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

Danny Greer
By Danny Greer
By Danny Greer

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!