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September 2009 Archives

new_image_icon.gifA while back I wrote an article about making copies of DVD's by way of creating disk images.  Today I want to talk about another use for creating disk images; disk images of your software and/or applications.  (Also known as .dmg files)  Have you ever had the unfortunate event where your system completely crashed and you had to reinstall the software?  Or worse yet, realize you have to reinstall the software, but can't find the discs or have lost them completely?  We always talk about backing up our systems, files, and projects, but what about backing up the actual applications?  It's definitely a good idea to purchase an extra external hard drive just for this purpose, especially if you're working with several software applications.

Another scenario:  suppose you're upgrading your applications and have to upgrade several machines, say like in a school computer lab for example.  It could take you literally all day and night to accomplish such a task.  However, if you create disk images before your upgrade, and save them to an external hard drive, then just move the hard drive from computer to computer, you could save so much time and not have to "babysit" your upgrade or install.  Not to mention having to wait on the disk drive to eject and put in the next disk, and having to wait on a slow spinning disk drive.  The disk images will mount and install much quicker than actually doing it yourself.

When rough editing, you don't worry about the exact length of each clip.  You're working from the rough cut to the fine cut, and each time you edit, you're refining.  Final Cut Pro has lots of tools to help you get your work done faster.  Here is one to help you make your selections faster; the Edit Selection Tool.

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The Edit Selection Tool is located directly below the Selection Tool in the Tool Palette and actually consists of 3 separate tools:  The Edit Selection Tool, the Group Selection Tool, and the Range Selection Tool.  You can use the Edit Selection Tool by pressing the G key and click and drag over the ends of a clip to select it, like lassoing the end of a clip.  Suppose you have two clips making an edit on Track 1 and another 2 clips making a edit on Track 2 directly above the clips on Track 1.  You want to adjust the edit points between all of the clips at once.  By using the Edit Selection Tool, you can select the edit points and adjust; it will move both edit points at the same time.

Another way to use the Edit Selection Tool is if you wanted to add a bunch of transitions to stacked clips.  Select the end edit point for all of the clips using the Edit Selection Tool, and press Cmd+T; this adds transitions to every clip at the same time.  Cool.  You can also use the tool for selecting multiple tracks for an extend edit as well.

dvd_studio_pro_icon.gifHave you ever created a DVD where absolutely nothing happens at the end of it?  You shouldn't be; if you notice all the professional DVD's out there on the shelves today, something, happens at the end, whether it jumps back to the beginning of the video, to the Main Menu, to the Special Features menu, something, instead of just a dead end.  End Jumps are basically an assigned element that the user returns to when the current item finishes playing.  If you do not have an end jump link, it will freeze on the last frame played.

The best scenario for setting end jumps in DVD Studio Pro, is by the use of stories in a chapter index.  This way, you'll be able to set an end jump for each individual chapter of your track.  Assuming you already have all of your chapters set within your track, under the Outline Tab, right-click on your Track, and go to Add > Story. 

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This will open up the Story Inspector Palette where you will see the End Jump pull down menu.  Now you can select the Menu you want it to jump to once it comes to the end of the first chapter, for example, a chapter index menu.

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Go back and add as many stories as you have chapters in your track and set your end jumps for each story accordingly.  Once you have all of your End Jumps set, the last step is to link your stories to the buttons in the Chapter Index.

GeniusDV offers a 1 day DVD Studio Pro Class as part of our regular Final Cut Pro class.  You don't have to sign up for the entire week of Final Cut Pro, if you're only interested in brushing up on DVD Studio Pro's skills.  The class is offered usually once a month on the Friday of the Final Cut Pro class schedule.  Call us for current schedule and pricing. 


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I ran into a situation the other day where a client needed a Windows Media file for playback in a PowerPoint presentation on a Windows machine. I edit on a Mac and I am the OS X does not come native with any type of Windows Media codec. You will need to download a plug-in for your Quicktime player that will allow you to export to this codec. The answer is Flip4Mac.
Flip4Mac is a great, free, plug-in provides Windows Media video and audio playback in the QuickTime Player for your Mac OS X. It not only allow you to playback media but it also provides you the abilty to export. It is simple to use and the only requirment you need for export in Quicktime Pro (Standard Quicktime will allow playback only). Simpy open your media in Quicktime and navigate to File>Export>Windos Media File. There are several settings to choose from so choose the one that fits your end user. Download Flip4Mac now so you will be ready when you need to export to the Windows Media Format. 

Requirements for Flip4Mac:

-Intel or PowerPC G4 and G5
-Mac OS X version 10.4 or later
-QuickTime version 7.0 or later
-QuickTime Pro version 7.0 or later (for exporting movies in Player Pro, Studio, Studio Pro and Studio Pro HD)

Ever see those Charles Schwab commercials that look like a cartoon, but you know it somehow came from live video?  It's called Rotoscoping, which is a technique where animators trace over live-action film frame by frame.

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There's a great plug-in called Toon-A-Matic from Sheffield Softworks that can give you that same "cartoon style" effect with a simple filter.  It also has a caricatcure setting that allows you to distort, exaggerate, or minimize features.  The plug-in is compatible with Final Cut Pro 6 & 7.  Once applied, you're able to control Brightness, Line Level, Line Brightness, Line Contrast, Line Saturation, Caricature Level, and Mix to achieve a wide range of "toonish" possibilities.  Just click on the Filters Tab in the Viewer window to adjust the parameters.

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I also used the filter on a still image to get the same effect. 

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Like I always say...try it out and play with it...you might be surprised at some of the cool effects you can create!


expose_icon.gifIt's so annoying.  Forgetting to disable Expose' under your System Preferences settings, that is.  You may travel from computer to computer, workstation to workstation, edit bay to edit bay, and it never fails.  You try hitting one of those favorite keys of yours, like the Insert, Overwrite or Replace keys, only to find your screen going bonkers and splitting into pieces.  And, you forgot how to disable it. 

Expose' can be a useful tool within the Mac OSX, but when working in Final Cut Pro, the Expose' key commands will override a Final Cut Pro key command, and therefore needs to be disabled.  Go to your System Preferences Menu > Expose' & Spaces.

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Where you see F9, F10, F11, & F12 in the pull down menus, change them all to dashes.  This will now ensure your Insert, Overwrite, and Replace key commands to work rather than splitting your interface apart.

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By checking and setting your System Preferences ahead of time you can save yourself a lot of headaches and time down the road!

Be sure to check out these articles for the benefits to using Expose, and actually using Expose to your advantage in Final Cut Studio.

With the introduction of Final Cut Studio 3.0, Apple no longer includes the LiveType application as part of the Final Cut Studio bundle.  I'm guessing this is because many of the features in LiveType can now be accomplished using Apple Motion 4.0. Since LiveType is no longer part of the Final Cut Studio bundle, I thought I'd share a quick exercise that I would normally teach in LiveType.  For you LiveType fans, don't worry, upgrading to Final Cut Studio 3.0 won't erase your old LiveType application.

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Here is a quick tutorial on implementing using the 'Nitro' LiveFont to make a text object explode onto the screen one character at a time.

apple_color_icon.gifColor's secondary rooms offer you a powerful keying tool that isolates region of your image based upon hue, saturation, luminance, or any combination of the three.  They also supply you with "vignette" tools, which allow you to designate specific geometric regions of the image for manipulation.

Conventional motion graphics folks seem to want to use one tool or the other to isolate complex selections from their shots -- and, in my experience, they tend to quickly find themselves fighting Color's limited masking tools and dubious keyframing model.  While tedious manual keyframing really is the only acceptable option in some situations, I quite frequently see budding colorists overlook an easier solution: combine a rough mask with the powerful HSL key.
Using Live Fonts in Motion or LiveType is a popular way to create professional titles with Final Cut Studio. If you have a particular Live Font you like to use often, you can save it as a Template in Motion, and it will appear in Final Cut Pro as a Master Template.

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Have you noticed the new button located next to the linking and snapping buttons yet in the new Final Cut Pro 7?  It's a new toggle for Ripple Sequence Markers.  By default, sequence markers ripple after any ripple edit or insert edit.  After an insert edit, any sequence markers after the insertion point ripple downstream.  After a ripple delete, any sequence markers after the last deleted frame ripple upstream.  You can turn on or off the Ripple Sequence Markers by selecting the new button or deselecting it in the Timeline button bar.

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Before this feature, your sequence markers were fixed on your timeline, so when you deleted part of a clip and closed the gap, your markers wouldn't move with it; kind of a pain; but now with the new option, your markers will ripple when cutting or trimming in your timeline.

Another interesting feature we've noticed about the new markers is now you can move your markers in your sequence by simply Command-Clicking on them and moving them to a new position.  Pretty Cool!

dvdicon.gifOnce you've finished your DVD Studio Pro project, you have to decide how you're going to deliver your final disc.  First of all, how many discs do you need to deliver?  Is your project a wedding video where you might need only 5 copies, a high school football team highlight video of maybe 50 copies, or is it something on a much larger scale like producing training videos for every firestation in the state?  Usually the more common way to go about it is by duplicating a disc with the recordable DVD drive on your computer or a separate stand-alone DVD duplication tower.  The main difference between using the burner on your computer and using a duplication tower is that the tower is a standalone unit that doesn't need software or be hooked up to a computer to make it work.  Using a duplicator is most effective when you are producing quantities of discs of up to about 300. However, one downfall to using this method, is that not all the discs you produce will be compatible with every DVD player there is out there.

Once you realize you need to produce more than about 300 discs, you will want to consider Replication.  This method is more effective when you're producing large quantities of discs, not to mention that by using replication, you will be guaranteed that your discs will work on any DVD player.  That's because replication uses a glass master process at a special facility.  Replication is the highest-quality and most reliable method for producing DVDs, plus the fact that it's really the only method of adding copy protection to your DVDs.  But in most cases it's just impractical since the price per disc is so high.
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After upgrading to OSX 10.6 a.k.a Snow Leopard, it would seem like you don't have Quicktime Pro any longer. The reality of Quicktime in Snow Leopard is that Quick Time Player version 10.0  is installed into the Applications Folder, where we have always expected to find Quick Time. Quick Time Pro version 7.62 is moved into the Utilities Folder within the Applications Folder.

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Assuming that you will have the functionality of Quick Time Pro with the version of Quick Time in the Applications Folder, will make you a bit crazy. I spent 20 minutes today trying to figure out what happened to the Preferences, and Export settings.



stpicon.gifApple Loops allow you to create loops of audio that can fill the duration of a segment you are scoring.  With Apple Loops you can change the tempo, adjust pitch, and layer loops.  You have access to thousands of prerecorded music files that you can easily add drum beats, rhythm parts, melody lines, and other repeating patterns to a song.  Loops contain musical patterns that can be repeated or join several together to create a song  You can also extend a loop to fill any amount of time in a song.

Apple Loops are specially formatted AIF files which contain meta data.  The data tells Soundtrack Pro facts about the file, such as instrument, tempo, key reference, genre and transient points.  You can find your Apple Loops file by following this path:  MacHD > Library > Audio > Apple Loops > Apple > Apple Loops for Soundtrack Pro

There are many other loops available out there whether for purchase or downloaded free from sites such as macloops.com or macidol.com just to name a few.  Now, sometimes these loops that you download will open up just fine right away in Soundtrack Pro, however, most of these files will come in a zipped archive, so let's take a look at how to make these loops available in Soundtrack Pro.


Coming up with original and creative ways to transition from one clip to another in Final Cut Pro is always a challenge. Here is an idea that I came up with on a job recently. First create a 14 frame space between the two clips that you are transitioning between, then add a Color Matte into that space. Now Keyframe the color across the 14 frame Color Matte to go from the dominant color of the outgoing clip to the dominant color of the incoming clip. You may want to change the direction of the Hue Direction Control, to get the look you are going for.

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Color's ColorFX room gets a bum rap from a lot of folks used to "serious" node-based compositing and keying environments, but its native toolset, however limited, can unlock a tremendous new degree of control over Color's extremely powerful color-correction capabilities.

Many of the ColorFX nodes replicate pieces of the functionality exposed in Color's other rooms, except that ColorFX node trees allow you to "mix and match" them in ways far more nuanced than Color's (already-powerful) default workflow.  One of the most useful isolation tools, which you'll use over and over in a typical node tree, is the HSL key.  This node works exactly the same as the HSL key in the Secondary rooms – except that you can use as many of them as you'd like to very precisely isolate portions of your image.

Let's say that your source video looks something like the image below. Ignore the overall color problems – for now, your task is simply to isolate the subject's face, and do something different to it than to the rest of the image.  It could be a skin smooth, a goofy Pleasantville effect – doesn't really matter, we just need to isolate the narrow region corresponding to this particular actor's face in this particular type of footage.

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If you are a user of Apple Motion, you've come to learn how important it is to have the latest and greatest graphics card.  Nvidia has finally come through with the Quadro FX 4800 for Mac.  It doesn't take long to Max--out the standard graphics card(s) that ship with a Mac Pro when running Apple motion. 

I can also imagine a greatly improved performance if you are an After Effects user.  For all you motion graphics artists out there, NVidia has finally answered your prayers!

 

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This is the first graphics card for the Mac Pro that ships with 1.5 GB of video graphics memory.  It requires one PCI Express 2.0 slot, but the card is double wide, which means it will cover over an adjacent slot unless it is installed in the PCI Express slot. 

Although this card is supported with Final Cut Studio and Apple Motion, I noticed it is not listed as a pre-configured option when purchasing a Mac Pro.  This means you'll have to purchase the card seperately.  It also means you'll have to install the card on your own.

Make sure you're system can support this card.  It requires A minimum version of Mac OS X v10.5.7 or higher.  It also requires a Mac Pro with 1066MHz DDR memory or 800MHz DD2 FB-DIMM memory.  The card comes standard with a 3 year warranty with email/phone support.

New to Final Cut Pro 7 is the ability to tell the difference between a Project Tab, and a Bin Tab in the File Browser. In past versions you couldn't tell the difference by just looking at them. At GeniusDV we always taught our students to name your project in all capital letters, so you could tell the difference. For those of you still using previous versions of Final Cut Pro, this is still a good workflow. Everyone using Final Cut Pro 7, you can now just look at your tabs, and see the Final Cut clapper to know which tabs are Project Tabs, and which ones are Bins.

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To turn a Bin into a Tab you need only hold down the Option key, and double click on the Bin. This will add a Bin tab to the File Browser vs opening a new Browser window. Also new to Final Cut Pro 7 is when you color code Bins in the File Browser, and then open them as Tabs, the Tab is colored too.



icons.gifBesides the normal content on a DVD, you can include additional DVD-Rom content to make your DVD more exciting or more versatile, and you can do it right in DVD Studio Pro.  Basically you're adding an extra folder along with the Video_TS folder.  A DVD with DVD-Rom content on it will play normally in a DVD player, but it can also be played on a computer DVD drive to access the additional content.  Adding DVD-Rom content in DVD Studio Pro is relatively easy. 

In your DVD Studio Pro project, click on the Outline Tab, and highlight the disc icon.  You can see the Disc Inspector in the lower right portion of the interface.  At the bottom of the General Tab of the Disc Inspector, you will see the box to check for DVD-Rom content.  Also, check the box for the Joliet Extension Support.  Click Choose, and navigate to the folder you want to include for your DVD-Rom content. 

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Keep in mind when adding DVD-Rom content to your DVD that you watch your file size on the disc meter.  You can also use the DVD-Rom content option for adding High Definition video to a Standard Definition DVD.


The 'Marquee' title tool within Avid Media Composer is a fantastic titling program. In addition to creating stunning 3D titles, you can also use Marquee for other types of effects. Since Marquee is resolution independent, you can import high resolution pictures directly into Marquee without losing any resolution.

 

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Now, you may be asking yourself, why not just use the Avid Pan and Zoom effect that is available within the standard Media Composer effects. Well, Marquee offers the additional benefits of lighting, and true 3D space. This means you can rotate your photos in Z space, and add lighting effects. Better yet, you can have an unlimited number of layers.

This tutorial will give you the basic steps for adding lighting to a picture imported directly into Avid Marquee title tool.

Do you ever have trouble tweaking your still images in Final Cut Pro, or worse yet, not tweak them at all?  Last night I viewed a slide show for a friend (who is an amateur) that had several of these vertical images with the white showing on either side.  At the very least, if he did nothing else to improve his slideshow, he could figure out a way to utilize that space on either side of his vertical images.  I'm going to show you what I mean.  Here is an example of just one way to work with this image. 

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As an editor I find one of the most useful functions in Final Cut Pro to be the Match Frame function. When you're moving through a sequence, Match Frame can really keep a good flow going. Instead of having to go look for a clip, we can use Match Frame to load a previous reference of the desired clip into the viewer.
 
By parking over a clip in the timeline, and performing a Match Frame, Final Cut will load the original source clip into the viewer. The name Match Frame comes from the fact that Final Cut will match the exact frame the playhead is at in the timeline, to the frame the playhead is at once it is loaded into the Viewer. In addition to matching the frame, Final Cut will also set the in and out point in the Viewer with the corresponding in and out point from the clip in the Timeline. Once the Source Clip is loaded into the Viewer, you can set new in and out points and bring a new reference into the Timeline. In other words if I have a 30 second clip, and I use the first 5 seconds as a clip in my sequence, then load 3 different clips into the Viewer. Now I can Match Frame the 5 second clip into the Viewer, and choose the last 5 seconds as a new clip. This may sound confusing, but it is without a doubt one of the most useful functions in Final Cut Pro. It is not the same as double clicking on a clip in the timeline to load it in the Viewer, because if you set new in and out points in the Viewer it will change the clip in the Timeline.

To perform a Match Frame all you have to do is park over a clip in the Timeline, and hit the "F" key. If you are not using the Match Frame function now try adding it into your workflow, you will be glad you did.

Here is another scenario that the Match Frame function can save you time and frustration. You bring a clip into your sequence without the attached audio. Down the road you decide you need the audio. Instead of trying to figure out the in and out points so the audio you bring in matches up with the video that is already there, you just press one key ("F") and then bring the matching audio right in.
Final Cut Studio ships with a software product called Motion.  Within Motion, you can create motion graphic templates.  These templates show up automatically in the Generator menu under the Master Templates menu category.  Each template contains a different design that you can alter in terms of changing the text, text size, text position, and video content.

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eggs2.gifWhat do Easter Eggs and DVD's have in common?  We're obviously not talking about the traditional easter egg here, although the term in the DVD world does come somewhat from the tradition of "hunting eggs".  An Easter Egg is an intentional hidden feature of sort in a DVD left by the author.  Some examples of hidden easter eggs can be deleted scenes, outtakes, concept art, actors' interviews, etc, none of which are included in your normal advertised special features. 

In DVD Studio Pro you create Button Highlight Markers over a video track using the subtitle function.  As a viewer watches the track, they are presented with a graphic (for example an Easter Egg) for a small period of time.  When they see the graphic, they can hit the enter key on their DVD remote, which will take them to the secret special feature. You may want to explain what the viewer is supposed to do when the "egg" comes up, or you may want to let them figure it out.  Once the special feature is over, the movie can jump back to where they left off.  I'll put this in another example of a real-world situation.  You are making a training video for the local fire department.  During the video you have an "easter egg" (probably more like a Fire helmet) where they can press enter, which takes them to a 2 minute segment of a real flood rescue they've filmed, to show as an example of what the video is talking about at that point.  After the 2 minute segment is over, the video automatically jumps to where they left off before.  If they don't press enter at the time the "egg/helmet" is presented, the video just continues as normal.


You know how in some movies the actor is looking at an older film from the 60's or 70's and it has those black spots flickering throughout and maybe some vertical lines and the color is just totally off?  Well have you ever wondered if that's actual footage from the time, or if that's somehow computer generated?  Probably the latter in most cases; and here's a cool filter that can help you achieve that same look.  It's a free plug-in from CGM.

agedlookfilter.gifJust go to the website, and download CGM Aged Film LE v2.5.7.  Make sure you are putting your Plug-Ins in the right place.  When installing your plug-ins, follow this path:

HD > Library > Application Support > Final Cut Pro System Support > Plugins

This way the plug-ins will be available to any user who opens Final Cut Pro on your computer.  Don't forget that once you've installed the plug-ins, they're not just gonna show up in your Effects Tab right away; you'll have to restart Final Cut Pro in order for the application to recognize them.

Have you heard about this new "app" for the iPhone, FCP shortcutz?  It's like having a mobile cheat sheet in your pocket, or a quick reference guide at your fingertips for all Final Cut Pro editors.  FCP shortcutz categorizes and lists all of the Final Cut Pro Keyboard shortcuts.  It even includes a few shortcuts that Apple hasn't published.

fcpshortcutz.gifImagine working on-location in an edit bay that's not normally yours...your workstation back home might have sticky notes with shortcut tips on the wall or you may have a reference book sitting at your desk; but working in an unfamiliar surrounding, you're wishing you had memorized some of those quick key commands.  Now you don't have to worry; you have all those shortcuts right in your pocket!  Well worth the 99 cents, and I'm sure other editors will agree.
A marker is a marker, right?  Not so in Final Cut Pro; Chapter Markers, Compression Markers, Scoring Markers, Sequence Markers, Clip Markers, and the list goes on.  How do you keep them all straight?  Well I had to do a little research myself, but here is what I found out about Markers:

First of all, basically a marker, is a reference point that you can place within clips or sequences to identify specific frames.  You can use them for so many different things, and you can export them with your finished project.  Markers can be used for making comments, synchronizing multiclips, adding DVD chapters, and even making subclips.  Usually, markers are placed only on a specific frame, but you can also create a marker with a longer duration.

The biggest thing to understand when using markers is the difference between Sequence Markers and Clip Markers.  You add markers to a clip when you want to make note about something in the clip.  You can add markers to a sequence if you want to mark specific points say for example, in the audio track, or if you want to use them to snap the playhead to a specific point when performing an edit.  Another reason to add markers to sequences is so you can add compression markers and DVD chapter markers. 

The difference between the two, Clip Markers and Sequence Markers, visually, in the Timeline is Clip Markers are Pink, Sequence Markers are Green.  Clip Markers can be added and seen in the Viewer along with in the Timeline, whereas, Sequence Markers can be added and seen in the Canvas and/or in the Timeline.  Markers can be added, deleted, and commented on at any point while you are editing.

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Other types of Markers: 

  • Our default marker is the Note Marker.  This is the marker that is created when you add a marker to a clip or a sequence.
  • Chapter Markers automatically become DVD chapter markers to be used in DVD Studio Pro
  • Compression Markers can be added to tell Compressor or DVD Studio Pro that it should generate an MPEG1-frame during compression.  You want to add these where there is an abrupt visual change from one frame to the next within a clip, to improve MPEG compression.
  • Scoring Markers are used to make visual cues to sync music to and can be exported to Soundtrack Pro
  • Audio Peak Markers, when you have them activated, can show you where in your clips that the audio level should be reduced at that point.
  • Long Frame Markers can be added if your clip has long frames that you might want to avoid using in your sequence.
Ok, so how are we adding these markers to our clips or sequences?  That's super-easy...it's distinguishing the differences that can get tricky.  We add markers to clips or sequences by hitting the "M" key.  To name your markers or add comments to them, simply hit the "M" key twice to open the Edit Marker Window.  Within the Edit Marker Window you can Name your marker, write a comment about it, change it's duration, and tell Final Cut if it is to be used as a Chapter Marker, Compression Marker, or Scoring Marker.  If you don't name your markers, the first marker you add is named Marker 1; the second is Marker 2, and so on.

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It's important to know there is more than one way to add markers.  Although, I myself, prefer to use the M key, you can also go to the Mark Menu > Markers and add them from there. 

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You can also add markers in the Viewer & Canvas windows by pressing the Marker button shown here

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Now, when adding Chapter, Compression, and Scoring Markers, they can only be used for sequences; when exporting them to Compressor, DVD Studio Pro, or Soundtrack Pro, make sure these markers have been added to the sequence itself in the Timeline ruler and not in individual clips.  In other words, only your green markers in your Timeline are going to be exported when you specified what kind they were in the Edit Marker window; none of your pink markers will be exported.

What if I added a marker, and didn't mean to?  Simple, just place your playhead on the marker you want to delete, press the M key to bring up the edit window again, and click on Delete.  You can do this from the Timeline, Viewer, or the Canvas.  What if I want to delete all of the markers I've added to a clip or a sequence?  Go to the Mark menu > Markers > Delete All.

Now with the latest version of Final Cut Pro 7, you can even color-code clip and sequence markers of your own.

editmarkernew.gifYou can add notes while the clip is playing and when you export your marker list, your custom names are exported also.
 


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This page is an archive of entries from September 2009 listed from newest to oldest.

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