Archive for the ‘FCPX’ Category

Adobe Premiere: H264 Markers: Work in Quicktime but not MP4

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

(Updated as of 2014-03-20)

  • H264 supports chapter markers (in some form) in principle, but Adobe Premiere is unable to utilise this (at least as of 2012, and I can’t see a way of doing it in February 2014).
    • If the H264 is encoded into a QuickTime [.mov] wrapper/file (as opposed to a [.mp4] one), and that [.mov] file is played in a QuickTime player, then those chapter markers will appear in (the bottom-right corner) of that player.
  • Apparently FCP (both 7 and X ) can also do this.
    • Presumably


Shared Storage Options for Windows & Mac Video Editing Collaboration

Friday, October 18th, 2013

In summary:

There’s no magic option, each workstation needs a local storage volume with block-level data access (as opposed to simply file-level access) and formatted to a file system that is native (doesn’t require translation) to that workstation’s operating system.  Migration and collaboration imply file copying/synchronization, which implies read-access to the “foreign” file-system.  Mac OS can read NTFS, Winows can only read HFS+ via third-party add-on utilities.  Furthermore, for speed and responsiveness appropriate to video editing, the local storage should ideally be RAID or SSD.  In either case, it is possible to split the local storage (e.g. via partitioning) into more than one file-system.  At least, that worked on the mutiple occasions I have taken that approach, and have not been aware of any issues.

In greater detail:

Consider the challenge of setting up a shared data storage volume (e.g. RAID array or SSD) for video editing, such that either Windows or Mac computers can connect to it, and a video project started on (and saved to) on one of those operating systems (OS) can be continued on the other (and vice versa).

My current solution is to split the drive into separate volumes, one for each OS.  For example I have done this on RAIDs of various kinds and on an internal drive for Mac systems bootable to either Mac OS or (via Boot Camp) to Windows.  In the case of RAIDs I was advised against this by my system supplier, but got the impression they were just being defensive, not knowing of any definite issues, and to my knowledge I did not experience any issues.

It is is not practical to have just one volume (necessarily in that case, one file-system format), because:

  • Mac OS on its own is able to read NTFS but cannot write to it.
    • This is a show-stopper.  Some of the major video editing applications (e.g. NLEs), slightly disturbingly, may use (or for some functionality, even depend on) read/write access to source-files and the folders containing them.
      • I initially, naively, imagined that video editing systems etc. would only ever read source media files, not write to them, or to the folders containing them.  However that proved very naive indeed…
        • In Apple/Mac’s (erstwhile) Final Cut Pro 7 I regularly used their (moving) image stabilization effect, SmoothCam.  Its analysis phased was typically slow and heavy – not something one would wish to repeat.  The result was a “sidecar” file of similar forename to the analyzed source file, but a different extension, placed in the same folder as the source file.
        • I’m not certain, but got the feeling that maybe the source file (or folder) meta data, such as permissions or somekind of interpretation-change to media files in the quicktime ([.mov] mmedia format.
      • Certainly, Adobe (on Windows and Mac) could adulterate both files (by appending XMP data – being an Adobe media metadata dialect in XML) and the folders they occurred in (depending on uder-configuration) in terms of sidecar-files.
      • Sony Vegas also generates sidecar-files, e.g. for audio peaks.
  • File system translation add-ons can add Windows read/write access to HFS+ (ordinarily it could not even read it) and add Mac OS write access to NTFS (ordinarily it could only read it), but not sufficiently transparent/seamless for big real-time data access as required for demanding video editing endeavours.
    • File system translation add-ons (to operating systems) exist, such as MacDrive, to allow Windows to read/write Mac OS, or Tuxera NTFS, Paragon NTFS or Parallels for Mac to enable it to read/write NTFS, but these (reportedly, and in part of my experience) only really work well for standard “Office” type applications, not so well for heavy (big andd real-time) data applications such as video editing, where they can impede the data throughput.  Doh!
    • Some people have experienced obscure issues of application functionality, beyond data-movement speed issues.
    • {Also, I am concerned over the (unknown/imagined/potential) risk that the “alien” operating system and/or its translation utility might alter the file system in some way that upsets its appearance to the “home” operating system.}
  • FAT is universal but is a riskier option:
    • FAT is un-journaled, hence risks loss not only of individual files but of whole volume (integrity).
      • In video editing, corruption could be disastrous to a project, not only in terms of possible data-loss or time wasting and project delays on data recovery, but also in terms of “weird” effects during editing, such as poor responsiveness to commands, whose cause the user may not appreciate. or even an increased risk of unacceptable flaws in the final product.
    • FAT32 is essentially obsolete, because its maximum file size is (1 bit under) 4GB.
    • exFAT, a kind of “FAT64” is practical, and indeed a big successful corporate Mac-based production company once supplied me with many GB of footage on an exFAT-formatted external disk.
      • The largest file I have so far stored there is 40GB.  No problems.
  • NAS (Network-Attached Storage) sounds at first an easy option, but in my experience they impede big real-time data throughput (as stated earlier for “file system tyranslation” add-ons). Double-Doh!
    • Such devices only permit file-level access.  Consequently, the client systems can e.g. create or retrieve folders and files, but cannot e.g. format the device or address it in terms of lower-level data structures.
    • A likely explanation for the “impedement” of a NAS (to data responsiveness and throughput) is that such devices store in a local format (typically they run linux) that is invisible to the client, then translate to an appropriate protocol for each operating system accessing it.  They normally incorporate a bunch of such protocols.  As always, translation => overhead.
    • Other options, such as SAN and iSCSI, instead of providing file-level access to the client systems, instead offer the lower level of data block access.  Thus they appear to the client system as would any local storage device, and can be formatted as appropriate to the client system.
  • One suggestion I saw was to use a Seagate GoFlex drive, which can be used (read/write) with both Mac and Windows.  But the supplier’s FAQ (about that drive) indicates that it depends upon a translator utility for the Mac:
    •  If you would like to be able to “shuttle” data back and forth between a Mac and a PC, a special driver needs to be installed onto the Mac that allows it to access a Windows-formatted drive (i.e. NTFS). Time Machine will not work in this case, nor will Memeo Premium software for Mac. However, if you want your GoFlex solution to also work with TimeMachine, the drive will need to be reformatted to HFS+ journaled.

So I guess there is no “magic storage” option, my main work setup will have to remain based on separate volumes for each OS.

When transferring an editing project from one OS to another, the following actions will be necessary:

  • Copy any absent or updated files across.
    • e.g. via a file-synch utility such as Syncovery.
  • Allow time etc. for possible file re-linking, re-indexing, re-preview generation, re-“SmoothCam” (or equivalent).
    • This aspect is down to the editing application etc., as opposed to the operating or file systems themselves.
  • Ensure any effects used in the edit are present on both systems.
    • If so then these should presumably still work…


NLE Adulteration of Source Media: Potential Workflow-Issues

Friday, September 13th, 2013

I highlighted in (10 months ago) that Adobe Premiere etc. can adulterate media files, in terms of metadata and/or sidecar-files (depending on user-configurations of these applications.  I indicated that, regardless of the reasonableness of at least some of these actions, this could potentially cause problems to other applications.

Validating that concern, I note a post (2012-06-12) by Matt Davis on Philip Bloom’s website, stating (my italics):

  • …if sharing assets with FCPX and Adobe Premiere, Adobe ‘touches’ (resets the modification date) of each file without doing anything else to it, but also sprinkles sidecar files into directories of transcodable files for metadata, thus sending any returning FCPX activity into a tailspin, requiring a re-linking session. It’s oddities like these which haunt the implementation of FCPX in a wider system and make system managers wonder if FCPX is actually worth implementing in its current state.

That was over a year ago, and so the issue may or may not exist for the current version of FCPX.

As users, whether or not the actions of one application adhere to standards and another don’t, what we as users ultimately care about is workflow, which in this case translates to “does it connect up with my other tools/processes?”.  So we have to maintain a “situational awareness” of potential interoperability pitfalls.

Incidentally, I recall that FCPX’s predecessor (in history at least, if not development-line) FCP7 could adulterate source directories with its own sidecar files, produced by its SmoothCam effect.  Not knowing anything further for sure, I nevertheless wondered (at that time) what it might be doing “under the hood” of the QuickTime [.mov] wrapper.

Best NLE for MultiCam Editing? FCPX for Mac, LightWorks for Windows (and in future for Linux then Mac OS)?

Sunday, July 14th, 2013

As explained as part of my recent “Best of Breed” post, I wish to identify the best NLE for multicam editing.  It is possible to achieve such editing in a variety of NLEs, with much the same technical quality.  What matters here is friendliness and flexibility, leading to productivity (and hence, in limited-time situations, to greater product quality).

I like the sound of FCPX (with required add-ons) on Mac OS and of LightWorks which is currently on Windows only, soon to go Linux and intended in future to be on Mac OS also.  I need to watch a few YouTubes about these and and give them a try.  Hopefully I can get a colleague with FCPX to demonstrate it and als I plan to download/install a copy of the free version of LightWorks.  Then try them out on archived previous live-event multicam projects.


FCPX: The Real Cost, Including Add-Ons

Sunday, July 14th, 2013

I strayed upon the following, informative:

  • 5thwall May 8
    • I’ve been using FCPX, mostly. $299 as most everyone knows. But the real cost is closer to $1300 when you add up all the plugins to get more pro support.
    • My list of “helper” apps:
      • Compressor: $50
      • Motion: $50
      • Pro Versioner $60 (for backing up events and projects)
      • Event Manager X: $5 (a must for dealing with loads of events – hopefully Apple will institute better mgmt in software)
      • Xto7: $50 (hate X? send it to 7!)
      • 7toX: $10 (love X? send it from 7 to X!)
      • Sync-N-Link: $200 (replicates Avid functionality for syncing clips with jam synced audio)
      • SliceX with Mocha: $150 (great tracker and object remover)
      • Lock & Load: $100 (a much better image stabilizer)
      • X2Pro Audio Convert: $150 (export to AAF)
      • Pluraleyes: $200 (sync multiple clips with multiple tracks of non-timecoded audio to separate clips FCPX can’t currently do that unless you make a multiclip).
      • Davinci Resolve Lite: Free
    • Total for FCPX and helper Apps: $1325

Skimming in Adobe Premiere CS5.5 and (?) FCP7

Monday, March 26th, 2012

Skimming  (after a fashion) is not only available in FCPX:

  • Skimming in Adobe Premiere:
    • From &
    • <<This is a feature that experienced editors have been using for years.  Instead of using the “ultimate slow method” of double clicking a clip in the project panel and opening it in the source monitor, just move the mouse over any clip while pressing a shortkey, and set in/out points on the fly.>>
      • Organization & Layout:
        • Suppose you have a few Source sequences, such as one sequence per rush, or maybe per scene.
          • Maybe also combine all rushes into a single (additional) sequence.
        • Create a main “Target” sequence.
        • Open/place a “Source” timeline  along the whole width of the top of the screen.
        • To that timeline, add sequences (tabs) for each of the Rush-Sequence(s)
        • In the centre, have the program monitor along with a scope
        • Below that, open/place a second timeline, this time for the Target sequence.
        • Now you have two separate timelines and can drag etc. individual clips (maybe trimmed) from the Source timeline to the Target timeline.
          • Just remember it’s not the same as using the Source Monitor.
      • To Enable Skimming:
        • Make a keyboard short cut (e.g. [§] ) to the [Move Playhead to Cursor] function
          • In CS5.5, that function is in [Edit > Keyboard Shortcuts > Panels > Timeline Panel > Move Playhead to Cursor]
        • When holding that shortcut, the playhead will follow the mouse.  No need to click mouse and drag the playhead.  Also no audio scrubbing occurs.  A very slick way to search for that certain something.
      • Tips:
        • Lift [;] and Undo [Ctrl-Z].
          • The [;] does a “Lift Edit” between [I] and [O] points.
        • Extract is supposed to be [‘] but on my [MacBook Pro > BootCamp > WIndows 7] it is [\]
        • [Drag] does a copy, not a move.
        • To drag only the video or audio part, do [Alt-Drag]

Avid vs./alongside FCPX: My Interim Judgements

Saturday, August 13th, 2011

Though I’m currently concentrating on learning Avid, I’m trying to get my head around available tools (NLEs and their “satellites” and “ecosystems”) and how best to make use of them.  My overall impressions so far, being only a beginner on Avid Media Composer having never used Apple FCPX, are:

  • It’s probably best to learn about but not use FCPX for a few “dots” (sub-version updates), as Larry (and others) always advise for any software.  In fact I won’t even install the trial.
  • From my experience so far of producing videos of numerous live events – mostly music and lectures, some corporates and exactly one (very successful but very time-consuming) wedding movie (two-hour, creative & live elements, multicam) – as well as absorbtions from lectures given by professional high-end wedding producers, I have acquired the following views:
    • FCPX would certainly increase productivity for lightweight and freestyle projects, such as single-editors working on post for largely unscripted /unscreenplayed / unpredictable live events and ad-hoc / avante-garde productions, be they “human” or “nature”,  and also for spontaneous home movies.  Its Skimming feature allows rapid identification/location of material you need, e.g. to carry the story between cuts (creative spatio-temporal continuity) or that you didn’t realise you could make use of (opportunistic spikes of creativity).
      • I don’t miss FCP7, so no axe to grind then, and when FCPX matures, it is definitely worth considering. But given Apple’s demonstrated lack of consideration for the existing FCP-pre-X user-base, and possible lack of appreciation of the difficulties they would cause by their “switch”, I cannot regard them as a reliable company.  Even before the “switch”, they demonstrated a lack of care about how compatible new versions of QuickTime would be with Final Cut.  One had to have an ear to the ground in the vicinity of suitable grapevines known only to the few…
    • Avid Media Composer is probably more productive on heavy-duty media-industrial projects, especially where there is significant distribution of effort within the workflow (e.g. teams & departments) or where the overall production is largely screenplayed / scripted or at least predictable.  It’s less clunky than it used to be (e.g.MC v3); it’s clunkiness is now under the threshold that I mostly care about.  I just wish its media management and browsing was swisher – the “media database” concept is great, no need to keep heving to re-name disk letters (on Windows), just bolt on a bunch of disks anyhow, or even migrate them to a RAID (say) and still have it “join-up”.
      • …Though at the same time I’m slightly concerned by stories I’ve read (on advice-giving forums) of people having to employ “hacks” like temporarily renaming Avid media folders or having to rely on automatic ducks 🙂 just to copy all media, including renders, to a different set of disks for a co-worker.  Not everybody uses InterPlay or network storage.  And, hopefully a passing phase, I hear that FCPX cannot store certain project files (?) to network storage, only local storage, limiting the possible kinds of practical Avid-FCPX collaboration physical workflow.
    • An example of a largely screenplayed project would be a high-production-value wedding.  On the other hand a wedding involving only basic event-planning (not incorporating a filming plan) will likely result in largely uncoordinated (e.g. opportunistic) camera work (possibly even by guests with pocket phones or camcorders).  Such a project may feature an “at-least predictable” core of master shots but overall would be chaotic in nature, favouring FCPX.  An engineering lecture with multiple cameras and ad-hoc  cutaway shots, e.g. audience reactions, could be regarded as mostly predictable but chaotic at the edge, making the decision (which NLE is best) less obvious.
    • One could imagine using the two tools together, the main project being in Avid as primary (solid, distributed workflow), with the (e.g. delegated) more lightweight job of identifying useful elements and configurations of the ad-hoc elements (including proposed in-post transformations e.g. mirroring), and possibly also some initial assemblies, being carried out in FCPX as secondary. The right tool for the right job-let…
      • And that way, if Apple on a whim tomorrow change everything to FCPY or ban yet another popular but non-Apple import or export format, it’s no show-stopper.
  • BUT I’m still trying toget my head around it all.  All the above is just the best I’ve come up with so far.
    • AND… I haven’t yet looked at Adobe.

FCPX: Great Larry Jordan Presentation (LA FCP UG, June 2011)

Saturday, August 13th, 2011

Larry presenting at his best, combining frankness, incisiveness, knowledge, balance and wit, on the topic of FCPX.  In this set of presentations, he points out both what’s cool about it and what’s lacking.  The presentations:

Final Cut Pro X (ten) – FCPX

Wednesday, April 13th, 2011

Final Cut Pro X (ten) – FCPX.  Wannit now!!!