What is three-point editing anyway? What’s it mean and how do I do it? Three-point editing is basically a term that describes the process of editing on videotape. In fact all edits are three-point edits so the term is largely meaningless. The term refers to the process of selecting where a shot starts, where it ends, which is its duration, and where it is placed in the sequence. This process of selecting three points can be done in a huge variety of ways, but regardless of how you do it, every edit has three points to make it happen.

Let’s take the simplest edit in FCP, an Append edit. You click on a clip in the browser and the whole clip is selected. You have created two of the three points. The selection has a start and end point, an In point and an Out point, in this case the whole clip. By pressing the E key to Append the clip, you have defined the third point in the edit, the end of project.

Connect and Insert edits are the same. If you mark a selection in the browser by dragging or by pressing I and/or O, you have made two of the three points. When you press the Q to Connect or the W key to Insert, the clip is placed at the Skimmer or Playhead, the third point in the three-point edit.

In my book, beginning around page 121, I describe other ways to do three-point edits, by marking the selection in Timeline rather than on the clip in the browser. When a selection is made in a storyline, FCP uses that Timeline duration to create the first two points for the three-point edit. Because only three points can be honored, one In, one Out, and a duration, by setting the duration in the Timeline only the In point or start of the browser selection will be used. When Connecting a clip in this manner using the Q key, the browser clip’s In point is used. By pressing Shift-Q, the browser clip’s Out point is used, matched to the end of the selection in the Timeline, and the In point in the browser is ignored. This is called backtiming and is a powerful tool in video editing.






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What is three-point editing, and how do I do it?