Final Cut Pro/Program Layout

Final Cut Pro's standard view consists of four main windows: the browser (in the top-left corner by default), the viewer (in the top middle, by default), the canvas (top right, by default) and the timeline (at the bottom).

The BrowserEdit

As in most digital non-linear editing applications, the Browser is not an interface to the computer's filesystem. It is an entirely virtual space in which references to clips (aliases) are placed, for easy access, and arranged in folders called 'bins'. Since they are only references to clips that are on the media drive of the computer, moving or deleting a source file on the media hard drive destroys the link between the entry in the Browser and the actual media. This results in a 'media offline' situation, and the media must be 'reconnected'. Final Cut Pro can search for the media itself, or the user can do this manually. If multiple clips are offline at the same time, Final Cut can reconnect all the offline media clips that are in the relative directory path as the first offline media clips that is reconnected.

The Browser contains two type of tabs, one for projects and one for effects. They both behave like an explorer window. The projects tab will show the various bins, media, clips, and sequences that you have imported into Final Cut, along with any associated information. Column headings are very versatile and able to be rearranged. By clicking and dragging, you can move entire column headings around.

You can also have multiple projects open at once. Every project will open under a separate tab. By clicking and dragging the project tab outside of the browser window, you can make the tab independent of the browser. This is useful for sharing media between multiple projects.

The Effects tab is the other available tab in the Browser window. Take a look and orient yourself with the various filters and transitions available in the sub folders. In order to use each effect, you can simply click and drag the filters to media in the Timeline.


The viewer has tabs for each channel of the selected clip's audio, in which the waveform for the audio can be viewed and scrubbed, and where its volume can be keyframed. The filters tab is where effects for the clip appear and where their parameters can be adjusted and keyframed. If the clip selected is a generator (such as an oval shape), a control tab appears for changing its geometrical properties. Finally, the viewer's motion tab contains tools to adjust the scale, opacity, cropping, rotation, distortion, w:drop shadow, w:motion blur and time remapping properties of the clip. Mini-timelines to the right of each parameter allow the property to be keyframed.


The canvas outputs the contents of the Timeline. To add clips to the Timeline, besides dragging them there, it is possible to drag clips from the Browser or Viewer onto the Canvas, where the 'edit overlay' is displayed. The edit overlay has seven drop zones, into which clips can be dragged in order to perform different edits. The default is the 'overwrite' edit, which overwrites at an in point or the space occupied after the playhead with the incoming clip. The 'insert' edit slots a clip into the sequence at the in point or playhead's position, keeping the rest of the video intact, but moving it all aside so that the new clip fits. There are also drop zones to have the application automatically insert transitions. The 'replace' edit replaces a clip in the Timeline with an incoming clip, and the 'fit to fill' edit does the same thing, but at the same time, it adjusts the playback speed of the incoming clip so that all of it will fit into the required space [in the Timeline]. Finally there is the 'superimpose' edit, which automatically places the dropped clip on the track above the clip in the Timeline, with a duration equal to the clip below it. Unless an in or out point are set, all edits occur from the position of the playhead in the Timeline.

Using the wireframe view on the canvas, the clip can be manipulated directly - dragging it around in the canvas to change its position, for example, or resizing it. Precise adjustment controls for these things are in the viewer.

The TimelineEdit