Advanced Video Camera and Editing

Three-Point Editing Technique

Today's editing professionals started out with novice skills: dragging clips willy-nilly into the Timeline, and then fiddling around with them, trimming and rearranging clips like a jigsaw. Usually, students start their edit session by arranging clips first, then scripting, then trimming and rearranging according to the script. Also, dragging clips to the Timeline is imprecise, often creating "black holes" between clips when they are not connected together properly.

Such novice mistakes can cost time trying to correct. In the broadcast profession, time is your worst enemy. There's no need to spend more time than you need to. 

The most efficient way to edit requires the editor to have discipline. Decisions about which clips to use should be made before they are placed into your sequence. You should strive to add only those clips that you plan to use and, ideally, in the order you desire. The further along you are in knowing how you intend to use your clips, the faster you will finish with the editing. 

The Three-Point Technique will greatly eliminate having to rearrange and trim clips once they are inserted into the Timeline. 

As the name implies, this type of edit requires three pieces of information: 

  • The In- and the Out-point of the source clip;
  • The In-point where it should start in the sequence. 
  • Or you can set a pair of In- and Out-points in your sequence and set just an In-point on your source clip. 

In other words, if you set two points in one thing, then all you need is a single point in the other. 


Once the points are set, the edit is performed using the Canvas Edit Overlay - Overwrite function. 

Rather than drag the clip to the timeline you can drag it to the Canvas Edit Overlay and drop it in the Overwrite box.

Start with your source clip. With your source clip in the Viewer, scrub the playhead to the desired in-point. Using the arrow keys on the computer keyboard, move the playhead one frame at a time to the precise place where you want to mark an In-point. Press I on the keyboard to set the In-point. 

Click in the Timeline and scrub the playhead to the point where you want to insert the clip. Use the arrow keys to select the precise In-point. Then press I on the computer keyboard to add the In-point to the Timeline. Finally, select the Out-point in the Timeline. That's all you need! 

Drag the clip from the Viewer to the Canvas Edit Overlay and drop it in the Overwrite box. Final Cut Pro will use as much of the source clip as is available to fill the marked section in the Timeline. 

This example uses clips from the Mythbusters series on Discovery. The clips are intended for demonstration and educational purposes only.