMedia.com

Final Cut Pro Libraries is where all elements will be stored. They contain ‘Events.’ Events store the video clips, photos, and audio that you will use in a project. Events contain your projects. Projects are edited sequences that you create from the media in your Events Browser - they are where you will be putting together your movie. You will learn more about them as this tutorial continues.

Creating a new FCPX Library:

Before you create your FCPX Library, plug in your hard drive that contain your asset folders. Next, open FCPX. Click ‘New’ on the prompt.

Select your ‘assets management folder’ (you need to create this before you begin) as your location, then select the FCPX folder. This is where the Final Cut Pro Library will be saved. Once you have created a Library, the application opens.

Creating a new Event within an FCPX Library:

Your next step is to create an Event within the Library.

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Go to File -> New -> Event. Give the event a name - We’ll call ours  In the above screenshot, an event I created with the name ‘JO706 Library” is visible on the left.

Importing assets (video, stills and audio clips) to your event

The  Event Browser is where all of your footage and files will live. Click on the Import Media icon in your assets window to import them.

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On the screen that appears, point to your Hard Drive and select the files you need - the interviews, B roll, audio and photos. (Note: The image shows the JO706 Folder on the Desktop - Yours will always be on your hard drive.)

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On the right hand column, under Files, check off ‘Leave files in place’. Copying to Library is going to make your Final Cut file really large.  Do not check-off transcoding options.

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Now, press import in the lower right hand corner. You will now see all of your assets - photos, interviews, audio and B-roll in your Events Browser. If you need to import more media, repeat these steps or right click anywhere inside the Events Browser and select Import Media.

If Final Cut Ever Says You Have Missing files

Once this step is complete, Final Cut Pro will remember the route to your hard drive. Moving your files around, renaming or deleting them will lead to missing files within the Event. Follow these steps to relink missing files.

Creating a Project in Final Cut

Let’s move on to the final subset of the Library; the Project.

To create a Project, click on New Project in the lower window and give it a name.


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 The Project will live within the Event and functions as your timeline.

You can create multiple versions of a project. Do this by right clicking on a Project in the Events Browser window, and click Duplicate Project. This allows you to easily stop back in time to an earlier point in your editing.

Now that your assets are in place, you’re ready to sync your audio and start editing.

Syncing Sound By Creating A New Compound Clip

It is important to first sync your entire interview with the audio clip before you begin editing. If you cut up your interview first, you will have to sync each piece of audio to the video. That’s just going to take a lot of time and effort.

We went over clapping at the start of your interview. This is to make syncing sound easier. Now, you simply match the waves from your video clip to your audio clip using the spike from the clap.

Select the audio and video clips that you want sync together. After selecting one, hold down the “command” key to select subsequent files.

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Once you have selected both the audio and video files, you want to right click by hitting “control” and then clicking the mouse. Select “Synchronize Clips.”

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The new clip will appear in your Event Browser with the name you give it. You can recognize it by the two bubbles that appear on the top left.

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Compound clips have two linked bubbles in the top left.

Now, you want to make sure the audio is from the microphone and not from the camera. To do this, first select the clip. Then, on the right side of the screen you will see the option to inspect the video, audio, and an information symbol. Click audio.

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Under audio configuration, make sure only the audio from the microphone is checked off. In my clip, that is the connected audio.  Play back the clip to make sure you have selected the correct audio.

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Viewing Note: You can adjust your view of all of your clips by using the viewfinder. This can help you see all of the audio and video files that you have for a particular project.

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Creating a MultiCam Clip - For More Advanced Projects

There are a lot of benefits to using two cameras when you film your interview. It makes your video more dynamic, allows you to easily hide jump cuts in your interview, and means you don’t need quite as much b-roll in your video.

To create a multicam clip, select the audio and video clips that you want sync together. After selecting one, hold down the “command” key to select subsequent files - in this case, we will select two video clips and one audio clip.

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The new clip will appear in your Event Browser with the name you give it. You can recognize it by the four squares that appear on the top left.

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Now, you want to make sure the audio is from the microphone and not from the camera shots. To do this, first select the multicam clip. Then, on the right side of the screen you will see the option to inspect the video, audio, and an information symbol. Click audio.

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There are three separate audio channels for this clip. I only want the audio from the Tascam - in this case it is called DSC9192. So I will only leave this audio checked and uncheck the other two channels.

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If you want to switch between camera angle,  you will want to work on the timeline.  make the change on your timeline. When the clip is on my timeline, I will want to go to my view menu and click “Show Angles.”

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This will show you the two video and audio angles that are within your multicam clip. You want to make sure you can only toggle between the video clips, leaving the audio in place. Select the video in the top left corner.

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Now, you can switch between by clicking on a separate video clip. This will create a cut in your clip, which you can see below!

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Selecting ‘In’ and ‘Out’ Points and Favoriting Them

Then you can begin to add ‘in’ and ‘out’ points to your selected sound bites.

Have your interview transcript on hand for reference. Printing it out is easier than switching windows on your computer. Below is a sample image of a highlighted transcript with time codes.

By looking at your script with the time codes, you know the sound bites you wish to use.

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Sample transcript

Use the spacebar to begin playing the interview clip in your assets window. Select the in point for your clip by hitting the ‘I’ key on your keyboard. Hit the ‘O’ key to select your out point. Now hit ‘F’ to favorite the bite. A green bar will appear on the parts of the clip that you have favorited.

All of your edited ‘favorite’ clips will appear in the browser.

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Hitting the ‘I’ and ‘O’ keys selects the bites you wish to use.

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Hitting F marks your favorite clips with a green line.

Moving Selected Video and Audio To Your Timeline:

To add your favorited sections of video to your timeline, select the ‘in and ‘out’ points (hit ‘i’ for in and ‘o’ for out) and then hit the ‘f’ key to favorite(otherwise you will loose your ‘in’ and ‘out’ points.) Next, hit the ‘e’ key to drop the selected clip into your  timeline. Begin editing your story by adding the video clips from the interview. You can add b-roll over the interview by dragging the clip and place it on top of the interview clip or by pressing the “Q” key.

Your timeline will begin to look like this:

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Editing Tools

The drop down button with the arrow on it has a few tools you will use while editing your movie.

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Editing tools and their corresponding shortcut keys

The most frequently used tools are the Blade, Position, Select and Trim tools.

(B) The blade tool: use the blade when you want to cut an audio or video clip at pre-decided points. A great example would be to use it to remove unwanted ‘uhhhs’ and ‘umms’ from your subject’s sound bite.

Find the sound wave of the word you wish to remove and use the blade to cut at the right spots. This is a non-destructive edit as it does not affect the original files. It’s easy to undo or redo your edit points. Command Z, allows for a quick undo. And you can always just re-import clips from your marked favorites folder.

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Using the blade to remove ‘umms’- notice the dotted lines, this is where a cut has been made.

(P) Position tool: the FCPX timeline is magnetic. This means all new clips dropped in will snap together. The position tool is used for when you want to insert gaps in between the clips or just want to push a clip away to the side to use later. It generates a black empty box with no content in between.

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Here, I have dragged one segment of the video away from the original, creating a blank, black space.

This could be helpful if you’re looking through your Events browser and find a great shot you would like to use for the closing scene. Use the position tool to drag it to the far end of the timeline immediately.

(A) Select tool: The select tool is your default tool for selecting the different elements in your Events Browser and Timeline. Just hit the ‘A’ key when you want to exit out of other tools like Blade and Position.

(T) Trim tool: The trim tool allows you to trim from one or both ends of a clip, soundbite, Basic title etc. Just hover over the end and drag inwards to cut out parts you don’t want.

Example - Say you are editing a sound bite like, “I had a great time in the Toolkit class! Though I didn't get any sleep at all.” You can use the trim tool to cut out the second half of the sentence.

Marker tool: Another tool worth keeping in mind is the marker tool (M) that you can use to place markers on your timeline. After selecting where you want to make a marker, press M.

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The purple chips on the top of the video clip show place markers added by hitting the ‘M’ key.

Dissolves and transitions: Dissolves are a kind of transition used in between video clips. Transitions can be found by selecting the two triangles icon on the right side of the timeline.

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Use two kinds of transitions for your project - ‘the cross dissolve’, that often denotes passing time and ‘fade to black’ - indicates the end of a sequence or end of your story. Select the transition and drag it to the place you want it on your timeline. The transition will look as it does below for a cross dissolve.

Zooming In And Out of the Timeline: Zooming in and out can help you with precise edits to your story. The zoom can be found on the right side of the window, as seen below. You are able to adjust the size of the clips and change the format of clips to make audio editing simpler.

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Text, Titles and Lower Thirds

When you are done editing your story, you need to add a lower-third to introduce your subjects, begin your video with a title slide and finish with credits at the end.

To add text, find the icon marked with a ‘T’ on the top-left of your timeline. Under this tab you will find different options for credits, lower thirds and titles.

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Add Lower Thirds: To add elements like the “Basic Lower Third” text, you just click and drag onto your timeline or use the “Q” key. This will generate a purple bar like the one below.

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Make sure you move the viewer over the text box, then click on the text on the screen to edit it.

To Add Credits: Look through the Installed Text Option. For credits use the Basic Title slide.


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The purple box is where your “Basic Title Slide” is located. To edit the text, make sure your cursor is over the title, and then click on the text in the viewer.

To further adjust your font and change the color, click on the Inspector icon highlighted on the right (shortcut command+4). This opens up an array of text editing tools under the ‘Text’ window. Use it to edit your font and font size and format it to your liking.

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Balancing Color and Adjusting Exposure

To adjust your color and exposure, select the clip on your timeline you want to adjust. Find the magic wand-like icon below your display window and select ‘Show Color Board’ on it.

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This will open up a board that can be used to adjust color and exposure in your shadows, midtones and highlights.

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The first thing you will need to adjust is your video’s exposure. In order to adjust exposure, you need to open up Video scopes. Video scopes give you a range within which your highlights and shadows should be. In other words, it helps make sure your blacks aren’t crushed and your highlights aren’t blown out.

In this screenshot, you will notice it says “Hide Video Scopes” instead of “Open Video Scopres.” This is because they are already open and viewable on the left of the screen.

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Always start by adjusting your video’s exposure with the Global selector, which is one the left. Then, you can make specific changes to the shadows, midtones and highlights. Here is a brief gif of how; you will notice slight changes to the display as it uses a previous version of Final Cut.

When you make adjustments to each paradigm, you can see the waveform move up and down.

Ensure your range doesn’t go below 0 and over 100. Down is dark and the top is bright.

Adjusting Color: When editing color, open view the videoscope as Vectorscope.  This will bring up a color wheel. The vectorscope shows you what the major colors in your frame are. For example, the above vectorscope says majority of my color is in the Red and Orange regions. The distance from the center to the outer level of the wheel tells you how saturated a particular color is.

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The line in between the Yellow and Red regions of the wheel is a Skin Tone Indicator, denoting the range where most skin tones fall. In the below gif, which is primarily blue and cyan colors, you can see how adding blue and magenta moves the scope away from the skin tone indicator. Adding yellow moves the scope along it.

Creating a Preset: Once you have adjusted all of your color settings for one clip, you need to save this as an effects preset. That way, you do not need to individually adjust the color of every clip that is from the same interview. Hit “Presets” at the bottom right of the Color Board, name the effect, and hit “OK.”


Then, when you go to adjust the color of a similar clip on your timeline, all you need to do is click “Presets” and select the one that you made to apply it to the clip.

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Adjust Audio Levels

To bring up the audio VU Meter, which will show you the volume of the piece, double click below the display where you will see a “mini” VU Meter. This brings up the big VU Meter, which is on the right.

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Correct Audio Levels: The audio levels from the Tascam recording should be between -12 dB to -6 dB on the VU meter. It is okay for audio levels to peak once in awhile to over -6 Db. That is marked by the bars turning yellow. At 0 Db and higher the bars turn red. Red colored bars not only mean your audio is too loud but the sound is also distorted. You need to play your audio and see where it falls on the VU Meter before you make adjustments to the volume of the audio.

Adjust Audio of A Specific Video Clip: You can adjust your volume to be within the acceptable range (-12 to -6dbs) by pulling your audio levels up or down

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The highlighted yellow line shows you that the audio level is at 40dB.

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I will need to either pull the highlighted yellow line up or down to be within -12 and -6db. Here I have pulled the volume you to 10.0 dB on the timeline.

Keyframes: The Pen Tool (activate by using use Option+click) allows you to place keyframes on your audio line. Keyframes allow you to dip or raise your sound in certain spots. If you need to dip your sound, you will always need to create at least three keyframes.

Fading Sound: To dip or fade your sound at the end of a sound bite or at the end of the movie, grab the little bubble at the end of the audio line. Now drag it all the way in to decide how long you want the fade to be. The longer you pull it, the more gradual the fade will be.

Change Audio to Dual Mono: Before you export, listen to your audio on both channels, Left and Right. If you notice that there is only one channel playing, i.e. the sound plays on only one earphone/speaker, go into Audio settings using the Inspector (Command+4) and set your channel configuration to Dual Mono.

Advanced Audio Settings: You can play around with boosting the volume or reducing some background noise on Final Cut Pro if you do not like the sound of your audio. You must be warned though that this often alters your sound quality. Hitting the magic wand tool will automatically adjust the sound, but you can also adjust individual elements.

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Exporting Your File

The final step is to export your completed movie. You need to create a master version as your first export. This master will be the best quality possible - best codec and least compression, you can always resample for other purposes when needed. Hit “File,” “Share,” and then select “Master File (default).”

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Make sure the title is correct on the video. Feel free to add a description but it is not necessary. The settings should not need to be adjusted.


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Using Compressor

After the master is created, you will need to compress it to a smaller file that can be uploaded online.

Use Compressor to reduce the data rate of the master version and transcode to the codec H.264. This codec gives great quality for online video. You will use H.264 and reduce the data rate to make file under 500MB. This makes it possible to upload to Vimeo or YouTube.

Open Compressor. Select the file that you just exported from Final Cut Pro X. Make sure you import it through the Compressor app.

Adding a file to Compressor

For settings, type in HD and select HD 1080p.

Type in HD in the search box and select HD1080p

Click on the middle Video tab and change the Data Rate to 10,000 under ‘Custom’ in the dropdown. Make sure your movie is now under 500mb. Hit ‘Start Batch’ on the bottom of the screen to begin compressing. Your file will process shortly.