Edit a Music Track to Fit your Project

Use markers on a gap clip in Final Cut Pro X to easily edit your audio to fit the length of your project. Transcript of the entire episode available below.

Welcome to Final Cut Pro X in under 5 minutes. My name is Steve Martin from RippleTraining.com. If you’re like me, you often download a music track from your favorite online music library. Rarely, however, do you end up with a track that fits the duration you need for your project. In this tutorial, I’m going to show you how to use Final Cut Pro X’s magnetic timeline to do exactly that. Cut down the music to fit the length you need. You can see I’ve already added a music track. You’ll notice when I select the track and press Control-D that the duration is, well it’s over 2 minutes long, that’s not going to do because I really needed about a minute and 30 for the teaser trailer that were doing for our Callouts plug-in. Something that would be really helpful is to place a marker at one minute and thirty seconds here in the timeline. Unfortunately, Final Cut Pro X doesn’t allow you to do this, so I have a workaround. Select the clip, and I’m going to press Command-Option-Up Arrow and what that does is lift the music track from the primary storyline. Now why would I want to do that? Well, this is a gap clip and I can skim to the duration that I want the music to be, so in this case I’ll skim to about 1:30, and I will place a marker right at the skimmer location. You don’t have to be precise, that’s the thing, press M, I get a marker. So now when I’m cutting down this music, I have a target endpoint that I want the music to be. The key point is, the marker will not move as you’re trimming the audio as it would if you put the marker on the track itself. The next thing we want to do is place this music inside of a storyline, so we get the benefits of the magnetic timeline. If I split this clip and started making trims, you’d see I’d have all these gaps I’d have to deal with. So I’m going to undo, select the track, and I’m going to press Command-G to add this to a secondary storyline. We know we’re in a secondary storyline because of this bar along the top of the clip. Because I want to shorten the music, I want to find repeat phrases of music, and pull those out. I’m going to move my playhead to the beginning of the timeline, then press Command-Plus to zoom in. Notice the secondary storyline is already selected. I’m going to use the M key for marker to mark these repeating phrases in the music. So that’s good enough for now, you can see that these phrases repeat and I don’t need all of them. I’m going to press B to bring up the blade tool, and with snapping turned on I’m going to snap the skimmer to that first marker and click to blade at the marker. I’m going to skim to the third marker, click and make a cut. You don’t need to be precise with the blade tool because we’re going to refine our edit using the trim tool. Now I’m going to switch back to the selection arrow by pressing A selecting that piece of music, or that phrase of music, and pressing Delete. Now you’re going to see the benefit of the magnetic timeline. With one tap, that piece is removed, and the music closes up. When you’re music editing, one of the key features is you want to be able to loop over the edit point to see how your edit works before you trim. So I’m going to use the Up Arrow key to move the playhead to the edit point. There’s a command called “Play Around Current”. If I bring up Preferences by pressing Command-Comma you’ll notice there’s this option that says pre-roll duration and it’s currently set for 4 seconds. What happens when I execute a “Play Around Current” is the playhead will back up by the duration specified in this input field. Right now it’s set for 4 seconds. Now I recommend if your doing music editing to set this much lower, in fact I’m going to set this to 2 seconds; you can set it lower if you want, then I’m going to close the window. Now the Play Around Current command is Shift-Question Mark and what will happen is the playhead will back up 2 seconds and play past the edit point 2 seconds and keep looping. And notice when I stop, play goes right back to the edit point. Now, as it played you can hear there’s a problem with the music; it’s not clean. We need to do some adjustments on the edit point, either the outgoing or the incoming. So what I going to do is move my mouse pointer over the incoming clip, and I’m going to select that edit point. I’m going to use the Period key to remove a frame or the Comma key to add a frame. But here’s the thing, I don’t want to do this statically without the music playing; I want to use Play Around Current and do the trimming in real time so I can hear if the music works. In fact, let’s do that now. I’m doing to press Shift-Question Mark to begin looped playback, and then do my trim. That sounds perfect. And that’s all there is to it. It’s a great way to edit music. Now, I’m not going to bore you with editing this entire thing down to one minute and thirty seconds, I have a finished music edit right here I’m going to open up and you can see here I have a lot of music edits, and I going to go ahead and play over them and I defy you to hear the music edits. Click the Subscribe button below if you want to be notified whenever we post a new episode. If you have an idea for a topic, or just want to give us suggestions, use the comments section. Go to Rippletraining.com for fast professional training on Final Cut Pro X, Motion, and Davinci Resolve from industry professionals.