Editing Tip: Creating Alternate Storylines In FCP-X

The editing suite is not only the place where every film is crafted, but this is where the emotional truth in an actor’s performance comes to live and the pace of how the audience feels emotional throughout the entire film is set. Editing is often referred to as the invisible art of filmmaking whereas film editors must creatively work with different layers and palettes of images, dialogue, music, pacing, as well as the actors’ performances to effectively recreate and sometimes even rewrite the story to craft the most truthful and immersive experience for the people in front of the big screen.

Considering the limitless options and countless choices an editor has while editing a certain film, this statement becomes quite relevant, indeed. Often we want to swap positions of certain edits, trim a couple of seconds here and there, tweak the dialogue a bit, do some smaller or bigger changes in the edit that sometimes can alter the mood and direction of an entire film.

Yet, having the ability to change your story line on the go is extremely important and it’s one of the most powerful and essential aspects of editing. That’s why Final Cut Pro X’s Secondary Storylines are a great tool for creating alternate edits that can keep your Primary Storyline intact. Seasoned editor, filmmaker and founder of Ripple Training Steve Martin is here with another insightful tutorial that covers a great tip for using Sub-Roles for previewing versions of your cut in Final Cut-X.

Creating an alternate cut of a section of your commercial, short or feature film happens quite often while editing. Fortunately, FCP-X provides a Secondary storyline feature that might be quite useful in this type of situations. This technique is extremely effective, especially when you want to keep your Primary storyline intact and simply make an alternate version. To make this work for you, simply select the clips that you need to re-order or trim, copy and paste them as connected clips just as shown in the above example.

Each of these clips is a separately connected one as indicated by the connection line at the head of each clip. In order to continue editing the alternate cut, you need to group these clips by utilizing the Connected Storyline in FCP-X. Select all the clips and press Command + G. This automatically places all the clips into a single container. The group now acts as a single unit that has only one connection line instead of four. Now you can do your editing in the secondary storyline without affecting the order of the clips in your Primary storyline.


Furthermore, using roles in FCP-X, you can make toggling your alternate cut and the primary storyline using a timeline index. Simply Navigate to Modify, and then choose Edit Roles. In the dialog box by clicking on the Plus button you can create as many Sub-Roles as you like. In this particular case, Steve creates only one named Alternate Cut. Afterwards, he selects the connected clips in the secondary storyline and assigns them  to the already created Sub-Role.


This way by opening the Timeline index and selecting roles you can easily disable all the clips in the connected secondary storyline by clicking the check box next to each particular role. Finally, when you want to see your alternate cut you simply need to enable the Alternate Cut Sub-Role you’ve just created. This is a great way to save multiple storylines without affecting your primary one and keeping as many alternate versions of your main edit as you’d like.

[source: Ripple Training]

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