Insider Tips: Anchor Your Audio with a Gap Clip in Final Cut Pro

Insider Tips: Anchor Your Audio with a Gap Clip in Final Cut Pro

Every week, Frame.io Insider asks one of our expert contributors to share a tip, tool, or technique that they use all the time and couldn’t live without. This week, Reuben Evans demonstrates how to anchor your audio with a Gap Clip in Final Cut Pro.


Anchoring your audio with a Gap Clip in Final Cut Pro

Final Cut Pro uses a “Primary Storyline” as the spine of a timeline. So every clip is related to another. This makes a lot of sense when you are editing a visually driven narrative video. But not all videos have the visuals as their primary association. Music videos and voice overs, for example, are typically more audiocentric.

Placing your audio track in the primary storyline can make it harder to work with FCP’s editing tools.
Placing your audio track in the primary storyline can make it harder to work with FCP’s editing tools.

To accommodate this, many editors place the audio, like a song, right in the primary storyline, and then line up connected clips, or clips in a secondary storyline. But the drawback to this approach is that you lose the ease of access to Final Cut Pro’s editing tools. And then you find yourself trying to operate it like a traditional track-based NLE.

I think there’s a better way. By simply starting your timeline with a Gap Clip (Opt+W), you can provide an anchor for your audio.

Placing your audio track in the primary storyline can make it harder to work with FCP’s editing tools.
Placing your audio track in the primary storyline can make it harder to work with FCP’s editing tools.

Then, as you begin to drop video clips into the primary storyline, you’ll retain the use of the normal trimming tools. You can still place markers on your audio and line things up on the beat.

…which allows you to drop video clips into the primary storyline.
…which allows you to drop video clips into the primary storyline.

Sometimes you’ll have connected clips on a secondary storyline that need to maintain their relationship to a point in the main audio. Holding down the accent grave key (`)—(also known as the tilde key—can help.

Holding down the accent grave key (`) lets you override the relationship of clips.
Holding down the accent grave key (`) lets you override the relationship of clips.

This puts you into a mode that allows you to temporarily override the relationship of a clip to its connected clips. A Gap Clip will appear maintaining the connected clip’s spot.

And that’s how you can take advantage of FCP’s tools even when you’re cutting an audio-oriented video.


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Screenshots from Amazing Grace (due for release in 2024). Courtesy of Visuals 1st Films, LLC.

Thank you to Reuben Evans for contributing this article.

Reuben Evans is an award-winning screenwriter, executive producer at Faithlife, and a member of the Producers Guild of America. He has produced and directed numerous documentaries and commercials. Reuben’s tools of choice are RED Cameras, Final Cut Pro, and DaVinci Resolve. He writes for Frame.io Insider and is part of the Blade Ronner Media writers network. Reuben resides in Washington state with his wife, four kids, and one crazy goldendoodle puppy named Baker.

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