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Tutorial: Using Connected Storylines in Final Cut Pro X

In this tutorial, we'll look at several ways you can use connected storylines to enhance your FCP X edits and mix in cutaways and creative shots in a quick and efficient way.

Drawbacks of Editing Connected Clips

But there are drawbacks to editing this way--here are some examples. We’ll butt our four connected clips together as in Figure 3 on the previous page.

Let’s say this is a selection of cutaway shots that I originally wanted to group together in order, and then I changed my mind and decided I wanted the two clips in the middle to swap positions. I can click one and drag it over, and then I have to click the other and drag it back (see the video that accompanies this article at around 2:13 to view the process).

So it’s not the most intuitive way.

Additionally, say you want to shorten a clip and stop it earlier, creating a gap, you’ll have to close that gap manually by moving adjacent clips--something you don’t have to deal with in the magnetic timeline. It's not the the easiest way to trim your clips.

Turning Connected Clips into a Connected Storyline

A great and simple solution for this is to turn these clips into a connected storyline. To begin, select all the clips you want to use to create a connected storyline (say, your series of cutaways/B-roll clips) and hit Command+G on a keyboard. Immediately, when you hit command G, you’re going to see a gray bar around your connected clips.

It's affectionately known as "the shelf" (Figure 5, below).

Apple Final Cut Pro X
Figure 5. Behold, the shelf.

So now your clips are in a container, ready to move in unison (Figure 6, below). Within this box, your set of connected clips has now inherited the Primary Storyline’s magnetic nature, even though they exist outside the Primary Storyline. So now you can just click and shuffle clips around as you desire. You can trim clips and FCP X will ripple your shots. It’s a great functionality because you retain the ability to move these clips anywhere you want without subjecting them to the rigors of the Primary Storyline, but within them you’ll enjoy the magnetic nature of the timeline below them.

Apple Final Cut Pro X
Figure 6. Connected clips moving in unison as a connected storyline.

Doing Append Edits and Insert Edits in a Connected Storyline

And let’s say you wanted to add a clip to it. If you go back up to the Event Library, make a selection, and hit E (for an Append Edit), like you want to add the selection to the end of the timeline, FCP X adds the clip to the Primary Storyline. So that’s one thing to remember if you want to work in your connected storyline: Make sure the connected storyline is selected first, or your selection will be added to the Primary Storyline by default. Then when you hit the E key, and it will go right to the end of the connected storyline (Figure 7, below).

Apple Final Cut Pro X
Figure 7. Applying an Append Edit to the connected storyline.

You can even do an Insert Edit. Move my cursor in between two shots in the connected storyline. Then make a selection in the Event Library, and hit the W key to insert. The selected clip goes right where the cursor is (Figure 8, below).

Apple Final Cut Pro X
Figure 8. Doing an Insert Edit in the connected storyline.

So all of your normal keyboard shortcuts that you use on your Primary Storyline will work in the connected storyline. Connected storylines are extremely easy and extremely flexible to work with. If you to want to take other connected clips from outside the connected storyline and move them inside of it, you simply click the clip and drag it over top of it. As you move the clip around, you’ll see a vertical blue line show up to let you know in between which clips it’s going be inserted (Figure 9, below). Let go of the clip you’re moving, and FCP X adds it to the connected storyline.

Apple Final Cut Pro X
Figure 9. Dropping a connected clip into the connected storyline.

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