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July 28, 2011
Final Cut ProFinal Cut Pro XVideo Editing

FCPX Trick: Creating A Freeze Frame in Final Cut Pro X Using the Retiming Tool

In this post, we’ll take a quick look at how to freeze video footage in Final Cut Pro X, as well as the best way to export out a freeze frame as an image file.

In previous versions of Final Cut Pro you could easily grab a freeze frame using the SHIFT + N shortcut (for more detailed info about using this in earlier FCP versions see our post here).  However, with Final Cut Pro X things got a little bit trickier (and not so obvious).  So, to create a freeze frame in FCPX you’ll have to use the retiming tool — and are now somewhat limited in how the freeze can be used in the project (for instance, there’s no quick way to save it to the Event Library).

Creating a Freeze Frame to Use in Your FCPX Timeline

  • Select a clip in the timeline who has a frame you’d like to freeze (when selected, a clip will have a yellow border).
  • Park the playhead on that frame.
  • Activate the retiming tool’s “hold” feature by using the shortcut SHIFT + H.
  • A two second freeze will appear in the timeline, represented by a red retiming bar.
  • Drag the right handle of the red retiming bar left or right to decrease or increase the freeze.

The main problem with using the retiming hold tool is it complicates using a still video image other than the place it originally appears in the timeline. For instance, if you want to grab a still image in the first few seconds of your timeline and place it minutes later in the sequence, you’ll need to use the hold feature, then use the blade tool to cut around the still and then move it elsewhere.  It’s not exactly a smooth process and definitely more cumbersome then the way we’re used to doing it in previous versions of FCP.  Instead of going through this awkward process it might be best to export out the still image and then bring it back into FCPX.

Exporting a Still Image Out of Final Cut Pro X

By exporting a still image out of FCPX, you’ll not only be able to move it around the sequence easily but you’ll also have the option to store it in the Event Library where it can be tagged and organized.  Exporting stills is also useful for sending out image examples for client approval on graphics and titles.

  • Park the playhead on a frame in the timeline that you’d like to export as a still.
  • From the Menu Bar choose Share > Export Current Frame…
  • Choose the image file type you’d like to use and Save.

Although I prefer to use the more versatile “Make Freeze Frame” function present in earlier versions of FCP, I can see instances where the retiming hold feature could be more of a timesaver.  If you’re using FCPX commit this shortcut to memory!

Do you like the retiming hold feature or would you prefer the way it was in earlier Final Cut Pro versions? We want to hear about your FCPX thoughts and experiences in the comments!


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  • Reginaldo Kono

    Thanks to share! Very usuful in the all new Final Cut X!

  • Brent Pierce

    One question, how did you get the screenshot of the full apple keyboard with specific keys highlighted? I’ve been looking for something like this.

  • http://YourSite(Optional) john

    sure makes a freeze frame difficult. Thanks for the info.

  • http://YourSite(Optional) Paul

    very difficult to create a series of freeze frames in a stutter manner.. Annoying :(

  • http://YourSite(Optional) Kamlesh

    I prefer working with the older fcp style of freezing frames, sure this one is a bit tedious, thanks for the tip of using the newer method in fcpx.

  • http://YourSite(Optional) Monty

    You can just go Share->save current frame

  • Erik Hoffman

    Thanks so much, I was looking for this for ages
    shame they change the way to do it from one program to another


  • http://YourSite(Optional) Todd Fletcher

    Here’s a trick to help this. Once you have created the “hold”, click on the red bar at the top. It will highlight the hold with a yellow box. Then “command-c” to copy the freeze. Move your playhead to the other spot you want the freeze. Then “command-v” paste it in. Adjust as needed. This way you can create stutter sequences fairly quickly.

  • http://YourSite(Optional) Larry

    This is a terrible way to freeze frame. I would love to know why this feature was altered in this. I can’t figure out what purpose it is supposed to serve

  • Ms. V

    My students work on a stop motion project (and I agree…much easier in FCP7).  What we have found to be the most efficient way to pull frames in FCPX is to use the skimmer in the Event Browser to locate a desired frame, press O,I to identify the frame (not I, O!), and then F to Favorite.  Then we filtered out just the Favorites to use for the project.  (In Event Browser, just select-all and append to Timeline. Voila!

    • Danny Greer

      Thanks for sharing!  

    • Bruno

      Good trick, thank you. Works perfect and very convenient when in need of many frames to be saved as images files : once appended to the timeline, all the frames can be exported in one shot with Share > Export image sequence.

  • Clare

    FCP X in many ways has lost the versatility of the older version. What I found useful is to import your footage first into imovie, then into final cut x. You can then create still images from your footage and import them into final cut – saves a lot of time in the end.

  • Chuani Santos

    the new way is better. the complainers i suspect are averse to learning anything new. The entire workflow of X is much more creative and intuitive — less mechanical.

  • Rozanne

    My frustration is the selection of the current frame. To pick the right frame, I use the arrow bars to skip to the right spot. Once I see it, I say Share/Save current Frame – but what I’m seeing is not the current frame. I just “saved” several current frames, only to find out that the same image was being exported for all. Is there a specific command to set what you currently see int he preview window, as the current frame?

  • flipt

    ALT+F doesn’t exist on a MAC keyboard! Even when you use the “alt” function on the option key, this keystroke doesn’t work.

    so shut up.

    • Tiberio Saraceno

      how the fuck am i on a mac keyboard looking at alt+f right now as we speak? and you’re saying that? how the fuck is that happening? TRY IT! i obviously USE IT and KNOW MORE THAN YOU DO.

      SO STFU

    • youdonthavealt?

      you dont have alt on your mac keyboard?

  • Chill Saraceno

    Alt+F = Option+F = works :)

    • Tiberio Saraceno


  • jape

    Tiberio … rebuke? (look it up) — you rebuke (correct usage) someone who offers his knowledge freely to help people like yourself and then heap obscenity where it does not belong. People helping people is maybe the best thing about the web – people who behave like you can kill that.

  • daver

    This article is from July 2011, at which time folks were still on 10.0.0. The new freeze-frame tool you so kindly suggest was not introduced until 10.0.6 in October 2012.

    Grow up.


    Shift+ H worked great for me thanks for the people who get on here to be assholes don’t believe these tactics find a new blog and leave your ugly ass comments to yourself…Thanks for this helped me immediately in the middle of a project!

  • john doe

    I think that blockhead had to many steroids for breakfast…I found Danny’s post to be helpful…

  • Rosie

    My images are exporting at 72res even though i selected a tiff file, is it possible to change settings to 300 res somehow before exporting? (my film originally is very high quality, but appears pixelated once turned into an image.
    Hope someone can help?


  • jaymark2

    It is people like you who give the internet a bad name! Have a little tact, you could be wrong and the poster pointed out.

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