Member Colin Marth has submitted an article about the current state of FCP X which I have posted below. Visit Colin's Blog to read more of his thoughts, hints and tips. Since the article was written Apple has posted an article about Electric Entertainment using FCP X to edit Season 5 of the TNT series Leverage. Okay, on with Colin's thoughts:

It’s time we dealt with details. How can FCP X be used in a T.V. or Film House Production workflow? Let’s discuss, in short, what FCP X can do, what it cannot, and what is yet to be added, that will support professional workflows.

THE QUICK ANSWERS:

FCP 7 Projects to FCP X and FCP X to 7: Yes

Tape import and export: Yes

Shared Network support: Yes (Apple XSAN Only)

XML Import and Export: Yes (FCP XML Language files only)

OMF. AAF files export: Yes (For AAF files, specifically for Avid Pro Tools 7)

ALE files: YES (With a third party workaround and FCP 7)

Color Bars and Tone for Broadcast: NO

 

FCP 7 TO FCP X AND REVERSE:

There is now a third party application that will allow you to import your FCP 7 project into FCP X. It is called 7toX, and you can get it HERE(for $9.99). Very slick, it allows you to convert an XML of your FCP 7 project into a FCP X XML file. That will create a new event in your FCP X Event Library, based on your bins, sequences and clips from FCP 7. Of note, your Multi Cam Clips from FCP 7 are fully supported.

 Alternatively, with Xto7 ($49.99) you can convert a FCP X XML file into a FCP 7 XML, giving you access to the entire list of Final Cut Studio Applications, as well as Adobe Premiere and After effects, Avid Pro Tools and others yet. You can get Xto7 HERE.

 

TAPE BASED WORKFLOWS:

FCP X has limited capture capability from DV or HDV tape based media through the Firewire connection directly; FCP X does not support Log and Capture. Third-party capture devices, such as the AJA Io XT or Blackmagic Design UltraStudio 3D, have additional software that allows capturing through SDI or analog connctions (see product descriptions for details). While FCP X will not output to tape natively you can export a video clip then output to tape using third party software compatible with the above mentioned hardware. Alternatively, you can use Xto7 to create a FCP 7 XML file you can open and send to tape with FCP 7.

 

To import from a tape using Firewire, use the CMD key modifier with the letter I on your keyboard to open the Capture window. Make sure your tape device is connected to the Firewire port before doing this! Select the camera from the list of devices in the upper left corner of the window. Use the Play and other transport controls in the viewer window to select your starting point on the tape. Click the import button, set your preferences and click Import. The Tape will import until stopped by you or the end of media. See images below for visual reference:

 camera-import-2

Import_from_tape

For those using tape decks connected an AJA Video I/O device you can get the needed drivers and software to import and export to tape in the form of the AJA VTR Exchange, and Blackmagic Media Express (version 3 coming in June) if you are using a Blackmagic Design device.

 

Once again, if you need to “Export to Tape”, you can also use Xto7 which you can get HERE to create a FCP 7 XML file that can be opened and sent to tape in FCP 7.

 

SHARED STORAGE WORKFLOWS:


With version 10.0.3 of FCP X you can work with shared networks, specifically an APPLE XSAN which you can get HERE. (It provides hints for working in a SAN environment that is not an Apple XSAN, but it is not a general SAN Guide.)

 

Common Pro workflows involve 2 scenarios. One in which multiple users share a single project and event, each one working on specific aspects of editing, VFX, Broadcast Colour Corrections, but only one at at a time. This is known as a “check in, check out workflow”.

 

The other is setting up 2 workstations to share the same media at the same time. This involves a workflow where one machine is used primarily for importing, the other for editing. Considering FCP X’s powerful organizational abilities, a workflow where either is used is easily achieved.

 

For example, a XSAN is a good solution for people collaborating on VFX. But what if you are not on a XSAN and want to share a project, via a portable drive or a connected computer such as a laptop?

 

Select your project in the projects window of FCP X, which looks like this:

project_library

Use the default keyboard shortcut Cmd-D to open the Duplicate Project Window:

duplicate

In here you have 3 choices on how to share your project. Note first where you want to save it, “Location”. If a recognized drive is connected in anyway to your computer, it will be a choice here.

 

Duplicate Project Only:

Does what it says. The Project file itself will be copied to the drive location, but not the original media files found in the events. Use this when the Events are accessible to the project anyway, such as on the drive already.

 

Duplicate Project and Referenced Events:

Copies the project and the Events directly being used by the project. Keep in mind that your event library is just that, a library of every single thing you have ever captured or imported into FCP X. Not all events may be referenced by your project, but more than one may be. Select this when you want all the original media captured for use in this project, even if some of it has not made it to your timeline yet.

 

Duplicate Project + Used Clips Only:

Copies the Project and only the media sitting on your timeline. This can best used for a pro workflow not connected with a SAN. Use this to pass off the project to people who will be focusing on color correction and VFX.

 

XML EXPORTING

 

Let’s talk XML. Contained within the world of XML (extensible markup language) are other file formats that were used by FCP 7 users to transfer and store data in such a way that it could used by third party applications for a variety of workflows, such as sound editing (OMF and AAF files), and ALE files (Avid Log Exchange) for transferring between Apple and Avid systems.

 

FCP X now supports XML exporting, (this would be FCP X, XML Language files only) and does not natively allow export of OMF, AAF or transfer of ALE files. That said, the release of the Apple XML API (application programming interface) to developers allows third party development of plug ins and drivers to allow FCP X to import and export these file formats.

 

Automatic Duck which can be found HERE (Free Download), is one such company. Up until now, their Pro Export FCP 5.0 supported export of OMF and AAF files through FCP X versions 10.0.1 and 10.0.2. The newest version of FCP X, 10.0.3 has them working again to release an update.

 

For editing and mixing of your projects audio files using Avid Pro Tools($299.99 to $2499.99), you can use X2Pro found HERE. It converts your FCP X XML file into an AAF for use in Avid Pro Tools, even allowing compound clips and multicam clips from your project to be referenced and understood. Check the FAQ’s to find out X2Pro’s current limitations.

 

At this time, straight XML export is possible with FCP X, but other formats used in Pro Workflows are currently not available, specifically OMF, AAF, and ALE files.  What is good is that FCP X XML files can be used by Blackmagic Designs DaVinci Resolve($995 for Software only), and Square Box Systems CatDV,($395.00 U.S Dollars) for example.

 

FCP X XML’s can also be converted by Xto7 (available on the APP store) to a FCP 7 XML File, where it then becomes usable to a myriad of applications, or exported from FCP 7 in formats transferrable to an ALE File.

 

So how do you export an XML file with FCP X? You have to be in your Project Pane, not the Timeline, or you will not be able to export XML. Navigate to your FILE list menu, and halfway down select “Export XML”, as pictured below:

XML_Export

Color Bars and Tone:

FCP X does not have broadcast acceptable Bars and Tone for exporting for TV. That said, it is not a real problem. Here is how to provide a master with bars tone and slates:

Finish your edit in FCP X, do your broadcast color correction in FCP X, your fine edits and effects. Export your Project as a Pro Res 422 or higher(depending on your source quality). Import that video file into FCP 7. Set up a timeline to meet your Project file dimensions and specs (frame rate, frame size, codec, etc.) Add the Bars and Tone generators from the Generators menu. Set up your Timeline with bars, tone, slates and black space. Overwrite your Project file to the Timeline. Export that timeline as a Pro Res 422 (or higher). Import that file into Compressor, and set it up for your final master file export, complete with the studios required codecs, and all with your bars and tone.

 

Personally I feel this method will be a short time in use, as bars and tone generators will doubtless become available by third party developers in the future. Regardless of that, I strongly feel the need for bars and tone are signs of a dying method of video delivery, and stations and houses across the world are even now slowly moving into just what FCP X was designed for: File based Media capture and editing.

 

That’s it for now, but more detailed walkthroughs for some of the above workflows will be posted in days to come. In our next posting we will address how to manage Keyword, Smart Collections, and Roles information when project sharing in FCP X. See you soon!

 

Author: Colin Marth, Blackhole Pictures