October 18, 2018

Why Premiere Pro Will Never Have Magnetic Timeline

premiere pro magnetic timeline
Does Premiere Pro really need a magnetic timeline like FCPX? 

I’m the last person to tell you that Premiere Pro is better than Final Cut Pro (or the other way around) as I’m on Windows and have never used Final Cut Pro. But this video is not about which NLE is the best. I just want to address the topic of the magnetic timeline.

I haven’t seen the documentary yet and Brad Olsen, the creator, says that it’s not strictly about a software and Final Cut. It's about ideas and what Final Cut Pro X represents in this regard. But after I saw this presentation—that I assume is used in the film—I felt like it wasn't right.

First of all, when we want to change the order of the clips, using Command (Ctrl on Windows) is not the way to go! It works for inserting within the timeline but not for changing the order of the shots. This is a huge mistake.

To change the order of the clips, you need to first use Command + Option (Ctrl + Alt on Windows) for it to do a really good job as a basic timeline.

changing order of clips in premiere pro

But the example timeline that is used for the presentation is the worst possible scenario for Premiere Pro and how it works. It’s perfectly understandable taking into account the point he’s trying to make but it’s still important to acknowledge that it is only a problem when you have split edits like J-cuts and L-cuts in the timeline.

Even if you do, you shouldn't do it like how it's shown in the presentation. You can do it in two simple steps that take maybe half-second longer than the whole "Final Cut Pro thing."

Before we change the placement of clips, we press Command + Option (Ctrl + Alt). We then move selected clips to the desired location and we release. The problem is that the audio from the clip with J-cut or L-cut will be out of sync, but don't worry as there's a really easy fix for that. You should right-click on the out-of-sync indicator and choose the option Move into SyncNot even close to the nightmare that was presented, right?

move into sync in premiere pro

I only wish I could assign a keyboard shortcut to the Move into Sync command. Anyway, it’s really not that bad in terms of cleaning up the timeline. Many people have bad editing habits and this is the reason why they have to constantly clean up the timeline. 

The full video from Sven is really good, so if you haven't seen the “How Final Cut Pro Went OFF THE TRACKS” video, be sure to check it out.

In the full clip from the class, Jesús Pérez-Miranda also showed different ways you can move around clips on the timeline in Premiere Pro. I just want to stress that it's nothing personal and I bet he's a great editor, teacher, and consultant. Feel free to check out his presentation. I must say that the concept Final Cut Pro X implemented looks really interesting. Watching this video made me want to test it myself one day.

Does it really matter which software do you use? In my opinion, it doesn’t, even though it does to some extent. Let me explain. 

When you’re just starting out, the choice of NLE is the last thing you should be worried about. It’s MUCH more important to start, to learn, to understand what the art of editing is all about. We tend to think that what stops us from being who we want to be is the gear we don't have, opportunities we aren’t given, the lack of software we should use. That’s very far away from the truth. It’s only when we start doing something that we start to realize how many things we haven’t even considered.

It's only when you really know the craft that the tool you choose translates into how you work, and eventually, into the results.

But after a while, you start to understand what part of the software is most useful to you and what stops you from editing efficiently and creatively. Only then does it really matters what software you use. For my purpose, Premiere Pro is the best that I know of. But if I learn Avid or Final Cut Pro X, then who knows....I might switch one day.

By the end of the day, these are just tools that help us to tell good stories. It's only when you really know the craft that the tool you choose translates into how you work, and eventually, into the results.

What do you think about the topic? Let us know in the comments. By the way, if you're interested in the documentary, here's the trailer for Off the Tracks    

Your Comment

10 Comments

I HATE, HATE, HATE the magnetic timeline. And I'm not just some cranky old man stuck in his ways who hasn't given FCP X a fair shake. I just edited an entire feature on it and I'm fully proficient with the program at this point. The NLE is just awkward to work with. There are features I love -- the surround sound tools, and the way you can assign and export audio based on those labels (Dialogue, Effects, Music). But the magnetic timeline is just a bear to work with, especially when you start recutting. If DaVinci Resolve handled H.264 files as well as FCP X I probably would have used that for the feature film instead.

October 18, 2018 at 3:05PM

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Batutta
289

While that may not be the best example of the power of the magnetic timeline over traditional track based NLEs, it still takes more clicks to move the clips in Premiere than in X. Once you wrap your head around X, it is very fast to edit with. I think Thomas Grove Carter shows very quickly how fast and powerful this is as opposed to other NLEs, you can do this on the fly with the producer sitting behind you while it is all playing back in real time.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nPQwUaUCkHU

October 18, 2018 at 3:41PM

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Brad Jones
Director/Producer/Writer/Editor
556

I agree. Premiere is more keyboard based and you still need to click more times. Thanks for this feedback. I didn't know they patented it by the way.

October 18, 2018 at 4:04PM

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Piotr Toczyński
Film Editor, YouTube Creator

I wouldn't say it is more keyboard based per say as you can edit in X entirely without ever touching a mouse if you so desire it's just one single move to move a clip as opposed to 3 or 4 moves to do this in Premiere. Good trick in Premiere though, that tip could come in handy down the road.

October 18, 2018 at 5:18PM

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Brad Jones
Director/Producer/Writer/Editor
556

There's also one other reason Premiere will never have the magnetic timeline (although Rush has some sort of hybrid of this with tracks as well) is that the magnetic timeline is under patent by Apple so technically it is a proprietary technology they developed.

October 18, 2018 at 3:47PM

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Brad Jones
Director/Producer/Writer/Editor
556

Stopped reading after: "I’m on Windows and have never used Final Cut Pro."

October 18, 2018 at 4:18PM

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William Streeter
Filmmaker
192

So much this. Then later he said Premiere is the best he knows of and that possibly in the future he would try FCP or Avid.

Which technically true it makes me wonder why I read this article. Or even how this person was permitted to write an article on the differneces between NLEs.

October 18, 2018 at 6:29PM, Edited October 18, 6:29PM

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Robbie Patton
Editor
101

Hey Robbie, I didn't mean it to be about differences between NLEs. Just about the way you can swap clips efficiently. I wouldn't do such a comparison unless I learn about the rest of the leading platforms. Just like mentioned in the comment. Thanks for the feedback though. I'll be more careful in the future when talking about different programs side by side.

October 19, 2018 at 4:14AM

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Piotr Toczyński
Film Editor, YouTube Creator

The point of the video wasn't an in depth comparison, but it was calling out bad info being claimed by the FPCX guy. The guy in the video who was trying to show how FPCX was better than Premier either didn't know how to use Premier properly and didn't do his research or was purposely misleading. Neither is good.

Piotr was just showing that the same edit can be made in PPro just as fast, albeit one extra click, as it is done in FCPX. He was actually very complimentary of the FCPX guys and was extremely respectful.

Let's not start bashing someone like Piotr who clearly meant nothing malicious in his video but instead wanted to properly inform the community of how PPro actually works... unlike the FCPX guy.

October 19, 2018 at 10:36AM, Edited October 19, 10:36AM

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Ive edited in FCP, FCPX, and Premiere for years. in the end I prefer Premiere. Although I like the simplicity of FCPX.

October 18, 2018 at 5:36PM

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