The beauty of Apple Final Cut Pro X is in its power to organize media. When editors take advantage of these tools, FCP X can prove to be a very fast way to cut. I’ve covered some of these concepts in previous posts on “Rethinking NLE Design”. Here are some tips that will help you get more out of FCP X. Click on the thumbnails to see an enlarged image for an expanded view of each of these tips.
Projects and Events. FCP X organizes media and sequences into Events (source media) and Projects (edited sequences). These divisions correspond with matching data files and folders at the Finder level. Unfortunately a colossal oversight was the lack of any way to organize these within the application. All active Events and Projects are open and accessible when you launch FCP X. The solution is Event Manager X from Intelligent Assistance – an essential tool for working with FCP X. This handy utility controls the location (and visibility) of Events and Projects by automatically moving unneeded files between the active and “hidden” folders.
Finder organization. Many editors like to “pre-organize” media files on their hard drives at the Finder level. FCP X lets you use that structure when importing files. Enable this preference on import and hard drive folders will be used for Keyword Collections. The latter function is the equivalent of creating bins with subclips in other NLEs. If you organized camera media by day and camera on the hard drive, the same breakdown will be automatically created in FCP X as part of the import.
Entering multiple user data fields. Custom user data, like reel names, scenes, takes, camera angles, etc. can be entered in the Event column or in the Inspector pane. When multiple clips are highlighted, the editor can use the Inspector to enter common values for all of these clips with a single entry.
Keywords and folders. Events are the location to store master clips (sources) within the FCP X interface. The corresponding Event folder on the hard drive can contain links/aliases to external media or actual media, depending on your import preference settings. Media within an Event can be organized by assigning keywords, which places the equivalent of a full-length subclip into a corresponding Keyword Collection. Multiple keywords can be assigned. The example image is from a series of grocery store commercials. On-camera employee clips can be placed into different sets of Keyword Collections that are organized by day/camera, department/category and person’s name. Keyword Collections can be placed into folders for a further level of organization. This enables the editor to locate clips using any of these subdivisions.
Expand or collapse Event Library. The Event Library pane shows all hard drives and Events visible to FCP X, as well as the Keyword and Smart Collections created by the editor. The leftmost panel can be expanded or collapsed to show/hide the drives, events, folders and collections. When the view is collapsed, only the clips within the highlighted event or collection are displayed.
Event grouping. The Event Library can be displayed as an open list or can be grouped by various criteria. For example, if you need to quickly identify the most recent media imported, then group clips by date imported and the list becomes divided and sorted accordingly.
Lists and filmstrips. When the Event Library is set to a list view, the selected clip is displayed as a filmstrip at the top of the window. This strip includes an audio waveform, which makes it easy to identify audio spikes, such as the start of each take in a series of takes within a longer clip. It shows markers added by the editor and highlighted regions for in-out ranges and Favorites (saved subclip ranges).
Project Library. Projects are edited sequences and shouldn’t be confused with a “project” file in the same sense as in FCP 7 or Premiere Pro. These sequences are typically saved within the Final Cut Projects folder, which is a separate folder from the Final Cut Events folder. Sequences can be previewed and/or skimmed from the Project Library pane. The more visible Projects you have, however, the longer this pane will take to display when opened. To organize a lot of Projects, place them into folders, which can be left closed until you need to access the files within. This lets you place older versions of a cut out of the way, but still accessible if needed.
Edits saved in the Event. The Project Library is the place to save edited sequences, however, edits can also be saved in an Event. Edited sequences or sections of sequences can be saved as Compound Clips. These go into an Event. By opening the Compound Clip in a timeline, you can continue to edit within that Compound. Depending on your strategy, Compound Clips can be organized into Keyword or Smart Collections for quick retrieval.
Audio expansion. By virtue of using a trackless design, FCP X combines the audio and video channels for each source into a single clip on the timeline. All channels for multi-channel audio sources are represented by a single waveform. To access individual channels, the timeline clips can be expanded to expose the audio “tracks”. Audio components can be further expanded in the Inspector or timeline to display individual audio channels for that source. The audio configuration (such as dual mono versus stereo) can be changed and/or channels muted or enabled. It is also necessary to expand audio in order to enable split-audio trimming (L-cuts and J-cuts).
Controlling clips on the timeline. The Clip Appearance menu lets you adjust clip height and how clips are displayed. For maximum real estate, use the smallest “chicklet” view. To access audio and expand clips, use one of the views with a visible waveform. The Timeline Index is another way to focus in on elements of the timeline. Roles can be enabled or disabled, which effectively solos certain timeline clip categories.
©2013 Oliver Peters