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Final Cut Pro Setup - TreetWiki

Final Cut Pro Setup

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(New page based on EM discussion with WN)
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== File formats ==
== File formats ==
For about 20-30% of the files, Perian won't read them.   
For about 20-30% of the files, Perian won't read them.   
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If you're dealing with an "H.264" file of some sort, it will either be produced by an official encoder (eg an Apple one, or the gorgeous little ElGato hardware dongle), or an unofficial one. Curiously the one in the Windows version of Adobe Premiere's Media Encoder appears to be an unofficial one! The clue is to look at the Inspector when playing the file in QT7. If it says "H.264" then it's real. If it says "AVC" you may expect some issues. Typically when you try exporting, you'll get audio but a blank white screen.
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If you're dealing with an "H.264" file of some sort, it will either be produced by an official encoder (eg an Apple one, or the gorgeous little ElGato hardware dongle), or an unofficial one. Curiously the one in the Windows version of Adobe Premiere's Media Encoder appears to be an unofficial one! The Sony Vegas H.264 encoder appears broken too. A possible clue is to look at the Inspector when playing the file in QT7. If it says "H.264" then it's probably real. If it says "AVC" you may expect some issues. Typically when you try exporting, you'll get audio but a blank white screen.  
If you can't export direct to ProRes 422 from QT7, try all the options you can. Handbrake is free and generally good but can sometimes produce artefacts. Try VisualDub (Wiz calls it "the best, but discontinued!").  Try to produce an MP4 file in any way possible.  Sometimes this can take a lot of experimentation.  Once you do it, go back to step 1… export it from QT7 as a ProRes 422.
If you can't export direct to ProRes 422 from QT7, try all the options you can. Handbrake is free and generally good but can sometimes produce artefacts. Try VisualDub (Wiz calls it "the best, but discontinued!").  Try to produce an MP4 file in any way possible.  Sometimes this can take a lot of experimentation.  Once you do it, go back to step 1… export it from QT7 as a ProRes 422.
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Standardise the frame rate   If the frame rate does not match, take the ProRes file and re-encode it using Compressor to another ProRes file using advanced frame settings, which does motion compensated reframing. It takes about 1 hour per 10 minutes of video, but it results in a very good rate-change and that's important for original source materials.
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Standardise the frame rate. If the frame rate does not match, take the ProRes file and re-encode it using Compressor to another ProRes file using advanced frame settings, which does motion compensated reframing. It takes about 1 hour per 10 minutes of video, but it results in a very good rate-change and that's important for original source materials.
Then, use the ProRes file for all work. Some shops use Neoscene or DNxHD, but these are wildly expensive and though there was some debate for a while, the industry believes Apple has done an amazing job at developing an intermediate codec in ProRes.  Intermediate codecs are an art form.  They are not "ordinary codecs".  They are designed so that they can do interframe-cuts, slow motion, and designed for low CPU usage during extremely high frame edit sessions with nearly lossless compression.   
Then, use the ProRes file for all work. Some shops use Neoscene or DNxHD, but these are wildly expensive and though there was some debate for a while, the industry believes Apple has done an amazing job at developing an intermediate codec in ProRes.  Intermediate codecs are an art form.  They are not "ordinary codecs".  They are designed so that they can do interframe-cuts, slow motion, and designed for low CPU usage during extremely high frame edit sessions with nearly lossless compression.   
You cannot edit with files which have long frames.  It will cause the timings of your edits to be out, sometimes by several seconds, by the end of the video.  This is true especially of videos which consume more than 30 minutes to an hour.  You can find out if source materials have long frames by going into FCP and running the "Video Analsysis" (in the tools menu?).  If you have long frames, then your file should NOT be used as an editing source.
You cannot edit with files which have long frames.  It will cause the timings of your edits to be out, sometimes by several seconds, by the end of the video.  This is true especially of videos which consume more than 30 minutes to an hour.  You can find out if source materials have long frames by going into FCP and running the "Video Analsysis" (in the tools menu?).  If you have long frames, then your file should NOT be used as an editing source.
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'''Avoiding rendering on the FCP timeline'''
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You want to be able to drop clips on to the Final Cut Pro timeline and not have them have to be rendered. Here are the keys to avoiding clips that require rendering:
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The format you drop onto the timeline has to match exactly in the following ways in order to avoid rendering:
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    It must use the same color space
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    It must use the same aspect ratio
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    It must have (or not have) an independent SMPTE timecode track to match your preferences
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    It must use exactly the same codec
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    It must be exactly the same frame rate
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    It must have exactly the same dimensions
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    It must use exactly the same IB-frame layout for the specific codec in use.
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    The audio bit width and sampling rate must be identical and the codec must be the same.
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Otherwise it will render.  Many editing programs attempt to have "renderless" workflow by allowing you to drop anything onto the timeline.  Editors who rely upon this are sacrificing significant quality and speed in their workflow.  It is good that FCP does not do this.    There are reasons why you can't simply use H264 in editing that are not obvious to people.  For example, H264 has frame "clusters" (IB groups).  You cannot do a cut in between key frames, so editors which "fake it" round your edit to the nearest keyframe.  This changes the timing of cuts and edits and means that you can't seamlessly substitute higher quality materials for low quality materials (the usual technique for cinema workflow).  The unwashed masses who do amateur video could care less.  But we care, professional editors care, and we know you care!
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To solve the rendering problems, establish a hard-line intermediate workflow.  Use ProRes 422 regular quality (not HQ):
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Here are the rules you should follow:
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    Establish a default FCP preset which defines your workflow settings using ProRes
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    Transcode EVERYTHING into ProRes before using it in your projects (that is what Treet's "Edit Ready" files are all about)
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    Transcode all results using Compressor for finals.
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This method assure that FCP will never have problems, never crash, never render when you don't want it to, and that no project you're ever working on will contain surprises and unexpected video flaws.
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'''Saving time on Export'''
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You can save a lot of time when you export a movie in Final Cut by NOT checking the "make movie self-contained" in the dialog box.  This will create almost instantaneous output from FCP and only render the minute areas that require rendering (such as transitions).  It means those files depend upon all the other files (it creates internal links), so you can't distribute them.  To convert a "reference movie" (that's what it's called) into a full copy, you just go into QT7 and re-save it if you ever need to do that.

Revision as of 10:04, 14 July 2011

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