FCPX Cheat Sheet

Want to get up to speed with Final Cut Pro X 10.1 quickly? Sam Mestman has published this FCPX 10.1 Cheat Sheet to show you the new features you need to know about.


Your FCP X 10.1 Cheat Sheet:

Well, it’s finally here. FCP X 10.1 is out… and some things are different. The big focus on this release was media management. And while it’s a boring topic for a lot of people, for professional editors, this was probably the biggest thing in the app that needed a makeover. I think what’s really happened in 10.1 is that Apple has combined the best parts about the new model they had designed with FCP X and merged those with all the things people still missed about FCP 7. In my opinion, they hit on the best of both worlds with this and really simplified a lot of FCP X’s media management without dumbing anything down.

But who cares what I think? You should try it out for yourself and decide, and the point of this article is to give you some pointers that will hopefully make your transition from 10.9 to 10.1 quite a bit easier… so without further ado, here’s your cheat sheet for FCP X 10.1:

The Big Change: Libraries (technically it is called a bundle, and there is .fcpbundle attached at the end of whatever you named it in the finder). So… before we dive into how to use the library, here are some of the benefits of the new library model:

1) Far simpler media management - confusing commands like organize event media and modify event references are now a thing of the past. You no longer need to worry about where your compound or multicam clips are located or whether something bad might happen if you pass a project between multiple editors. All you need to know is that as long as you’ve got everything in your library and it’s accessible from your hard drive, you’re good to go. Even better, it’s pretty much impossible to not have media from your project in a library as moving projects from one library to another brings all associated files from the project into the new library.

2) Sharing between multiple editors is now really easy - Just put your media folder on a new drive, and then just copy your library from your drive, paste it onto the new drive, and maybe put the other editor’s name on it so you can tell the difference. cheat sheet FCPX 1Then, hand off the drive to the editor. All they’ll need to do is open the new library in FCP X, and reconnect one file in in their library to the new media folder on their drive, and they should be all set. From there you can pass transfer libraries back and forth to each other with new projects, compound clips, etc. with no fear of being unable to reconnect so long as all the editors have all of the media.

3) SAN workflow is MUCH smoother - In previous versions, you could do it, and it worked, but it was like having a Mogwai in Gremlins. You had to follow the rules or really bad things could happen. No longer. First off, SAN locations are gone. Just give every editor their own library, and then just keep all the media in a separate folder on the SAN which they’ll all be able to reference. Also, loading libraries/events from the SAN when you open FCP X is light years faster than it was previously.

4) Proxy/optimized Workflows are optional - When you move things from one library to another in FCP X, you get the option of whether you want to include proxy/optimized media along with it (not including it will keep your library small).

cheat sheet FCPX 2

Here’s how to use your library:

The library is like a giant capsule that houses all of your media for a production or group of productions that you would like to keep together as a larger unit. Whether it’s an event or a project, a compound clip, sound, or video, if you want it to show up in your edit, it needs to live in your library.

This does not mean that you can’t move things across libraries. What it does mean, though, is that if you move something from one library to another, it’s going to copy that media into the other library… WHICH BRINGS US TO THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF THIS ENTIRE ARTICLE: ON SHARED STORAGE KEEP YOUR MEDIA OUT OF YOUR LIBRARY (no more all caps for the rest of the article, I promise).

cheat sheet FCPX 3

If you look in your import preferences, you’ll notice that the default is to now leave your media on whatever drive you’re importing from. There’s a really good reason for this. By using symlinks (aliases) and keeping your media out of your library/events, you can keep the size of your libraries lightweight and extremely portable.cheat sheet FCPX 4 If you choose to place your media inside of the library, expect those “bundles” to get big really fast. And if you just want your files for a library all going to one place with no folder like the way 10.9 used to work, you can still do this. Just make sure you set your “Copy Files Into” preference to somewhere outside of a FCP X library (bundle).

So, if you’ve been keeping your media in your original media folder, where should you keep it now? Here’s what I do… on the top level of the hard drive you want your media to live on, make a folder called “media”. Within that folder, make a new folder for each new “library” or collection of media you want to live on that drive. From there, place each day’s footage in a folder within that folder… then bring the footage into FCP X with “leave files in place” checked.

Also, if you’ve already messed around in the new version a bit, you’ve probably asked yourself “Where’d my projects go”? Well, they’re in the Events Browser now… and it works kind of like it used to in FCP 7, back when projects were called sequences. The project library from previous versions of FCP X is gone. To make a new project, all you need to do is ctrl-click on a library or event and select “new project” or cmd-N and a new project will be created in the event of your choice. And here’s a couple suggestions for how you might want to organize your projects:

Make a new event in each new library called “Projects” and have all new projects you create go there.

cheat sheet FCPX 5

Make a smart collection for projects as well, which may be more useful to you, depending on your workflow.

cheat sheet FCPX 6


Snapshots vs. Duplicating Projects: What’s the difference?
Glad you asked… took me awhile to figure this out, but the answer is kind of cool. They both allow you to create a copy of your project in one quick step and they share all the render files you have already. The most important difference is, basically, if you make a snapshot, your edit is 100% frozen in time unless you dive into that snapshot and change something. If you instead choose to duplicate a project, changes that you make to compound clips and multicam clips will ripple through to the new project.

Still confused? Do this:

  • Make a new project. Add 3 clips to it. Turn them into a compound clip.cheat sheet FCPX 7
  • In the event browser, make a snapshot of that project.
  • Make a duplicate of the project too.
  • From the original project, ctrl click the compound clip and select “open in timeline”.
  • Select the second of the 3 clips, and press shift delete to leave a gap clip in its place.
  • Open up the snapshot project. You’ll notice that the second clip is still there in the compound clip.
  • Open up the duplicate project. The second clip will have been replaced with a gap clip in the compound clip.

cheat sheet FCPX 8


cheat sheet FCPX 9

cheat sheet FCPX 10

cheat sheet FCPX 11


Autosave Vault - Finally!
If you go into your preferences, and select “general”, you’ll see there’s a new option with “save library backups”. This defaults to save copies of your libraries (minus proxies and optimized footage) to your movies folder on your startup disk, and you can access them from the folder in there called “Final Cut Pro Backups”.

cheat sheet FCPX 12

If you have multiple drives, I would suggest that you change the Library backups location to another drive so if your main editing drive crashes, you will still have a saved copy of your work ready to go.


Edit audio separate from video or detach audio when using multicam clips 
My only major complaint to FCP X’s multicam workflow just got addressed. You couldn’t do this before. You can now.


cheat sheet FCPX 13

Resolution Independence
You can make any kind of timeline you want now. This means you can deliver a master project based on the display requirements -- like a vertical plasma monitor or something custom for a website. You can also play back native 6k Dragon footage in its own 6k timeline. It doesn’t matter what aspect ratio you shot at, you can now work with that footage in a timeline at it’s native resolution. If you want to change a project’s settings, just select the project and hit “modify settings” from the info tab of the inspector.


Custom Retiming Changes
Speed changes, already one of the highlights of the app, got some nice additions in the new version. You can enter in custom speeds now. Fastest way to do this is select a clip, hit cmd-R to show the clip’s speed options, hit the little triangle next to the speed percentage, and then hit “custom” from the menu that pops up. You also still do all of this from the speed menu directly below the inspector.

cheat sheet FCPX 14

cheat sheet FCPX 15

You now have the option to do non-rippling speed changes as well. This means you can make speed changes and keep the duration of the rest of your timeline where it was. If you speed something up, and turn Ripple off, it will add a gap clip in place of where the rest of the clip used to be. If you slow something down, it will cut off the end of the clip to compensate for the new duration.


Used Media
You can now see what parts of your clips are already in a timeline. With “Show used media ranges turned on” (from the view menu dropdown… it’s off by default), you will now see a little orange bar (or multiple ones) across all of the parts of a clip from the events browser that are currently present in your edit.
cheat sheet FCPX 16 You can also select these as if they were favorites in the events browser and, if you switch timelines, used media ranges will automatically update to reflect the new timeline. 



cheat sheet FCPX 17


Did they get rid of Optimized and Proxy media?!?!
No, they didn’t. They just took it out of the preferences. Proxy/optimized got moved to the little light switch menu in the top right hand of the viewer… they did the same thing with better performance vs. better quality.

cheat sheet FCPX 18

I think this change is an improvement as it’s faster to get to, but it’s something you might miss in the middle of all the other big changes.

Keyframing Updates
Keyframing got a huge update and it’s way more usable now. You can select, move, modify, and copy/paste multiple keyframes at a time now (by pressing ctrl-V to show animation, and either then using the range tool or shift selecting a group).

cheat sheet FCPX 20

cheat sheet FCPX 19


Here’s a quick rundown of the keyframe improvements I’ve found so far:

  • Move them up or down in groups.
  • Copy/paste them using paste attributes - and if you look at the bottom left of the paste attributes window, you can now select maintain timing or stretch to fit under the keyframes option. If you choose stretch to fit, your keyframe spacing will be adapted for the new duration of the clip you’re pasting to.
  • Linear keyframes - So, that annoyi keyframe bug where if you keyframed the position and scale of something and it gave you a weird looking animation (because the interpolation of the two attributes was different)… that’s now either gone/easily fixable by quickly changing the keyframe type in the viewer.

cheat sheet FCPX 21

  • Linear keyframes for Ken Burns - I’m bizarrely excited about this one. You can do linear animations with the Ken Burns Crop now. Just control click in the viewer with Ken Burns enabled. Also, I don’t know if this was there before, but when you move around the start/end boxes in Ken Burns mode, it will give you the crop coordinates. This means you can now use the principles from this Macbreak Studio episode.

cheat sheet FCPX 22

  • And you can apply it to video clips for complicated keyframeless video animations. Here’s all you have to do to create a “hold frame” for video clips (as opposed to stills) using the Ken Burns effect:

    • Set up your Ken Burns animation. When you set your end frame, jot down the crop coordinates (you can see them at the top of the viewer with the end selected). Blade the clip where you want the animation to end.
    • On the new clip after the blade, switch from Ken Burns to “Crop” and put in the end frame crop settings.
    • Put a Blade in where you want to start your ending crop animation.
    • On the new clip after the blade, switch back over to Ken Burns, and put in closing start and end animation.
    • You can now modify the timing on both sides by holding down the T key and rolling back and forth between the two clips.

cheat sheet FCPX 23


Component Fade Handles
Audio components now have all the functionality that regular video clips have. You can finesse the fade in or fade out of any individual audio channel in a multi-channel audio file directly in the timeline.

Multiple GPU’s
FCP X will now support multiple GPU’s. This means huge performance gains if you’ve got a new Mac Pro.

UHD 4k Monitoring
You used to only be able to monitor 4096 4k in FCP X. Now you can monitor UHD (3840 x 2160) and you can monitor 4k using the HDMI port on the new Mac Pro.

Stabilization Update
Stabilization controls became more customizable and it now has inertia cam and tripod modes for stabilizing a shot that is panning or zooming.

New Compressor
Compressor got a much needed facelift. I don’t know enough about all the differences, but performance seems way better and the unified window and new interface is a very welcome addition.

4k Motion Content
All your standard Motion titles and effects are now ready for 4k! These become visible whenever you are working in a 4k timeline.

XML and FXPlug Upgrades
Seems like XML 1.3 and FXPlug 3 got big facelifts too in this release, but we might not see the benefits of this for a few months as developers update their apps with the new changes. I would expect to see quite a bit of additional functionality and performance enhancements to FCP X Apps and Plug-ins soon. Seems like NAB would be perfect for that.


Anyway, that’s about everything I’ve found so far, although there’s probably some things that I’m missing. And while I’m sure there are some things out there on people’s wish lists that didn’t get addressed (I know I’ve got my list), I think this release is a really big deal, and lays the groundwork for how the App is going to look and feel for a long time. It also represents a turning point for the App becoming as accessible for pros as it is for new editors. When you combine this with the performance boost that the Mac Pro brings to the table and how well that machine works with the new version of DaVinci Resolve -- I think the real question I have for the skeptics out there is: what can’t I do with it?

And by the way… if you’ve been looking for a FCP X/ Apple Ecosystem based solutions provider, as you might have seen the other day, we’ve officially launched a new company called FCPWORKS. It’s a dedicated workflow, training, and pro video solutions provider built entirely around FCP X and the Apple Ecosystem. Basically, the goal here is to become the Apple Store for Pro Video Editors, and deliver battle tested workflows and configurations designed specifically for the FCP X user.

Also, if you want to see FCP X 10.1 in action running on a new Mac Pro playing back 6K RED Dragon footage on a 4K projector via AJA hardware; cutting an absurd number of streams of multicam 4K footage natively in realtime; moving in and out of DaVinci Resolve seamlessly in a high end Quantum SAN environment (as well as some other things we haven’t released yet)— you'll want to come to the FCPWORKS launch event on Saturday, January 25th at Unici Casa in Los Angeles. It’s going to be all about next gen workflows powered by FCP X, and how pro editors can take full advantage of them.

We’ll be offering our presentation 3 times during the day at 11:00 AM, 3:00 PM and at 7:00 PM to accommodate your schedule. For more information and to reserve your free admission ticket, please visit:


There are going to be a lot more presenters than who we already have listed, we’ll have lots of updates between now and then, and we hope to see you there.

And in the meantime, if you need help putting together your FCP X system or if you want a private demo of some of the things I just described, drop me an email at sam (at) fcpworks.com and we’ll set something up. Simply put, you can do some things now with FCP X and the new Mac Pro that will make your head spin. Expect lots of your preconceived notions about content creation to start to change.

Have fun with the new version. I know I am.

Sam Mestman


Sam MestmanSam Mestman has worked for Apple, ESPN, "Glee," and Break.com, to name a few, and is now one of the people behind FCPWorks, a workflow, training, and pro video solutions provider built around FCP X and the Apple Ecosystem. He's also a regular writer for fcp.co and MovieMaker Magazine, teaches post workflow at RED's REDucation classes, and is the founder and CEO of We Make Movies (www.wemakemovies.org), a film collective in Los Angeles and Toronto which is dedicated to making the movie industry not suck. If you’ve got any FCP X questions, or need some help putting together a system, drop him an email at sam (@)fcpworks.com or you can follow him on Facebook or Twitter at @FCPWORKS.

Written by
Top BloggerThought Leader

I am the Editor-in-Chief of FCP.co and have run the website since its inception ten years ago.

I have also worked as a broadcast and corporate editor for over 30 years, starting on one inch tape, working through many formats, right up to today's NLEs.

Under the name Idustrial Revolution, I have written and sold plugins for Final Cut Pro for 13 years.

I was made a Freeman of Lichfield through The Worshipful Company of Smiths (established 1601). Though I haven't yet tried to herd a flock of sheep through the city centre!

Current Editing

great house giveaway 2020

2020 has been busy, the beginning of the year was finishing off a new property series (cut on FCP) for Channel 4 called The Great House Giveaway. I also designed and built the majority of the graphics as Motion templates. It has been a great success and the shows grabbed more viewers in the 4pm weekday slot than any previous strand. It has been recommissioned by C4 for 60 episodes, including prime-time versions and five themed programmes. The shows have also been nominated for a 2021 BAFTA.

Tour de france 2020
Although both were postponed to later in the year, I worked again on ITV's coverage of the Tour de France and La Vuelta. 2020 was my 25th year of editing the TdF and my 20th year as lead editor. The Tour was the first broadcast show to adopt FCPX working for multiple editors on shared storage.


BBC snooker the crucible

BBC's Snooker has played a big part in my life, I've been editing tournament coverage since 1997. I'm proud to be part of a very creative team that has pioneered many new ideas and workflows that are now industry standard in sports' production. This is currently an Adobe Premiere edit.

amazon kindle BF

Covid cancelled some of the regular corporate events that I edit such as trade shows & events. I was lucky however to edit, from home, on projects for Amazon Kindle, Amazon Black Friday, Mastercard and very proud to have helped local charitable trust Kendall & Wall secure lottery funding.

As for software, my weapon of choice is Final Cut Pro and Motion, but I also have a good knowledge and broadcast credits with Adobe Premiere Pro, MOGRT design and Photoshop.

Plugin Design & Development

I'm the creative force behind Idustrial Revolution, one of the oldest Final Cut Pro plugin developers. It hosts a range of commercial and free plugins on the site. One free plugin was downloaded over a thousand times within 24 hours of release.

I also take on custom work, whether it is adapting an existing plugin for a special use or designing new plugins for clients from scratch. Having a good knowledge of editing allows me to build-in flexibility and more importantly, usability.


Now in its 10th year and 4th redesign, running FCP.co has given me knowledge on how to run a large CMS- you are currently reading my bio from the database! Although it sounds corny, I am pretty well up on social media trends & techniques, especially in the video sector. The recent Covid restrictions has enabled live FCP.co shows online. This involves managing a Zoom Webinar through Restream.io to YouTube and Facebook. 

The Future

I'm always open to new ideas and opportunities, so please get in touch at editor (at) fcp.co. I've judged film competitions, presented workflow techniques to international audiences and come up with ideas for TV shows and software programs!


Log in to comment