9 Replies Latest reply: Aug 4, 2014 9:46 AM by Shane Ross
Newton the Newt Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

I'm self taught on FCP and in editing my first documentary, did not know the best way to remove the video portion of a clip while retaining the audio.

To be able to view the archival stills/video I was using instead of the original video I just changed the video portion of the clips' opacity to zero. 

I've since learned  that it's standard to remove the video portion of the clip and replace it with a video slug.


The one-hour film plays fine on the FCP timeline, and translates to DVD without any issues.  I'm now faced with creating a Digital Cinema Package for

festival exhibition and wonder should I go through and replace any video that is not to be seen with slugs instead.  (I shot in and then edited on a DVCPro HD

1080i60 timeline so the entire project will have to be transcoded to 23.98fps by the post facility prior to DCP creation.)


I'm just wondering if replacing the video under archival media with slugs will help make the transcoding from 29.97fps to 23.98fps go more smoothly and quickly.

Obviously, it will take some time to replace all these clips with slugs but it's worth it to me for a better end product.



  • David Harbsmeier Level 7 Level 7 (29,880 points)

    I've been editing with FCP since 2001 for broadcast (and other purposes) and this is the first time I've ever read that "it's standard to remove the video portion of the clip and replace it with a video slug."   I simply place the stills or b-roll clips on the track above the video and am done with it.  Or you can overwrite the video with the stills or b-roll on the same track.  Either way works.



  • Newton the Newt Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Thanks David for the helpful reply.  It sounds like I misunderstood how to use the slug. My concern was that if I leave the original video clip with the stills or

    b-roll clips on the track above I'm creating extra work for the computer (and a longer timeframe for the work) if I'm sending the timeline for transcoding to Compressor. 


    To make sure I'm following your advice correctly, I could just overwrite the original video clips with the stills or b-roll and not have to worry about using a slug if any of the stills or archival video footage are smaller than the aspect ratio of the video I'm overwriting.


    Hope I got it right this time, and thanks again for your help.

  • Michael Grenadier Level 7 Level 7 (20,335 points)

    I generally adda slug between the still image and the video image below if the image does not fill the frame, but there are many ways to skin a cat in fcp.

  • David Harbsmeier Level 7 Level 7 (29,880 points)

    Michael is absolutely correct; if the image you want to use doesn't cover the entire frame, the video or image on the track below will show in the uncovered areas.  You can use a slug, color matte, animation or any other background you want on a track between the two.



  • mdesignffm Level 2 Level 2 (165 points)

    in terms of end result, 0% opaque video is invisible, so you will see thru it. if nothing is underneath, you will see black. using transparent video, slug or nothing looks identical.


    best practice is when using audio only, lose its video track completely. no need to carry it along.


    because in terms of render speed, this makes a difference: FCP will of course need to render your video material invisible if it is there.


    for your conversion to digital cinema this makes no difference, though, because they will do that with your final master, not within FCP.

  • Shane Ross Level 8 Level 8 (42,550 points)

    I've never put slug on top of footage, or dropped the opacity to zero.  If you don't want the picture, then remove it, or cut picture you want over it...and by that, I mean OVERWRITE edit.  Don't leave the original picture on V1 and cut what you want on V2...that's messy.  When I see timelines like that I know that they were cut by people who never learned how to edit properly.  I've had timelines where there were 9-10 layers of video...just keep putting video on top of video...stair stepping...leaving the original or other options underneath.  Just plain messy! 


    Keep video to 1-2 tracks...maybe more for text.  But if you have a shot replacing another...cut it in and replace the original.  Get rid of it.  There are many reasons to do this, that you might not use, but are still good reasons.  When you export an EDL to track the amount of footage...say stock footage, used in the cut.  Or when you media manage to only have the footage used in a cut..if you have lots of video layers that you aren't using...then that will get copied too and take up more space than you need. 


    This is good:


    This is also good:


    This is BAD:



  • mdesignffm Level 2 Level 2 (165 points)

    hi shane,


    you are completely right. at least 99,9%.


    there are cases when staircasing is necessary, though, despite of a single video layer only being visible. example: if you hardcut clips that use motion blur (from the clip's motion menu). if you put all clips in one single video track, the first frame of each clip will have no motion blur (because there are no previous frames to blur into this frame). so, after every cut, motion blur will sort of fade in (ie build up). to avoid this (ie motion blur being present from the very first frame of a clip), you want to overlap the clip underneath the previous one for a couple of frames (sometimes up to one second, depending on your motion blur settings) - to give material for a motion blur to happen. so, this overlap is necessary although the clip is not visible at that point.


    just for the record.  ;-)

  • Michael Grenadier Level 7 Level 7 (20,335 points)

    couldn't disagree with you more.  For me it's important to be able to try out ideas and adjust them as quickly as possible.  I can edit a cutaway on a higher video track and slide it back and forth, turn it on and off, etc   When the dust settles I clean up my tracks but while I'm working, no way. 

  • Shane Ross Level 8 Level 8 (42,550 points)

    Fine...edit like that...that's fine. But when you are done...collapse the layers.