How To Split A Clip in Final Cut Pro In 3 Easy Steps

Welcome back to another Final Cut Pro article! One of the most important parts of editing is being able to split a clip. However, Final Cut calls it something a little different. They refer to it as “blading.” In this article, we will show you how to split a clip in Final Cut Pro in 3 easy steps.

Why Would You Split A Clip in Final Cut Pro?

1: It’s a Necessary Skill

This might seem like it goes without saying, but knowing how to blade a clip is essential. If you tried to edit without blading in Final Cut Pro, you would only have one option. That option would be to constantly select which part of the clip you wanted from your project window and drag it into your timeline.

Not only is that costly to your time, but it isn’t as accurate as a frame-by-frame edit option. There are scenarios in which this would be helpful to you. I.e., you just need a quick snippet of something that you can edit down further without bringing the whole project into your timeline. However, that is a rarity.

2: Creativity With Edits

Have you ever seen any of the HBO trailers for their new season of content? If you haven’t, watch them because they are amazing. When you have to cram a lot of different footage into a short edit, you will want to know how to blade to be able to quickly cut and move clips around to get a dynamic edit. There are scenarios where you don’t want a cut-heavy project, but it is still essential to know how to do it.

I’m going to be using our film I For I as the visual example in this post. We were fortunate enough to take home Best Director and Best Performance awards for this one in Cannes, France. I would love to have you check it out!

Full disclosure, there is a trigger warning for sexual assault in this film so proceed with caution!

How To Split A Clip in FCPX In Two Easy Steps

Step 1: Find The Place Spot Where You Want To Blade

Hover your cursor over the frame where you want to blade in your timeline

How To Split Clip In Final Cut Pro - Step 1

Step 2: Select Your Blade Tool

Hit the B key on your keyboard to select the blade tool. You will know because you will see a pair of scissors as your cursor.

Step 3: Blade Your Clip

Then click on the spot where your cursor is. Make sure you are clicking over the clip instead of above it. Otherwise, nothing will happen.

To automatically blade your clip without selecting the blade tool, you can go to “Trim” on your menu bar, click Blade, or hit Command-B on your keyboard.

How To Split Clip In Final Cut Pro - Step 2

You will know your clip has been bladed because of the dotted line where your clip was connected initially.

How To Split Clip In Final Cut Pro - Step 3

Another way to tell that your clip is bladed is because the clip name will appear on both pieces instead of just the one.

How To Split Clip In Final Cut Pro - Step 4

Special Cases

So let’s say you have two clips stacked on top of each other, and you want to blade your top clip. In this case, you would want to select your clip by clicking on it before blading and then hover your cursor over where you want the clip to be bladed.

How To Split Clip In Final Cut Pro - Step 5

If you don’t select your clip first, it will automatically blade the clip that is “on the timeline.” Meaning it won’t blade any of the clips you have sitting on top of any other footage.

How To Split Clip In Final Cut Pro - Step 6

So to state again, if you want your top clips or anything that is not on the main timeline bladed, you must select it first. 

Another example is if you are using multiple cameras and, let’s say, you want to blade them all in the same spot. I used to select my Blade tool and individually click each clip to blade it in the same place. As you can probably guess, that took me forever to edit a whole film this way. So if you want to blade everything in the same spot, you can simply hit Command-shift-B. You won’t see your dotted line as an indicator in this, but your clips will still be separated, which you can see when you move your cursor.

How To Split Clip In Final Cut Pro - Step 7

Pro Tip: The blade works on a frame-by-frame basis. So if you try to blade within less than a frame, it won’t let you do it. It will automatically blade wherever the closest frame is. 

And That’s How To Split Clip In FCPX

Being able to blade your clips allows you to create beautiful and dynamic edits. As you can tell from above, there are many different ways to do it depending on what suits your needs. Even though there are many ways to do it, they are all simple steps. Trust me, once you get used to it, that command-shift-B shortcut will change your life.

I hope you found this to be useful to you, and happy filmmaking!

Photo of author

Courtney Birk

Courtney Birk is a Los Angeles-based actress, colorist, and multi-media artist. She’s never quite satisfied with having enough artistic outlets – so she’s usually painting, singing, and collaborating with her best friend to find creative ways for new storytelling. Her passion for the arts has driven her to work in many different mediums, including music, fine art, theater and film production.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.