A little while ago, right here on my fancy blog, I stated my opinion in the “debate” over tracks vs. Roles. I like Roles. This isn’t to say they are perfect, there are things they could do that they don’t, and hopefully Apple is grinding away trying to make them even more powerful.
In any case, I had a job recently that provides an excellent example of how Roles simplify one of the most confusing and convoluted tasks we often need to do, outputting multiple versions, with different A/V configurations, of multiple spots.
This gig consisted of 5 different spots, cutdowns of a trailer done by another editor in FCP 7. Now, you may be thinking,…“WHY?!”, which his another topic entirely. 🙂 But, I’ve done the cutdowns in old faithful, and it’s time for finishing, here’s what I need to deliver:
For each of the 5 spots: 2 tagged texted versions, 1 generic version, and 1 textless version. 3 versions require a 4ch split audio version (Comp/M&E), the textless version requires an 8ch combined mono/stereo split. All but the textless need a 2ch comp version as well. One texted version gets an audible rating, all other versions do not. All versions need unique slates. Also 3 duplicate 2ch versions with no slate are needed, and these 3 versions then must be delivered in 3 different codecs/resolutions.
So a little math yields the following: 50 versions. Now, I could of course do this in in 7 or Pr or MC. I could make 2 or 3 different sequences for every spot (for the 3 audio configurations), put all the correct picture elements and slates on separate tracks in the proper sequences, and then very carefully enable/disable what’s needed for each version. I’ve done this. It works fine. It is also a huge pain in the ass, and you can very easily miss something. Screw that. Here’s what I did.
First, in FCP 7, I created a split audio master of the first texted version of each spot. I then exported 3 other master picture versions of each. Had I done the final output from a track based NLE I likely would have done this anyway as it’s easier to manage, but with all the different slates and audio versions, it still would have been a… what’s the word?… Oh, right… a clusterfuck.
Then, in FCP X using a Motion Template I made, I created 35 slates (15 outputs have no slate). That took a while, and would have needed to be done no matter which NLE I was in. Then, exported as png’s and reimported.
Next, import all the A/V Masters and assign Audio and Video Roles to everything, including the slates, corresponding to the proper versions. Using Role-O-Matic for audio saved some time, but the Role assignment process only took about 15 minutes. Then, create 5 master projects, (hit “D” once and “Q” 7 times for each project…no patching!), add a bit of MOS slug, a little trimming and I’m all set to go. That took maybe 5 more minutes. Here’s the result…
Next step is to create Share presets. Set the default Export preset. Share a spot, create a preset and save it, cancel the share, repeat ’til done. Each preset specifies the picture version, matching slate, and audio configuration. Another 5 minutes. EZ…
So, all in, 25 minutes of setup, probably less than prepping all the sequences in another NLE, (never mind the incessant disabling enabling, switching sequences and other fiddling during the export), and I’m essentially done.
All I gotta do now for each spot is CMD-E, 2 clicks for proper output config, ENTER, paste filename from a list, ENTER… 10 seconds per file. No enabling/disabling clips and switching sequences for every version. Oh, I do need to select a range excluding the slate for the 3 slate-less versions of each, so that’s another couple seconds.
Get coffee, wander back to my bay, drop all the slate-less versions in Compressor, apply a group setting to make the 2 low res versions of each… Done
Honestly, had these spots been originally cut in X, none of the prep at all would have been necessary. Zero. No splits, no master version exports. The Roles would have been assigned from the start. Just make the slates and Export presets and go.
Roles kick ass, and they could do a whole lot more, so send your demands to Apple! 🙂
EDIT: Just finished exporting, and I was a little optimistic. Very little 😉 I needed to select different folders for the outputs as I went, so it took an average of 19 seconds for each export, all 50 versions were done in 17 minutes. Off to run the Compressor group to make the low res versions…
So I’m working on some stuff this week, and needed to move a project into FCP 7. Ran the fcpxml through Xto7 and spent about 5-10 minutes deleting disabled audio channels, and importing the GFX I had done in X that can’t be done in 7. Then, for laughs, I imported the sequence into PrCC.
In X, I had done some title cards, a quad split in a compound clip with Motion Generator animating dividing lines, some basic color corrections and a few effects added to some shots. I had to export the cards and the quad split thing as comped movies because the title tools in other NLE’s suck, and neither 7 or Pr could easily do the line animation stuff. Certainly possible, but more of a PITA than in X.
However, that tech crap isn’t the point of this bit of babbling. The point is, that when I work on the exact same project in all 3 NLE’s, it’s really apparent how much easier it is to get things done in X. (I was gonna do it in MC too, but it’d take half the day to AMA relink the media…) Not to say that there aren’t some things I miss from 7 and Pr when I’m in X, or that X is perfect, but overall FCP X is a much more pleasant place for me to work.
Here’s a little comparison, the same spot in all 3. For the pics, just to be fair, I broke apart the comp containing the quad split in X. Nesting stuff is OK in Pr, but awful in 7. Working in Compound Clips and using Multichannel Secondary’s in FCP X is a huge timeline clutter/eye saver. I also just left the “text” clips that were adjustment layers in X. Could have redone ’em in Pr, but not in 7. Faster just to export as a comp from X.
But seriously, explain to me why anyone would actually prefer to stare at either of the top 2 screens all day. What a mess. 😉 For what it’s worth, I do stare at Pr and 7 all day quite often, so I’m qualified to whine about it. lol
EDIT: by request, The FCP X timeline with everything collapsed added above the 3 shot. Clean!
One of the reasons I prefer cutting in FCPX is that, in my opinion, it is much simpler to cut in. I’ve touched on this before. . . by simpler, I mean I spend less time doing technical manipulations in the app, and more time doing creative manipulation. You know… editing.
To me, the trackless, magnetic timeline, audio components riding with video clips, one inspector window, clip skimming, real time effects preview and a raft other things make cutting in X simpler, faster, and more fun. That’s not to say there aren’t complicated or confusing things in FCPX, there most definitely are. I’ve never been one to claim that X is perfect or better at everything than every other NLE available. It isn’t. Every NLE has it’s strengths and weaknesses, anyone who claims otherwise is deluded.
I believe that for most editing operations, if there is an easy way to do something then that is a better way to do something. And it’s not just true for FCPX. There are simple ways of doing seemingly complicated things in every NLE. But, maybe because editing software has been so complex and arcane for so long, sometimes the longer you’ve been editing, the more likely you are to come up with complicated ways of doing things. I know I’m generalizing wildly here, so calm down. 🙂 This generalization though, brings me to the point of this particular post.
I recently joined a couple Editors groups that are not focused, or even terribly interested in FCPX. Ya know, because nobody uses it. I like FCPX and I’d like to change that though, so I ‘m in.
Anyway. . . there were a couple FCP 7 questions posted there on which I commented.
I’m not posting this to try and come off as some sort of genius know-it-all. I’m not… I’m just lazy. lol
I look for the simplest ways to do things, and this exchange seemed to me to be a perfect illustration of the Simple vs. Complicated mindset.
Question: “how do you do a Ghost image in FCP7? You know – a guy turns around, turns around..”
First answer: “Layer same shot – superimpose w/ 8point matte key”
Follow up: “or play around with visibility”
A perfectly valid, but complicated, response. Layer x number of video tracks, offset each one by x frames, apply and adjust a mask or opacity on every clip. Keep tweaking until it looks right.
My response? “Effects Tab ->Video Filters ->Time folder-> Trails or Echo Filters.” Simple, right?
Here’s the other one. . .
Question: “How do you maintain aspect ratio while adding transition effects in Final Cut 7- particularly a cross zoom?”
Translation… “I have a cross zoom between two (16:9 or something) matted clips but the zoom fills the frame. how do I keep the 16:9 matte during the transition?”
First answer: “which version of FCP? Sequence settings? codec working with?”
Followup: “Apply the transition, and simply nest (Option+c) the 2 segments that are part of the transition: the A side, and the B Side: (. . .) Once these 2 clips are nested in a single new one, apply the Matte effect, and use the drop down Widescreen option in the effect. Here you’ll be able to choose the aspect (1:66, 1:85, 2:35, etc), and you should be able to finesse the matte further if needed. (. . .) If you want to load the nested clip in your sequence into the source viewer, you’ll have to right click and “Open in viewer”.
Again, a perfectly correct, but complicated response. Apply the transition, nest the 2 clips and transition, apply a filter, and adjust it to taste. But be careful with the nested clip. If you need to adjust the transition you’ve got to step into the nest to do it.
My response? “Just put (this) above your transition, adjust it’s size to match your crop. done.
EDIT: Oliver Peters has an interesting post on simplicity at his blog. He’s always a good read, check it out.