Final Cut Express for Teaching


Final Cut Express (FCE) is a powerful video editing software produced by Apple Inc.


FCE Main Window

This is the main FCE work area, comprised of five different panes.  They are: (clock-wise from the top left corner) Browser, Canvas, Viewer, Toolbar and Timeline.  Each of these panes can be moved, resized and customized independently. 

Browser Pane

The browser is where you will collect all the content for the video you will create. 

Canvas Pane

The canvas displays the video and audio of your edited sequence during playback. 

Viewer Pane

The viewer pane is where you can: 
Define In and Out edit points for clips before editing them into a sequenceAdjust audio levels and panning in the Audio tabOpen clips within sequences to adjust durations, In and Out points, and filter parametersAdd filters to clips and adjust filters applied to clipsAdjust the motion parameters of clips to modify or animate such parameters as scale, rotation, cropping, and opacity


This is the FCE tool bar. There are nine tools. 

Selection Tool – The default selection tool for basic editing.Edit Selection Tool – Selects an edit point between clips.Select Track Forward Tool – Selects all the items in a track after the selection point you click.Roll Tool – Adjust the front or end of a clip forwards or backwards.Slip Tool – Move a clip to the right or left between two other clips.Razor Blade Tool – Use this tool to cut or split clips.Zoom In Tool – Zoom in and out.Crop Tool – Used to change the total frame size of a clip.Pen Tool – Sets points on the clip overlay.


The timeline is where the content is organized and editied.  This is a graphical representation of all your assembled and edited clips. 

Online Resources


Capture Content

Capturing is the process of transferring footage from your original tapes to media files on the computer hard disk. In Final Cut Express, there are two approaches to capturing:

  • Capture individual clips: Using this method, you watch your tape in the Capture window, define a clip by setting In and Out points, and then capture the media for theclip.
  • Capture entire tapes: You can capture an entire tape to a single media file on disk, and then create subclips to define more manageable regions for organizing and editing.
There are video stations in the Digital Media Lab available for your use.  These consist of the computer plus a mini DV deck and a combination DVD/VCR.  You can capture from each of these formats. 

To capture content: 
Turn on the Mini DV deck and the VCR/DVD player.Insert the miniDV tape/video cassette/DVD.In FCE, click ‘File’ and then, ‘Capture.’  The capture window should open.Click ‘Now,’ to capture the entire tape/DVD.  Click ‘Clip’ to capture a predetermined section of the tape/DVD.Press ‘Escape’ (esc) to stop the capture.Double click a clip in the browser to watch it in the ‘Viewer.’

Import a File

Click “File.”Click “Import.”Click “Files.” Browse to the file you want to import, and click “Choose.”

Create a Green Screen Clip

In FCE, you can create “green screen” clips with other colors such as blue or pink.

  1. Import your background image or video and your green screen footage.
  2. Drag the back ground to the first video track (v1) in the timeline.  Then drag the green screen footage to the second video track (v2) located above the first rack.
  3. Move the cursor above both tracks.
  4. Click “Filters” in the Canvas pane.
  5. Click “Effects,” “Video Filters,” “Keys,” and finally “Chroma Key.”
  6. Click the eye dropper button, then click in an era of green from your green screen footage to select the green color you would like to key out or remove.  This may not remove all of the green.
  7. To remove more green, use the sliders on the hue selector to select more or less shades of green to remove.
  8. Adjust the Saturation and the Luma to further key out specific hues.
  9. Your subject may have a thin green line around it.  This can be minimized by moving the “Edge Thin” slider to the right
    1. Green Screen in Final Cut ExpressMaking a green screen
    2. Using the Chroma Keyer Part 1Using the Chroma Keyer Part 2

Export a Movie

There are two methods to export a movie in FCE.  The first quickly and simply creates a Quicktime movie file (.mov).  The second method offers some customizability.

Method 1
Once your editing is finished you can 
export a movie by: 
Click “File.”Click “Export.”Click “Quicktime Movie.” 
Doing so will create a Quicktime movie 
of your project.  The file will be saved to 
the place you select. 
Method 2
The second method of exporting a movie in FCE is by, “Using Quicktime Conversion.”  Doing so will allow you to customize settings for video encoding quality, size, filters as well as others. 
Click “File.”Click “Export.”Click “Using Quicktime Conversion” 
This dialogue window will open after selecting, “Using Quicktime Conversion.” 
There are three areas that you can customize within the Quicktime settings.  Unless you will be preparing your movie for streaming over the internet, deselect the “Prepare for Internet Streaming” checkbox. 

Settings – This will customize the compression rate for your exported movie file. 

Filter – Click this this to add and adjust additional video filters. 

Size – This sets the size, in pixels, of the finished movie.  You may desire to change this depending on the final destination.  A movie destined for the web will not need to be as large as a movie that will be projected on a screen. 
After first selecting the compression type (codec), other options may become available.  These settings have the most effect on file size.  A high quality movie will have a large file size.  It is important to choose the highest quality possible for where, and on what device the movie will be used. 
These filters will affect the entire movie, not a specific clip. 
The size that you choose is determined by where and on what device you will be viewing or projecting your movie. 

Once you have finished setting the individual settings for the Quicktime conversion, click, “Save” and your movie will be created.