Three-point editing overview

Three-point editing allows you to use start and end points in the Browser and the Timeline to specify the duration of a clip and where it should be placed in the Timeline. Three-point editing gets its name from the fact that only three edit points are necessary to determine the portion of the source clip to use and where to place that clip in the Timeline. Final Cut Pro infers the fourth edit point automatically. The result of the edit depends on which three points are set in the Browser and in the Timeline: two start points and one end point or one start point and two end points.

You can use three-point editing with the following types of edits:

With each of these edit types, you can also perform backtimed three-point edits, in which the end point (rather than the start point) is aligned with the skimmer or playhead position in either the Browser or the Timeline. You can also make two-point edits in which start and end points are inferred from the skimmer position and the clip duration.

To make three-point edits, it’s important to know how to make selections and how to use the skimmer and the playhead. For more information about making selections, see Select a range and Select one or more clips. For more information about the skimmer and the playhead, see Playback and skimming overview.

Basic three-point editing has three stages:

Stage 1: Set source selection edit points in the Browser

Specify which part of a clip you want to place in the Timeline. You do this by setting the start and end points. If you want to set just a start point in the Browser, position the skimmer (or playhead) at the point where you want the edit to begin. In this case, the end point is determined by the start and end points set in the Timeline or by the end of the clip. You can also select multiple clips in the Browser, and their aggregate source media duration determines the start and end points.

Stage 2: Set edit points in a storyline in the Timeline

Specify where you want the clip to appear in the Timeline by setting start and end points in the primary storyline or in a connected storyline. If both start and end points are set in the Timeline, these edit points determine the edit duration, regardless of the duration set in the Browser. If no start or end points are set in the Timeline, Final Cut Pro uses the skimmer position for the start point of the edit. If the skimmer is not present, Final Cut Pro uses the playhead position.

Important: With few exceptions, three-point editing requires range selections (rather than clip selections).

Stage 3: Add the source clip or selection to the Timeline

Choose to either insert, connect, or overwrite.

Important: Timeline start and end points always take precedence over start and end points set in the Browser. This means that if you set both a start point and an end point in the Timeline, the Timeline start and end points determine the duration of the edit, regardless of the start and end points in the Browser. This allows you to limit your edit to a specific section of the Timeline.

There are a few key things to keep in mind when making three-point edits.

Edit points set

Results

  • Source selection start and end points in the Browser

  • Destination start point in the Timeline

The start point of the source selection in the Browser is aligned with the destination start point in the Timeline, and the duration of the edit is determined by the source selection start and end points in the Browser.

  • Source selection start point in the Browser

  • Destination start and end points in the Timeline

The start point of the source selection in the Browser is aligned with the destination start point in the Timeline, and the duration of the edit is determined by the destination start and end points in the Timeline.

Note: This edit requires a range selection in the Timeline. You can use the Range Selection tool or the I and O keys for this purpose. For more information about making range selections, see Select a range.

  • Source selection start and end points in the Browser

  • Destination end point in the Timeline

The end point of the source selection in the Browser is aligned with the destination end point in the Timeline, and the duration of the edit is determined by the source selection start and end points in the Browser.

This is known as “backtiming” an edit. Use this method when you want to make sure a clip ends at a specific point in the project.

  • Source selection end point in the Browser

  • Destination start and end points in the Timeline

The end point of the source selection in the Browser is aligned with the destination end point in the Timeline, and the duration of the edit is determined by the destination start and end points in the Timeline.

This is known as “backtiming” an edit. Use this method when you want to make sure a clip ends at a specific point in the project.

Note: This edit requires a range selection in the Timeline. You can use the Range Selection tool or the I and O keys for this purpose. For more information about making range selections, see Select a range.