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Trimming video without "send to motion"

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Mark Morache
Trimming video without "send to motion"
on Aug 1, 2011 at 7:03:07 pm

Forgive me if this has been asked and answered, but is there an elegant way to trim long clips for motion? I have up to 30 minute clips, and it's a challenge to pull 10 seconds out of it.

I see that if I go to the media inspector, and pull up the properties for the 30 minute clip, I can adjust the timing in the inspector window to start the clip at the point I want. This seems awfully clumsy, and what if I want to use two different parts of the same clip?

I can grab the clip in the motion timeline and slip it to the left, to get to the part I want, but it's 11 minutes away.

I'm curious... So I put the clips into FCP7, trimmed my in/out points in the timeline and sent to motion. I closed out of FCP7, opened the motion project it created in Motion 5, and my clips were nicely trimmed in the motion timeline with audio even.

Strangely, I couldn't find where the timing of these clips were controlled in motion. None of the inspector panels were any help. Is there some secret metadata that FCP7 and Motion share that we can't see or control?

I can use quicktime to create smaller clips with just the bits I want. It seems silly to create copies of perfectly good media on my hard drive, but it it's the easiest way to feed these bits to Motion, perhaps that what I should do.

My big question is... what is the "best practice" for trimming video clips in motion? How would you select in Motion 5, the portion of tape three that starts at timecode 1:11:45:00 (which is 11:35:01 from the clip start), and lasts for about 10 seconds?

I'm calling it FCX. They took the "pro" out, so I will too.
I'll reconsider after the first upgrade.

Mark Morache
Evening Magazine,Seattle, WA
blogging at

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Andy Neil
Re: Trimming video without "send to motion"
on Aug 1, 2011 at 8:01:04 pm

The short answer to your metadata question is yes. FCP and Motion seem to know the timecode and trim the clip accordingly, but it's not visible in an easily modifiable way inside Motion.

Normally this wouldn't be an issue except that you can't currently send clips to Motion from FCPX. I would consider your workaround using FCP 7 to be the simplest solution, especially if you're planning on using more than one clip from the same piece of media. Thankfully, Motion 5 can open Motion 4 projects, and in some cases, Motion 5 opens when FCP 7 "sends" to Motion (at least on my system).

However, there is a fairly quick way you can trim the in of a long media clip inside Motion without using FCP 7. From there you trim your out in the normal fashion.

Drag and drop your clip from the browser into your Motion project. Select the clip in the Layers pane and hit SHIFT+F to reveal the clip in the Media tab. Now, in the inspector, you should see a media tab for your clip.

Twirl down the Timing parameter and you can either type in a start timecode, or hold down shift and scrub the Start value until you reach the spot in the clip.

A couple of things about this method: The Start field is not based on the internal TC of the clip but rather each clip starts from 0 so if you're typing in numbers, you need to know how far from the start of the media is the clip you want. That makes it less user-friendly than just scrubbing through the clip quickly with the SHIFT key held down (to increase speed). The second thing is that trimming in this manner does not change the length of the clip inside the Motion project. This is why I like using this method (when I'm not using FCP).

You see, if you trim the start point of your clip in the Properties tab of the inspector, it eats away at the In point and the clip can disappear off screen, and you have no way of knowing visually if you are in the right spot. Trimming in the Media tab keeps the same In/Out points for your clip allowing you to visually see where you are in the display.

Hope that makes sense.


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