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Avid Gems 11

Modified behaviors with modifier keys

By Steve Hullfish | August 26, 2009


So, it's been a while since I've started writing this series, so I should probably point out that the point here is to simply locate those cool tips and techniques that are easily found in the user manual - if you actually chose to read it. But this is much easier - at least for you - because I've sifted out most of the "duh" stuff and just delivered the tips that you might have not heard before.

The theme of this specific column was inspired by a reader who commented on Avid Gems #10. They wanted to know all of the different ways the alt key on Windows or the option key on Mac altered the behavior of various keystrokes and mouse movements, so that's what I'm serving up today.

The thing with new techniques like the ones I am about to deliver is that if you try to swallow all this in one sitting, it just passes through your brain like … poop through a goose, so here's what you should do: pick five of the following tips that you think seem like they would help you speed up your editing and just try to use ONE tip each day for a week. If you ever studied a musical instrument, you know that you need to develop muscle memory. So keep trying to use that one tip throughout the day, and then keep using it for the rest of the week as you add each new tip in subsequent days.

You should know these first three Timeline tips already:

To snap to the head of transitions press the Ctrl key (Wintel) or Command key (Mac) as you drag segments selected in Segment mode.

To snap to the tail of transitions press Ctrl+Alt (Wintel) or Command+Option (Mac) as you drag segments selected in Segment mode.

Control + dragging a segment in the Timeline restricts the move to vertical-only. This helps keep things in sync, when moving segments between tracks.

But this one was new to me:

To snap the selected segments to an edit point in the track above or below the current track: Click a Segment Mode button, and then press Ctrl+Shift (Wintel) or Ctrl (Mac) while dragging the segments.

Here are some Editing Commands with modifier keys:

Alt + Z (Wintel) or Option + Z (Mac) lifts and places selected material in Source monitor

Alt+ double-click (Wintel) or Option + double-click a clip, sequence, or Title icon in a bin opens that item in a pop-up monitor instead of into the source or record monitor.

While shift-dragging a clip from the bin into the Record monitor overwrites the clip into the sequence, Alt + dragging (Wintel) or Option + dragging (Mac) a clip into the Record monitor splices a clip into sequence

Alt + T (Wintel) or Option + T (Mac) marks the clip duration at position, ignoring track selection and filler. Without the modifier key, it selects the clip duration of the selected track. The modifier behavior is handy so that you don't have to unselect tracks and select new ones, just to find a duration. This is a handy thing to do if - for example - you are trying to cut a Title on v2 over the exact length of a clip on v1. If track 2 is selected, because that's where you're trying to edit the Title, then you can use this clip to correctly select in and outpoints on v1.

I've mentioned this one several times in my books.

Alt+ I (Wintel) and Option+ I (Mac) goes to IN point.
Alt + O (Wintel) and Option + O (Mac) goes to OUT point.

I use this - along with mapping the shift-I and shift-O shortcuts with "Clear In" and "Clear Out" respectively - to put six important keystrokes all in the space of the two easy-to-remember I and O keys.

Control + 6 plays continuous loop from IN point to OUT point

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Ra-ey Saleh: | August, 26, 2009

It’s been a long time, but you’ve come back with some great gems.
Nice to have them all in one spot!



Ra-ey Saleh: | August, 26, 2009

The ALT+T trick also works with ALT+(Mark Clip button).
You can also map the ALT function on top of it so it permanently behaves this way.


Scott Simmons: | August, 26, 2009

You’ve mapped option and shift IN and OUT modifiers? Uggh ... that makes it more like the Final Cut Pro default keys. I shudder at the thought!

joshpetok: | August, 26, 2009

Thanks for the tips Steve. I’m a big fan of the “add option key” in the command palette. I mainly use it for the C key (copy), which transforms it to automatically copy the selected clip into the source monitor.

Avid doesn’t make it terribly obvious that the option key has been added to a key. There’s only a 2 pixel dot added to the keyboard icon. Maybe they blew their budget on the new lift and extract buttons wink

Steve Hullfish: | August, 26, 2009

I use the mark Clip modifier all the time. That’s a great one.

As for Scott. I didn’t even know that FCP acted like that. I actually have been using this modified keystroke combo since about 1995 - long before FCP.

So I and O are mark in and out
Shift-I and O are Clear Mark in and out
option-I and O are Go to Mark In and out (which I actually don’t use very often.)

The reason I like it - and I certainly don’t deny your right to your opinion about it - is that I can keep my fingers in a single spot while hitting almost every keystroke I need to hit in the course of an edit. Now the weird thing is that I actually map JKL down a row to <>? and map IO down a row to KL. That way it’s easier to find the buttons without looking down (they’re right off the space bar that way) and I don’t have to stretch my hand up into the keyboard as far, so it’s more comfortable for long stretches. I only have to look down at my keyboard for odd keys that I don’t normally hit often. My entire keyboard is different from the default. Much of it was developed after reading Steve Cohen and Basil Pappas’s book on editing that they self-published back in the mid-90s.

Thanks for the feedback though Scott!

Steve Hullfish: | August, 26, 2009

Josh -

The only “pre-mapped” option button I use is the one you mentioned: option-C to automatically place a copied clip into the source monitor, ready for additional editing. If you use any of these option modified keys on a regular basis, definitely use the command console to map the little option/alt “dot” onto those keys so you have one less button to hit.

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