Are there big differences in trimming between Avid and Final Cut Pro? LA-based editor Josh Beal compares the two NLEs. 


Avid users levy many points of criticism against Final Cut, but one of the most elementary might be trimming in the timeline. Avid is very formidable on this front, but Final Cut’s simplicity and its magnetic timeline are unique strengths of their own.

This video is a short comparison between the two, in the hopes of illuminating the way each works and how Final Cut may not always be the deal breaker Avid users often think it is. 


In response to some of the questions regarding trimming, Josh has published another video which shows dynamic JKL trimming in Avid.



Written by

I am an editor based in Los Angeles.  Working most often in scripted series; credits include the shows COUNTERPART, BLOODLINE and Netflix's LOCKE & KEY.  Represented through GSK Talent.

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JoeEditor's Avatar
JoeEditor replied the topic: #112358 27 Jan 2021 15:47
In FCP, instead of JKL keys to trim, you can use the period and comma keys, or as I call them, the Trim arrow keys (), which works with any trim operation, and does pretty much the same thing. Drawback is with slip edits using you don't get the 2-up display. Nice comparison, thanks for posting.
peteramwiggins's Avatar
peteramwiggins replied the topic: #112360 27 Jan 2021 16:52
I must admit I shudder when I look at some of the complex Avid timelines editors post. How long does it take to go into the middle and shave one frame off a clip and still keep everything in time?
Bluebicycle's Avatar
Bluebicycle replied the topic: #112378 28 Jan 2021 09:05
But all NLE's have trim buttons, usually 1 or 10 frame increments. What is missing in FCP, is Dynamic Trimming. That is the ability to play, watch and listen to the cut point. FCP 7 had this, not as good as Avid, because altering the "watch point" was tricky and always reverted to the vision. The key on Avid is that you can Dynamically trim the audio cut point, whilst simultaneously watching the vision, which can be anywhere, not even on the same segment. You compensate in one place and see what it does in another, all in one smooth operation.

You do not get a 2 up display on FCP unless you drag, even single ended ripple trimming. This is really poor. 

Peter's point is a concern on Avid and losing sync can be very easy to do. Even worse if you use FCP a lot! Bear in mind though, that you only need to enable trim rollers on vertically coincident points, if you use Sync locks and it does actually tell you where it is going to trim, by showing grey rollers. FCP 7 had sync locks always on and would trim in adjacent filler. Avid is much more flexible and often times, editors do push things out of sync temporarily, since the sync indicators will always warn you, making it easy to readjust. Editing is not always about keeping sync. FCP's common clip container hampers out of sync adjustments.

So after the absence of any Dynamic Trimming,  it comes down to multiple trim points and lack of asymmetrical trimming on FCP. Over the years this has been less of a problem than I thought,, because it is just so fast to make the changes, that the fact that you have to then make compensatory adjustments, usually on the audio tails, is really quite quick.

Avid also has "Top and Tail", so you can do the Trim Start/ End thing just the same as FCP. It also has slip, without using the trim mode by simply parking on a segment and turning on that track light and using the trim buttons. It also has" Extend" which is Shift X on FCP.

All I would like back from FCP 7,   is "Dynamic Trimming", that ability to play, watch and listen as you trim, without guessing by bashing trim buttons, the analogue audio scrub too is superior. MC's graphics are so buttery smooth, when you JKL, backwards and forwards it literally feels like you almost have your hands on the spools,

A great video, that really shows how fast it is to make adjustments on FCP. 
RSK's Avatar
RSK replied the topic: #112388 28 Jan 2021 14:48

What is missing in FCP, is Dynamic Trimming. That is the ability to play, watch and listen to the cut point.

How or since when is that not possible in FCP? ​Turn on looping, then simply select the clip or clips you want to affect or even set an in and out point(!), choose either "Play selection" (/) or "Play around" (⇧?)—for the latter, you don't even need a selection—whatever makes more sense.  Then, while playing, simply use "," and "." to nudge your slip, trim, entire clip, or whatever by one frame or add ⇧ to nudge by 10 frames. FCP will continue playing the entire time. Bingo. The only difference is that FCP doesn't immediately jump back to your starting point once you make your change, which I suppose would be nice.

Even if you select a different clip, an edit point, etc., or even switch tools it won't stop! Now that's something that Avid certainly won't do, right? If I'm not mistaken any and every click will stop playback—just as in FCP 7—which I personally find highly annoying.Technically different, functionally effectively identical if you ask me. Other than maybe the two-up. Oh well. I still far prefer FCP's handling of the whole thing.

Also—@7:05—there's no need to expand the audio i.e. use the mouse first. Simply move to the edit point, and hit ] to select the video or ⇧] for the audio edit point and proceed as described above.

editors do push things out of sync temporarily, since the sync indicators will always warn you

Sure. That's assuming you actually SEE the indicator and they're not just showing up e.g. somewhere way down the timeline that you may not zoom out to i.e. see for hours and after making endless other changes. Something that would happen to me all the time with legacy FCP and every other NLE. Absolutely infuriating and, as I now know, just so completely unnecessary.

FCP's common clip container hampers out of sync adjustments.

You do realize that that's a feature, right? 😄 And seriously? When is the last time you actually needed that? And when you do, what's so difficult about simply hitting ctrl⇧S to detach the audio to put you in the exact same state as in Avid, just much safer thanks to the clip connection? So a bit of a red herring, no? The times you'll actually want to move synched audio are the huge exception, which is why the way FCP does it is without question the far superior approach IMHO.

parking on a segment and turning on that track light

You lost me at "track light". 😏
peteramwiggins's Avatar
peteramwiggins replied the topic: #112414 29 Jan 2021 11:53
Just added Josh's second video showing JKL trimming in Avid - thanks Josh!
Bluebicycle's Avatar
Bluebicycle replied the topic: #112416 29 Jan 2021 12:47
Josh nails it! It's fundamental. I already did a riposte to Robin, screen recording, even digging out FCP7! So will post when I get home!
RSK's Avatar
RSK replied the topic: #112417 29 Jan 2021 12:49
Ah! Very nice and helpful, yes. That I hadn't actually seen before and also better understand what he meant with his comparison to the Precision Editor. I'd certainly like to at least see the ability to marquee several edit points at once like that in FCP, too, either way. And while I understand the perk of being able to do it like that, I'm not sure I'd need it beyond what the Precision Editor in fact offers. It's probably more of a muscle memory thing i.e. if you've had/used it then you miss it. In which case it might also strike you as "fundamental". But otherwise… not so much. I'm not even entirely sure if it could even work that way in the context of the Magnetic Timeline. 🤔

Thanks for the update! 👍🏼
Bluebicycle's Avatar
Bluebicycle replied the topic: #112422 29 Jan 2021 13:50
I suspect this is why the communities are at odds on this. I've worked with some crazy fast FCP Classic editors. They never seemed to trim, in the sense that I do, and as described by Josh. These formidable cutters "got there" by yanking things around, opening up gaps, trimming ends and then closing. They rarely played out a cut using the Trim Window. Traditionally Avid never had single-ended roll trimming, that left a gap, (well you could, but it was a buried feature.) On 7, it's default Select Tool behaviour and is used to great effect, because it meant you can tighten something, by doing  single ended rolls, not having to worry about sync and then closing the gap, there was even a command for it "Close Gap" I think,  worked a treat, as long as there were no clip collisions.

This also leads onto the presumption that all Track-based NLE's default behaviour, is to leave a gap. This is driven home by how the delete defaults were reversed, between 7 and X, with it's magnetic timeline. But it was never thus on Avid, because, in the main, those editors do a lot more JKL trimming and lot less moving and gap opening. It was always a "single operation" and so magnetism too is not quite the big deal FCP editors believe. Avid even has a Heads View where you can magnetically swap shots, it's been there 30 odd years. All good as long as there are no audio clip collisions- that's the genius of the magnetic timeline- Relationships, but even that is based on the presumption that all edits are vision based. We should draw the distinction between editing at a point in the timeline, where we are making changes and where we are not, ie further down- that just needs to stay in sync. FCP's Storyline approach makes this very easy, you never have to worry what comes next and keeping sync. But that is different than actual trimming.

So to be clear, I champion the differences and applaud the innovation on both FCP formerly X and Media Composer. It's the absence of previous features from 7, I'd love to see making a return.

So getting back to 7. I never worked with another editor that actually used the Trim window overlay. It seemed alien to them. I'd hate to generalise here, because maybe others did use it, but the whole point of my post, is that I want back, what we had in FCP Classic, and although not as elegant as Josh has demonstrated, in his second Avid video; in  FCP Classic, you could JKL trim and "Dynamically", ie. the change was made when you stopped playing, without any further intervention. The timeline animation was missing, but the behaviour, although nothing like as nuanced as MC, was basically the same.

I've dug out 7 and done gone back over this in a screen recording. Will post when I get chance.
Fcp my bread and butter's Avatar
Fcp my bread and butter replied the topic: #112445 01 Feb 2021 10:08
Dynamic trimming is not missing from FcpX  ! dear  Bluebicycle

One keystroke for Precision Editor 
Extend Edit

done ! Dynamic trimming in FcpX ,

(4 "single" Keystrokes   if Keyboard configured), get a little used to it, it's even better than Avid and Fcp7)
RSK's Avatar
RSK replied the topic: #112446 01 Feb 2021 11:24
I don't think you watched the follow-up video nor read the thread. Because then you'd know that that doesn't compare (as explained above). Admittedly what Avid does is much more elaborate.
Bluebicycle's Avatar
Bluebicycle replied the topic: #112459 01 Feb 2021 23:04
I dug out FCP 7 and revisited what "Dynamic Trimming" meant for that NLE. I've gone big on audio, because that is what I struggle the most with on FCP non X,  but really it's big for vision, action cuts and continuity. Speaking of audio, apologies for the quality, that Old Imac's mic, is not the best.

Fcp my bread and butter's Avatar
Fcp my bread and butter replied the topic: #112477 03 Feb 2021 18:26
Dear RSK
I have been an Avid editor since the 90's, , so you I won't learn from you a quantum of anything regarding that solution from the last century. I've watched the videos, it's just that I didn't learn anything from them. 

Question is : does Dynamic trimming exist in FcpX ?
Answer is : a resounding YES ! , and a pretty good one ( even is the maker of those videos is not aware of it ...)

Trimming is different... the way Fcp works you don't need all the multi-tracks trim of Avid and so on . Completely deprecated, you just... don't need it.  Useless "elaboration"
Bluebicycle's Avatar
Bluebicycle replied the topic: #112478 03 Feb 2021 18:40
I've been using Avid since the 90's too. As I show in the video, it's not really about  Avid. This isn't about multiple tracks either, absolutely not, simply the ,ability to play out a cut, whilst you listen and watch. The precision editor could do this, if Apple applied the same Logic as in FCP7. I don't see how this function is somehow outmoded by the Features of FCPX.

It's also worth revisiting Media Composer in 2020, although little has changed, trimming is incredibly smooth and intuitive, as they have overhauled the playback engine and there's much more visual feedback. In X you can't even get a 2 up display unless you drag the cut point.

I think this is a debate worth having because it presents a major road block for Avid editors transitioning to FCP. It would be nice to get it back.
JoeEditor's Avatar
JoeEditor replied the topic: #112479 03 Feb 2021 19:29
Since I've been editing with FCP, that sort of "dynamic trimming" has never been needed. Apples to oranges IMHO. I can count the times I needed a two-up display for a trim on one hand over the last decade. The roadblock is in trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.
Bluebicycle's Avatar
Bluebicycle replied the topic: #112480 03 Feb 2021 19:30
Did you ever use it in FCP7?
JoeEditor's Avatar
JoeEditor replied the topic: #112482 03 Feb 2021 23:33
Occasionally, but no need in X.
Bluebicycle's Avatar
Bluebicycle replied the topic: #112484 03 Feb 2021 23:41
Ok so what is about X that renders Dynamic trimming redundant? The skimmer? I've been using it for 9 years and don't see how it compensates. I get the paradigm shift, you don't have to keep sync, but at a single edit point, I'm not seeing what the difference is? Leaving slipping and sliding to one side, there's 3 types: left, right and centre at a cut point, 1 frame and 10 frame increments, or you can drag- all the NLE's have that. But the ability to play out, watch and listen, what is it that makes that specific feature redundant in FCP?

Imagine I'm trying to convince a bunch of highly experienced "top of their game" feature film editors, what the special trimming sauce is that means JKL trimming is pointless.

Just to be clear FCP is my number one choice of NLE, beyond compare. But to play devil's advocate, if I was to say to these guys : Don't worry you can yank out the cut to reveal more sound then skim along it and listen to a staccato incarnation of your audio, or perhaps figure out from these dynamically drawn waveforms where the edit point should be, or maybe loop the edit point nudging backwards and forwards, with the trim buttons...I  just can't see them buying it. Or maybe use the Precision editor, what does that do for them?

I love the  rich innovative features of FCP, but in no way would I choose if for it's trimming abilities.
JoeEditor's Avatar
JoeEditor replied the topic: #112485 04 Feb 2021 00:52
That sounds like a super convoluted way of making a quick trim that takes 2 seconds in any NLE and playing it back for a producer.