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.

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.


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

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:


  • 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.


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

“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-

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


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

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.


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.


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

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.


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

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