Linking or Merging Unrelated Audio and Video Clips

Posted: May 15, 2011

[ This article was first published in the November, 2007, issue of
Larry's Final Cut Pro Newsletter. Click here to subscribe. ]

This subject came up recently in a Final Cut discussion group. Let’s say you have an audio clip recorded on one device, and a video clip recorded on another – often the case in double-system film production or music video. The audio and video are in sync – but the clips, once captured, are not related to each other.

NOTE: There are actually two ways to do this – see the update below.

Final Cut makes this easy with a process called merging clips. In fact, you don’t even need the timecode of the two clips to match. What you DO need, however, is some method of aligning them in the timeline so they play in sync, then tying them together to make them act as though they were one clip.

This is actually a two-step process:

  1. align the clips
  2. then link the clips.

To align the video and audio, edit both to the timeline. Then, while playing back both clips, select the audio and press comma (,) or period (.) to move it one frame left, or right, in the timeline until they align.

Final Cut

Then, select both clips and select Modify > Link. Both clips will now act as though they were captured together in sync.

You can either leave them on the Timeline, or, if you want to use them more than once, drag your linked clip back up to the Browser, where it will act link any other clip.

UPDATE – Nov. 27

Tom Wolsky writes:

There are two separate functions. One called merging clips, which lets you merge video and audio based on TC or edit points, and there’s a another function called linking, which lets you link video and audio of disparate files in the timeline.

Larry replies: My fault. You are correct. This describes linking clips. To merge a clip, you use Modify > Merge clip. Clips need to be synchronized using either a common In, Out, Timecode, Auxilliary Timecode 1, or Aux Timecode 2. Apple’s manual goes into this in some detail starting on page 45 of volume two. You can merge clips either in the Timeline or Browser.


One Comment to “Linking or Merging Unrelated Audio and Video Clips”
  1. Morgan Archer says:

    We are doing a school project and we have to use Final Cut Pro in order to edit our clips, but we are having trouble. The clips won’t merge together nor will they align up with each other. We have followed the directions and everything. Any help???

Your thoughts are welcome


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