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Final Cut Pro X multi camera editing

Final Cut Pro X has a multicam feature that makes it easy to assemble a show that uses multiple cameras.  This  video lesson focuses on the fundamentals of using the multicamera feature within Final Cut Pro X.  Learn how to sync your cameras automatically based on audio analysis!

fcpx_training.pngFirst, navigate to the Final Cut Pro menu and choose preferences.  Then click on the playback preferences button.

Playback Preferences.png

For smooth playback during multicam editing, you may want to reference proxy media. Optimized media requires less processing power, and may provide for a better editing experience when using the angle viewer.

Please note, The Use Proxy Media option will only work if you've already created proxy media files.  Otherwise, your media will appear offline.

If you choose to reference proxy media, make sure you switch back to the original media when you're done with your multicam edit.  If you're not familiar with the process of creating proxy media, I have a great tutorial that will work you through the steps of transcoding media within Final Cut Pro X.

The first step is to synchronize the camera angles.  To keep things simple, here are four clips, and each clip represents one camera angle. Highlight all the camera angles within the Event Browser.  Then, right click on one of them and choose new multicam clip from the contextual menu.

new multicam clip.png

Okay, you’ll see all sorts of options for organizing and labeling your camera angles.  The first step is to give your multi-clip a name.   Now for must of us, leave these first two menu options set to automatic.  

Name Multicam Clip.png

But if you’re curious, the angle assembly refers to how each angle is going to be labeled or named.  The angle clip ordering menu refers to how clips appear within the angle editor.

Again, these options aren’t that big a deal if you are learning the multicam editing interface for the first time.

The most important menu is the angle synchronization.  It tells Final Cut X how to synchronize your camera angles.

Angle Syncronization Menu.png

  • The first choice is to synchronize by timecode.  This requires that all the cameras are genlocked together with the same exact timecode. For most of us, unless you have a high end budget, this may not be a realistic option.
  • This next choice is, Content Created.  This uses the built in clock on your video camera, meaning the time of day.  Now, keep in mind this method is only accurate within one second, since there’s no way to set a fraction of a second when configuring your camera’s clock.
  • You can also synchronize everything to the start of the first clip, meaning Final Cut Pro will use the first frame in each camera angle as the sync point.
  • Or, you can add a marker at a specific point for each clip.  Final Cut Pro will use the markers to synchronize the selected clips.

Okay, a quick note about markers.  So for example, I’ll use this frame when the girl jumps high into the air.

add marker.png

A marker can be added to a clip by pressing the M key on the keyboard.  Using markers to synchronize camera angles can be bit of a guessing game if you don’t have a specific frame of reference to match up each camera.  

And, as you can see, I may get lucky here and it looks like I can find an exact reference point for all four camera angles.

four markers.png


As long as you have a good frame of reference, using markers is an excellent way to sync up all your cameras. So, these cameras should be in sync if I choose to synchronize using markers that I’ve set for each clip.  If you are certain you were able to find an exact reference point for all your camera angles, go ahead and uncheck use audio for synchronization.  Then, press they okay button to create a multicam Clip.

A multicam clip will then appear within the Event Browser. 

multicam clip.png

Double click on it to open up the Angle Editor window within the timeline. The Angle Editor gives you a visual view of how your clips are synchronized.

Marker Syncronization.png

Final Cut Pro will shift the clips so they are all in sync based on the position of the markers that you’ve set.  And as you can see, if I park the skimmer over each marker, these camera angles appear to be in sync.

And what’s cool, if you need to, you can move the individual camera angles if you discover a particular camera is out of sync.

Within the angle editor, you can also re-arrange the angle order.

The top layer refers to angle 1, and the next layer refers to angle 2, and so on.

This is important if you plan on using your keyboard to switch angles.

You can specify which angle to view while playing through the angle editor by clicking on the video monitor icon for a specific angle.

You can also choose which audio tracks to monitor by clicking on the audio monitor icon.

video-audio monitoring.png

Okay, let me back up a bit, and demonstrate another way to syncronize your camera angles.

For most of us, I recommend using the automatic settings and using the audio from each camera to synchronize your clips.  Of course, this requires that each camera has recorded audio along with the video.

automatic_syncronization_setings.png

When you press okay, Final Cut Pro will begin its analysis of the audio from each camera.  After it’s done, double click on the multicam clip to review the results.

This opens the angle editor. To demonstrate, I’m going to change the clip appearance view to display the audio waveforms of each clip.

audio waveforms.png

And as you can see, the waveforms for each camera look very similar, and Final Cut Pro has used that information to move the camera angles into sync.  The audio synchronization feature is by far the easiest method of synchronizing camera angles.

A quick side note, when performing multi-cam shoot, some cameras may be further away from the main sound source than others. This may result in certain cameras being out of sync by a frame or two.  That’s because of the minute difference in time for the sound to travel to each camera.

Okay, now that you’ve synchronized the camera angles, it’s time to perform a multi-cam edit.

If the angle editor is still visible navigate to the upper left corner of the timeline window and click on the left arrow to go back to your empty project.


left_arrow.png

Edit the multicam clip from the Event Browser to the primary storyline.  Next, navigate to the window menu and choose show angle viewer.

Now, depending on your screen resolution, you may want to drag on the left side of the angle viewer to increase its size. The default layout of the angle vieweris set to show four camera angles.

resize angle viewer.png


In the upper left corner of the angle viewer, you’ll see three icons.

switching_video_audio.png

The first icon tells Final Cut Pro to change video and audio together when changing cameras.  When you click on a camera angle using both video and audio, a yellow frame will appear around the camera angle that you click on.

Switch Audio and Video Together.png

Also, notice how the clip in the timeline shows the name of the camera angle that you’ve selected.

The next icon tells Final Cut Pro to change just the video content.  When you are changing only the video content, a blue frame will appear around the angle that that you click on.

switch video only.png

Note: For most of us switching video only is probably the most common option.  This means you will be switching the video synced to the camera that contains the master audio. Or, perhaps you have another clip that contains the master house audio.

Clicking on the last icon will change just the audio content.  If you choose to change the audio content, you’ll see a green frame around the camera angle.

Okay, for most projects, it makes sense to use one master camera for your main audio source, and then cut between different video sources.

Therefore, I’ll enable video-only switching for this demonstration.

So now, all you need to do is play through your timeline and click on the camera angle that you want to cut to.

It’s that easy!

Now, don’t worry, if you decide you want to switch to a different camera angle after you’ve performed your multicam edit, all you need to do is park over the clip you want to change, and hold down the option key.

Then click on the angle that you’d like to switch to.  

Final Cut Pro will automatically replace the content for you.  Okay, now you’ve got the basics of performing a multicam edit.

And don’t forget, GeniusDV also offers classroom or onsite Final Cut Pro X training.

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