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May 2009 Archives

Ever notice your audio slowly moving out of sync as your playhead continues down the timeline in Final Cut Pro?  This is usually because the camera settings were incorrect.  Before you begin editing you must make sure of your camera settings, especially when it comes to setting the audio data rates and video frame rates within the camera.

It is important to set the audio to 16-bit in order to get 48 kHz audio.  Most cameras are preset to record with 12-bit audio, so this is a setting you usually have to change.  If you import 12-bit audio into Final Cut, there is a chance that the video clips will slip out of sync from the audio clips.

Once you have your camera settings, you will have to match those settings within Final Cut Pro, to let the application know the specific sample rate which you have recorded your audio.  To configure the capture settings go to the Final Cut Pro menu > Audio/Video Settings.  The Audio/Video Settings dialog box appears.

audiovideosett.gifYou can adjust the capture preset by using the Capture Preset drop-down menu.  Select the appropriate preset that matches the video format you have recorded.  Just remember, to keep your audio sync from slipping, keep your sample rates consistent across the board while working in Final Cut Pro.  Capture settings as well as sequence settings should all be uniform. 

We all have favorite transitions and filters and effects that we constantly use from project to project in Final Cut Pro.  Why not make it easy on yourself and put all of those favorites into one easily accessible place?  Create a Sub Bin for exactly that purpose.  You will work more efficiently, save time, and not have to scroll around in a menu to find them.

Organizing Transitions and Filters into Sub Bins:

1.  Within the Browser window, select the project's tab.

2.  Create a new Bin by going to File > New Bin and give it a unique name.


Final Cut Studio brings a new level of simplicity and flexibility to the post-production process, and Motion is no exception. Seasoned special effects guys may want the extra horsepower of heavier-duty software like After Effects, Shake, or Combustion -- but Motion is sophisticated enough for most people's needs, and it comes with an especially artist-oriented interface. Once you understand it properly, Behavior-based animation is one of those big boons for the creative process.

diskutility.gifAre you performing regular maintenance on your Mac OS X?  My Final Cut Pro Instructor always told me to use the Disk Utility function and Repair Disk Permissions on a weekly basis.  So on Sunday evenings before shutting down, I do a Disk Permissions check...why?  Basically to save headaches down the road.  By performing this little "housekeeping" item periodically, my computer runs more efficiently, and I have less of a chance of my files becoming corrupted. 

So what could cause my files to become corrupted?  Any power outages, forced restarts, or system crashes can lead to disk directory corruption.  Always run Repair Disk after a power outage or before installing any new software to your computer, and as I said, as part of your regular maintenance routine, to identify any hidden directory corruption before it becomes a problem.

Ok, so how do I go about this maintenance?  First, you will access the Disk Utility from the Applications folder > Utilities > Disk Utility.  Select the name of the Hard Drive on the left side of the window.  To check the directory of the disk and attempt repair of any problems found, click the Repair Disk Permissions button.  If it finds any problems, it will list them; otherwise it will say "the volume Macintosh HD appears to be OK".  If it does find any problems, click Repair Disk Permissions again.  If it finds the same problems during the second scan, it means Disk Utility cannot repair the disk and a more advanced utility is required.

diskutility2.gifCheck out this article for more troubleshooting tips in Final Cut Pro

So next time your computer seems sluggish on start up, or you just want to start a regular maintenance routine, remember to use your Disk Utility Application; after all, that's what it's there for!

Final Cut Pro has it's own de-interlace filter.  The following tutorial will walk you through the steps of de-interlacing video in Final Cut Pro.  Alternatively, you can also download free de-interlacing software that runs as a third party program.

Usually you don't notice interlacing during video playback; until the motion is paused, or you want to use a particular frame to freeze.  Interlacing causes the still frame to "flicker" or a jittering to the image, also caused by poor video quality, or lack of a steady hand while filming.  Here's where the De-Interlacing Filter in Final Cut Pro comes in handy.  The De-Interlacing Filter works by simply removing either the upper (odd) or lower (even) field of information from any interlaced video.  It removes half the lines and interpolates the missing lines by using the remaining lines to create a whole image, with a little softening of the image as a result.

interlaced.gif de-interlaced.gifYou can click on each image to see the difference.

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Audio Transitions in Final Cut Pro are a necessity when you need to create a smooth audible change in your project.  If you don't use them, the audio changes are really noticeable and sometimes create "pops" in your audio; using an Audio Transition simply smooths out the change from one audio clip to the next.  The easiest way to do this is to apply a cross fade to the edit point.  Final Cut Pro has two audio transitions: +3 dB cross fade, which is the default, and 0 dB cross fade.  Each cross fade results in a different audio level change as the transition plays.  You basically need to try out both to see which transition better suits your audio change.

To apply an Audio Transition, you can go to the Effects Tab in your Browser window to Audio Transitions.  Twirl down the disclosure triangle to see the 2 types of Cross Fade.  Simply drag the one you want to use down into your timeline right on top of your edit point. 

Outputting to tape is quickly becoming a dying breed these days, however, you never know when you might come across a job that requires you to output back to videotape.  Final Cut Pro has a great feature called Print to Video.  It contains all the controls that you need when laying back a sequence to videotape.

printovideo.gifTo lay back a sequence to tape:  First you will highlight your sequence in the Browser window.  Next, click File > Print to Video; you will see the Print to Video dialog box.  Now choose the correct settings within the Print to Video dialog and click OK.

Note the Automatically Start Recording Option if you have a camera or deck control which will start the camera or deck recording automatically.  When printing to video your monitor will act like a playback monitor and display the media as it is playing to your recording device.

When you're working with Motion, you'll often be using alpha channels (that is, transparency).  For example, if you want a lower third to animate onto screen, you'll need for Final Cut to know which parts of the lower third are "see-through."

By default, Motion is set up to handle such a workflow: the black background that you see in your Canvas actually renders transparent. If you need a true colored background -- or if you just want to work on a background color other than black -- you'll need to adjust your background settings in Project Settings (Cmd+J).

Storyboarding goes all the way back to the 1930's; it's how filmmakers and animators graphically organize a series of images displayed in sequence for the purpose of pre-visualizing a motion picture or cartoon.  You can use Storyboarding right within the Browser in Final Cut Pro.  By using the Thumbnail view in the Browser, you can create a Storyboard and quickly turn it into a rough cut.

First in the Browser window, you will want to change the View to List as Large Icons:
                     View > Browser Items > List as Large Icons

I just love that static effect that HBO uses at the beginning of some of their programming; you can create that static effect yourself right in Final Cut Pro by using the Noise Generator.  The Noise Generator makes random "pixel noise", similar to static.

You can find the Noise Generator in the Generators pop-up menu (located in Viewer window, bottom right side).  From the Generators menu, go to Render > Noise.

FCP_Compressor.gifOften when producing for the web sometimes we will encode to a lower frame rate. When choosing the new rate, there is one very important factor to consider. Be sure that the new frame rate will divide evenly into the old frame rate. For example if you have a 30 fps project that you want to encode to 10 fps, that would be okay. On the other hand if you tried to encode your 30 fps to 12 fps, it would appear choppy, because 12 does not go into 30 evenly. 

Another great way to improve quality when encoding with compressor, is to use frame controls. For example when trying to improve interlacing issues when encoding to Mpeg2, turn on the Frame Controls and change the Resizing controls to Best, Progressive, & Best. Adding these Frame Controls will also increase both output time, and Output size. However the improvement can be worth the increase in size.

As part of our 5 day Final Cut Studio class, we give an introduction to Apple Compressor. Understanding how and when to use Apple Compressor, is not always obvious.

Most movies today will give you a "teaser" as you first pop it in to your DVD player.  Just a short 30 second montage of the movie to get your taste buds going before coming to the menu.  This is called a First Play:  the element of a project that appears when the title begins playing.  By default it is Menu 1, however, you can assign any of your project's elements as the First Play.

It is important to consider when starting a project what you first want to appear when a viewer starts playing a DVD.  But to set the project's First Play to something other than Menu 1, you first have to create your project.  Once you are ready to set the First Play, you can do it in the Disc Inspector; to open the Disc Inspector, click on the name of the disc in the Outline Tab.

Assembling clips, even trimming them in iMovie is transferable to Final Cut. By exporting a XML from iMovie, and opening it in Final Cut, will give you an updated sequence that will have the same edits. This is a great tool for a producer to rough in a project, and then bring in a senior editor with a Final Cut system to finalize the project.


If you are doing serious professional editing, you will be using Final Cut. The fact that iMovie integrates with Final Cut is all the more reason to make sure if you are using Final Cut, that you are using it effectively. GeniusDV training is what separates you from everyone else.

Keeping your media organized is huge when it comes to any editing system.  Final Cut Pro has a great feature that helps you label your clips to keep them organized.  You can assign labels to clips and media to help distinguish and sort them.  Each label has an associated color that is also applied to clips.

If you are working on a really big project, it is important to label each clip and sub-clip not only with proper titles but also with its purpose and quality.  Without the right labeling, your stacks of unused media can become overwhelming and the clutter can make finishing your video next to impossible.

Ok, so let's suppose you want to color-code the clips themselves.  For example if you wanted to use the defaulted labels Final Cut gives you, Good Take, Best Take, Alternate Shots, Interviews, & B Roll, you can go through your clips, right-click on the ones that you definitely want to use and label them all Red, for Best Take.  Note that once you select the type of label you want it appears in the Label Column in your Browser.

labels.gifOk, so let's suppose you have several tapes from a recent family vacation; and let's suppose you have your clips sorted into folders marked Beach, Zoo, Theme Park, Hiking Trail, & Pools.  First of all you can color-code those Folders if you wanted to.  Just right-click on a Folder and go to Labels and pick what color you want that Folder to be.  Now when you open that Folder, you will see that all of the clips in that folder are colored.  So this way, when you are lining up your clips in the Timeline, you can tell what folder that clip came from.

To change those labels, you can go to Final Cut Pro > User Preferences > Labels.  Then you can rename those label colors to whatever you want.

labels2.gifYes, it can be a time consuming task, but to have all of your media organized and labeled can save you a lot of time down the road, not to mention it will be much easier to work with.

When bringing a Photoshop file (psd) into Final Cut Pro, the file will import as a sequence. The layers will be nested as a sequence when placed into another sequence. What this means is that you can double click on the Photoshop file, and it will open as it's own sequence, with each layer occupying it's own track. This gives you the ablity to animate the individual layers. In the case of the psd in the example below, the text layers all come onscreen from different directions, and the other elements all dissolve on over 10 frames on a 5 frame stagger.


Personally I would have  deleted the text layers, and placed a LiveType file overtop. Click here for more information on using Photoshop files in Final Cut Pro.

Transitions in Final Cut Pro can always be edited right within the Timeline, however, if you want to make more precise changes to a transition, or even create your own custom transition, you will want to make use of the Transition Editor.  What exactly does the Transition Editor do?  It's a specialized editor that pops up in the Viewer window when you double-click on a transition in the Timeline.  You can use the Transition Editor to make detailed changes to a transition's timing and effects parameters.  You can change the duration, adjust the alignment, trim the edit point between 2 clips, even reverse the direction of a transition.

GeniusDV team members attended the NAB show in Las Vegas in April, and had this to say about a new application for iPhone and iTouch:

"We all need a download from NAB and that is coming in a few days from Mr. Energy himself, Bob Zelin.  As we wait for that, here's a neat little product that has a lot of "cool" and serves a useful purpose.  ProPrompter for iPhone and iTouch.


Here's how it works:  First you download the ProPrompter application to your iPhone, which you can find at the Apple App store in iTunes for $9.99.


qmaster-distributed-encode.pngIf you have more than one computer in your studio, you might wish that you could tie them together and harness all of their computing power to help make your renders and transcodes faster.  Fortunately, Final Cut ships with the ability to use Apple's QMaster to distribute Compressor jobs between a "cluster" of machines.

Creating and tuning render farms can be a deeply technical task, but, for the casual videographer, Apple's automatic configuration options are easy and effective.  The only requirement is that all computers you want to share should be on the same network.

The Find Feature in Final Cut Pro is a great tool to use when you are looking for certain clips within a really big Timeline, or you have hundreds of clips in your media.  By using the Find feature you don't have to scroll through all the different folders or files to try to find the one you want; you can just search for it.

Make sure the Browser window is the active window; then from the Edit menu, go to Find, or press Cmd+F.


This opens the Find criteria window.  You can search by a specific Project, Effect, or by all Open Projects.  In the For field, you can look in All Media, Used Media, or Unused Media.  Searching All Media searches all media in the Browser; Unused Media will specify and pick out each of the clips you are not using in your Timeline.  Used Media searches all the clips in your Timeline.

findwindow.gifIn the Results field, you can choose Replace Find Results, or Add to Find Results.  Replace Find Results will clear and replace any previous find results with new Find Results.  Add to Find Results will append the results of the current search to the contents of the Find Results window.  This allows you to do several searches and assess the results in one window.

You can click on the More button to specify more search options.  You can type what you are searching for in the box next to the defaulted Contains Field.  For example, if I typed  Fortune Family into the text box, FCP will search media that "contains" the words Fortune Family in it.  Once you have your search criteria chosen and click Find All, your search results will appear in a separate window called Find Results.

Compositing in Final Cut Pro is a process in which 2 or more images are combined into a single frame; the blending or merging of 2 or more video tracks to produce a new image which is a combination of the 2 clips.  Using Composite Modes is essential to being able to design complex visual effects.  In Final Cut Pro, a Composite Mode tells a video layer how to react with a video layer below it.

composite.gifBasic Compositing has you placing a clip on the V1 track and a second clip on the V2 track directly above it.  You then turn on Clip Overlays from the graph icon lower left in the Timeline; this turns on a horizontal black line through your clips in the Timeline.  The overlay lines will default to 100% opacity near the top of the clip.

clipoverlays.gifThe ability to change the opacity of clips and use Keyframes for changing opacity over time is an important compositing tool; but there are many different ways that we can composite 2 clips in Final Cut Pro.

To change a clip's composite mode, go to Modify > Composite Mode and you'll notice a variety of choices, and you'll have to experiment with the different modes since they all do something different.  The important thing to remember is that the composite mode is always changed on the top clip, and it always reacts with the clip directly below it.

compositemodes.gifComposite Modes:

Add:  Combines the color values of the top clips, producing a lighter image

Subtract:  Produces a darker image because color values are subtracted from each other

Difference:  Subtracts colors on V1 from V2

Multiply:  Multiplies the color values of the pixels together, producing a darker image

Screen:  The reverse of Multiply; produces a lighter image

Overlay:  A combination of Multiply and Screen; If the pixel color value is lighter than middle gray, 128 value, then Screen mode is applied.  Where the pixel color value is darker gray, 128 values and under, the Multiply mode is applied making that part of the image darker

Hard Light:  Makes light areas lighter and dark areas darker, leaving a hard edge between light and dark areas

Soft Light:  Works in the same manner as Hard Light only the lighting effect is diffused leaving a softer transition between light and dark

Darken:  Compares the values of the pixels of both clips and selects the darker of the 2

Lighten:  Compares the values of the 2 clips and chooses lighter values

Travel Matte Alpha:  Allows you to composite video inside any shape or graphic, or title that contains an Alpha Channel.

 Travel Matte Luma:  uses the luminance values to determine which areas to key out

Notice there is no direct control over each composite mode; but, by adjusting a clip's opacity using the Clip Overlays you can actively change how a composite mode reacts with the clip below it.

Be sure to check out this tutorial on Compositing for Glass Text

media_composer_mac_book_pro.gifIf you'd like to get a taste of the latest version of Media Composer. Avid Technology now offers a free trial of the Media Composer software.  The software will run on a PC or MAC.

Make sure you review the system requirements to run Media Composer before downloading.

Like in any application, from time to time LiveType will act irregular. A good maintenance practice in LiveType is to Clear your settings when experiencing irregularities. This will often fix whatever issue you are experiencing. To do this, go to the LiveType menu, and select Settings/Clear Settings. This will reset your LiveType preferences back to the defaults, and in the process likely correct any irregularities.


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