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Final Cut Pro X v10.1.x: Documentary Editing

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Learn how to build a polished documentary using Final Cut Pro X 10.1.x and a few essential editing techniques.

Learn how to build a polished documentary using Final Cut Pro X 10.1.x and a few essential editing techniques. Author Diana Weynand demonstrates documentary editing in a real-world project, breaking down the process into a series of manageable steps and milestones. After reviewing existing footage, explore how to build and define a narrative, assemble rough cuts, and create motion graphics. Then see how to adjust B-roll shots, incorporate color correction and audio mixing techniques, and export the final movie.

This course is part of a series that looks at documentary editing from the point of view of three different editors in three different editing applications. For more insight on editing documentary projects, take a look at Documentary Editing with Avid Media Composer and Documentary Editing with Premiere Pro.

Note: This course was updated to reflect the changes in the Final Cut Pro X v10.1.x update. Although the course was not re-recorded from scratch, we updated each of the movies by adding text overlays to guide you through existing changes. We also updated the exercise files to work with the most current version of the software. If you are running an earlier version of Final Cut Pro X, please watch Documentary Editing with Final Cut Pro X 10.0.9.


  • Welcome
  • Using the exercise files
1. The Call to Action
  • Understanding what makes a good documentary
  • Interpreting a creative brief to establish goals
  • Reviewing the project's media assets
2. Organizing Media
  • Organizing and screening footage
  • Importing footage
  • Organizing and screening B-roll footage
  • Annotating and renaming clips
  • Filtering and searching for clips
3. Building Story Segments
  • Make preliminary editing decisions
  • Creating mini-storylines to contain groups of clips
  • Syncing audio tracks from two different cameras
  • Deciding what you don't want in each segment
4. Creating a Rough Cut
  • Combining primary story segments into a primary storyline
  • Clarifying the story
  • Identifying and marking project needs
  • Adding cutaways from B-roll footage
5. Refining the Story
  • Evaluating the project's pace and timing
  • Tying up loose ends
  • Smoothing the project's story content
  • Retiming clips
6. Embellishing the story
  • Editing still images or creating a montage
  • Animating still images
  • Incorporating sound effects
7. Completing the Project
  • Adding titles and lower thirds
  • Smoothing out the rough edges with transitions
  • Combining and mixing sound sources
  • Matching and correcting color in clips
8. Exporting and Archiving the Project
  • Sharing the movie
  • Archiving the project
  • Goodbye

Taught by

Diana Weynand


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