How To Prep A FCP Sequence For Finishing @ Fini

Our clients generally bring their footage to us in one of two ways:

  1. They bring their camera originals which we redigitize.
  2. They bring their footage (usually DV) on a firewire drive and we begin finishing directly from those files.

Both methods have their challenges. For now, because I've had to write out these instructions to two clients in the past week, let's focus on Method #2. These techy instructions are specifically for shows cut on Final Cut Pro...

The end result: You'll create a new project with a new timeline that's exactly the same as your current timeline - only it points to newly copied media that's been trimmed to only the footage needed to playback your timeline. We'll include 15 frames of handles for each shot, so we can slip and slide 15 frames in either direction - if need be (no edit is ever truly locked).

Preparation

Because we use Apple's new Color software so heavily in our workflow, some preparation needs to go into this process that can be neatly classified as 'busy work'; all speed changes, time remaps, freeze frames, or jpeg / tiff files in your project must be rendered out and re-edited back into the sequence. Same thing with nested Motion or Livetype projects. On documentaries this is not an insubstantial amount of work. But currently, we have no choice - it's a limitation of the Color software, which is powerful enough to be worth the hassle.

Once that's done take a look at your timeline. When you edit do you "build up" your timeline, saving alternate takes in video tracks below the topmost, visible clip? If so, you need to play the role of a good Sous Chef and reduce your timeline down so it includes only the clips necessary to recreate your timeline. Everything else must go. To avoid confusion in the finishing session I suggest dropping everything down to V1. Then dedicate other tracks to specific elements... V2 for overlapping dissolves or composites, V3 & V4 for titles and graphics, V5 for the letterbox, etc...

Using the Media Manager

Once the timeline has been properly prepared, it's time to copy your footage onto the drive you'll be bringing to the finishing session. Don't do this directly from the Finder. Why? Final Cut Pro doesn't always like its media handled this way. Also, we want to reduce the number and size of files you're copying to the bare minimum. We only want the files referenced from your newly reduced timeline, and we only want 15 frames of 'handles' before and after each clip. To do that, follow these steps...

1. In your current project, in the Browser right-click on the current sequence you want to send to Fini.

2. Select "Media Manager"

3. Here's a screen shot of the settings to use inside the Media Manager:

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4. Click on "Browse" under Media Destination. Navigate to the drive you'll bring to the finishing session put the files in a new folder "MEDIA_TO_FINI".

5. Before pressing OK recheck the following: 
  • The green "Modified" bar should be much shorter than the green "Original" bar. If not, something's probably wrong.
  • Be sure you are choosing the "Copy" function - nothing else, or things will go terribly wrong.

6. Click "OK"

7. A dialog will open asking you to name a new project which will reference this material. Give it a meaningful name, save it to the top level of the drive where you're putting the MEDIA_TO_FINI.

8. Let the machine run. Depending on the speed of your processor and how your drives are attached, expect this to take a while and the machine to be unavailable during this process. Maybe even a very long while. On a recent 70 minute doc this step took about 75 minutes, with FCP constantly updating as to what shot was being trimmed and copied.

Check Your Work

9. When finished, close all current projects, then open the newly created project on the drive you'll be bringing.

10. Open the timeline, select a shot in the timeline and press Command-9. Look at the file path for this clip and be sure it's pointing to the hard drive / folder you've set as the copy location. Double-check any speed changes, freeze frames, and graphics - ensuring they're all correct. You'll should watch the whole thing down.

11. You're done.

- pi

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