Editing News Packages in Final Cut Pro X

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After 20 years of working as a reporter and anchor in both radio and TV, I just accepted a position as a "multimedia journalist" in the Atlanta market. That's a fancy new term my company came up with for a "one man band" reporter for both radio & TV. What can I say? It's the state of the business right now.

I will be using Final Cut Pro X to edit local news stories. I will be shooting and editing my own stories for both radio and television. I'll also need to export soundbites from my timeline into .wav or .mp3 files so I can edit them in my DAW of choice (Adobe Audition 6.0) for radio. I figured out how to export (share) the audio files only.

But what I really want to know is what is the best way to edit in FCP X for TV news? I come from an era of tape to tape linear editing. I taught myself non-linear editing in FCP 6 & 7. I'll admit, I am no expert, but I can hold my own in typical straight cut packages with maybe a few transitions, graphics and photos thrown in for good measure.

I will be shooting in standard definition (720x480 DV Anamorphic). My camera is the Sony HXR-NX5U. So, I can take the SDHC/SDXC cards I'll be shooting on, slip them into my MacBook pro and import the raw footage directly into FCP X. What I need is a quick, reliable workflow that will allow me to log my VO and soundbites by timecode. I also need an editing style that will be consistently fast.

Having learned to edit on FCP, I am somewhat familiar with FCP X. It is a departure, but I kind of understand where the developers were going with this one. I really like the magnetic timeline and the background rendering. The built-in effects are also very useful for TV news.

What I am having trouble with is what seems to me to be the elimination of editing in the A-roll and B-roll style that is typical of TV News. I'm used to laying down a voice track, then sound bites, maybe a bridge standup and then other voice tracks and maybe another soundbite or two.

The problem is FCP X places the audio track and soundbites on the same timeline. If you try to drop voice tracks/soundbites below or raise them above the soundbites/voice track it snaps the two together -- effectively locking them. This is very annoying. FCP X also makes editing in B-roll more difficult than I'm accustomed to.

Again, the magnetic timeline should make things easier and faster for editing projects with a quick turnaround like local news. But I have been frustrated trying to edit in FCP X. I did figure out how to right click a voice track in the timeline and prompt it to "Lift From Storyline" It drops it below the soundbite and inserts a generated gap in its place that is the same length of the voice track you lifted from the primary timeline. But this feels awkward.

Please help me. I have been working with a photographer and editor for the past week. But I'm told that most of my gear is here and the engineers are just waiting for a few other items to arrive. That means I will soon be on my own and expected to file stories for both radio & TV. Maybe I just don't quite understand FCP X. I have been using it to edit little home movie projects of my 5-year-old. But nothing as potentially complex as a news story.

Any advice or help you can give me will be truly appreciated.



Necktie Boy

Well-known member
Not a fan of FCP X. Not a user of FCP X. I know that audio is handle differently, and heard that some editors have problems. I think you are the first to mention that you are cutting news with FCP X. Everyone else that I know is still on FCP 7. Even the local junior college is still cutting news on FCP7.

I think that you are doing the right thing, learning from others, but I really do believe that the station should be training you on this new software.

I would google cutting dialog on FCP X. It should give you some ideas on your problem.

I wish I could be more help, but not many pros use FCP X.


Well-known member
Until they release a version with a dedicated workflow for dual-mono, I don't see X as a good choice for news. Right now, everything is based on stereo, and keeping dedicated channels for reporter tracks, SOTs and nat sound is almost impossible to do in a timely manor. Don't get me wrong, there are workarounds for almost everything (as noted, lifting your track from the storyline and use your primary storyline for sots/nats is a decent solution) but workarounds take time. There's a lot I like about X, but if I'm slamming together a PKG at the last second, it's not a good tool. As an Apple certified trainer for FCP X, I've really, really tried hard to like it for news, but I'm just not there yet. I'm hoping a significant X.1 update will fix some things, but who knows.
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Well-known member
If your willing to spend $25/month, try the tutorials subscription on www.lynda.com. Pretty thorough training videos. On that site do a search for "Final Cut Pro 10 Essential Training". That course is 6 hours and 15 minutes long, broken up into chapters. You could crash learn it on your day off, or learn in bits and pieces over time. If you get thru watching the whole thing in less than a month, you can cancel your subscription, and all you've paid is $25. -Unless you want to keep it to learn other apps, they've got hundreds of them.


Well-known member
I just spent a week training my local librarians how to use it (and shoot and write and way more than they were able to absorb) ... taught myself. It is damn awkward, but here's what I came up with.
Record your track...left click while holding control and separate audio from video then do the same thing again and eliminate the video and put in a slug/placeholder (forget the exact term for that...was kinda traumatized by using this POS program and have apparently tried to blank it from my memory).
If you want to lay video over the narration, select a portion of a clip and drop it directly on the placeholder...you will be given several choices/choose "replace." Now you can add clips over narration to your heart's desire.
Frankly for the price I think Final Cut Express or any other low-end program (with the exception of MovieMaker Windows 7) would work just as well.
You don't need anything complicated for basic editing...but you do need something with an easy workflow. FCPX is not a good choice.
It is neither professional (i.e., I cannot do fine editing with it...to the frame...easily). The audio controls are difficult to use. It is more like iMovie with all of the cheesy templates and transitions, and you don't have much control over them.
But if you have to use it, then decide what it is you need to know and then learn just that. Good luck.


Well-known member
Wow, good on you Cyndy!

FCPX sounds like a complete cluster cluck. I still use FCP 6.0 and 7.0 and not sure what's next for me. They are soooooo easy to use with drag and drop.

Happy New Year!