July 16, 2015


The release of Apple’s Final Cut Pro X has given more flexibility to independent filmmaking around the world. Now, more non-professional editors can see their movies come to life with Apple’s redesigned, easy to use, editing interface. Granted, many seasoned professional editors are upset at the change, going from a more technically structured layout in FCP7 to a more user friendly layout in FCP10. None-the-less, if you’re new to editing and want some filmmaking tips on how to use Final Cut Pro X, here are my 5 steps to a quick, and productive, start.



You need to learn the basics of Final Cut Pro X before you can excel in the video editing industry. Firstly, there are several different ways to import footage, pictures, and audio into Final Cut Pro. My favorite is the drag and drop feature. This allows you to drag footage from the finder window directly to the project window. You can also use the menu system by selecting File>Import>Media, which will bring up a media import window. This window will allow you to select the footage along with various import options and features. Just remember, once you import footage, don’t move or delete the original files. They will unlink in Final Cut and you will have to relink them from the new location to finish editing or export your project.


Organization is something that a lot of beginning video editors neglect. It’s definitely not the most enjoyable task, but it saves a large amount of time during the editing process. First, you should label your footage and files properly before importing them. This allows you to view and sort through them outside of Final Cut as well. If you organize all your assets into different folders, Final Cut Pro will also allow you to import your preorganized folders. Once you’ve imported all your assets, you can rename files and group them by different keywords to help better organize them inside your project window.




Final Cut Pro recently added a new feature to their file management system called a Library. Within Final Cut, Libraries are used to house all your Events, which in turn, house all your Projects. Think of a Library as exactly that, a library full of books. The Events are the different sections of the library such as drama, history, non-fiction, fiction, etc. There many different sections within a library, therefore you can have many different Events within your Final Cut Library. The Events are also where you’ll import all your footage and files pertaining to a specific project. Finally, within your Event, in addition to your footage, you will create a Project. Your Projects are like the different books in each section of the library. Just as a book tells a story, your Project will tell a story as the final movie you export.


The timeline is a combination of clips, images, titles, and effects that make up your final movie. Your timeline is considered your “Project”, therefore by having multiple Projects in an event, you will have multiple timelines. Once you’ve imported and organized all your clips, begin editing your movie by simply dragging and dropping a clip on the timeline. The timeline will automatically adopt the properties of the first clip placed on it. The one main difference in the new Final Cut version is the magnetic timeline. It is a fixed ripple mode timeline with no formal tracks, and the clips are sequenced and synced with connections. This can be either very annoying or very helpful. Once you wrap your head around it, you’ll be able to see the benefits and convenience of Final Cut Pro’s new timeline.


The editing tools in Final Cut Pro are similar to many other editing systems, which allows for familiarity across various editing programs. These tools are used to speed the editing process by cutting, trimming, and manipulating clips. By learning the purpose and keyboard shortcut for each tool, you will dramatically increase your editing speed. the new Final Cut Pro also has many titles and text to choose from, including new 3-D templates. The effects are just as easy to use and apply to each clip. One major benefit of the new Final Cut Pro version is the ability to conveniently view and sort through each effect before applying it to the clip. This also dramatically speeds the editing process and makes you a more efficient editor.

Editing is all about your ability to manipulate time and develop clips into a cohesive story that flows smoothly. So, finding an editing system to fit your needs is crucial. Final Cut Pro X is a dynamic editing system that can help you achieve a wide range of editing needs, and this Final Cut Pro X quick start can propel you to the next level.


At F.I.R.S.T. Institute, we can help you navigate the vastness of the Filmmaking industry and equip you with the skills and knowledge that you need to get the attention of the right people, including how to use industry standard programs and skills like how to make a movie! Faculty at F.I.R.S.T. Institute’s film school are working film industry professionals who have a passion for mentoring the next generation of filmmakers and giving them the hands on experience to succeed in the filmmaking and video production industries. You’ll have everything you need to stand out from the crowd and present yourself in the best possible light.

Give us a call or reach out to us through our website, and we’ll answer all of your questions and help you in every way we can! You’ve got a bright future ahead of you, and we’d love to help you get there.