Final Cut Pro X for (basic) Audio Editing.

Most of the episodes of The Terence and Philip Show are edited by interns at Alpha Dogs, and we’re very thankful for their efforts. From time to time I edit a show and have always, until now, edited them in Soundtrack Pro. But I love the Magnetic Timeline in FCP X and thought it would be perfect for the audio editing. So this time I tried it, and was surprised at the results.

Editing The Terence and Philip Show largely involves removing false starts, “you know”, “like”, et al., and the occasional tidy-up of the conversations. Regular listeners will know we don’t cut out the controversy. Terry and I are recorded from somewhat isolated microphones, but there is sufficient bleed-through that the edit usually involves cutting out the non-speaking party. Mostly. Except where we talk over each other when I need both tracks.

I thought of using multicam, but that would be awkward for the overlapping parts. (Doable, but not fluid.) With the availability of Audio Components in FCP X 10.0.6 and later, I realized it would be easiest to use WaveAgent to make a polyphonic (dual mono) WAV file. That is what I did, and imported that to FCP X.

In the Project (could be a Compound Clip) I do the actual editing with a single dual-mono WAV file in the Primary Storyline with Audio Components open to show me the two tracks of audio. (I labelled the audio components Philip and Terry for clarity.)

In Soundtrack Pro the two files were set up on two tracks but were otherwise not synchronized. (I suspect someone will point out my flawed Soundtrack Pro workflow.) To keep them in sync, whatever is deleted from one track must be deleted from the other. Except if I select bits of clips in both tracks delete and close up the gap doesn’t work. So it’s a 7 step process:

  1. Add Edit at the start of the material to be removed. (Key press)
  2. Play forward to end of the material to be removed. (Key press)
  3. Add Edit. (Key press)
  4. Select clip to be removed from track 1 (Mouse Click)
  5. Click shift+delete to remove it and close gap. (Key press)
  6. Select clip to be removed from track 2 (Mouse Click)
  7. Click shift+delete to remove it and close gap. (Key press)

That’s five key presses and two mouse clicks. Repeat. A lot!

In Final Cut Pro X (as set out above) the steps are:

  1. Add Edit at the start of the material to be removed. (Key press)
  2. Play forward to end of material to be removed (Key press)
  3. Press Option + [ to delete all material (in both tracks because they’re one clip) to trip the head of the clip. (Key press)

That’s three key presses. No mouse clicks. Fingers stay on keyboard throughout the process.

I guess this is one of the reasons why I find Final Cut Pro X to be faster, even for audio editing. But this would apply to trimming up selects from an interview equally well. (And I’ve used it like that for video interviews to cut selects before I had Lumberjack to do that work for me!)

11 thoughts on “Final Cut Pro X for (basic) Audio Editing.”

  1. Agreed on how fast it is to edit a audio in x. Zooming in to samples, performing subframe fades is great, too. Cutting video interviews is great and I use the same method as you for cutting audio. Very easy to trim fat and build a radio cut.

  2. I have not used FCP X for audio only editing because I have been working on video projects exclusively since I first got FCP X (very soon after the initial release).

    Long before I got into video editing I worked in radio, and I will give my age away by saying that when I edited audio for radio I was using tape.

    With a background in radio before working with video I realise how important the audio is in video creation. Many people new to editing video underestimate the important of paying attention to the audio tracks, in particular the lip sync tracks and any “atmos” tracks.

    Simply going through a video and carefully managing the audio at each edit with well judged cross-fades and removal of any orphaned sounds either side of the edit will greatly improve the perception of the video. It does so in a way that often people don’t credit to well managed audio, they watch the video and will comment that the video editing seems to be really good, but what they don’t realise is that they are actually responding to the quality of the management of audio at each video edit.

    Okay, so now to Final Cut Pro X. When I first started using FCP X I found that for managing and editing audio tracks it is really superb. It was clear to me that this video editor was created by someone who really understands the importance of audio. The clip in expanded view is truly a great way to view and edit lip sync material. The relationship between a change in level in any audio track and any other video component is obvious and apparent.

    In many ways FCP X makes successful editing audio in a video simpler to accomplish. It really is a great thing about this video editor which imho is by far the most superior editor available.

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