Final Cut feature idea: Moving markers

In which I suggest a very small user interface change to add a feature to Final Cut that editors have been requesting for many years.

I know… an idea that has been around for at least 10 years. However there are two parts to any feature request: the idea and how integrate it into the application. Many Apple and Avid competitors can add better features to their software. The trick is to come up with the user interface.

Final Cut has had markers on the timeline since the beginning (markers are the equivalent of Avid Locators). Clips can also have markers. I assume the request to make single and multiple markers movable using the mouse or keyboard has been around since before Final Cut Pro 1.0 came out.

The secret aspect of software development is that Apple and Avid know perfectly well the features than the majority of users would like. They need to weigh up which it is worth spending the money on implementing. We can only assume that when Final Cut was being designed in 1996 and 1997, a software implementation decision for the Timeline window was made that meant that it would be expensive to add a ‘move markers’ feature.

This means that adding an “option-click a marker and shift-clicking another marker before dragging” user interface is probably too hard to implement without causing too many other problems.

Most people guess that Final Cut 7 will probably be a completely re-written version (to get rid of all the bugfix and implementation workarounds of the last decade and for OS X Snow Leopard compatibility). However, how could you add moveable markers to Final Cut without having to change too much in the user interface?

If we go back to why we’d want to move markers, we usually need to move them to reflect edits. If a scene is shorter or longer, we want the markers further along the timeline to change too.

We can do this my having the option to make clip markers also act as sequence markers.

You do this by adding a check box in a dialog box…
clip-sequence-marker

and a different graphic to show in the ruler:
clip-sequence-marker-on-tim

The advantage of this method is that the sequence markers will then be updated to reflect any changes to the clips in the timeline.

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6 comments
  1. You know, I’m not sure there should be a sequence marker as well. I’d hope that if they are rewriting it, they’d just make clip markers more flexible so that you can do everything with clip markers that you can with sequence ones.

    Right now you’re penalized for using clip markers because you can’t easily jump to them from the timeline context menu or using shortcut keys.

    • Alex said:

      I suppose the only use for non clip-based sequence markers using this methodology would be for markers you never want to move – such as ones for defining limits for how long part of the sequence should be: ‘She needs to leave 90 seconds after the start of the scene.’

      The rest of the sequence markers could could be based on ones in clips. The keyboard shortcuts for moving between sequence markers (‘shift-up cursor key’ and ‘shift-down cursor key’) would work the same way.

  2. lin2log said:

    Given that MOTION’S markers are pretty much the way markers should be (only not “extendable” like FCP markers, unfortunately), I see no reason (since they, Apple, already know GOOD marker functionality) why they shouldn’t find their way in FCP. And no, sorry, making the markers movable by click (via e.g. a modifier key) would NOT be any big time programming. It’s just plain silly how crap the markers in FCP are. Period. And that in a version SIX… just embarrassing.

    Motion (or even DVD SP for that matter!) markers are not only easily movable, but they also have their name visible next to them in the timeline… OF COURSE. That’s the way is should be and I’m actually confidant (considering how much of FCP Apple is going to have to redo for Snow Leopard… like what? 90%?!) that they’ll finally get those in in the next version.

    Along with a timeline that SCROLLS WITH THE CTI when playing when even *Garageband* can do it!… jesus, yet another one of those “how could that NOT be (at least) an option??” things in FCP.

    cheers,
    l2l

  3. Alex said:

    lin2log,

    I’m sure many FCP users agree what what you say. Probably the even the users at Apple. However, you’ve got to ask yourself whether the way you state your feedback is likely to get what you want.

  4. Lu Nelson said:

    Nice work Alex,

    a good simplification of the concept to something that really should be only a few degrees farther in terms of programming work and would add a lot of functionality

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