[ This article was first published in the February, 2004, issue of
Larry’s Monthly Final Cut Studio Newsletter. Click here to subscribe.
Updated May 16 for FCP HD. ]
This article is in two sections:
New to Version 4 Final Cut Pro is a button Apple calls, “Auto-select.” It’s located on the left side of the Timeline — one to each track.
During normal edit operations, these buttons sit quietly and no one pays any attention to them. However, they become significant when you are cutting and pasting, or when you are applying filters. This Technique explains why.
Auto-select adds an additional layer of control (some would also say, “unnecessary complexity”) when applying a filter, which I will talk about in a minute. However, in version 4.1, Apple changed how auto-select works during a copy and paste and this is what I will discuss first.
In the initial release of FCP 4 (versions 4.0 – 4.02), when you copied a clip to the clipboard (Edit > Copy or Edit > Cut) then pasted that clip back into the timeline, two principal rules determined the placement of the clip: 1) the playhead determines the clip’s location on the timeline and 2) the patch panel determines which track the clip lands on.
With the release of FCP version 4.1, the auto-select button now controls which track, not the patch panel. Additionally, if you set an in or an out, the Paste function ignores both the in and the out, instead it pastes the clip at the location of the playhead. (I’m not sure if earlier versions ignored an in or an out, all my systems have been updated and I can’t test to find out.)
Here’s the new rule: When pasting a clip, the playhead determines the clip’s location on the timeline and the track with the lowest auto select button selected (i.e. with a DARK center) determines on which track it appears.
Here are three examples:
In this example, all auto-select buttons are selected (dark center), so the pasted clip shows up on V1. V1 is the lowest numbered track who’s auto-select button is dark.
In this example, the auto-select button for V1 is NOT selected (hollow center), so the pasted clip shows up on V2.
In this example, the auto-select button for V1 and V3 are NOT selected (hollow center), so the pasted clip shows up on V2, which is the lowest numbered track with a dark auto-select button.
Now, there’s another use of auto-select buttons, which is in all versions of FCP 4: use Auto-select to select a range and tracks to which a filter applies when you have multiple video tracks and you are also using an In and an Out on the Timeline.
Here, also, are three examples:
In this example above, all auto-select buttons are dark. And I have three video clips stacked above each other on V1, V2 and V3.
If I select all three clips, then apply the Desaturate filter, all three clips are now filtered for their entire duration.
Now let’s turn off the auto select button for V1. If I select all three clips, then apply the Desaturate filter then, again, all three clips get filtered. And, the filter is applied to the entire duration of all three clips.
However, if, instead of selecting the clips, I set an in and an out on the Timeline, this will then apply a filter to a portion of a clip or clips. At this point, the auto-select button becomes important.
If the auto-select button is DARK, the filter will apply to the clip, or clips, on that track. If the filter is hollow, the filter will ignore the clip, or clips, on that track. (Again, you can use In’s and Out’s to set a range within a clip, or between multiple clips.)
This can be helpful when you want to delete portions of clips on multiple tracks without deleting all clips at that point. Or, when you want to apply a filter to multiple clips at the same point in the timeline, without applying that filter to all clips, or to the entire duration of a clip.
Lisa Brenneis has written an exhaustive list of how Auto-Select works in FCP HD. She writes:
The Timeline’s Auto Select controls affect a wide variety of Timeline operations. Auto Select is meant to make the editor’s life easier, and it would make your life easier — if only you could remember how Auto Select works for each edit operation. FCP designers decided to optimize Auto Select behavior for each type of editing operation, and that’s why we have all these special rules.
Here’s a summary of the current protocols:
[Larry again] I am a big fan of Lisa’s Visual Quick Start Guides and Lisa will be releasing her latest, a newly revised “Final Cut Pro HD 4.5: Visual Quickpro Guide,” published by PeachPit Press, in early July.
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