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Two Audio Tricks for Final Cut Pro X: Audio Skimming and Slow Motion Playback in the FCPX Timeline

Danny Greer

In this post we’ll take a look at two FCP X functions that will aid in working with audio in the timeline, enabling audio skimming and slow motion playback.

Audio Skimming in FCPX

Final Cut Pro X has added a handy audio skimming feature that allows you to hear playback of clips simply by mousing over them in either the Timeline or the Event Browser.  Similar to FCPX’s default video skimming function (mousing across video clips will preview playback), the audio skimming feature is useful when you are trying to locate an audio event in a clip or deciding where to put in (or take out) music and effects.

To enable or disable audio skimming, use the shortcut SHIFT + S or look under the View dropdown on the Menu Bar.  Click “Audio Skimming” to enable or disable it – a check mark will appear when it is enabled. 

I’ve found that it may take some time to make the audio skimming feature a benefit over just playing back the footage in the timeline.  However, when used over time you can start to develop a good “pace” for scrolling over the clips … ramping the speed of the scroll up or down to quickly find the audio you’re looking for.

I’ve found this function useful when stringing together a rough cut of a project.  However, there may be some instances when you do not want to enable audio scrolling.  I don’t think it’s suitable to be used in a client environment (just too noisy – and clients may have a hard time differentiating what they “should” be listening to).


Slow Motion Playback in FCPX

Another audio trick for working with audio in FCPX is playing back your footage in the timeline or Event Library in super slow motion with the sound enabled. I do not find myself using this function all too often, but have found it most useful when a client requests slow playback for close review.  This is a handy shortcut that carries over from earlier Final Cut Pro versions, but I’ve discovered that it’s also one that many editors are not aware of.

For slow motion playback in a Final Cut Pro X (or earlier FCP version) Timeline or Event Library, hold down K and then hold down the L key.  As long as you hold down the L key the timeline will playback WITH SOUND in slow motion. 

Note, this trick also works well if you are trying to line up music and sound effect cues with video action. Experiment using this function in your workflow and see the different ways it might help you in your edits!