Create split edits

Final Cut Pro allows you to set separate video and audio start and end points in an individual clip. These edits, known as split edits, can be used in many different situations—in dialogue scenes, when cutting to illustrative B-roll footage during an interview, or when transitioning from one scene to another.

You can use a split edit to introduce the sound of a new shot or scene before cutting to the video of that shot or scene. Conversely, you can use a split edit to extend the audio of a shot over a subsequent shot. For example, you could cut from a clip of a person talking to video of a person listening, while the audio from the first clip continues.

The split edit technique results in L-shaped and J-shaped clips with audio extending to the left or the right. These are known as L-cuts and J-cuts.

Note: Whenever you use split edits in a project, it’s recommended that you choose View > Expand Audio/Video Clips > For Splits (so that there’s a checkmark next to the menu item). This setting provides you with the most accurate display of all your split edits.

Create a split edit by dragging

To create the split edit, you extend the audio of one clip over a neighboring clip. In this example, the audio from the close-up of the man is extended over the close-up of the woman to create a J-cut.

  1. Add clips to the Timeline in the order in which you want them to appear in your movie.

    Clips in Timeline
  2. To show separate audio for the clip you want to edit, do one of the following:

    • In the Timeline, select the clip whose audio you want to expand, and choose Clip > Expand Audio/Video (or press Control-S).

    • Double-click the clip’s audio waveform.

    The audio and video portions of the clip appear as discrete components that you can change individually. They are still attached and will remain in sync.

    Video and audio separated in clip in Timeline
  3. Drag the start point (left edge) of the video portion of the clip to the right, effectively trimming it with a ripple edit.

    The example below shows the video start point of the close-up of the man being dragged to the right.

    Video start point being moved right, causing audio portion of clip to overlap audio from preceding clip

    This creates a J-shaped split edit, with the start point of the audio overlapping the preceding clip.

  4. To complete the split edit, show separate audio for the preceding clip, and do one of the following:

    • Drag the preceding clip’s end point to the left so that the two audio clips no longer overlap.

      Preceding clip’s audio end point being dragged back so that audio no longer overlaps in Timeline
    • Adjust the audio (fade) level of either clip so that the audio overlap sounds natural.

      Fade being added to end of preceding clip’s audio
  5. If you want to turn off the separate audio view to “clean up” the affected clips, do one of the following:

    • Choose View > Collapse All Clips.

    • Select the clip in the Timeline, and choose Clip > Collapse Audio/Video (or press Control-S).

    • Double-click the clip’s audio waveform.

    Split edit in Timeline shown after expanded view is turned off

When you play back this section of the Timeline, you hear the man begin to speak before the video cuts to the close-up of him. In this way, you can use split edits to create seamless edits from one shot to the next.

Create a split edit using keyboard shortcuts

You can create split edits quickly using keyboard shortcuts. In this example, the audio from the close-up of the man is extended over the close-up of the woman to create a J-cut.

  1. Confirm that the two adjacent clips have sufficient media handles. If not, trim the clips (shorter) to create the media handles.

  2. To expand (show separate audio) for the two adjacent clips, do one of the following:

    • In the Timeline, select the clips whose audio you want to expand, and choose Clip > Expand Audio/Video (or press Control-S).

    • Double-click the clip’s audio waveform.

    Two adjacent selected clips in Timeline shown with expanded audio
  3. Move the playhead to the edit point between the two clips.

    Playhead positioned on edit point between two clips

    To ensure accurate playhead placement, use keyboard shortcuts:

    • To move the playhead to the previous edit point: Press Semicolon (;) or the Up Arrow key.

    • To move the playhead to the next edit point: Press Apostrophe (’) or the Down Arrow key.

  4. Do one of the following:

    • To select both sides of the audio edit point: Press Shift-Backslash ().

    • To select both sides of the video edit point: Press Backslash ().

    Both sides of audio edit point shown selected
  5. To roll the audio edit point or the video edit point, do any of the following:

    • To nudge the edit point left or right: Press Comma (,) or Period (.), respectively.

    • To nudge the edit point 10 frames left or right: Press Shift-Comma (,) or Shift-Period (.), respectively.

    • To add or subtract from the current edit using timecode: Press Plus Sign (+) or Minus Sign (–) followed by the timecode duration, and press Return.

      The timecode entry field (with blue numbers) appears in the Dashboard in the toolbar as you type. For more information about entering timecode values, see Navigate using timecode.

    Audio edit point shown shifted to left, creating split edit

When you play back this section of the Timeline, you hear the man begin to speak before the video cuts to the close-up of him. In this way, you can use split edits to create seamless edits from one shot to the next.

Clear a split edit

At any time, you can clear split edits from your project to make the video and audio start and end points of a clip match.

  1. Select one or more clips that have split edits.

  2. Choose Clip > Clear Audio/Video Split.

    The split edits are removed from the selected clips.