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Fixing offline files in media managed XML

When you media manage a project in Final Cut Pro 7 and then export to XML for importing into a third-party application like Davinci Resolve*, you may get an error message from that application saying it cannot reconnect to the files.

The reason for this is that when FCP 7 creates a new media file (which it does if it trims unused content) it gets created without a .mov extension which can confuse other applications into thinking it is not a media file.

Here's how to fix it:

1. Use a batch renaming tool to find and replace -v with (note the dash at the beginning) for the files in your media managed folder.

2. Open up the XML file in a text editor like TextWrangler and find and replace


3. Save the XML file then try the import again.

* The "ignore file extensions" option in Davinci Resolve is supposed to prevent issues like this but this problem still occurs when that box is checked.

Posted by Jon Chappell on Apr 21 2015 to Final Cut Studio, Color Grading, Tutorials

Final Cut Pro X hangs when loading a project

Some of you may have experienced the beachball of death when FCPX tries to load a project and eventually resorted to force-quitting the app.

In most cases, the app hasn't hung at all but is just taking a really long time to open the project. If you leave it long enough (8-12 hours) it should eventually open. We recommend running our Project Repair tool to optimize the project file before doing this, as the optimization process lowers the file size and can shave off some loading time.

The reason it is taking so long is that the project has become too complex. A common cause of this is over-use of compound clips, especially compound clips inside multiclips. I have seen this lead to multi-gigabyte project files, even though the timeline was only a few minutes long.

Once the project opens successfully, begin the process of removing the compound clips. FCPX will hang for a short while whenever you try to do anything, but as you reduce the number of compound clips it will become more and more responsive.

Posted by Jon Chappell on Jan 21 2013 to Final Cut Studio, Tutorials, Video Editing

How to import projects and events into Final Cut Pro X

Need to restore a backup or import a project from another system into FCPX? It's not as simple as it seems at first glance. You would think that you could just double-click the project file but that produces the following error:

Final Cut Pro X is expecting projects to be contained in a folder inside your Final Cut Projects directory (or Final Cut Events if you are importing an event). The default locations of these folders are in ~/Movies.

To successfully import these files, you must create a new directory inside your Final Cut Projects or Final Cut Events folder and then copy the project to this new directory. FCPX will determine the project name from the name of the directory but the project file does not need to have the same name.

It's also worth noting that there is a difference between double-clicking an XML file and importing it via File > Import > XML.

Double-clicking seems to import the file without modifying it, so you will get errors if a project already exists with this ID or the event is not in the exact location as specified in the XML file. However, if you import it via File > Import > XML, it is more intelligent and will assign a new ID if necessary and find the new location of the event if it has changed.

Posted by Jon Chappell on Sep 27 2012 to Apple, Final Cut Studio, Tutorials

How to create timecode tracks for H.264 movies in Compressor

I had this question asked to me the other day so I thought I'd write a quick article on it. You may have noticed that Compressor does not create H.264 files with timecode tracks when using the Apple Devices presets.

The reason for this is that MP4 and M4V files do not support timecode. However, the MP4 specification is based on the QuickTime file format so it's easy to create a QuickTime movie (.mov) instead of an MP4 and the file will still be recognized by iOS devices and the Apple TV.

To do this, simply add an Apple Devices preset to a file and then change the file extension to mov in the Encoder tab of the Settings window. Compressor will then create an iOS and Apple TV-compatible H.264 with a timecode track.

Posted by Jon Chappell on Jul 9 2012 to Tutorials, Final Cut Studio, QuickTime

How to get render notifications on your iPhone

Editors spend a lot of time rendering and exporting, and it's very useful to know when a render is complete if you are not currently at your computer.

Render Watcher in Pro Media Tools can watch for renders and then perform various tasks when a render is complete. It supports Final Cut Pro 7, Compressor 3 and 4, Avid Media Composer, Adobe Premiere Pro and Adobe Media Encoder.

Render notifications are not supported for Final Cut Pro X because it has background rendering and the alerts would be going off constantly, however you can get export notifications via Compressor or by adding your export folder to the Watch Folder pane. This also works for other apps not natively supported by Render Watcher.

There are three ways to get render notifications from Render Watcher on your iOS device - text message, email and push alert. (Compressor has email support already, however it is impractical for most users because it requires you to run an SMTP server on your computer.)

Push alerts are the most flexible option because you can customize them independently to make sure render notifications don't get lost in your regular email and SMS alerts.

Here's how to setup render and export notifications on your iPhone / iPad:

1. Download and install Pro Media Tools.

2. Launch the Render Watcher application and tick the boxes for all of the render notifications you wish to watch. If desired, add watch folders for applications not natively supported.

3. Go to the Actions tab and select all of the actions you wish to perform when a render is detected. There are lots of options here including playing a sound effect and showing the exported file in the Finder.

4. If you want to send an email or text message, tick the relevant checkbox and enter the destination email address or phone number (selected carriers only).

If you want to only setup push alerts, skip to step 5.

4a. Go to Preferences and enter the details for the account you wish to send email from. Presets have been included for common email providers but you will be able to get the relevant SMTP server information from your email provider's website. In most cases you should leave the Port field blank.

Note: Your email address and password are not sent to our servers and are stored on your computer in encrypted form.

4b. Click Send Test Email and if your settings are correct you should receive an email from Render Watcher in your inbox.

If you don't wish to setup push alerts, skip to Step 13.

5. To setup push alerts, make sure Display Growl notification is ticked in preferences and then download Growl from the Mac App Store for $1.99. If you don't want to pay for it or are running OS X 10.6 or lower, older versions are available here free of charge.

6. Download Boxcar for iOS. We favor Boxcar because it is free (with ads) but this feature should work with any push notification service that supports Growl, such as Prowl.

7. Sign up for a Boxcar account here.

8. In the Boxcar iOS app, sign in and tap the icon in the top left corner that looks like a grid of nine squares. Then tap Add Service.

9. Scroll down the list (it's not alphabetically-ordered) and tap the entry marked Growl. Setup the notification settings as desired and then click Save.

10. Download the Boxcar plugin for Growl. Unzip the .growlView file and double-click it to install. When prompted, select Yes to open the Growl preference pane or alternatively launch System Preferences and open it manually. If you are running the Mac App Store version of Growl on Lion, the preferences dialog is accessed via the menu bar icon.

11. Go the the Display Options tab in the Growl preference pane (called Displays in the Mac App Store version) and set Default Style to Boxcar. This will send all Growl alerts to your iOS device.

Alternatively, if you only want Render Watcher notifications sent to your device, go to the Applications tab, select RenderWatcherHelper, click the Configure button and then set Application's Display Style to Boxcar. RenderWatcherHelper will only appear in the list when it has displayed a Growl alert at least once.

12. In the Display Options tab, select Boxcar in the Display Styles list on the left and select the option to display notifications using Smoke (or whichever theme you prefer).

13. Enter your Boxcar login information below this and click Verify Login. If your login is accepted, click Preview and you should see a Growl alert on your desktop and iOS device.

14. Start a short render and wait for it to finish. If everything is setup correctly, you should see a Render Watcher alert on your computer and then your iOS device. If you don't see this, double-check that you followed the above steps correctly and that the name of the application is ticked in the Applications tab in Render Watcher or that you are exporting to a directory listed in the Watch Folders tab.

Render Watcher is just one of ten useful tools for editors, assistant editors and post production professionals in the Pro Media Tools suite. To find out more, see the features page, watch the overview video or download the free trial.

Posted by Jon Chappell on Feb 13 2012 to Tutorials, Adobe, Final Cut Studio

How to export chapter markers from Final Cut Pro X

Much has been written about the missing features in Final Cut Pro X when compared with FCP 7. One particular missing feature that has been causing workflow problems for some people is the inability to add chapter markers to an exported QuickTime movie for displaying on an iOS device or Apple TV.

There are several workarounds, such as adding chapter markers in Compressor, but these can be quite tedious as you need to create them manually. Luckily QT Edit in Pro Media Tools can automatically create chapter markers directly from the markers in your Final Cut Pro X timeline.

Here's how to do it:

1. Add markers to your FCPX timeline where you would like the chapters to occur.

2. Share your timeline to Compressor and use one of the Apple Device presets to create an m4v file.

3. Click on the filmstrip icon in FCPX to go back to the Project Browser and then highlight the project name in the list.

4. Go to File > Export XML to create an XML copy of your timeline.

5. Open up the exported movie with QT Edit.

6. Go to File > Import > Chapters.

7. Select "Final Cut Pro X XML (.fcpxml)" in the file type dropdown and browse for the XML file you created earlier. Click Open.

8. The markers will be imported and automatically added as chapters which can be viewed in the Chapters tab. You can edit the chapter positions and modify their names in this tab. Click on a chapter in the list to jump to that point in the movie.

Important: You must have a chapter on frame 1 in order for iOS to detect the chapter list. If your imported markers do not already have a chapter marker on this frame, set the playhead to the start in QT Edit and click the + button in the Chapters tab.

9. Save the movie in QT Edit and sync it to your device.

You can now play the movie on an iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch or Apple TV and the markers will be recognized. QT Edit can also import Final Cut Pro 7 marker lists, Avid locator lists, DVD Studio Pro chapter lists, CSV files, text files and chapters from other QuickTime movies.

Update: Chapter markers will now also be recognized by iDVD, Compressor and DVD Studio Pro in QT Edit 1.1.6 and higher.

Posted by Jon Chappell on Feb 6 2012 to Tutorials, Final Cut Studio

Thoughts on Final Cut Pro X 10.0.3

Today Apple released Final Cut Pro X 10.0.3 which offers several new features such as multicam and broadcast monitoring (beta) that were previously missing.

Looking through the details, it's hard to find anything that would appeal to consumers and it is clear that this is an attempt by Apple to appease at least some of the pros. My first reaction (and the reaction of a lot of people on Twitter) was that this was the version Apple should have released back in June.

Here are some of the features I found interesting:

  • Multicam - 64 angles are supported and lots of options for syncing, including PluralEyes-style analysis of the audio waveforms. In comparison, Adobe Premiere Pro supports 4 angles and Final Cut Pro 7 supports 128.
  • Media Relink - You can now reconnect to files, which is useful if you need to swap out VFX shots or FCPX for some reason loses the link. This really should have been a 1.0 feature.
  • XML 1.1 - As mentioned earlier on this blog, the previous version of FCPXML didn't support audio levels so you'd lose your levels if you transferred the project elsewhere. This is now supported in FCPXML 1.1, although it's worth noting that Apple's developer documentation still says XML is not a perfect copy and does not contain everything that a project file does.
  • Broadcast monitoring - Apple's description is vague about which devices are supported but today AJA released new drivers that support FCPX output from SDI. There is no word yet from Black Magic Design or Matrox but I would assume new drivers are coming soon. It's worth noting that broadcast monitoring is only supported on Lion.

That doesn't make it a perfect tool for the professional broadcast / film industries of course. I really can't see EDL support ever being added, nor support for broadcast tape capture. But over time I think this will matter less and less. Case in point: I'm working on a feature right now and was very surprised when the post house asked me to deliver the Final Cut Pro 7 project for grading / mixing instead of EDLs and OMF.

I think Apple is very much gambling on the future here and I am definitely considering looking into it for short form work.

Update: Larry Jordan offers more info on the differences between FCP7 and FCPX's multicam implementation. Thanks Larry!

FCP 7 would LINK up to 128 cameras in a multicam clip, however you could only view 16 of them. FCP X links and allows you to view up to 64 clips at once, by switching between up to four banks of 16 cameras each. Also, edits can be made in real-time or by positioning the playhead.
Posted by Jon Chappell on Jan 31 2012 to Apple, Final Cut Studio, Analysis

A quick note on the Final Cut Pro X XML format

Apple released a Final Cut Pro X update today which added several much-needed features, one of which was XML import and export. I've seen a lot of confusion on Twitter so I'm going to clarify some terminology.

XML is a format for ordering data within a file. XMEML is a subset that Final Cut Pro 7 and below uses for creating a plain-text version of a Final Cut Pro project or sequence that other applications can read. The data is ordered in much the same way as it is within the project file, with the browser contents at the top, followed by the sequences, tracks and the media within.

FCPXML is the new subset for Final Cut Pro X. It is organized in the way FCPX organizes its data internally, which is completely different from the Final Cut Pro 7 way. You have resources at the top (all files and generators within the project) followed by a single sequence with the storylines and clips inside. There are no tracks and each clip is organized into a parent-child relationship rather than chronological order. Timing information such as in and out points are expressed in time units rather than frame units.

So the two formats are completely different and there is no way to directly import FCP 7 XMEML into Final Cut Pro X or vice versa. Apple seems to be leaving this up to third-parties. DaVinci Resolve supports FCPXML and XMEML so it may be possible to convert one to the other (I haven't tested this). Some features will not translate back and forth because they don't exist in the other application.

Currently XML in and out exists only as a menu command. There is no way for applications to automatically communicate with FCPX at this time. Update: Apple just confirmed you can programatically send an XML file to FCPX but there is no way of receiving XML data yet. It is also not possible to update an existing project - importing or sending an XML file will create new projects and events.

Also note that for some reason, you can't export project-based XML when the project is loaded. You have to go back to the Project Library, select the project name and then export the XML.

As you may know, lack of XML in and out prevented us from granting feature parity with Final Cut Pro 7 users in Pro Media Tools and our other products. We're going to begin integrating support in stages, so expect updates very soon.

Update: It would appear that the XML export function in its current implementation doesn't preserve important information, which is a problem when roundtripping. We still aim to support it in our applications and hopefully these issues will be addressed by Apple very soon.

Posted by Jon Chappell on Sep 20 2011 to Apple, DR News, Final Cut Studio

18 features Adobe should borrow from Final Cut Pro 7

Apple's recent obsolescence of Final Cut Studio has forced a lot of us to reexamine which editing platform we want to use for future work. Ironically, Adobe Premiere Pro is a much easier transition for FCP 7 users than Final Cut Pro X due to its similar interface, support for old FCP projects and ability to use FCP's keyboard shortcuts.

The transition to Premiere is easier than any other NLE but there are lots of little things that I miss from Final Cut Pro. Here's a list of some of them, in no particular order.

1. Cutting on the fly

The Ctrl+V keyboard shortcut in Final Cut Pro can be used to make a cut on the timeline at the current playhead position. While Premiere also has a keyboard shortcut for cutting (Cmd+K), it pauses playback when it does so. There is no way to cut and continue playing.

2. Sixteen angles in a multiclip

Premiere Pro is limited only to four multicam angles.

3. Audio mixer affecting clip levels

Unlike Final Cut Pro, the audio mixer in Premiere doesn't work on a clip-by-clip basis. Every adjustment affects the entire track.

4. Multi-colored markers and marker lists

It took such a long time for colored markers to be introduced in Final Cut Pro 7 that I was sad to see them disappear in FCPX. Premiere needs this too.

Final Cut Pro can also export text-based marker lists, which is a great way of sending markers to another application. If Adobe were to implement this, I would also recommend they include a way of importing markers from a list, which Final Cut Pro unfortunately lacks.

5. Choosing attributes to paste

Like Final Cut Pro, Adobe Premiere has a useful Paste Attributes command. However, unlike FCP, this function does not allow you to specify which attributes you would like to paste - it just pastes everything. This is often not what you want.

6. Close Gap command

Ctrl-G in FCP can be used to easily close a gap in your timeline. There is no equivalent keyboard shortcut in Premiere to do this in one step.

Update: This one seems to have been misunderstood by a lot of people so I'll repeat it with additional emphasis: there is no way to do this in one step. There are many ways to do this in more than one step.

7. Multiple open projects

Only one project can be open at a time in Premiere. There is no way to refer back to another project without closing the first one.

8. Partial renders

When you cancel a render halfway through, Premiere discards the entire render file, unlike Final Cut Pro where the portion you rendered remains valid.

9. Pitch correction when using JKL keys

Using the JKL keys to navigate through media in Premiere can sometimes be tricky because the audio becomes high-pitched and difficult to understand.

10. No way to scroll tracks vertically with the scroll wheel

Scrolling your mouse vertically scrolls the Premiere Pro timeline horizontally. This is useful if your mouse is only capable of vertical scrolling, but if you have a trackpad or a mouse with a scroll ball, there is no way to scroll vertically to see extra tracks. There should at least be a preference for this behavior.

(FCP tip: if you have a mouse with a vertical scroll wheel only, hold down Cmd when scrolling and it will scroll horizontally.)

11. No through edits

There is no indicator icon to show a through edit. A through edit is a cut within a clip where the frames on either side of the cut are adjacent to each other. It appears to the viewer as if there is no cut at all, and in most cases it is unnecessary and should be removed.

12. No ability to search for clips to reconnect

When media goes offline, you can browse to the location of the file if you know where it is but there is no way to search your entire hard drive.

13. Tracks have to be selected when cutting clips onto the timeline

When inserting or overwriting a clip to the timeline in Final Cut Pro, the tracks that the video and audio will end up on are controlled by the buttons in the patch panel that are normally marked v1, a1 and a2. If you don't want to insert a track, click the button in the patch panel to disconnect it.

In Premiere things work differently. The patch panels AND the tracks need to be selected in order for this to work. If you want to insert video on video track 2 without any audio and have disconnected the A1 patch button, having an audio track selected will insert a blank space into that track. It seems redundant for patch buttons and audio tracks to need to be selected in order for this to work as expected when only patch buttons are needed in other NLEs.

Walter Biscardi gives a video overview of this problem here.

14. No timecode overlay

Final Cut Pro 7 finally brought us a long-requested timecode overlay window. While Premiere does show timecode in the Info window, this is not a direct equivalent.

15. No temporary snapping toggle

In Final Cut Pro 6.0.2 and higher, if you drag a clip and press the N key to toggle snapping, snapping will be switched on or off only for the duration of the drag. Once you let go of the clip, snapping reverts to its previous value. I found this feature very useful.

16. No function to mark audio peaks

Final Cut Pro can place markers on a clip whenever an audio peak occurs. There is no such function in Premiere.

17. No dupe detection

While you can view how many times an entire clip has been used, there is no way to see if a particular frame has been used more than once. This is crucial for film projects that will be having a negative cut.

18. Fewer options for clip markers than sequence markers

Sequence markers in Premiere Pro allow you to set a name, description, duration and various other options. Clip markers cannot be customized at all.

This is a list of things I think FCP does better than Premiere. In some cases, Premiere has no equivalent feature. In others, the feature exists but I feel it is lacking. None of these problems have prevented me from editing successfully with Premiere, but things would be smoother and certain workflows much easier if these features were present. I'm sure Adobe has been getting a lot of feedback from former FCP users and I have high hopes for CS6.

Sound off in the comments if you can think of any more things Adobe should borrow from Final Cut Pro.

Posted by Jon Chappell on Sep 2 2011 to Analysis, Final Cut Studio, Adobe

What features will you miss from Final Cut Studio?

What made Final Cut Studio great was the sheer number of tools you got for the price. The demise of Final Cut Studio has left a void in the market which the closest competitor, Adobe Creative Suite, does not yet fill completely.

We've had several people come to us in recent weeks with requests to replicate certain Final Cut Studio functions that they depended on because they wanted the piece of mind that these functions would still be available after they switched to another NLE.

We implemented two of these in the latest version of QT Edit in Pro Media Tools - Cinema Tools-style frame rate conforming and a replication of QuickTime Pro's export dialog. The latter is useful for people who don't want to purchase a separate QuickTime Pro license, which they used to get free of charge with their Final Cut Studio installation.

The frame rate conform function is an improvement upon the Cinema Tools equivalent because it allows you to specify a custom frame rate. The advantage of implementing these features into applications that have not been long-abandoned by their manufacturer is that these features will continue to be improved over time.

We're interested to hear of any other Final Cut Studio features you use that could feasibly be added to our software. We're not planning to create our own versions of Cinema Tools or Color, but are keen to hear of any small features from the suite that would fit well into our existing applications. Let us know in the comments below or via our contact form.

Posted by Jon Chappell on Aug 15 2011 to Front Page News, Final Cut Studio, Utilities