Book Review - Final Cut Pro

October 20, 2003

Final Cut Pro 4 for Mac OS X: Visual QuickPro Guide
Published by Peachpit Press
By Lisa Brenneis

ISBN 0-321-16223-4
List price: $29.99 U.S.
Street Price $20.99
776 pages

Review By Ken Stone
Book excerpt follows review.

The four essential pieces of hardware that you need to run Final Cut Pro 4 are a Mac, a monitor, a DV device or capture card and Lisa Brenneis' book 'Final Cut Pro 4 for Mac OS X'.

The 'Final Cut Pro 4 for Mac OS X' back book jacket indicates that this book is for the Intermediate and Advanced user and not for people who are new to editing and FCP. For the beginner there is a tutorial that ships with FCP as well as a number of excellent beginner books and DVD tutorials that start you off with the basic, follow along type lessons. Having said that, once you begin learning FCP and have gotten through the initial fog of both confusion and amazement, you are going to need this book, even if you are still learning the basics.

The first four chapters of this book are devoted to introducing you to FCP. There is a complete tour of the FCP interface, installation and set up, hardware requirements, start to finish workflow concepts, presets and preferences, and very thorough explanations of all the terminology associated with FCP and video editing. For a book that is not aimed at the Beginner it does an excellent job getting the newbie up and running.

So you have your chops down and you fancy yourself an Intermediate or Advanced FCP user. Do you really need this book? FCP 4 is more than a major upgrade, with some aspects changing dramatically from version 3. New concepts have been introduced, such as the new Master/Affiliate relationship. The Master/Affiliate relationship, a feature that greatly enhances the management of Media in FCP, changes not only the way that clips relate to each other but the workflow involved in relationship to the use of media. This new feature requires a new understand and there are lessons to be learned. In addition to this new feature there are many others that will require a re learning of FCP processes. Even some of the standard keyboard shortcuts have been changed.

There are new Tools, such as the RT Extreme engine, Core Audio, Audio Mixer, Gang Mode, Asymmetrical Trimming, the list goes on and on. Other tools, like the Color Correcting suite, have new abilities added. Even for the experienced FCP editor, there is much that is new and much that needs to be learned. "Final Cut Pro 4 for Mac OS X: Visual QuickPro Guide" is not necessarily a book that you read from the first page to the last, but over time you will read much of book. As the scope of FCP has grown so has this book, it has been reorganized and re indexed to make it easier to find specific topics.

If you are not familiar with Visual Quickpro Guide books from Peachpit Press they are structured differently than most types of tutorial books. Rather than page after page of text that generally covers a broad topic, Final Cut Pro 4 for Mac OS X is a Reference guide and therein lies it's power. Have a question about a feature, process or how to accomplish a task, look the item up in the Index where you will be directed to those pages that are concerned with your issue. What you will find is a simple and consistent format style, starting with a definition or explanation of the topic, there are then step by step instructions to accomplish the task, often with alternate methods and keyboard shortcuts as well. Abundant captioned illustrations of the FCP interface and pertinent dialog boxes run side by side with the instructions so that you are able to see both the process and workflow required to accomplish your task. In addition there are "Tips", and "FCP Protocol" sidebars that explain the rules that FCP is governed by.

I can say that this book is well written and extremely thorough, which it is. I can also say that when using the Index, it is easy to find specific topics of concern and that the instructions are clear and concise, and they are. But what I should say, at least for me, is that I find this book is essential for learning and working with FCP 4. This book sits right next to my keyboard where it belongs.




An excerpt from "Final Cut Pro 4 for Mac OS X: Visual Quickpro Guide"

by Lisa Brenneis

Meet the Family: FCP 4's Clip Types

Final Cut Pro veterans are mostly thrilled by FCP 4, Apple's latest release. What's not to love? All the real time you can eat, those cute little keyframe editors in the Timeline, adjustable track heights; everybody has their pet feature, even if nobody can locate Bruce the Wonder Yak's new hiding place. FCP 4's new clip handling scheme, however, is mildly baffling even to long-time users.

It's important that current users wrap their heads around the New Way of Doing Clips in FCP; that's why I selected this excerpt ripped from my soon-to-be-real book, "Final Cut Pro 4 for Mac OS X: Visual Quickpro Guide"

-Lisa Brenneis

 About Clips

Final Cut Pro has always used clip types - audio, video, graphic, and generated - to identify clips that reference different types of source media. FCP uses a different class of clip types -s ubclip, merged clip, and sequence - to identify clips that reference a portion of another clip (like a subclip) or multiple clips (like merged clips and sequences).

FCP 4 has added three new clip types - master, affiliate, and independent-to identify clips that are linked by shared properties (like master and affiliate clips) or clips whose properties and behavior are independent of other clips (like independent clips). The new clip type classifications and behavior are designed to ease media management by automatically updating all affiliated clips when you make a change to a shared property on any of the individual affiliates anywhere in the project. The master/affiliate clips' shared properties are all related to media management; clip properties that remain independent - In and Out points, markers, and applied effects - are all modified during the normal course of editing and must remain independent in each clip copy you use.

Here's an example: You have a master clip in the Browser, and you edit it into your sequence. An affiliate copy of that master clip appears in the sequence. Rename the affiliate copy, and the name of its master clip is also renamed. Change the reel name of the master clip, and the reel name of the affiliate clip in the sequence reflects the same change.

The master/affiliate clip-handling scheme keeps your clip duplicates in sync, which can simplify your life when you're media-managing certain types of projects. Projects best suited to master/affiliate clip handling are well logged, with discrete clips that you don't plan on subdividing much.

If your preferred editing method is to capture large chunks of media and then subdivide and rename the clips post-capture, consider converting your master clips to independent-type clips before you start dicing them up. It could save you from the headache and confusion of converting (and tracking) each clip's type separately. For more information on clip affiliation protocols, see "About Clip Affiliations" in Vol. I, Chapter 9, of Apple's Final Cut Pro 4 User's Manual.

Here's a rundown of FCP's clip types:

Format-based clip types

  • Audio, Video, and Graphics clip: These clip types are determined by the type of source media the clip is referencing.

  • Generated clip: Create a generated clip by opening a generator from the Viewer's Generators pop-up menu. Generated clips are created as master-type clips. For more information, see Chapter 17, "Titles and Generators."

Relationship-based clip types

  • Master clip (Figure 4.51): Any clip that can generate affiliate clip copies is a master clip. See Table 4.1 for a complete list of ways to create one.

 Figure 4.51 It's not easy to identify master, affiliate, and independent clips in the FCP interface. Master clips are easiest to spot; a checkmark in the Master Clip column identifies a master clip in the Browser and on the Logging tab of the clip's Item Properties window. Master clips never appear in a sequence.

  • Affiliate clip (Figure 4.52): An affiliate clip is a copy of a master clip that is created by inserting the master clip into a sequence or duplicating the master clip in the Browser. Copies of affiliate clips remain linked to their master clip originals; the linked relationship extends to the clip name, reel name, source timecode, labels, subclip limits, and online/ offline state of all affiliate clips. Change one of these shared properties in any one of the affiliated clips, and the change will appear in all the affiliated clips. Markers, In and Out points, and applied effects or motion properties remain independent in master/affiliate clips. See Table 4.1 for a complete list of ways to create an affiliate clip.

Figure 4.52 Affiliate clips have no checkmark in the Browser's Master Clip column. In a sequence, the only way to identify an affiliate clip is to open the clip's shortcut menu. If the Make Independent Clip command is available and not dimmed, the clip is an affiliate clip.

  • Independent clip (Figure 4.53): Each copy of an independent clip refers directly back to its source media and does not synchronize clip naming or any other properties with any other independent clip copy. All clips in pre-FCP 4 projects are independent clips. See Table 4.1 for a complete list of ways to create an independent clip.

Figure 4.53 In a sequence, you can identify an independent clip by opening the clip's shortcut menu. If the Make Independent Clip command is dimmed, the clip is already an independent clip. Independent clips appear in the Browser only when you open a pre-FCP 4 project file.

  • Merged clip: Create a merged clip by combining video and audio from sepa-rate sources into a single clip. Merged clips are always created as master-type clips. For more information, see "Working with Merged Clips," later in this chapter.

  • Subclip: Subclips are shorter clips you create from a section of a longer master clip. A subclip is always created as a new master-type clip, with no affiliate relationship to the clip it was created from. For information on subclips, see Chapter 8, "Working with Clips in the Viewer."

Table 4.1
FCP Clip Type Relationships


Master clip




Capture new video or audio.

Import video or audio.

Create a subclip.

Create a freeze-frame.

Create a merged clip.

Drag a merged clip from the sequence back to the Browser.

Import an EDL or batch list.

Use the Duplicate as New Master clip command.

Use Modify > Make Master Clip on an affiliate or independent sequence clip.

Delete an affiliate's master clip. Affiliate clips in the Browser are converted to master clips.


Synchronizes clip name, reel name, source timecode, labels, subclip limits, and online/offline state with all affiliate clips.

Does not synchronize markers, In and Out points, applied effects, or motion properties.

Master clips appear only in the Browser.

Affiliate clip no

Edit a master clip into a sequence.

Duplicate a clip in the Browser or in a sequence.

Copy and paste a clip in the Browser or in a sequence.

Drag a sequence clip back into the Browser. 

Synchronizes clip name, reel name, source timecode, subclip limits, and online/offline state with all affiliated clips and the master clip.

Does not synchronize markers, In and Out points, applied effects, or motion properties.

Affiliate clips can appear in the Browser or Timeline.

Independent clip   no 

Delete an affiliate's master clip.

Use the Make Independent Clip command on a sequence clip.

Copy a sequence from Project A to Project B; sequence clips become independent in Project B.

Edit a clip opened outside the project directly into a sequence.

Open a FCP 3 project in FCP 4; all project clips will be independent. 

Maintains independent clip name, reel name, source timecode, remove subclip limits, online/offline state, markers, In and Out points, and applied effects or motion properties.

Independent clips appear only in the Timeline, except when a pre-FCP 4 project is opened. 


FCP Protocol: Clips and Sequences

A clip is the basic unit of media in Final Cut Pro.

A clip can represent a movie, still image, nested sequence, generator, or audio file.

A clip is a reference to the actual media file stored on your hard disk. But a clip can also reference material that is not currently online. If you delete the original media file, the clip will still appear in the Browser and Timeline, but you won't see its frames and you won't be able to play it.

When you apply special effects and perform edits on clips, you are not affecting the media file on disk.

Before FCP 4, all clips were governed by the same clip-handling protocols. FCP 4 uses three clip types: master, affiliate, and independent. Master and affiliate clips use one set of behavior protocols; independent clip behavior is governed by a different set of rules.

Using Master and Affiliate Clips in Sequences

When you insert a master clip from a project into a sequence, FCP inserts a copy of the master clip, known as an affiliate clip. That affiliate copy in the sequence shares certain properties with the master clip but maintains independent control over other properties.

This protocol is important to understand because it affects how and where you should make changes to master/affiliate clips, and it illuminates what's different about independent clip behavior. So, let's lay out the rules.

When you modify a master or affiliate clip's name, reel name, source timecode, or labels; remove its subclip limits; or change its online/offline state:

  • The change you make is applied to all affiliated clips in the project. It doesn't matter if you make the change to the master clip or its affiliate; the result is the same.

  • Master and affiliate clips' shared property behavior only applies within a single project; your changes will not be applied to other projects.

When you apply markers, In and Out points, effects, or motion properties to a master clip or its affiliate clip copy:

  • You can open the clip from the Browser (outside a sequence) or from the Timeline (within a sequence).

  • If you make changes to the clip in the Browser and then insert that clip into a sequence, the clip copy that is placed in the sequence includes the changes that have been made in the Browser.

  • Any changes you make to a clip from within a sequence are not made to the clip in the Browser.

  • After you've inserted a clip into a sequence, any further changes you make to that clip from the Browser will not be reflected in any sequence where the clip is used.

  • Clips that appear in multiple sequences are independent of one another. Changes to one will not affect the others.

  • If you want to make further revisions to a clip that's already in a sequence, open the clip from the Timeline and then make the changes.

  • If you want to make changes to a clip and have the changes show up in all the sequences in which that clip is used, open the clip from the Browser and make the changes. Then reinsert the revised clip into each sequence in which you want the updated clip to appear.

  • Final Cut Pro identifies clips that have been opened from the Timeline by displaying two lines of dots in the Scrubber bar. No dots appear in the Scrubber bar of clips that have been opened from the Browser.

Using Independent Clips in Sequences
When you convert an affiliate-type sequence clip to an independent-type clip, that independent clip refers directly back to the source media file on the disk, and any clip property can be modified independently from any master or affiliate clip referencing the same source media file.

Because each independent clip copy maintains independent control over all its properties, the same rules that apply to the In and Out points of master and affiliate clips (listed above) apply to all properties of independent clips.

Excerpted from pages 139-144 from the book, FINAL CUT PRO 4 MAC OS X: VISUAL QUICKPRO GUIDE by Lisa Brenneis, Reproduced by permission of Pearson Education, Inc. Publishing as Peachpit Press. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

You can purchase 'Final Cut Pro 4 for Mac OS X: Visual QuickPro Guide' from the lafcpug store.


Review copyright © 2003

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