Posts Tagged ‘Final Cut Pro’


Is That A Canon In Your Pocket Or Do You Just Make Documentaries? – 10. December, 2013

I don’t shoot documentaries, don’t know if I ever will (would like to but seems unlikely), but I love infographics like this:

Final Cut Pro 7? Still? Really?

And now I’m thinking about my music doc idea more than ever. Or maybe I just want a Zoom H4n. Aw SH*T, I miss shooting stuff.

No, writing, I’m all about writing (right now).

Posted in General

So You’re An Editor? – 4. August, 2010

Oh so very funny. And then I cried. And then I looked for an Avid class.  Check it out.

But seriously, we don’t need the FCP bashing. And everyone wants you to find their know-it-all nephew a job. Yeah, I got a job for him. I’ll turn his @$$ out on Santa Monica Blvd. F**k your nephew.

Posted in Post-Production

FCP Rig of the Day – 8. December, 2009

Check it out, I’m the rig of the day.


Thanks Final Cutters.

Posted in Post-Production

Wedding Video 2.0 – Aftermath – 18. November, 2009

Okay, it’s been a few days since returning from Chicago. The wedding shoot went… well, there’s a reason I use the word “aftermath”.

Let me avoid hyperbole and get to the facts.

I have footage from four cameras. Three were mini-DV. One was HDV. The venue was very dark. While great for atmosphere, it was not optimal for shooting. All the footage is rather murky. Sadly, that’s not the worst of it. The two oldest cameras have massive glitches whenever a flash goes off… which is like every 0.7 seconds; I’m guessing their sensors couldn’t handle the sudden and dramatic spike in brightness. The glitches look something like this…

(not actual footage)

I could work with the glitches but Final Cut Pro won’t let me capture the footage using the NTSC Firewire capture presets.


So I’m thinking I need to trick the system into seeing these tapes as analog and capture using the “non-controllable device” preset.

Just one tiny problem: I don’t have a non-controllable device.

I’ve been using an old DV camera to capture. I could wrangle access to a DRS-11 but I don’t think that’ll help me. I think I need something like the ADVC110 but that’s a $200 gamble on a possible solution.

Two questions:

  • Am I on the right track with my potential solution?
  • Is there something less expensive than the ADVC110 but just as good?
  • Sigh. Many lessons learned.

    Posted in Off-Topic

    The Mobile Editor – 22. October, 2009

    Times are tough. Jobs are scarce. You probably know someone that hasn’t worked at all this year. For those of us lucky enough to still have jobs, there’s a good chance we’re working at reduced pay or being forced into furloughs.

    And so I stumbled across this article on freelance editing. If I may summarize, your three goals as a freelance editor are:

    • Be a good editor
    • Be mobile
    • Get rehired

    The article has some great tips (my favorite might be the “Hard Drive of Tricks”) that every serious freelance editor should take to heart.

    Like me.

    For the past year I’ve had three part-time jobs while working on my own creative endeavors including writing, directing small projects and posting my first feature.

    In the past few months, I lost one of those jobs. Another job is forcing me into furloughs. A third is squeezing my hours and constantly paying me late. Add a recent tragedy that has hoisted additional financial responsibilities onto my shoulders and it’s time to put on the “freelance post-centric ninja” hat and start knocking on doors, offering my services.

    I have my own editing rig and access to a second.


    I can cut your project on Final Cut Pro, do some color correction and title design in After Effects, cut and mix your audio in Pro Tools or SoundTrack Pro. I can also write, direct, shoot & record audio. I’m a one-man band and here’s the proof:

    I’m ready to tackle your documentary or web series. Bring it!

    Posted in Post-Production

    Bits of Chicago – 8. October, 2009

    A couple of years ago, I traveled to Chicago to see a few friends. Here’s the proof.

    Factoids: I shot about an hour of HDV footage on a Sony A1U, converted it to ProRes, edited it down in Final Cut Pro and timed it in After Effects with Colorista.

    Amazon Spec: Debrief – 3. August, 2009

    So while I wait for August 24th to roll around (that’s when Amazon announces the 5 finalist for the audience award and the jury prize winner), here is my promised debrief. Warning, it is very tech heavy.

    First, my 30-second spec combined live action and stop-motion animation. I’ve done one other film like this (check out CONVERSING). For that short, I shot both the live action and stop-motion animation with a Panasonic DVX100; I used iStopMotion to record the stop-motion animation to my laptop. The digital video was shot 30p and the animation 15 fps. I used a Sennheiser ME66 and ProTools 6.4 to record the voice talent. I edited the film with Final Cut Pro and mixed in ProTools. I was going to use the same setup for this project but I really wanted a higher resolution final so I thought I’d put the final cut through Instant HD and viola, I’m done.

    Just one problem: the test I put through Instant HD didn’t look as good as I hoped. I don’t blame the plugin, I just didn’t know how to punch up the optimum settings for export. Plus I was haunted by this post.

    I also had access to both a Sony A1U HDV camcorder and a Nikon D100 plus I was looking for a good excuse to learn After Effects so why not take the plunge with this project? Who doesn’t love a challenge, right?

    So, first I recorded my four actors (big thanks to Curtiss, Dan, Karina & Michael for lending their talent) using the above mentioned setup. I quickly cut and mixed the dialog so I could sync it up to my “proof of concept” cut. I then shot the live action (an extra thanks to Dan) as 59.94 HDV with the Sony “fake” Cineframe 30 mode turned on. After shooting I immediatly transcoded all the footage to ProRes for the rest of post. All of that went according to plan. The animation, not so much.

    I thought about shooting RAW files with the D100 but I’d heard from my photographer friends that it’s a whole other beast so I chose large RGB TIFF files (3000 x 2000) instead. Unfortunately, the camera came with one 512MB CompactFlash (CF) card. That card coulldn’t hold more than 17 shots so if I had any animation longer than 1s4f (1 second, 4 frames), I’d have to download the card, wipe it clean and pray I hadn’t bumped the camera in the process. Um, no thanks. I looked in the manual and it said the camera could handle the “promised” 1GB card but nothing bigger. Guess what? Today it’s hard to find a CF card smaller than 4GB. Thank the lord the 4GB card worked. Unfortuantely, that was just the start of my troubles.

    After shooting my first stop-motion shot I immediately ran head first into another problem. Although I put the camera in full manual, including the iris, the camera still adjusted the f-stop by 1/3 to 1/2 a stop according to the built in spot meter. That meant that the brightness of some frames in a single shot would be different than the others. I’d have to correct brightness frame by frame. Tedious? Yes. Doable? Yes. But that wasn’t the biggest pain in my neck.

    No, it was the camera and the CF card that almost killed me. The camera could shoot 6 shots before it needed time to write the images from the internal memory buffer to the CF card. It could take 2-5 minutes to write one image to the CF. But the bigger problem was downloading from the camera into iPhoto. This took around 20 minutes per download and once took almost an hour. This forced my one-day shoot to take twice as long. Ugh.

    Once in iPhoto, I renamed and exported the TIFF files to an external drive. It was then time for some After Effects magic. I was glad AFX allowed me to import a folder of still images as a contiguous video clip. Once in a timeline, I corrected the gamma to fix for the iris adjustment. Damn, that took a long time and boy did I grind my teeth. After that I created JPEG proxy files for the TIFF clips (a very good idea that saved me a ton of time). I then created another AFX project where I would lay in the animated clips end to end to get a sense of editing and pace. And, as I had 3000×2000 images but knew my final output would be a 1920×1080 HD Quicktime, I decided to create camera moves in post. Oh boy, the results looked so good I couldn’t have been happier.

    Also, at this point, I could fix any image problems while still in the highest possible resolution; the Clone tool became one of my most trusted tools and Keylight is awesome for green-screen work. Once that was done, I took each shot and output it as a 1920×1080 ProRes Quciktime so that I could combine my live action and stop motion in a single AFX comp where I could color correct with Colorista which is a GPU based plugin; As you’d know from a previous post, the TIFF files were too big for this.

    Once I laid out all the clips, it was time to apply Colorista. I took the Stu Maschwitz method and used Adjustment Layers instead of loading effects onto the master clip. This came in handy when I wanted to swap out clips (which happened more than a few times). Each clip had one color correction layer and all the live action clips had a secondary correction layer so I could bring my actor’s eyes up out of the darkness. Lastly, I applied a final “looks” layer over the whole project.

    On the sound side, I tried Soundtrack Pro but grew frustrated so quickly I fell back to ProTools for the sound edit, design and mix. I did have to add a bit of music and I used GarageBand to create the cues and then exported them to ProTools.

    Lastly, FYI, it took 14 minutes to render out a 30-second clip in After Effects but I’m incredibly happy with the results.

    Here’s hoping you get to see the fruit of my labors as a finalist.

    Timecode Mismatch – 20. June, 2009

    I’ve run into a post-production issue and I need to call upon the hive mind for help.

    My film was shot on the HVX200 @ 1080/24pA (23.98) and the audio was recorded into a Sound Devices 702T as Wave Files (WAV). We jam synced both devices and also used a timecode (TC) slate. We then fed the audio out of the 702T and back into the HVX200 via the camera’s XLR inputs.

    As the footage was transferred from the P2 cards and ingested into Final Cut Pro (FCP), we ended up with clips that had one video track and four audio tracks (a doubling of our stereo audio feed from the 702T, I believe).


    Now, I was always told that I’d need to take my FCP ingested clips, rip out the four tracks of audio, import the original stereo 702T WAV files, sync audio to picture, lock the new clip and repeat until done. Why do this? So I can use the “better” audio.

    For anyone that has ever had to sync hours of footage, you know this sucks big time. But that’s why we jam sync the TC; it’s supposed to make this whole procedure less painful. Plus Sam from the Confidence Bay showed me an awesome way to use QuicKeys to cut tens (if not hundreds) of hours out of this process.

    Perfect. I’m ready. I’m excited. I’m dying to sync all this footage so I can hand it over to my new kick ass editor.

    Just one problem: the audio and image use two different TC counts.

    The WAVs use a 24 (23.98) TC count (check out the TC in the top right window).



    The HVX200 footage, well, that’s a complicated story. If I recall properly, 1080 24pA DVCproHD footage is recorded to the P2 cards as 29.97. Then, in FCP, you ingest using the advanced pulldown setting and TADA, you have 23.98 clips. Unfortunately, what I found is that the 23.98 footage still uses a 29.97 count. I kid you not. A 23.98 clip counts up to frame 29. The TC doesn’t convert to a 24 count.



    And here’s the proof that 1) the clip is 23.98 and 2) that the sequence is set to cut 23.98 footage.



    Do you see my problem? I have one chunk of media that counts from 0-23 and another that counts from 0-29 and I’m supposed to use their respective TC to sync them together. “00:00:00:27” in the footage is “00:00:01:03” in the audio. Without resolving this discrepancy in counting, I can’t see a way to have FCP automatically sync the audio and image via TC.

    How do I easily resolve this so I don’t spend the next month syncing my footage? Is there a way to resolve this discrepancy without 1) a massive re-ingesting of all the footage or 2) paying for some expensive hardware transcoding? Should I even bother with this now? Is the the audio routed from the 702T to the HVX200 via XLR that much worse than the original WAV files? Would it be simpler to just clone a drive for my editor now and deal with this problem after I’ve locked the cut? This violates the “5 minutes now saves you 5 hours (or days) later” rule I learned from my buddy Ken but maybe this is one where I just have to suck it up and sync the WAVs to the edited picture (that might take a month as well).

    Thoughts? Questions? Solutions?

    Field Dominance & Stills – 14. June, 2009

    I just wrapped a gig and had the strangest issue pop up. I’m gonna share in the hopes that someone out there might be able to shed some light.

    The gig: I was hired to edit a Spanish language medical video. The project was shot on the HVX200,1080i, 29.97 fps. I was using the latest version of Final Cut Pro (FCP). As the edit progressed, I was also given some animations (HD QT), layered Photoshop images, TIFF drop-ins to replace corrupted frames and 4K JPG stills from a DSLR. The final delivery was a high-quality SD DVD for client approval and then a native (1080 DVCproHD) QT to be sent to the DVD replication house.

    Everything worked wonderfully until I started doing some minor color correction with Colorista. At this point I learned that my new favorite plugin (which I like much more than FCP’s 3-Way Color Corrector) is GPU based and as I’m editing on a 2.33 GHz MacBook Pro with 3GB RAM, the plugin can’t handle 4K JPG stills.

    Okay, a minor setback but I had a solution. I only had two sequences of stills, one to open the industrial and one to close it.  Solution: why don’t I export each sequence of stills as a native DVCproHD QT. I’ll then re-import these two QT clips into my project, apply Colorista, export and I’m golden.

    Not quite. I first noticed a problem after I exported my final edit (the full industrial with the two 4K JPG stills sequences transcoded to DVCproHD) via Compressor for DVD Studio Pro (DVDSP). The “closing” QT stills clip wound up looking like this:


    Here I should note that 1) the rest of the industrial looked perfect and 2) both 4K JPG still sequences were exported with the exact same settings:


    These settings matched the original DVCproHD sequence settings perfectly, but I only had issues with one of the QT stills clips, not both. Also, the problem only cropped up when exporting from FCP. The entire industrial looked great in FCP.

    Time to trouble shoot.  First I thought it must be Colorista. I removed the plugin, exported the corruption-prone section of my final edit to QT but the resulting clip still had the same problem.  I went back to the original 4K JPG stills sequence and tried exporting another DVCproHD QT with the hope that it was a one-off issue.  Nope.  I tried different export settings but still had the exact same stumbling block.

    Again, I went back to my original 4K JPG stills. As the problem looked like a field dominance issue, I tried exporting another DVCproHD QT movie with one exception–I set the field dominance to “none”:


    I then imported this closing QT stills clip with the field dominance set to “none” into my final edit project and something weird happened. The QT stills clip suddenly had its field dominance set to “upper” (which is what the HD video was set to):


    Okay, I started to freak out but my inner empiricist convinced me to follow through with my experiment. I applied Colorista to this new QT stills clip and exported the entire final edit to a native DVCproHD QT. Bingo, it worked:


    I then sent the sequence to DVD SP via Compressor and that worked too.

    Why? I have no idea. Do you?

    Posted in Post-Production

    How Did They Do That – 3. June, 2009

    Thanks to a friend on Twitter, I stumbled upon this:

    What’s sweetest about this spec spot is that they show you how they did it with Final Cut Pro and After Effects.

    I don’t know about you but I always find process fascinating.

    Posted in Post-Production