Macros with AppleScript for Video Editing

Macros are a simple way of saving you time while you’re editing, but I don’t think many editors take advantage of them. If you don’t know, a macro is a short script that makes the computer automatically execute a series of keyboard commands to help make repetitive tasks much simpler. They can be particularly useful for assistant editors, where you often have to perform a predictable and repetitive series of keystrokes over and over. By using a macro, not only can you save time, you can also eliminate some of the inevitable human error that can arise by having to repeat a complex series of keystrokes many times. There are even health benefits. I worked as an assistant on a show a couple years ago and after a few days of syncing dailies and grouping in the Avid, my left pinkie was beginning to hurt quite a bit from all the reaching for the control key. By writing a macro for the repetitive tasks, I was able to save myself from a lot of pain and my hand lived to fight (well, edit) another day!

In this post, I’m going to use a recent real-life task as an example to show the steps required to create a macro using AppleScript. While the actual macro that I’m writing is specific to completing one task on Final Cut Pro 7, these same techniques can be applied to any repetitive task on any editing system. As best as I can, I’ll try to explain the few simple AppleScript commands you need to be able to macro-ize anything that can be accomplished with a keyboard. Continue reading