90 Percent of Problems are Cable Problems

11-1590percent
Most people assume the worst when their edit system starts acting up. If you’re getting a signal or device control problem, it might not be your machine (or even your software). A $10 cable can tear down an entire edit session. Follow these steps:

  1. Shut down the computer to avoid any improper dismounting of media drives.
    2 Isolate the suspected “problem” device.
  2. Be sure to reseat both ends of the cable.
    4 If that doesn’t work, try swapping out the cable.
  3. Continue to add devices until the problem recurs. Then repeat this cycle.

You might be surprised how many times this works.

Remember, there’s more than just FireWire cables; there are USB cables, RS-422 cables, monitor cables and extensions, and fiber-optic cables. Even your audio and video cables (RCA, BNC, XLR) could be culprits. “What, no video? Oops, my RCA came unplugged.”



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Like this tip? It comes from the book
Final Cut Studio On the Spot from Focal Press.






|

What’s That Exclamation Point?

11-25Exclamationpoint1
A lot of new users call us up asking about that exclamation point or nice green check mark on their image. We tell them that Final Cut Pro has an Artificial Intelligence engine, and it’s approving of the shot or edit. Or, if there is an exclamation point, then there’s content that’s inappropriate for people younger than 18. They thank us and hang up the phone.

After about five minutes, they call us back and ask if we were pulling their legs. Well, Final Cut Pro does have a secret AI engine. If we told you more, we’d be put on double-secret probation, but the exclamation point and checkbox actually mean something
else.

They’re used to determine if your video is broadcast safe/legal. An exclamation point means you’re not broadcast safe, and a green checkbox or one with an up arrow means you’re okay. Now how did this get turned on? Well, the keyboard shortcut for this is Control + Z, so people often accidentally hit it when trying to do an Undo (Command + Z) or a Fit to Window (Shift + Z).



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Like this tip? It comes from the book
Final Cut Studio On the Spot from Focal Press.






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Better Drop Shadows

04-06.Better Drop2
When placing type against a moving background, a contrasting edge is a necessity. This is often accomplished by using a drop shadow. But sometimes a drop shadow isn’t enough.

1 Use Outline Text from the Generators well.

2 Set the line width to a narrower setting (somewhere between 10–25).

3 Crank the line softness up (40 or higher).

4 Combine with a Drop Shadow from the Motion tab.

5 Reduce the Offset value so the shadow is tighter. Increase the Opacity and Softness to taste.




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Like this tip? It comes from the book
Final Cut Studio On the Spot from Focal Press.






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Inside Out (Marks You Need)

InsideOutNew1

A fundamental keyboard shortcut is using I to mark an In point and O to mark an Out point. In fact, three-point editing is the key to quickly (and accurately) assembling your rough cut. Want to really speed your way through the Viewer and Canvas? Try the following advanced keyboard Options. Combine the modifier key with I for in or O for out.

Shift – Go to In Go to Out Quickly jump to the set mark.
Useful for checking points before making an edit.

Option – Clear In Clear Out
Quickly clear a mark to change an edit. You don’t need to clear a mark if you’re going to make a new mark.

Control – Set video In point Set video Out point
Useful for performing a split edit. Only visible if a separate audio In point is set.

Command + Option – Set audio In point Set audio Out point
Allows you to make a split edit where the audio and picture change at different points.



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Like this tip? It comes from the book
Final Cut Studio On the Spot from Focal Press.






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Hum Remover

Ch09_Hum Remover

This is a great little filter to remove AC noise from a track. Usually this happens because a power line was running parallel (as opposed to perpendicular) to your audio cable when you recorded your scene.

  • Leave the frequency set to 60 (as in 60 cycles) if you were shooting in the U.S. or set it to 50 if you were shooting in a country where the power is 50 cycles.
  • Q adjusts the filter resonance. Higher values result in a narrower but stronger resonance, which limits the frequencies affected by the filter.
  • Gain is essentially the sound pressure level (a.k.a. how loud the audio is).

What about all those harmonics? Think of them as reflections or echoes of the original 60-cycle hum. Use only the harmonics you need because you may start removing frequencies you want in your audio.



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Like this tip? It comes from the book
Final Cut Studio On the Spot from Focal Press.






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Pop Killer

08-08popkiller

For one reason or another you may get an audio pop at the edit point or even within a clip. Most video applications allow you to edit video at the frame level. Final Cut Pro goes way beyond this by allowing audio edits as small as 1/100th of a frame.

  1. 1 Open the clip in the Viewer by double-clicking, and choose the Audio tab.
    2 Place the playhead over the click.
  2. Zoom in as far as possible by pressing Command + =. When zoomed in all the way, you’ll see a highlighted region that’s one frame wide.
    4 Hold the Shift key down, and drag the playhead. Park over the exact place where the pop appears.
  3. Use the Pen tool to add four keyframes in a row. The center two keyframes should straddle the audio problem. The outer keyframes are placed a few 100ths of a frame from the pop.
    6 Drag the inner keyframes down to –60 db. The unwanted noise should now be inaudible. The rest of the clip should sound unaltered.


fcpbook

Like this tip? It comes from the book
Final Cut Studio On the Spot from Focal Press.






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Ugly Playback in Final Cut Pro

13_uglyplayback
This is one of our favorite gotchas. Recently, a client called us and was extremely frustrated; he was rather worried that somehow his tricked out Final Cut Pro system was possessed and had ruined all of his media. After calming him down a bit, he described the symptoms as really staggered and jumpy playback and it looked like the footage was really low rez even though it was high def.

After a few more questions the fix was clear. In the RT pulldown on the Timeline, settings for Playback Video Quality and Playback Frame Rate were set too low and quarter respectively. No wonder he was getting ugly playback!

If you have similar symptoms, the RT menu is often one of the first places to check. While there are many combinations here, we find that setting both Playback Video Quality and Playback Frame Rate to Dynamic will offer the best balance of real-time playback and quality.




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Like this tip? It comes from the book
Final Cut Studio On the Spot from Focal Press.






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I Can’t Even Open My FCP Project File” (Or Other Flaky Activities)

Corruption can happen a lot of places, even in Final Cut Pro:

1. Look in the Autosave Vault. Before panicking, simply try going back a few versions. Do a search for Autosave in the Finder. Look in the folders for a backup of your project file. Work your way backward through the recently saved copies.

2. Create a new user account. Create a new user account for testing purposes. This is a great way to see if the problem is a corrupt preferences file. Most Final Cut Pro preferences files are stored in the user’s settings. Open the System Preferences panel under the blue Apple. Click Accounts. Click on New User. Create one call test, and give it admin privileges. You can assign it a password or not. Only use this account for troubleshooting (you may want to keep it for the future).

Now, log out, and log in as the new user. Try opening Final Cut Pro. It should open with no active project files. If it opens, you’ve narrowed the problem down to bad user preferences (see next tip) or a bad project file.

3. Test the project file. Next, open the project file that was causing the problems. (If it was stored in the other user folder, you won’t have access to it. Log in as the original user, make a copy of the file, and move it to a shared location such as the media folder or the top level of your hard drive—not the desktop—that’s owned by the user.)

If it opens, you’ve confirmed it was the preferences. If it crashes, it could be bad media or renders, or something has become corrupt in the application or the OS.

4. Delete the render files. Delete all the render files. Don’t worry—you can rerender a lot faster than you can rebuild the project. To find render files, look on your media drives for the Render Files and Audio Render Files folders. Terminate them with extreme prejudice. Yes, it’s Apocalypse Now for your render files.

Try reopening the project. Success? If not, try hiding the media files from the project. Disconnect the media drive, or drop the media into another folder. If the project opens with the media offline, you’ve got a bad media file. (An alternative is to open the project file on another machine—same rules apply.)

5. Recapture the media.
If you determine you have a bad file, you can either load/relink media back into the project in small groups or batch recapture the media from the original tapes. If you’re still getting tanked, send the project to a friend to see if it’ll open on their machine. This is the best way to determine if you’re having a hardware, application, or operating system issue.

6. Still broken? At this point, you may need to call your reseller or a consultant.



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Like this tip? It comes from the book
Final Cut Studio On the Spot from Focal Press.






|

Rebuilding Permissions

11-08rebuild permissioins
This sounds like something from etiquette class, but this little activity can save hours of headache throughout your system. In the Utilities folder in the Applications folder, there’s an application called Disk Utility. Under the First Aid tab there’s a button to repair permissions (Repair Disk Permissions). Select your drives and let it rip. You should run it a couple of times. It’s amazing how so many of those little quirky problems will go away.



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Like this tip? It comes from the book
Final Cut Studio On the Spot from Focal Press.






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When in Doubt, Shut Down and Restart

11-01 shut down
Things can and do go wrong. A simple reset to your system is often the best way to “cure” software problems. Don’t just click Restart, however; let the system fully reset itself by shutting down. As a favorite engineer used to tell me, “Shut down, count to 20, restart—if there’s still a problem, then call me.”



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Like this tip? It comes from the book
Final Cut Studio On the Spot from Focal Press.






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Let It Roll: Scrolling in the Timeline

Timeline 1
Too many tracks in your Timeline, and you want to scroll up and down quickly? No need to grab the scroll bar on the right edge if you have a three-button mouse. Put the cursor over the Timeline, and use the third button to scroll up and down. It gets better; hold down the Shift key and you can scroll left and right (if you’re using an Apple Mighty Mouse, just scroll). Don’t stop now—place the cursor over the Viewer or Canvas, and you can scrub backward and forward. If you aren’t impressed yet by Apple’s thoughtful engineers, go try these shortcuts in a bin, on effect sliders, and even in the audio mixer.



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Like this tip? It comes from the book
Final Cut Studio On the Spot from Focal Press.






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Free Stuff in Motion

09-20Free2
Looking for an easy to way add backgrounds, textures and other elements to your project without having to break the bank on expensive stock animation libraries? Fortunately the wonderful folks at Apple understand. Motion ships with tons of free content that you can use in your projects (all of it royalty-free).

  1. To access this content from inside Motion choose the Library tab in the Utility pane (Command + 2).
    2 Then choose the Content folder from the list.

Welcome to the world of free content!



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Like this tip? It comes from the book
Final Cut Studio On the Spot from Focal Press.






|

Write It with Motion

10_writeit
One of the coolest new features in Motion 3 is the ability to use the Paint Stroke Tool to do a very cool write on effect. While there are lots of ways to customize this effect, lets take a look at the basics.

  1. Select the Paint Stroke Tool (P).
    2 Make sure your HUD is active (F7). From here you can choose several options, such as brush color, width, pen pressure and pen speed (yes, this works with graphics tablets).
  2. At the bottom of the HUD there is a pull-down for shape style. Here you can choose dozens of different pre-built shape styles for the Paint Stroke Tool. Be sure to check out the very cool light strokes and organic elements.
    4 To really get the effect right, make sure the check box for Write On is checked.
  3. Draw your stroke.
  4. Play back your Timeline and watch this ultra-cool effect.




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Like this tip? It comes from the book
Final Cut Studio On the Spot from Focal Press.






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Make Your Gray Skies Blue in Final Cut Pro

07-18bGraySkies1_thumb
It’s not unusual for your skies to be washed out. This is often a problem, because video doesn’t offer the same dynamic range as film (the difference between darks and highlights). Fortunately, Final Cut Pro allows you to isolate the color correction, so you can achieve a fix just to the problem area.
  1. Apply the Color Corrector 3-way filter, and access the filter’s visual controls.
  2. Using the Select Color eyedropper in the Limit Effect controls, select the desired color you’d like to keep.
  3. Click the key icon to view the matte. Use the Select Color eyedropper while holding down the Shift key to add to the matte. You can click in the Viewer or Canvas window.
  4. Finesse the matte by adjusting the Width and Softness sliders for the Chroma, Saturation, and Luma values in the Limit Effect controls. When the desired color is clearly selected, there will be no holes in your matte. Also, adjust the Softening slider to improve the matte. You may get a better matte by using fewer limiting ranges.
  5. Click the key icon twice to toggle back to View Final.
  6. Adjust the color balance wheels and saturation of the shot.
You may need to add a second color corrector to finesse the scene or isolate another problem area.


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Like this tip? It comes from the book
Final Cut Studio On the Spot from Focal Press.






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Motion Templates in Final Cut Pro

motiontemplatesinfcp
For the past few years Apple has been pushing Motion as a tool that should be in every editor’s toolbox. The problem has been, not every editor has had the time or patience to learn Motion. In Final Cut Pro 6, Apple recognized this and has integrated Motion templates directly inside of FCP.

To launch a Motion template in Final Cut Pro you have three options:

  1. Choose the Effects tab in the Browser > Master Templates.
  2. Choose the Generators pulldown in the Viewer > Master Templates.
  3. Choose the Sequence menu > Add Master Template.

Choose the template that you want and load it into the Viewer. Once the template has been loaded in the Viewer, clicking on the controls tab will let you change various parameters of the template. There is only one catch:

Not every parameter of a template is editable in Final Cut Pro. Text entry, size, tracking and populating drop zones with footage are the only parameters you can adjust inside Final Cut Pro.

If you need to edit a template to, for example, change the text color, or swap out a background, you need to edit the template in Motion. Here’s how.

  1. Edit the template from the Viewer into your sequence.
  2. Right-click on the template and notice at the top of the contextual menu you have two options: Open in Editor and Open Copy in Editor. Since the template is a prebuilt one from Apple, you can’t save over it (it’s locked) so you need to choose Open Copy in Editor.
  3. Make your changes in Motion and save the file. Your changes will update in FCP.



fcpbook

Like this tip? It comes from the book
Final Cut Studio On the Spot from Focal Press.






|

Timecode Burn-in and Encode in One Step

16_tcburninencodeonestep
Timecode burn-in is used to assist in referencing back to parts of show. Typically this has been used on VHS tapes for producers so they can comment on shows, etc. These days it’s more common to use QuickTime files and DVDs for this type of work. Since you’re going to have to encode the video anyway (most likely using Compressor), why not add timecode burn-in at the same time?

Fortunately, a great new feature in Compressor 3 allows you to do this.
  1. Inside Final Cut Pro select the sequence you want to export.
  2. Choose File > Export > Using Compressor.
  3. Inside Compressor select the setting you’d like to apply to the file. With the setting active, select the Inspector window and click the Filters tab.
  4. Choose Timecode Generator.
  5. Change the settings for the Timecode Generator as you see fit.
  6. Apply the setting to the clip in the Batch window.
  7. Submit the job.

Note: If you’re trying to choose the Timecode Generator for an Apple preset you’ll notice there are no filters in the Filters tab of the Inspector. To be able to add the Timecode Generator to one of the Apple presets, you’ll have to duplicate it first (then it becomes a custom preset).



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Like this tip? It comes from the book
Final Cut Studio On the Spot from Focal Press.






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FCP to YouTube

Thanks to Phil Hodgetts for this guest tip.

YouTube
What people tend to forget is that you are sending YouTube a master for them to compress; therefore, send the highest quality you can, that fits within their limitations. YouTube.com is well know for being the busiest video-sharing site, but unfortunately, YouTube uses the much older Sorenson Spark codec for their video encoding. This was the “improved” video format for Flash 7 but is based on the very old H.263 video conferencing codec. Even when new, this was an old, inefficient codec.

Many people send YouTube an already compressed video, and are disappointed when they see the quality that results on YouTube. That’s because most of the information was first thrown away by the encode before upload, so there was little quality left to be encoded to Flash 7.

The goal is to give YouTube a master that they can use for encoding:
  • YouTube has two limitations: no more than 10 minutes per video and no larger than 100 MB per video.
    • YouTube converts everything that is uploaded to Flash 7 video at 320X240 (although they've started to also do 640X480 in H.264).
    • Remember the good old days of VHS distribution? You wouldn’t give the duplicator a VHS copy of the show to duplicate. No, you’d give them the highest quality master you could. Therefore, to get the best quality from YouTube, give them a high quality “master” that is close to 99 MB.

Here’s how to pull this off:
  1. Use QuickTime Pro or Final Cut Pro to exports to .mp4 with H.264 video.
    2 Export as MPEG-4 with H.264 and set the size to 320X240. There is no point providing more resolution than YouTube’s finished size. By going direct to that size means that you can devote bandwidth to making that master look great, instead of sending excess size that will be scaled down. The bonus is that you get to control de-interlacing and scaling.
  2. From here on there are two choices: calculate the maximum data rate that will keep the file under 99 MB, or use some general purpose settings.



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Like this tip? It comes from the book
Final Cut Studio On the Spot from Focal Press.






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Fly! (Trim on the Fly)

10-17Fly

It’s possible to trim on the fly. This way you can listen for an audio edit or look for a particular visual cue. Just make sure the Dynamic trimmimg checkbox is marked.

  1. Enter Trim Edit mode, and press the space bar to cycle your trim. The sequence will play around your edit point and loop. The pre-roll and post-roll are set in the Editing tab of User Preferences.
  2. When you reach the desired edit point, press the I key to move your In point.
  3. Press the up or down arrow to move through the Timeline to your next edit point.



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Like this tip? It comes from the book
Final Cut Studio On the Spot from Focal Press.






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The Dividing Line—Part 2

10-05aDivLine2-1

Several different options are available when dragging within the Timeline.

When dragging in the Timeline, use these tips:

  • Dragging in the Timeline horizontally results in an overwrite edit by default.
  • Dragging in the Timeline horizontally results in an insert or swap edit when you hold down the Option key.
  • Dragging in the Timeline vertically results in an overwrite edit by default.
  • Dragging in the Timeline vertically results in an insert edit when you press the Option key after you start to drag.
  • Pressing the Option key and then dragging in the Timeline vertically results in a cloned copy added to the Timeline via an insert edit.
  • Pressing the Option and Shift keys and then dragging in the Timeline vertically results in a cloned copy added to the Timeline directly above the clip.



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Like this tip? It comes from the book
Final Cut Studio On the Spot from Focal Press.






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The Dividing Line—Part 1

10-04Divideline1

When dragging tracks in the Timeline, where you drag is as important as what you drag. Careless dragging may result in an unintended overwrite edit when you intended
an insert edit.

If you look closely at the Timeline, you’ll notice that it’s divided by a thin gray line. When dragging, look to see which region you enter to determine the edit type.

When dragging from the Viewer or a bin, use these tips:

  • Dragging to the upper-third of the track results in an insert edit.
    • Dragging to the lower two-thirds of the track results in an overwrite edit.




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Like this tip? It comes from the book
Final Cut Studio On the Spot from Focal Press.







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Quiet Down! Reducing Noise in Your Clip

Ch09_Reduce Noise
Background noise? Air conditioning rumble? Soundtrack Pro makes it easy to fix. By combining the Set Noise Print and Reduce Noise commands you can dramatically improve a clip.

  1. Select a clip in your Final Cut Pro Timeline.
    2 Right-click and choose Send To > Soundtrack Pro Audio Project File. The audio moves from your Timeline into Soundtrack Pro.
  2. Zoom into a part of your audio file that contains just the background noise that you’d like to remove. Select the audio in the Soundtrack Pro Timeline.
    4 Choose Process > Noise Reduction > Set Noise Print. The noise print identifies the frequencies that you’d like to remove from the file.
  3. Select the audio in the Timeline that you’d like to repair (this will usually be the entire Timeline).
    6 Choose Process > Noise Reduction > Reduce Noise. The Reduce Noise dialog appears.
  4. Click the Preview button (play icon) to hear the noise reduction previewed.
    8 Drag the Noise Threshold slider left to lower the threshold, or drag it right to raise the threshold.
  5. Drag the Reduction slider to the right to increase the amount of noise reduction.
    10 Use the Tone Control slider left to preserve more of the bass or treble content.
  6. To toggle a before and after state, click the Bypass button.
    12 When satisfied, click the Apply button.




fcpbook

Like this tip? It comes from the book
Final Cut Studio On the Spot from Focal Press.






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CDs Get Converted

itunes
Our favorite way to rip and up-convert music from stock music CDs is to use iTunes.
We all know music CDs are recorded at a sampling rate of 44.1kHz. Final Cut Pro and digital video love to work at a sampling rate of 48kHz. Yes, we know Final Cut Pro can up-sample on the fly, but why waste CPU power that could be going to your real-time video playback?

Here’s all you need to do:

  1. Open iTunes.
    2 Open Preferences under the Edit menu.
  2. Click the Advanced icon in the toolbar then choose Importing.
  3. Under Import Using, select AIFF Encoder.
    5 Under Setting, select Custom.
  4. Another dialog box opens. Here, select a sample rate of 48.000 kHz. Click OK and then OK again.
    7 Now click the General button.
  5. Under iTunes Music Folder Location, change it to target your desktop. (This will make it real easy to find and move your newly ripped tracks.)
    9 Pop in your CD. If you’re connected to the Internet, iTunes will go to the CDDB and grab the album name and track names. (Yes, it seem as if most of our library music is listed in the CDDB.) This is great because most of the work is done. Create a playlist of all the tracks you want to rip.
  6. Click Import, and you’re done!

Once you’ve set up your preferences, just “rip and roll” every time you need to grab a music cut. Fast, easy, elegant…and of course…cool.




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Like this tip? It comes from the book
Final Cut Studio On the Spot from Focal Press.






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A Little Louder Please…

08-23littlelouder

Need to tweak the mix a little? You can quickly change the volume of a highlighted track from the keyboard. Use the following keyboard combinations to perfect the mix:

  • Gain –3db Control [
  • Gain –1db Control –
  • Gain +1db Control +
  • Gain +3db Control ]




fcpbook

Like this tip? It comes from the book
Final Cut Studio On the Spot from Focal Press.






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Carve It (A Better Bevel)

04-08.CarveIt
Looking to create a beveled edge? The built-in bevel filter doesn’t work on text. Instead, you’ll need to use the channels to create the edge.

  1. 1 Choose Effect>Video Filters>Channel>Channel Offset.
    2 Switch the Channel to move only the Alpha Channel.
  2. Offset the channel to taste, usually a value of three to ten pixels for the X and Y axis will work, but you may need to vary this based on the size of your graphic.
    4 Experiment with the Edges settings to refine your look.




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Like this tip? It comes from the book
Final Cut Studio On the Spot from Focal Press.






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Lose That Umlaut (Symbolically Speaking, Of Course)

04-02.umlaut

Need special characters but can’t remember where they live on the keyboard? OS X has a great feature for this—the Character Palette.

1 Go to System Preferences > International > Input Menu, and enable the Character Palette.

2 Notice the new icon in your menu bar (likely a flag that matches the language). When needed, simply click it and choose Show or Hide Character Palette.

3 The palette automatically floats above your active application.

4 Be sure to check that you’re using the same font in the text generator or other application.

5 Double-click or drag to use the special character.




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Like this tip? It comes from the book
Final Cut Studio On the Spot from Focal Press.






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Retro is Not Always Cool

05-10.RetroNot
Most transitions have hard edges; that looks bad enough. Avoid the temptation to add a colored border, or you’ll really be traveling back to the days of clunky tapes that were heavier than a MacBook. Instead, try feathering the edges and adjusting the width of the border. In our experience, the client will find the effect far more pleasing.

Want some retro wipes, then try out these:
• Wrap Wipe
• Zig Zag Wipe
• Venetian Blind Wipe





fcpbook

Like this tip? It comes from the book
Final Cut Studio On the Spot from Focal Press.






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Gradient Wipe

05-00.5.GW
The Gradient Wipe is the most useful transition inside Final Cut Pro (after a Dissolve of course). Don’t be turned off by how the effect looks on its own; without an image dropped in the well, it’s useless. The effect creates a transition between two clips by using a luminance map. The transition will occur between the darkest and lightest areas in the map. Why is this so cool? You can create as many transitions as you like using graphic files. Make your own or download away.



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Like this tip? It comes from the book
Final Cut Studio On the Spot from Focal Press.






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Pull It Down

Are you a 24p addict just like us? Don’t worry, there is nothing to be ashamed of! Some cameras, like Panasonic’s Varicam can record 24p (really 23.98) within a 720p60 signal. It does this by duplicating frames. To get back to 24p you can remove what is known as Advanced Pulldown to get the footage back to 24fps. You can do this on capture from a FireWire source (like Panasonic’s AJ HD1400).

5_pullitdown_1

  1. Open your capture presets (Final Cut Pro > Audio Video Settings and choose the Capture Presets tab) and select a DVCPRO HD preset to edit.
  2. Make sure the Remove Advanced Pulldown and/or Duplicate Frames from Firewire sources is checked.
  3. If you forgot to do this you can always remove the duplicate frames after the fact. Select your clip in the Timeline and choose Tools > Remove Advanced Pulldown.

Ahhh, 24p! Love it!


fcpbook

Like this tip? It comes from the book
Final Cut Studio On the Spot from Focal Press.






|

HD Progressive or Interlaced—Pick Your Poison

hdprogressiveinterlaced

One question we get asked a lot is, when working in HD, is progressive or interlaced better? The question is not as simple as it might seem. Here is some food for thought:

Consider progressive if:
  • you might possibly be going back to film.
    • you might have to create additional versions of the show. It’s easier to create interlaced versions from a progressive master than the other way around.
    • you have a lot of motion. Progressive footage tends to look “smoother.”

Consider interlaced if
  • compatibility with existing NTSC interlaced television is a must. Not having to convert from progressive reduces the possibility of introducing artifacts.
    • you have a lot of detail. Interlaced footage tends to look “sharper” when compared to progressive footage.


fcpbook

Like this tip? It comes from the book
Final Cut Studio On the Spot from Focal Press.






|

Open Access


5_openaccess_3

Open format Timelines is one of our favorite features in Final Cut Pro 6. They become particularly useful when you need to integrate SD footage into an HD show. However, you need to make sure a couple of options are set up correctly.

  1. Open up User Preferences by pressing Option + Q.
  2. Choose the Editing tab and in the lower right-hand corner make sure Always scale clips to sequence size is checked. With this box checked, Final Cut Pro will scale your SD footage to the HD frame but it will not distort the aspect ratio. The result will be a blown up pillar boxed image.
  3. Open up your sequence settings by choosing Sequence > Settings or Command + 0 and choose the Video Processing tab.
  4. Change the Motion Filtering Quality pulldown to Best. This ensures Final Cut Pro will scale your SD clip using the highest quality. Click OK.

If, for whatever reason, you did not have the Always scale clips to sequence size checked in your User Preferences you would have ended up with your SD image centered in the HD frame as a small box. Don’t worry though, you can fix this.

  1. Select the SD clip you want to scale.
  2. Choose Modify > Scale to Sequence.
  3. The clip’s scale has automatically been adjusted to fit the HD frame size.

While the scale to sequence method can be very helpful in working with SD footage in HD projects, scaling is happening (potentially a lot) so expect some degradation of the footage.

Note: Be wary of the Conform to Sequence command also found in the Modify menu. This command will adjust not only scale, but also aspect ratio possibly resulting in a stretched SD image if you conformed to an HD sequence. Conform to Sequence will also adjust field dominance by applying a Shift Fields filter if needed.


fcpbook

Like this tip? It comes from the book
Final Cut Studio On the Spot from Focal Press.





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Multiple Versions

Multiple
So you’ve just completed your high definition masterpiece when you find out that you need to create a standard definition letterboxed version of the show. Thankfully, this is pretty easy inside Final Cut Pro.

  1. Create a new sequence and load a new sequence preset (for example, Apple Pro Res 422 NTSC).
  2. Take your high def sequence and nest it in the new one you just created.

  3. If you’re asked if you want to conform this sequence to the new one, choose No.
  4. Voila! You now have a letterboxed version of the show because FCP maintains aspect ratio of the original sequence its scale was reduced to fit in the 4x3 frame.

Additionally, after you nest the sequence you can open it in the Viewer and increase its scale to 70% (this will, of course, depend on your acquisition source—70% is derived from HDV footage). This will essentially edge crop the original HD sequence. Just be very careful—if the footage was not shot 4•3 safe—you could be cutting off important action and/or framing.



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Check for Flash Frames

12-02flash frame gap
Before we print to tape, we step through our finished shows one edit at a time, just to make sure we don’t have any black flash frames. Use the up and down arrow keys to take you from edit point to edit point. If your Canvas shows a black frame (or unintentional frame), you have a flash frame. Switch to trimming, and you can take the offending frames out.



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A Loop is a Loop is a Loop

15-23Loop
Need to make a show loop for a client’s tradeshow booth or front entry? Final Cut Pro makes it easy for you to make money. In the Print to Video or Edit to Tape dialog boxes, you can specify how many times a show should loop. You can also add black in between each segment.

Feel free to use the Bars and Tone options because they’ll only be added to the first pass; all of the loops will contain just the program content.



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Audio Mixdown … Where Are You?

15-17mixdown
When outputting material to tape, an Audio Mixdown feature was a recommended precaution to ensure you didn’t drop frames. Choose Sequence > Render Only > Mixdown (or press Command + Option + R).

You can also map this as a button, and place it into the Timeline button bar.



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Reference Movies

15-04Ref Mov
Need to save some space? Reference movies allow you to work with your video clips or
sequence files in other applications. Think of a reference movie as a pointer back to the
original media, a lot like a link on a web page.

Follow these steps:
  1. Choose File > Export QuickTime Movie.
  2. Name the file, and choose to not make the movie self-contained. This will save you disk space by referencing back to the media on your local drives. That being said, the media can’t be deleted, moved, or on a different machine that’s unreachable via a network.
  3. Import the file into your other video application, and start working.

Reference movies are useful when working in After Effects, Cleaner, iDVD, or other applications where you want to work with a large video file. This is a useful way to export a sequence or longer segment of clips as one file. If you want to permanently save the video clip, be sure to check the Self-Contained box. Just remember that an hour-long show at DV-quality will need more than 12 GB of space!



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Get it In—Color, That Is

We love Color! Finally, we have a professional-level color correction and grading tool.
It is important to know, however, that when you send a sequence to Color, there
are limitations. And depending on your project, some of these limitations can be
important.
  • Most filters that you have applied in Final Cut Pro will not be previewed or rendered by Color. Once you have rendered and sent your project back to Final Cut Pro from Color, the filters you’ve applied will once again take effect. This is especially important for Color Correction or Image Control filters (with the exception of the Color Corrector 3-way which is translated as a correction in the Primary Room in Color). Prior to sending to Color, it’s a good idea to remove those filters, as you might get weird results when your project has returned to Final Cut Pro and those filters are again active. In general, you want to choose either Color or Final Cut Pro to do your color correction and grading work, and not mix the two.
    Send to Color2
  • Track layering will be maintained in Color, however Opacity and composite modes will not be previewed or rendered out of Color. Instead, this information is maintained and rendered in Final Cut Pro.
  • Like filters, transitions are not previewed or rendered by Color, instead, the transitions are rendered when the project returns to Final Cut Pro.
  • Speed effects are maintained and previewed by Color (although variable speed effects do not play properly in Color). They aren’t, however, rendered by Color; instead, Final Cut Pro renders them.
  • Generators like text and shapes, still frames, Motion and LiveType Project files that are in your sequence are ignored by Color and will not be previewed. Their position on the Timeline is maintained and when the project is sent back to Final Cut Pro, they will relink and be displayed again.
  • If you do need to color correct or grade generators or graphics material, you will need to render them out of Final Cut Pro as self-contained QuickTime files and reedit them back into your sequence.


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Don’t Forget About QuickTime Transitions

Most users avoid the QuickTime transitions folder. We’re not sure why—perhaps it’s because the transitions are oddly named. Try the following transitions out when you seem to be running low on ideas:

05-14.DFAQT

  • Explode: This warps the outgoing clip into a tunnel-like wipe. We find this particularly useful when going between graphics and an incoming clip. Offset the center of the wipe to match the focal point of the incoming clip.
  • Iris: The QuickTime Iris transition is worlds better than the Final Cut Pro Iris transition. Choose from 26 different shapes. Particularly nice is the ability to repeat the Iris pattern with separate controls horizontally and vertically. Be certain to check this one out.
  • Radial: With similar options to the Iris transition and 39 patterns to choose from, this effect needs to be on your radar screen.
  • Wipe: This one transition has more options and possibilities of all the transitions contained in Final Cut Pro’s wipe category.


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Rack It

3_rackit_1
Rack Focus effects are often used by camera ops to add a feeling of movement in the image without actually moving the camera. Typically, these effects happen at the head of a clip to act as a transition. From time to time we’ve found the need to simulate a rack focus. Fortunately, this is really easy using a Gaussian Blur filter.

  1. Load the clip you’d like to effect into the Viewer and choose Effects > Video Filters > Blur > Gaussian Blur.
  2. Position the playhead at the head of the clip and set a keyframe for the Radius parameter with a pretty high value; something like 50 works well.
  3. Move about one second forward into the clip (further for a slower rack) and change the Radius parameter to 0 (a new keyframe is automatically inserted).

Play back the clip. Now that’s Racking! Oh sorry, Rocking!



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Get to the Good Stuff: Using Search Folders

CH02_SEARCH FOLDERS
If you have several drives or a large storage network hooked up to your edit system, finding files or reconnecting clips can be very time-consuming. You can streamline the search process by harnessing the power of Search Folders. By customizing the Search Folder list with specific directories (such as drives or project folders) you can limit your media searching to a specific destination. When reconnecting offline media you can use the Search Folder list to speed up the re-linking process.

To add or replace a search folder:
  1. Open up your System Settings window by pressing Shift + Q. and choose the Search Folders tab. It is empty until you add a search folder.
  2. Click the last Set button in the list to add a new search folder. You can click the Set button next to an existing search folder to change it.
  3. Use the File dialog box to select a folder. Select a folder, then click Choose.
  4. Click OK to store the list of search folders.


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Am I Loaded?

AIL
You’re working on a clip in the Viewer, but you can’t remember if you loaded it from your Browser or the Timeline—not a problem. Final Cut Pro distinguishes between clips opened from the Browser and clips opened from the Timeline. Clips opened from the Browser have a plain scrubber bar; those loaded from the Timeline have two rows of dots in the scrubber bar, similar to the sprocket holes in a strip of film.



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Charts and Graphs with Keynote

keytnote.001-001
We absolutely adore Apple’s Keynote software. Besides importing PowerPoint files and creating beautifully animated 3D charts, it likes to share. In fact, it can create any QuickTime format. Just set up your document for a video size and export a QuickTime movie with the Export command.



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PTV (What’s That?)

Deck
Want to go straight to tape when you choose Print to Video without having to press Record on your deck and click OK? You need to turn on Auto Record and PTV after three seconds. To access this advanced control, you need to call up your Audio/Video Settings folder:

  1. Choose Final Cut Pro>Audio/Video Settings.
  2. Go to the Device Control Presets tab, and modify your current Device Control preset that has worked for you.
  3. Check the Auto Record and PTV after: X seconds box, and specify a time to wait. Three seconds is usually enough.

Note: The PTV setting is a function of your camera and deck and may not be supported by all devices. This is a hardware option, not a software setting.




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.mac Has Got Your Back

13-13adotmac1
Apple offers an excellent service for online storage, tools, and utilities. One of those utilities is Backup, which is designed to synchronize some of your key system settings. Any file can be added to Backup and be told to archive to your iDisk (the Internet storage that comes with a .mac account). Be sure to add your active project file to the backup list and tell it to archive every night. This is an excellent way to preserve a clean copy of the project file.



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Poor Man’s Uprez

Sometimes you don’t have the time to do an online session and ingest your clips as uncompressed, or maybe you just don’t have the equipment to support the process. Either way, here is a quick way to achieve uncompressed space via software. Just be aware that this method won’t make your video look better, but what it will do is give you great bandwidth for color correction (versus DV or HDV, for example), and make your text and graphics look as good as possible.

poorman

  1. Start by creating a new sequence and load the uncompressed 10-Bit preset.
  2. If you’re working in HD simply change your frame size and pixel aspect ratio to the flavor of your choice. Click OK to save the changes to your new sequence.
  3. Find your original sequence in your Browser and drag it to the Canvas. Make sure you’re holding down the Command key as you don’t want to nest this sequence (Command will make all the clips come in as individual clips, not as a nest) and choose Overwrite. Also make sure you have the same number of video and audio tracks as your original to ensure clips don’t get lost.
  4. All of your clips will be placed in the Timeline and simply choose to render the sequence.

If you’re going back to tape make sure your hard drives are fast enough to support uncompressed playback (might be a big issue if you’re attempting to do this with HD).

If your final output is DVD or the web, don’t worry about not being able to play it back, as you’ll simply output the file through Compressor and don’t need real-time playback.




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Shared Project Files

Maybe you’re lucky and you have a huge 42TB Xsan set up for central storage in your facility—besides being technically really cool, we’re super jealous! Xsan and other Storage Area Networks (SANs) are a perfect way to share media files and project files.
Shared

One area that can quickly get people into trouble is opening a single project file at the same time on different machines. Perhaps no other Final Cut Pro-related Xsan issue causes more corruptions, headaches and lost work.

The fix is simple. DO NOT open the same project file on multiple machines at the same time. Of course there are times you will want to open the project file at the same time, so here are a couple of ways to get around the issue.

  • Duplicate the project file and label it with a suffix like for _bob_72207 where Bob is the person getting the file and the numbers are the date.
  • If you don’t like duplicating project files (to prevent clutter) make sure that you ask others on the SAN before opening. An easy way to do this is by using iChat and enabling Bonjour messaging. That way everyone can talk without having to leave their edit suite/office and it doesn’t require they have an AIM or .Mac account.


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Plan for the Shoot

Just dropping a bunch of cameras at a location will not give you great coverage. Successful directors know they must plan out their shots to map out coverage. Here are a few important things to make sure of:

Ch12_Plan

  • Map Out Coverage: What sort of angles do you need? A two-person interview looks great with three cameras but a concert event might need eight cameras to capture the experience.
  • Use a Floor Plan: You’ll need to create a floor plan for your shoot that identifies talent and camera positions. Be sure to plan this out ahead of time and distribute to all of your crew.
  • Plan for Lighting: Camera coverage will have a HUGE impact on your lighting strategies. Try to avoid lights getting too far behind cameras and operators; otherwise, you’ll get unwanted shadows on the set.
  • Make Sure You Have Enough Power: Eight cameras plus a three-ton grip truck’s worth of lights can put a big drain on a circuit. Make sure you have identified where your power is coming from and that you have enough extension cords/stingers to get you the needed juice.



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“Tell Me What’s On Your Mind”—Render Status Bar

Sure your Timeline had lots of red segments, but why? Have you been neglecting your machine? Did your tower get jealous when you took the laptop home with you? It’s hard to really know why an effect needs to render and what is blocking real-time performance.

Staus Bars


Or at least it used to be hard. Final Cut Pro 6 is a lot more willing to share. As long as you have Tooltips active (see your User Preferences) you can better tell what’s going on. Just roll your cursor over a red segment and hover. Render status bars now provide detailed Tooltips as to why a segment with red render status bars can’t play back in real-
time.

Now, if we could just use the same trick to figure out why our kids and spouses get mad sometimes.



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Matte Settings

If you’re using glows, drop shadows, or soft edges, you’ll likely have a soft edge in your alpha channel. To get the best key possible, you want a clean glow or shadow. But this is difficult if you don’t dig deeper into your import graphic settings.

09-11Matte

By default, Adobe Photoshop creates a premultiplied alpha channel (an alpha channel that follows the edge exactly). This causes problems, however, because the background color will be visible around the edges of your graphic. If you do nothing, this will be a problem, because your glows will look “dirty,” and partially transparent drop shadows will come through too strong.

In Final Cut Pro, it’s important to identify what the graphic was on top of when the alpha channel was created. If you had a black background, choose Black. If you had a white background or the transparency grid, choose White.




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Force Fitting Audio

Your narration for your 30-second spot runs 32 seconds. No matter how you slice and dice it, you can’t cut out one frame. Don’t worry, Soundtrack Pro can help out.

Ch09_Force Fit

  1. Send the narration file to Soundtrack Pro.
  2. Accurately select the region that needs to be retimed.
  3. Choose Process > Time Stretch.
  4. Change the Length of selection to measure in Seconds.
  5. Enter a new duration for the audio and click OK.
  6. Soundtrack Pro retimes the audio and attempts to keep the pitch identical to the original.
  7. Close and save the project to return the audio to Final Cut Pro.

Note: This works great for picking up a little speed. But you can’t force fit a :30 script into a :15 spot. Have reasonable expectations.



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Modding the Keyboard

Keyboard shortcuts are great,and they’re even better if you actually learn them. We find color-coded keys to be a plus, and lots of manufacturers make great keyboards for Final Cut Pro and other applications. But chances are you have a perfectly fine keyboard that came with your computer.

Fig Ch07- Modding Keys

Instead of buying a new keyboard, check out Logic Keyboard. They sell a do-it-yourself kit (complete with a key ripper). It’s an easy swap and they have keys for both types of recent Apple keyboards. Plus it’s far cheaper than buying a whole new keyboard. Installation takes about 10 minutes. But here’s an important tip: take one key off at a time and replace; the first time we tried it we had trouble remembering where every key went.



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Codecs For Clarity

One question we get a lot is “why does my text look so soft?” While there are few answers to this question, but the most common reason is the codec that is being used for the sequence the text resides in. Compression heavy codecs like DV and HDV tend to make text look soft.

7_codecsforclarity

Consider “up-rezing” to an uncompressed sequence when you’re done with your show to help with the text and graphics. If you’re going back to tape you’ll need pretty fast hard drives to play this sequence back, but if you’re outputting to DVD or QuickTime you don’t need to worry if your drives can play this back.

To “uprez” your sequence use the following steps:

  1. Duplicate your final sequence so you can have a back up.
  2. Open the duplicate sequence and go the Sequence Menu > Sequence Settings (Command + 0).
  3. From the compressor pulldown choose 8- or 10-bit uncompressed (10-bit will create bigger render files compared to 8-bit).
  4. Click OK.
  5. You will have to re-render your sequence but your text and graphics will thank you for it!



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Putting the Pro in Resolution

5_puttingproinresolution_1
One of the biggest new features in Final Cut Pro 6 is the ProRes 422 codec. The idea behind the codec is to give HD quality at SD data rates. And it works! Comparing ProRes 422 footage side-by-side with uncompressed HD, it’s almost impossible to tell the difference. As an added benefit, it was designed with real-time performance in mind.

The codec is available in two modes—the standard ProRes 4:2:2 and ProRes 4:2:2 (HQ), which stands for high quality. The codec can be used for both SD and HD footage, though most of the time you’ll use it solely for HD footage. Pro Res 4:2:2 is currently one of the best alternatives to an uncompressed SD or HD workflow.

5_puttingproinresolution_2

There are a number of ways to work with ProRes 422 in FCP.

  • Capture and edit in ProRes 422 using capture and sequence presets.
  • Transcode your video to ProRes 422 using the Media Manager or Compressor.
  • Render to ProRes 422. Sequences that use either native HDV or XDCAM HD and that use long-GOP MPEG-2 can see significant increases in RT performance by rendering to ProRes 422. To do this, choose Sequence > Settings or Command + 0 and then Render Control. In the Render section, choose ProRes 422 in the codec pulldown.



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Using Eyedroppers: You’ll Poke Your Eye Out

Inside the Color Corrector 3-way, you’ll see three eyedroppers in the upper area. These are useful for fixing color balance. Think of this as white balancing in post; we’ve even fixed video shot on the wrong camera preset.

07-06Eyedroppers

  • Use the Whites eyedropper to click on something that should be white. Don’t go for the whites of someone’s eyes; go with a large area such as a wall.
  • Use the Blacks eyedropper to click something that should be black.
  • The Mids eyedropper really only works when using a chip chart or something with 50-percent gray.
  • If the color balancing is overcompensated, you may need to drag back toward the center in the color wheel.


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Replicate for Fun Transitions (With Motion)

The Replicator in Motion is a very cool tool for creating patterns out of shapes. It also happens to be a cool way to create a custom transition. Worried you don’t know Motion? Don’t worry, we’re simply going to use Motion’s prebuilt Replicators to create a semi-custom transition.

  1. Launch Motion and create a project to match your FCP project size.
  2. In the Utility pane click the Library tab (Command + 2).
  3. Choose Replicators > Transitional.
  4. Click on one of the prebuilt Replicators listed. As you choose different ones, they will be previewed in the top part of the Library tab.
  5. Choose one you like (we chose Dots Burst Edge Out) and drag it to the Canvas
  6. Play back the Canvas with the space bar. Pretty cool right? Problem is, it’s just a little boring. Let’s fix that.
  7. Click on the Replicator in the Canvas.
  8. Choose the Inspector tab in the Utility pane (Command + 3) and then the Replicator tab.
  9. About three quarters of the way down, find the Color Mode pulldown. Here you can keep the original (white); Colorize it, which lets you pick a color; Over Pattern, which lets you create or choose a pattern of color by picking a number of repetitions; or Pick From Color Range, where you can choose or create a range of colors for the Replicator. 4_replicateforfun_3
  10. Lets choose Over Pattern. Notice below the Color Mode pulldown a new parameter appears called Color Gradient. We could make our own gradient but for simplicity’s sake, lets choose a prebuilt one from the Gradient pulldown to the right of the display of the gradient.
  11. Choose one you like (we chose Candy Corn).
  12. Next, setup the Timeline for export. To do this simply drag the playhead in the mini Timeline (which is right above the transport controls).


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Grain the Easy Way

Seems like everyone is talking about making their video look more like film these days. One characteristic of film is grain. There are lots of fancy (read expensive) filters out there for simulating film grain, but here is an easy and free method for creating grain.
  1. Determine the clip you want to effect.
  2. Select either the Generators pulldown in the Viewer or choose the Video Generators bin in the Effects tab of the Browser and choose Render > Noise.
  3. 3_graintheeasyway_2
    Edit the clip on the track above the video clip you want to effect, making sure it’s the same length as the video clip below.
  4. Toggle your clip overlays on (Option + W).
  5. Adjust the opacity of the Noise generator in the sequence down to a low value (10–15).
  6. Right-click on the Noise generator and Choose Composite Mode > Screen.
  7. If needed, go back and adjust the opacity level of the noise generator to taste.

Note: You might have two Noise generators in the Render category. One of them is a native to FCP (FxScript) and the other is from Motion (FxPlug). It’s easy to distinguish them, the FCP as one is black and white and the Motion one is color. This tip used the FCP Noise generator.


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Got a Broadcast Monitor? Then Use It!

All of the major applications in Final Cut Studio support the use of an external video monitor. However, each application is a little different in how you set it up and not all applications will support every configuration of hardware cards or decks. Be sure the hardware is powered on and properly connected before launching an application.

CH02_External Video

Final Cut Pro

  1. Choose Final Cut Pro > Easy Setup. Pick the profile that matches your hardware.
  2. Choose View > External Video > All Frames (Command + F12).
  3. If you have more than one device, you can specify it by choosing View > Video Playback > and choosing the device.

Color
  1. Choose the Setup Room by pressing Command + 1.
  2. Locate the Video Output menu toward the right edge.

Note: Color currently does not support FireWire monitoring of any kind including DVCPRO HD and AJA IO devices.

Motion
  1. Choose Motion > Preferences and click the Output tab.
  2. Select an Output path based on your active hardware.

Soundtrack Pro
  1. Choose Soundtrack Pro > Preferences and click the Video Out tab.
  2. Select a device from the popup menu.

DVD Studio Pro
  1. Choose DVD Studio Pro > Preferences. and click the Simulator tab.
  2. Choose a Video and Audio path for the Simulator and click OK.
  3. To invoke, click the Simulator button and use the virtual controls on the Simulator window.


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A New Way to Ingest

In the past few years, tapeless acquisition and post–production have really taken off. One really popular tapeless format is Panasonic’s P2. Capable of shooting DV all the way up to 1080p, it’s one cool format! Apple recognized this format and built the Log and Transfer window (although Log and Transfer does support other tapeless formats).

1_anewwaytoingest

It’s called Log and Transfer because you’re simply just transferring digital files from disk to disk. This is unlike tape-based media that you have to capture into a file on disk, i.e. Log and Capture. To launch Log and Transfer choose File > Log and Transfer or Shift+Cmd+8.

Overall, the Log and Transfer window operates like the Log and Capture window. The big difference, of course is how it ingests the media. Unlike Log and Capture where you have a few options for how to get the footage on to disk, with Log and Transfer you simply log your clip and then click Add Clip/Selection to the Queue to begin the transfer to your scratch disk.



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A Round Trip with Color

Like many of the other applications within Final Cut Pro Studio, round tripping is possible with Color.
  1. Select your sequence (you can only send sequences to Color) and choose File > Send To > Color.
    17_roundtripwithcolor_2
  2. A dialog box will open describing your selection, as well as letting you name the Color project. The name defaults to the name of the selected sequence.
  3. After correcting and grading your footage you will need to render the clips in Color by choosing Render Queue > Add All and then choose Render Queue > Start Render.
  4. Then from inside Color go to the File Menu > Send To > Final Cut Pro. This will generate an XML file that FInal Cut Pro will use to reconnect to the rendered clips from Color.

Note: You don’t have to worry about keeping track of the XML file as it’s passed seamlessly between Color and Final Cut Pro.




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Being Discrete

16_beingdiscrete
So you’ve worked hard getting a perfect mix and have created submixes, outputted your show and are ready to archive your show as a self-contained QuickTime. In the past, if you were to do this, your audio would be mixed down to stereo or as grouped channels (i.e., stereo and dual mono).

Now, in Final Cut Pro 6 you can export individual discrete channels very easily.

  1. Open up the Sequence Settings (Command + 0) window for your sequence.
  2. In the General tab in the bottom right-hand corner there is an area labeled Audio Settings.
  3. Change the Config pulldown option to Discrete and click OK to save the change.
  4. Choose the File menu > Export > QuickTime Movie.
  5. Save the file as you normally would. Discrete channels will be saved in the export.


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Trim the Fat

Perhaps you were a little bit less than careful when ingesting your footage and now you have 10 hours of footage for a 10 minute show! Don’t worry, we can help you trim the fat. One thing before we begin, though. THIS IS DESTRUCTIVE! Please make sure you have a backup of your media (tapes or archives of tapeless formats). Also, it’s a good idea to only do this if you’re sure there won’t be major changes to the show.

  1. Select the sequence you wish to trim in the Browser.
  2. Choose File > Media Manager.
  3. From the Media pulldown, choose Use existing.
  4. Check the Delete unused media from duplicated items box.
  5. Check Use handles and add a couple seconds of handles.
  6. Uncheck Duplicate selected items and place into a new project if you’d like to stay in this project, or check it to create a new project. The new project will contain only the sequence you have selected and master clips folder with the trimmed media.
  7. If you have the duplicate selected items and place in new project box checked, you also have the option to Include nonactive multiclip angles. Check this if you aren’t sure if you will be switching back to other angles or uncheck it if you’re satisfied with the current selection of angles in a multiclip.
  8. Click OK to start processing the media. If you chose to create a new project, you’ll be prompted to name and save the project.

Depending on how your project is set up, you may also see a dialog labeled Additional Items Found. This is Final Cut Pro’s way of double-checking other open projects that reference the media you’re about to process.

  • Clicking Add will bring along that additional media in other projects;
  • Continue will not bring along that media, but may make the clips offline in the other projects;
  • Abort cancels the operation.


fcpbook

Like this tip? It comes from the book
Final Cut Studio On the Spot from Focal Press.






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Learn to Cut with L-Cuts

Experienced editors know that changing picture and sound at the same point (a straight cut) can be very jarring. It’s more noticeable when both elements change suddenly, which can be jarring to the Viewer. A much better method is to try and use an L-cut (so called because of its shape in the Timeline). In this case, the picture edit happens before or after the edit.

12-03bl-cut

These are especially helpful when editing dialogue because they give the editor better control over pacing and reaction shots. You can also use an L-cut to hide a continuity error. Although the difference may sound small, you’ll soon discover what an impact they have on a professional edit. Follow these steps:

  1. Move through your Timeline and select edit points with the Rolling Edit Tool.
  2. Double-click to enter Trim Edit mode.
  3. Use the comma (,) and period (.) keys to make minor one-frame edits.
  4. Better yet, click the Dynamic trimming box, and you can use the J-K-L keys to quickly trim your show.


fcpbook

Like this tip? It comes from the book
Final Cut Studio On the Spot from Focal Press.








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True Uber-Geekdom: FSCK

FSCK NEW
If you’re having system problems and want to clean the disk, check partitions, and so on, here’s a way to fix problems without any third-party applications: Start up in single-user mode, and run FSCK. Uh, what was that?

FSCK stands for “file system check,” and the –fy you’ll type just says to go ahead and fix any problems it finds. Here’s the drill:

  1. Restart your Mac.
  2. Immediately press and hold Command + Option + S. You’ll see a bunch of text begin scrolling on your screen. (Cool, you’re now a geek.) Soon you’ll see the Unix command line prompt (#). Don’t cry; it’s still your Mac—you’re just a true Unix god–well, demi-god.
  3. Type fsck -fy (that’s fsck + space + minus + f + y).
  4. Press Return.

The FSCK utility will do its magic, running some text across your screen. If there’s damage to your disk, you’ll see a message that says: “FILE SYSTEM WAS MODIFIED.”

If you see this message, it found some problems and fixed them—repeat steps 1 and 2 until that message no longer appears. It’s normal to have to run FSCK more than once; the first run’s repairs often uncover additional problems.

When FSCK finally reports that no problems were found and the # prompt reappears, type reboot to restart or type exit to start without rebooting. Then press Return.



fcpbook

Like this tip? It comes from the book
Final Cut Studio On the Spot from Focal Press.






|

Good Color in the Field

Ch12_Good Color
One way to address color calibration between your angles is to use a calibration card when shooting. This is relatively easy if you just remember to put a fresh color balance card on your clapboard for each shoot.

One of our favorites is the QP Card, an affordable reference card (http://www.qpcard.se). Priced at less than $5 per card, this is a great investment in accurate color.

  • They are small and lightweight, easily fitting in your gear bag.
  • Relatively inexpensive and disposable, so you can use a fresh card periodically. Old cards tend to fade in the light.
  • It’s adhesive on the back so you can easily attach it to your clapboard.
  • With a white, black, and neutral grey surface, color correcting with Final Cut Pro’s three-way color corrector is a snap.
  • $5 spent per shoot is well worth hours saved on color correction. In most circumstances, just three clicks per angle will calibrate across each camera.



fcpbook

Like this tip? It comes from the book
Final Cut Studio On the Spot from Focal Press.








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A Little Stability

Tired of scrolling up and down in the Timeline? Need to see audio tracks 1 and 2 so you can mix the music, but there are sound effects and natural sound living on tracks A3–A6? Sometimes it’s just hard to see all the tracks you need.

10-06stability

It’s easy, however, to create a static region in the middle of the Timeline. The static region can contain video tracks, audio tracks, or both. When you create a static region, you end up with three regions in the Timeline. The top video portion and bottom audio portion are scrollable. The middle portion can be resized and repositioned, but not scrolled. This style of Timeline makes it easy to constantly see your dialogue and A-Roll, while still having access to your other tracks.

To create the static region, drag the thumb tabs to set the number of tracks. Grab the central tab in the static region to move it up and down your Timeline. To eliminate the static region, drag the video tab downward and the audio tab upward.



fcpbook

Like this tip? It comes from the book
Final Cut Studio On the Spot from Focal Press.








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Layered TIFFs Save Time

Fig Ch09- Layered TIFFs

While it’s useful that you can import layered PSD files into Final Cut Pro, it’s unfortunate that not all features carry over. On the other hand, when you need to change a graphic (such as a spelling mistake) it’s very useful to have those layers...Have your cake and eat it too—hmm.

Okay, this is easy. In Photoshop, save your files as LAYERED TIFFs. Final Cut Pro will read it in as a flattened file, but you can make changes. Better yet, if you use the Open in Editor shortcut, you can open and modify the file. In fact you can add, delete, move, and rename layers with no ill effects (try that with a PSD file you’ve imported and watch what craziness breaks loose).




fcpbook

Like this tip? It comes from the book
Final Cut Studio On the Spot from Focal Press.








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Making Waves

08-28makingwaves


Many editors find audio waveforms helpful when editing. You’ve likely noticed the waveforms in your Viewer menu. It’s possible to view this same information directly in the Timeline:
  1. Highlight the Timeline or Canvas, and press Command + 0 to access the Timeline settings.
  2. Select the Timeline Options tab.
  3. Check the “Show Audio Waveforms” box.
  4. Make the desired tracks larger to see the audio waveform data in the Timeline.

Want quick access? Simply click the submenu at the bottom of the Timeline, and choose Show Audio Waveforms.

Better yet, press Command + Option + W to toggle waveforms on or off. Be sure to turn these off when not in use because they slow down the Timeline’s ability to redraw.



fcpbook

Like this tip? It comes from the book
Final Cut Studio On the Spot from Focal Press.








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Quick Switcheroo

switcheroo
Do you like carpal tunnel? Stop clicking on each window in FCP when you want to use it and start using keyboard shortcuts! With a little practice, you’ll be flying around the different windows without clicking.
  • Command 1 = Viewer
  • Command 2 = Canvas
  • Command 3 = Timeline
  • Command 4 = Browser
  • Command 5 = Effects Tab in the Browser
  • Command 6 = Favorites Bin in new Window
  • Command 7 = Trim Edit.
  • Command 8 = Log and Capture Window
  • Shift Command 8 = Log and Transfer Window



fcpbook

Like this tip? It comes from the book
Final Cut Studio On the Spot from Focal Press.








|

How to Get High “Marks”

04-18.HighMarks

You’ve probably heard that art directors always look for true quote marks (“ ”). The same holds true for apostrophes or single quotes (‘ ’). But how do you access these when all you have is an engineering-style keyboard? After all, you probably knew that the key next to the Return key was for indicating feet and inches (they look like this, 6' 3’").

You access the true quote marks by pressing the following:

  • Option + [ for “
  • Option + Shift + [ for ”
  • Option + ] for ‘
  • Option + Shift + ] for ’



fcpbook

Like this tip? It comes from the book
Final Cut Studio On the Spot from Focal Press.






|

Frame Rate or Field Rate

Sometimes we miss the good old days where choosing a frame rate was an either/or decision. When it comes to HD, one area of confusion that we get asked about a lot is the difference between frame rate and field rate.

hdprogressiveinterlaced

It’s common to see numbers like 720p60 or 1080i60 as part of a description.

  • The first part describes the vertical resolution.
  • The P or I describes whether the footage is progressive or interlaced.
  • The last part describes its frame or field rate.

In HD video, frame rate and field rate are often used interchangeably and it can be hard to tell what someone is talking about. Here is an easy way to think of it.

  • When an HD format is interlaced, the number generally describes field rate (1080i60 would describe 60 fields per second).
  • When an HD format is progressive, the number generally describes frame rate (720p60 would be 60 frames per second).

The interesting thing is that field can describe frame too! This is because field rates are double that of frame rates. So 1080i60 footage has a frame rate of 30fps. Got it? Well, it’s not that simple. Most of the time numbers like 60 or 30 really represent fractional field rates (59.94) or frame rates (29.97) for backward compatibility with NTSC television. Math—oh, how we hate you.


fcpbook

Like this tip? It comes from the book
Final Cut Studio On the Spot from Focal Press.






|

A Bigger Box of Crayons—FCP Plugins

If color correction and grading is important to you (we’re certified junkies) then you should really check out some of the great third-party tools that are on the market. There is some overlap between these three manufacturers, so be sure to download the demos and try things out.

  • Nattress Productions: This manufacturer offers several powerful tools for processing video; in the color correction and grading space there are a few standouts. The Film Effects package offers great control over 3:2 pulldown, 24p conversion, and de-interlacing. Plus it has a great library of preset looks, proper film-style dissolves, sharpening, and gamma control. Another option is their Big Box of Tricks, which offers several filters (more than 70). The package includes several plug-ins that fix specific image problems such as noise and flicker. Plus the package offers great control over levels, curves, and image stylization effects. (http://www.nattress.com)

Nattress

  • Magic Bullet: The latest version of Magic Bullet is a suite of products that consists of three different products. Magic Bullet Looks allows for the creation of special looks that process your image. There are several presets as well as great options to customize. Magic Bullet Frames offers conversion from interlaced material to 24p. Magic Bullet Colorista allows for powerful color correction. (http://www.redgiantsoftware.com)
  • Noise Industries: The Editing Pack offers several useful tools for improving video images. A strong collection of blurs is complemented by a Dewrinkler filter for improving skin. The Vignette and Matte Generator also offers several options for creating interesting power window effects. (http://noiseindustries.com)


fcpbook

Like this tip? It comes from the book
Final Cut Studio On the Spot from Focal Press.








|

The Fly By

Here’s a transition you see all the time on TV that’s easy to create. We call it the Fly By.

4_theflyby
  1. Choose your Effects tab in the Browser > Video Transitions > Slide > Push Slide. Double-click Push Slide to load into the Viewer.
  2. Make the duration of the transition something short (four frames works well).
  3. Change the angle to 90 for a Fly By to the right or -90 for a Fly By to the left.
  4. Locate an edit point you want to add a transition to.
  5. Drag the transition from the Viewer (use the little hand in the upper right hand corner) to the edit point on the Timeline. Make sure that you don’t center the transition on the edit; you want to start on the edit. If you’re not sure what you did, right-click on the transition and choose Transition Alignment > Start on Edit.
  6. Position your playhead at the end of the transition you just added (it helps to have snapping on) and press Control + V to add an edit (make sure you either lock your audio tracks or toggle Auto Select off or you’ll be adding the edit to your audio as well).
  7. Drag the transition from the Viewer to that edit point again, making sure it starts on the edit.
  8. Repeat the process one more time.

Play back your Timeline and you should see the image Fly By the screen a few times. One trick to make this process easier in the future is to save the Push Slide as a Favorite.



fcpbook

Like this tip? It comes from the book
Final Cut Studio On the Spot from Focal Press.








|

Illustration Done Easy

3_illustrationdoneeasy

We’ve always wished that we were incredible illustrators. Alas the whole hand-eye coordination thing never really worked out. However, we have a nice, happy medium.

  1. Choose a clip you’d like to effect.
  2. Choose Effects > Video Filters > Stylize > Line Art. Whoa! Isn’t that cool? Your footage has instantly been transformed into a moving illustration!
  3. Load the clip into the Viewer and click on the Filters tab. Here you can adjust paper color and opacity, and ink color.
  4. You can also control threshold and smoothness to adjust what is included as a line and the blend between the lines and the paper.
  5. Use the Mix control to blend in your original image.


fcpbook

Like this tip? It comes from the book
Final Cut Studio On the Spot from Focal Press.








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CYA: The Autosave Vault

02 - 13.CYA1

Ever have a project go bad? A file get corrupted? Maybe the system crashed (OS X never crashes—it just has an undocumented close feature). Worse, you come back from lunch, and the client is standing over your editing system. “I just pushed a few buttons, really!”

It’s okay if the Autosave Vault feature is turned on. This great feature will back up your project automatically. You tell it how often to save, how many versions to save, and how many total projects can be archived. This is a great way to cover yourself against unexpected events.

If things ever go wrong, simply choose File > Restore Project.... This way you can quickly access time-stamped versions of your project. After restoring a project, immediately select the Save Project As command and revert to the original name. Otherwise, the Autosave Vault feature will start building a new project folder for the project with a name such as FCP Tips_08_12_08_0241.

Use this the next time a producer pulls a 180-degree turn on you and wants to go back three hours in time.



fcpbook

Like this tip? It comes from the book
Final Cut Studio On the Spot from Focal Press.








|

Get Dynamic with Interfaces

07-18bGraySkies1_thumb
It’s not unusual for your skies to be washed out. This is often a problem, because video doesn’t offer the same dynamic range as film (the difference between darks and highlights). Fortunately, Final Cut Pro allows you to isolate the color correction, so you can achieve a fix just to the problem area.
1 Apply the Color Corrector 3-way filter, and access the filter’s visual controls.
2 Using the Select Color eyedropper in the Limit Effect controls, select the desired color you’d like to keep.
3 Click the key icon to view the matte. Use the Select Color eyedropper while holding down the Shift key to add to the matte. You can click in the Viewer or Canvas window.
4 Finesse the matte by adjusting the Width and Softness sliders for the Chroma, Saturation, and Luma values in the Limit Effect controls. When the desired color is clearly selected, there will be no holes in your matte. Also, adjust the Softening slider to improve the matte. You may get a better matte by using fewer limiting ranges.
5 Click the key icon twice to toggle back to View Final.
6 Adjust the color balance wheels and saturation of the shot.
You may need to add a second color corrector to finesse the scene or isolate another problem area.



fcpbook

Like this tip? It comes from the book
Final Cut Studio On the Spot from Focal Press.






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