April 13, 2011

Final Cut Pitfalls

Filed under: video,workflow — Erik Dobberkau @ 20:59

Since the Editing Community will have to wait some more weeks for the release of the long awaited Final Cut X, I thought I’d share some insight of my latest work with Final Cut Pro 7.

Log and Transfer:
When importing footage from card media, it is possible to start editing with the imported clips while the others are still being ingested. However, I cannot say this is advisable. I encountered some random errors, such as clips only being partially transferred (with correct metadata, meaning FCP displays a duration of 3 seconds, and the clip (which should be 2 mins long) really is 3 secs. Other clips were fully imported, but with wrong metadata (you can shuttle through the entire clip of 2 mins, but FCP displays a duration of 5 secs in the browser window). So the old rule applies: Never touch a running system! Which is why you should ingest overnight, if you don’t have an assistant.

Working with clip files:
When I realized that FCP screwed up during the ingest, the only thing I could do was to re-run the Log & Transfer for the corrupted clips. So I selected these in the browser window, right-clicked and chose “Make offline…”, then picking the “remove from disk” option. And this is where you should stop and check in the Finder if these files have been properly removed. In my cases, some were still on the disk, which resulted in a major hassle I’ll explain in the next section. Remember: Double-check if files you want to be removed really are removed.

Renaming files:
One sweet feature of FCP is the ability to rename files to match the clip name. However, if the file you’re trying to rename already exists, Final Cut won’t do it — without any prompt of the failed action. Here’s the story: I offlined the corrupted clips and ran the Log & Transfer again. Let’s say the clip (and file) name was “”. What happens is when Final Cut detects a file of this name in the Capture Scratch folder, it automatically increases the index number to the next one available, like “”, if files ranging from 5612 to 5677 have already been captured. But it displays “MVI_5612” in the browser window. Again, you can only rename file “” to match its clip name (“MVI_5612”) if the file “” does not exist in the same folder. Seems logical, but any decent piece of software would at least give you an obscure error message. Or crash with an exception. But I’m not getting into Avid here.

Media Manager:
Also known as the Media Mangler, it’s not advisable to use the Media Manager when you’re working with mixed footage. I had a project containing ProRes4444 FullHD 25p footage and DVCpro 720p50 footage. I had already figured out that there is no way to convert the 720p50 footage to 25fps without crushing the metadata (making re-capturing at a later time impossible, or at least very cumbersome), but the problem remains when you’re consolidating your project to get rid of unnecessary footage. Though all images match in the new project, edited audio gets totally mangled. My workaround for now is to render your audio coming from footage that is not in the timeline codec (in my case that’s all 720p50 audio because the timeline was ProRes4444) to a hard file. Make as many tracks as you need to have all padding for later edits, and then use the Media Manager to consolidate the project.

Rarevision offers an alternative to Compressor and FCP’s Log and Transfer to convert Canon 5D footage that I couldn’t test myself up to now, but the images on their site looks very promising.

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