Editing Audi

Cutting a complex commercial.

In just a few months, Trim Editing has seen many changes. For starters, the boutique editorial house moved to an all-new, two-floor space in East London. By doubling its number of suites to ten, Trim can better accommodate its growing staff of editors. And during this transition, Trim’s project list has expanded, too, including powerful new spots for major brands including BMW, Nike, and Hennessy.

For editor Thomas Grove Carter, the biggest change has been the arrival of Final Cut Pro 10.3. Having brought Final Cut Pro X to Trim years ago, Thomas was eager to use this latest version of his preferred editing tool. His test drive was on a challenging Audi assignment, a spot called “Everyday Extremes,” that demanded complex sound design and smooth visual transitions. The new Final Cut Pro exceeded his high expectations, allowing him to turn his ideas into new cuts faster than ever before.

Thomas Grove Carter used Final Cut Pro 10.3 to craft a complex soundtrack for “Everyday Extremes”.

A streamlined look that looks great.

For Carter, the enjoyment of using Final Cut Pro 10.3 begins at first launch. “It looks very clean and flat and it doesn’t feel busy. There’s nothing cluttering your peripheral vision when you’re looking at the viewer. And the way the buttons have been restructured and repositioned feels logical.”

Thomas also appreciates the customizability of the interface, which allows him to instantly adapt the layout to match his workflow. “At the beginning, when I’m organizing footage, I’m not using the timeline at all, so it’s great to be able to hide it completely.” Hiding the timeline gives him the full screen to review clips and tag selects. “It focuses you on the task at hand.”

With custom window layouts, Thomas can return to his preferred work spaces with just a click. “Custom layouts have been very useful. When you save a layout, every little parameter that you’ve adjusted is saved as well—not just the positioning of windows but also the settings you’ve carefully fine-tuned. That’s really handy.”

“The layout is uncluttered. Everything feels sharper. And it looks beautiful.”

Color-coded clips helped Thomas organize his timeline and understand the entire project at a glance.

Working in a timeline that saves you time.

In “Everyday Extremes,” an Audi A4 speeds through the slick terrain and tight turns of a darkened department store. The footage is impressive on its own, but it’s even more immersive when paired with detailed sound design. To build this complex soundscape, Thomas adds a variety of new effects to simulate the car’s tire squeaks and engine revs, along with the sounds of the store coming to life.

Carter’s job is made faster and easier by the new timeline features in Final Cut Pro 10.3. The app automatically groups and color-codes audio clips by their role (i.e. audio type), allowing him to identify different categories of sound at a glance. He creates separate roles for tire sounds, engine rumbles, and other effects supplied by the Audi client. “I can instantly see the organization of those clips and what the clips mean,” says Thomas. “It’s a brilliant way to view the timeline.”

New options in the Timeline Index allow Thomas to see only the audio roles he needs, where and when he needs them. “I love the ability to swap the order of roles,” says Carter, which allows him to instantly rearrange the timeline layout by simply dragging roles in the Index. In addition, by clicking the Focus button, he can concentrate on specific audio roles—tire sounds, for instance—and collapse all others in the timeline. When working on the overall sound design, Show Audio Lanes instantly organizes all audio clips by role and places them into separate lanes for easier visualization in more complex projects.

Final Cut Pro 10.3 even streamlines the process of importing audio. The app reads iXML metadata created by the sound recorder in the field, then uses the information to automatically assign roles to each of the clips. With all audio imported, color-coded, and grouped by role, Thomas and his assistant editors save significant time on prep, which they can instead spend on creating a complex sonic portrait of a fast car on an indoor obstacle course.

“By organizing and color-coding clips for me, the new Final Cut Pro strips away all the manual labor.”

The new Remove Attributes window let Thomas quickly experiment with layered effects and new looks.

Powerful features for effortless editing.

In addition to the big changes in Final Cut Pro X 10.3, the update includes many editing refinements that help Thomas move faster through his projects. When trying new ideas or fine-tuning cuts, he can now roll trim on adjacent connected clips and use the handy Trim Start and Trim End commands on multiple clips at once. Thomas often applies color correction and effects while editing, and the new option to Remove Attributes provides a fast way — and a simple interface — for him to selectively delete unwanted elements.

Within Trim Editing’s bustling new workplace, projects frequently move from one edit suite—and iMac—to another. In the past, if a project included Motion templates or third-party effects, these had to be separately transferred to each new Mac one by one. In Final Cut Pro X 10.3, Thomas can bundle titles, templates, and effects in the same library as the media, so those elements travel with the project.

One of Carter’s favorite new features is the continuous playback option in the browser. This allows him to review all his selects without the need to create rigid stringouts in the timeline. “In the past, to view selects, I’d have to take all the favorites, create a new timeline, dump them in, and play it through. It was a few extra steps, and any markers I added were stranded in the timeline. Now I can stay in the browser and just press play—one click—to view my selects. That’s another big step forward—massive for me, in fact.”

With the “Everyday Extremes” spot completed and garnering praise, Thomas is eager for his Trim colleagues to experience the benefits of Final Cut Pro 10.3. “The new interface isn’t just better looking. It includes features which don’t exist anywhere else that let me spend more time editing and less time clicking,” says Carter. “And that allows me to focus on the creative parts I enjoy the most—the reasons why I became an editor.”

“The new features clearly come from listening to users. And Apple has implemented them in a way that’s both clean and powerful.”