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Jeff: July 2010 Archives

When trying to accent a picture in picture effect in Final Cut Pro, there are a number of ways to increase the style of a picture in picture. Everyone has heard the old adage "less is more". The way we might handle a picture in picture scenario. 


The above example shows three different picture in picture scenarios. The first is without any border filter, or any drop shadow. The second has default levels of Basic Border, & Drop Shadow. The third image shows adjusted Basic Border, and Drop Shadow to give the subtle look of a fine border and a light drop shadow. Below are the Filter and Motion tab's after adjusted.


In Final Cut Pro there are five colors that we can Label with. Whether it's clips or sequences, it can be very helpful to have a color code to your organization. Constantly scanning your Browser gets old, and this is a great way to make that process go smoother.


You can apply the different color codes by using the Command + Option +2,3,4,5, or 6, & Command + Option + 1 to remove a color code. You can set up what each color designates in the Label tab of the User Preferences. Until you have your colors memorized, you can go to the Modify menu, and choose  Label. This will show you the various colors, what they designate, and the keyboard shortcut to execute them is. 

When working in Final Cut, there are plenty of times when you need a unique character to use in your project. If you go into the System Preferences, and choose the keyboard category, you can check the box that will give you access to the Character Viewer from the Menu Bar.

Once you have opened the Character Viewer, you can isolate a character you wish to use in your Final Cut project, or any application that uses text. I have inserted Character Viewer characters into Facebook posts before. With your desired character highlighted in the Character Viewer, all you need to do is highlight the location that the text goes in Final Cut, a text item for example, and then select Insert at the lower right corner of the Character Viewer.

When you have more than one sequence open in Final Cut Pro, and you need to switch to a new Current sequence, there is a great keyboard command to accomplish this. Command + Shift + a Bracket key will toggle between the open sequences. The right bracket key will move to the next tab, and the left to the previous tab. The same key commands will toggle between project tabs and the Effects tab in the Browser, as well as the tabs of the Viewer and Canvas. 

Keyboard commands maximize efficiency, and this is a good one. Even better is when used in combination with the key commands of Command + 1,2,3, or 4, to move between the Viewer, Canvas, Timeline, & Browser.
Anytime you can run Final Cut Pro on two monitors you are going to appreciate the added real estate. On the other hand if you use only an external monitor, it will extend the screen life of your MacBook Pro. 

After connecting the external monitor, and launching Final Cut Pro there will be additional Window Layouts available. Depending on the size of your external monitor, you may want to just leave the the standard configuration on the external monitor, and use the MacBook Pro screen as your preview. 


To do this you will want to go into the Display Settings in the System Preferences, and set the menu bar to the external monitor. Once this is done you need only set up the preview in the view menu in Final Cut Pro. I suggest keeping the Finder on the MacBook Pro screen, so when you need to go into the Finder, it will leave the entire Final Cut Pro interface visible. 


There are various ways to ingest media from your Sony EX camera. There is no difference in performance when using the camera vs a card reader, the only difference is the availability of the camera and the speed of transfer. With tape based cameras we tend to avoid ingesting from the camera, to protect the camera. File based cameras are not nearly as sensitive to this, because there is not the same kind of wear and tear. The actual rate of transfer will be the same when connected to a card reader or the camera. To increase transfer speed you can take the SxS card from the camera and insert it into the PCI slot of your laptop, and dramatically improve the ingest time. 

During a recent test of a full 8gb SxS card, 28 minutes of footage, there were significant differences in the transfer time. The fastest was by far using the PCI slot of a laptop. The media was being transferred to an external hard drive from the PCI slot via Firewire 800, and took 2 minutes. When transferring to the the same hard drive via Firewire 800 when connected to the camera's USB port, the transfer took 9 minutes. When connected to the camera's USB port and transferring to the same hard drive, but this time via USB 2.0 the transfer took 12 minutes.

The new 17" MacBook Pro has the required PCI slot for inserting your SXS cards for your fastest transfer rates. The latest models of the MacBook Pro 13" and 15" will require you to use the USB plug on the camera or some other form of transfer hardware.
Apple Compressor will allow users to embed chapter markers. This can be very useful when going into DVD Studio Pro. DVD Studio Pro can be difficult to place chapter markers exactly where you want them, because you are at the mercy of the GOP’s. By embedding chapter markers where you want them in Compressor, you guarantee that they will be where you want them in DVD Studio Pro. Final Cut Pro users will typically embed their chapter markers in Final Cut before outputting. However I know Avid users that have purchased the Final Cut Studio primarily for Compressor and DVD Studio Pro, and embedding chapter markers in Compressor vs DVD Studio Pro would certainly be the better workflow.

To apply a chapter marker in Compressor, simply move the playhead to the frame that you wish to have a chapter marker, and hit the M key to set a marker. Next you can either go to the Modify Marker Settings menu, and choose Edit, or just use the command + E keyboard shortcut, to bring up the Marker Edit Settings. Change the type from Compression to Chapter. You can also give the chapter marker a specific name at this time. Upon encoding with Compressor, and importing into DVD Studio Pro, the chapter markers will appear at the desired location, with the desired name.

One of the most common reasons you might hear beeping during audio playback in the Final Cut Pro Timeline, is that you are playing 44.1K audio in a 48K Sequence. The easy fix is to render the audio, but you are much better to convert the audio before bringing it into the Timeline.

Another issue is that if you have exceeded your system's capability to play back the audio you have in your sequence in real-time, then you will hear beeping when you try to play back your project. If you look under User Preferences in the General tab, you will see options for Real-time Audio Mixing and Audio Playback Quality. The Real-time Audio Mixing value is the number of tracks that Final Cut Pro will playback without having to render. Keep in mind that any filter you add to an audio track counts as an additional audio track. For example, if you had 5 audio tracks, each with 2 filters, then you essentially have created 10 tracks. If you have exceeded the number of tracks set in this option, you will have to render. In the past hardware limitations caused us to set the Real Time Audio Mixing lower than we may want to. Setting the Real Time Audio Mixing at 24 will keep the need to render to a minimum.


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This page is a archive of recent entries written by Jeff in July 2010.

Jeff: June 2010 is the previous archive.

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