Film and video are primarily visual media. Oddly enough, though, the moment an edit occurs is often driven as much by the sound as by the picture. How many times have you heard a sound and turned to look in that direction? This is essentially the behavior that drives much of film editing, whether the obvious dialogue following in narrative fiction or the natural sound editing of documentary. So let’s look at working with sound in Final Cut Pro. How sound is used, where it comes in, and how long it lasts are key to good editing. With few exceptions, sound almost never cuts with the picture. Sometimes the sound comes first and then the picture, and sometimes the picture leads the sound. Generally, the sound will lead the picture. You hear the sound, then you see the picture. The principal reason video and audio are so often cut separately is that we see and hear quite differently. We see in cuts; for example, we look from one person to another, from one object to another, from the keyboard to the monitor. Though your head turns or your eyes travel across the room, you really see only the objects you’re interested in looking at. We hear, on the other hand, in fades. You walk into a room, the door closes behind you, and the sound of the other room fades away. As a car approaches, the sound gets louder. Screams, gunshots, and doors slamming and other staccato, “spot” effects being exceptions, our aural perception is based on smooth transitions from one sound to another. Sounds, especially background sounds such as the ambient noise in a room, generally need to overlap to smooth out the jarring abruptness of a hard cut.