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Final Cut Pro 7: April 2009 Archives

The Time Remap Function in Final Cut Pro allows you to make the speed of a clip variable, either sped up or slowed down or both.  Variable speed allows you to create sophisticated motion effects in which subjects appear to smoothly shift across a variety of different speeds; kind of like the effects in the Matrix movie.  With Time Remapping you can show a punch being thrown at fast speed and the impact being slowed down to emphasize the force at which it was thrown. 

It's important to know that with Time Remap, the duration of a clip does not change.  If a clip is 20 seconds long, no matter how many times you speed it up, slow it down, reverse, and etc, the time for the clip will always be 20 seconds.

You can find the Time Remap tool in the Motion Tab in the Viewer Window.  Double-click on a clip in the Timeline to load it into the Viewer.  Select the Motion Tab and twirl down the disclosure triangle next to Time Remap; you will see that the default for Setting is Constant Speed.  You will also see that there are 2 keyframes, which act as anchor points at the beginning and the end of the clip.  It is the angle of the green keyframe line that determines both the speed of the motion of the clip, and the direction that the clip runs, either forward or reverse.


What is the difference between Unlimited RT and Safe RT in Final Cut Pro?  RT refers to Real-Time or Real-Time Effects.  Real-Time Effects are effects that can be applied to clips in an edited sequence and played back in real time without requiring rendering first.  In Final Cut Pro, you have Real-Time Playback options, which allows you to control the quality of Real-time playback.

Safe RT assures that no frames are dropped during playback, although you will have to render before you can playback.  Unlimited RT will play as many frames as possible, and allows you to play more effects but will also increase the possibility of dropping frames.  Sometimes it's best to use Unlimited RT when using Motion or LiveType with complex effects or composites.

You find the RT options in the RT pop-up window in the upper left corner of the Timeline.  Click on the arrow and it will give you the Safe RT and Unlimited RT options.

RT.gifJust remember to be sure that you're rendering everything that needs it, set your sequence for Safe RT; that will force you to render everything that needs it based on your processor power, but it still doesn't guarantee that you won't drop frames due to a slow media disk.

What really matters is which is important to you?  Visual playback quality, or the number of effects that can be played back in real-time.

The Flop Filter is a neat little feature you can use in Final Cut Pro.  It allows you to "flop" a clip vertically, horizontally, or even both.  It flops the image so the contents are reversed left to right.  A word of caution though, using the flop filter doesn't always work out the way you want it to, especially if there is writing involved, such as a sign in the background, or a logo on a T-shirt.  Flopping an image like that would be a huge blunder because the words would appear backward.  So be careful what you are flopping!

Color Correction is basically a process of evening out the color of clips in a project so that all the shots match.  Color Correction is usually one of the last steps in finishing a project.  The 3-Way Color Corrector tool in Final Cut Pro gives you precise control over the look of every clip by adjusting the Color Balance, Black Levels, Midtones, and White Levels. 

The 3-Way Color Corrector Filter individual color controls for highlights, shadows, and midranges of the color spectrum.  Which means that you can adjust the brighter areas of an image without affecting the darker parts.  You can also tell the color corrector to correct a specific range of colors. 

To find the 3-Way Color Corrector go to the Video Filters Tab under the Effects Menu.  There you will see the Color Correction Tab > Color Corrector 3-way


The Superimpose Edit feature in Final Cut Pro is an edit that overlays one or more tracks of video so they play at the same time.  You can use Superimpose for a number of things, for example, to overlay titles and text onto video as well as to create other compositing effects.  You can use the Superimpose edit when creating Alpha Mattes.

The Superimpose button is hidden underneath the Replace button in the Canvas Window.  Hold down your mouse button on the Replace button until a subset of new buttons appears.  You can then click the Superimpose button. 

Managing Render Files in Final Cut Pro is like housecleaning; it can be a tedious job, but needs to be done on a regular basis, and once it is done, your "house" runs better.  You have more space to work and play, you are able to find things easier, and it's like starting with a clean slate again.  So what is managing Render Files all about?  Well let's start out with a little background on what the actual Render Files are.

Render Files are files that Final Cut Pro creates when you render transitions, effects, and multilayer composites in a sequence.  They are stored on your hard drive automatically based on your scratch disk settings.  Separate folders are created for both video and audio renders.  Render files can accumulate quickly, so it's important to manage or delete these files in order to maximize your disk space.  Usually it is safe to delete all of the render files when you are finished with a project, since they are just sitting there taking up space.  If you do delete them all without meaning to, worst-case scenario is, you'll just have to re-render everything.

Ok, so where are these Render Files kept?  Final Cut Pro stores them in a folder named Render Files.  By default this folder is kept in a folder named Final Cut Pro Documents, located and specified on the scratch disk.  Inside the Render Files folder, Final Cut generates a folder for each project with render files in it.  To see your Scratch Disk settings, you can go to System Settings under the Final Cut Pro menu bar, and click on the first tab labeled Scratch Disks.


Vector Shapes is a simple shape generator, perfect for all kinds of creations, such as, text backgrounds.  Vector shapes are also a great way to create a solid to a transparent shape, with all kinds of options for adding edges, or even animating them. Vector shapes are different because they come prebuilt on a transparent background.  Solid shapes are sometimes important for elements that you need to mask out, like a person's face.  Vector shapes are excellent for creating masks and highlighting areas of a video image.

We find the Vector Shapes under Boris in the Generators menu at the bottom of the Viewer window.  You can then click on the Controls Tab to see the many controls that allow for independent control of the shape's color, border, and shadow.

vectorshapes.gifAt the top of the Controls Tab is an option for the shape, whether it's rectangular or circular.  You can also add borders and even animate them on or off.  The borders can be animated to draw onto the screen by adding keyframes for border begin and end.  Also in the Controls Tab is a Shape Fill section; use the opacity slider to make the shape more or less transparent.  You can change the shape's color or uncheck fill on to change to be completely transparent.  You can also add a drop shadow to the shape.

controls.gifYou can learn more about using custom shapes in one of our Color Classes.

Frame Offset is when external video and audio going to the built-in firewire port or a third party interface appears to be several frames behind the video you are watching on your computer screen.  No matter what signal format you use for external monitoring, all digital video and audio interfaces introduce processing delays to signals sent out of the computer.  This offset is also known as latency. 

You can compensate for the delay by changing the frame offset value in Final Cut Pro.  Frame offset is active only when your sequence real-time effects are handled by Final Cut.  To change your Frame Offset, go to System Settings, and then click on the Playback Control Tab.  You will see that the default setting for Frame Offset is at 4.  Enter an amount in whole frames between 0-30; set this value according to how many frames your external audio/video is off from your display.  Click OK when finished.

playbacktab.gifIt is important to note that changing the Frame Offset changes how long Final Cut Pro delays displaying video and audio to your computer and not output sent through your firewire port.

When you have more than one software update to install on your Mac, there is one very important rule to follow; if there is an OS update always uncheck all other updates but the OS and install it by itself.  Why?  Because other softwares depend on an updated OS in order to run their particular update.  By installing the updated OS first you make sure that none of the other software updates are accidentally installed before the OS.  This has been known to happen.  It's also a good idea to run any Java updates independently as well.


When editing in Final Cut Pro, there is never a right or wrong way to work with the application; it's finding a way that works best for you.  There's so many different ways in Final Cut to accomplish the same task; but sometimes we can find shortcuts to get there and optimize our workflow.  One of those features is the Add Edit function. 

The Add Edit feature is one of the most valuable editing tools when it comes to working with Final Cut Pro.  You can use the Add Edit feature to add edit points to your sequence as you play along.  They'll look like markers as you add them, then when you stop playback they will automatically turn into edit points.  You can use the add-edit function to place edit points based on a voiceover track; then you can place clips into the spaces that you've created. 

Let's assume you are making a 30 second commercial for an example.  You will start by editing the voiceover track onto A1.  Turn on the audio waveforms for the clips within the Timeline layout menu; click the audio waveforms option.  Using the audio waveform is essential when placing edit points.  You can use the audio waveform to help you decide where to place the edit points because it will be obvious where certain words of dialog appear.

Are you working with 2 or more monitors in Final Cut Pro?  For some Mac users, it is a must.  It may take a while to get used to using 2 screens, but once you do, you'll never go back!  Especially when working with large projects, it's great having the Browser on a full screen.  Dedicating a full monitor to a larger browser or larger timeline makes working with large projects and many Bins or elaborate multi-track timelines so much easier.

Ok, so how do we set up our Dual Monitors in Final Cut Pro?  First of all, there are many different options and configurations.  We know we can arrange our window layout to our preferences by going to the Window Menu > Arrange > Save Window Layout.  You can drag the window you want to move over into the 2nd monitor.

Within the Final Cut Pro File Browser, there are 36 columns, and another 36 you can add if you desire. Everyone is always tempted to add the thumbnail column, personally I think it adds too much real estate. Often there are a number of columns you never use and could stand to remove from the default view. You can also rearrange the order of the columns to get the columns set the way that best works for you. Once you come up with a column layout you prefer, control/right click at the top of any column to save it. It is a great practice to save it to your iDisk.


Ever wonder what iDisk is and what you can do to utilize it?  iDisk is a service offered by Apple to MobileMe members that enables them to store digital photos, movies, and files online so they can be accessed remotely.  Think of it as your own personal jump drive on the net that you can use to transfer files; your own online storage space that you can access from anywhere at anytime.  It also allows you to share files with anyone publicly.

Ok, so you have to have a MobileMe account.  In my opinion, money well spent.  Why?  Because between my iPhone, iMac, and Macbook, I can sync together my email, iCal, address book, pictures, projects and files.  So when I'm traveling, and I need a Word doc from my computer at home, and lost my tiny little jump drive, I can still access it from anywhere since I have it all synced up to my MobileMe account.  Currently, a MobileMe account is $99 a year, which gives you 20GB of online storage, and if that's not enough, you can purchase additional storage.   Essentially it's a great backup to have.  You can even sign up for a free 60 day trial if you're not quite sure.

iDisk can be a great benefit to Final Cut Pro users.  If you are editing a project with another person, or at two different locations, you can save your project to your iDisk, and another editor can pick it up where you left off, or you can have access to your project at work and at home.  Another way Final Cut Pro users can benefit from the iDisk is to save your keyboard layout, Button Bars, and Window layouts to the iDisk.  This way if you are ever editing in someone else's studio you have access to your Final Cut preferences.

Once you have an account you need only sync your MobileMe account to your Mac. Open System Preferences, and click on the MobileMe icon. If you are running Tiger, you will see a .Mac icon.

idisk3.gifHaving the Sync On enables you to keep hard copies of your files on your computer on your iDisk.  For example, when you're on an airplane, you can still have access to your files even though you are not connected to the internet.

Drop Shadows in Final Cut Pro are basically an effect that creates an artificial shadow behind an image, typically used with graphics and text.  A drop shadow is put behind your object to make it look more 3-dimensional.   Why do I need a drop shadow, you're wondering?  Adding a drop shadow to your titles or graphics gives them a sense of depth; it really helps the graphic pop out of the screen.

You will find the Drop Shadow function in the Motion Tab in the Viewer window.  To add a drop shadow to a clip:  Double-click in your clip to load it into the Viewer.  Click on the Motion Tab.  Click on the Drop Shadow check box to activate.  Twirl down the triangle to show the drop shadow controls.  You can change the parameters to affect how your drop shadow looks.

When working in Final Cut Pro, have you ever come across something that looks like this?

medoff.gifMedia Offline means if you modify, move, or delete your media files on disk, the clips in your project lose the connection to the media files and they become offline, or unavailable.  An offline clip has a red slash through its icon in the Browser.  In the Timeline, the clip looks black or white with a "Media Offline" message in the Canvas.  In order to be able to see these clips in your project, you need to reconnect the clips to their corresponding media files at their location on the disk.

The Autosave Vault in Final Cut Pro is a folder that the application uses to save backup.  Final Cut Pro saves separate copies of your project to a certain location on your hard drive.  So if the power goes out, and you yourself did not occasionally save your project (by pressing Command+S) you would have to go to the Autosave Vault to find your autosaved copies.  This is the reason you should always leave the Autosave Vault turned on.

Normally the Autosave Vault is located under
 Users > Username > Documents > Final Cut Pro Documents > Auto Save Vault
Final Cut Pro users sometimes forget about this handy little feature; the Voice Over Tool.  The Voice Over Tool lets you record a single audio track directly onto a sequence while you watch it.  It's a great way if you want to provide an Editor's Commentary for a client.  You can use the built-in audio input on your computer, or any compatible USB audio mixer and microphone.  You can also monitor the sequence audio while you record.  A company called Digidesign makes an excellent device called an MBOX that provides professional-style XLR audio inputs.  The box connects to your computer through a USB cable, and you can plug your microphone into the MBOX.  You will have to install drivers for the box, but once you have, your input source settings will automatically appear in the input box.  The hardware and drivers must be connected before opening up Final Cut Pro

It's important to know, when using the Voice Over Tool, that the audio track is saved in the Capture Scratch.  Once you have made the hardware connections, you can find the Voice Over Tool under Tools > Voice Over.  To use the tool, you only have to press the red button to start the recording process.  You will need to set the duration you are recording and the target audio track in the sequence.  To set the Duration, you can set an In & Out point in the timeline.  For DV media, audio should always be set to 48K.  48K audio is an industry standard for DV media.  Therefore, in the Voiceover tool make sure you set your recording to 48K instead of the defaulted 44.1

voiceovertool2.gifSome editors like to lay a voice over track first and then edit to it.  This style is fine for some, but it is important to know that you have to have something on the video track in order to use the Voice Over Tool; it will not record on a blank timeline.  It also will not record past the end of a clip or a gap between 2 clips.  In this case just insert a slug on the video track and drag it out for the duration you plan on making your clip.   If you make a mistake in your recording, you can just trim back the track to where your mistake was and you are able to hear the last 5 seconds of your recording.

These days the YouTube Phenomenon has exploded, in my opinion.  Every time I look on my teenager's computer, he's watching something new on YouTube.  How can I get my videos on YouTube, you ask?  Well, let me first point out that the picture quality is less than optimal, especially when most of it looks like it's come from a cell phone.  Plus the fact that your video is going to be recompressed and transcoded into another format altogether.  The most popular codec is MPEG-4.  Let's assume you already have a sequence edited and ready to go.

  •   First start out by setting an In & Out point in the timeline if you are only exporting a portion of your sequence; Otherwise, you can export your entire sequence.
  •   Next, go to File > Export > Using QuickTime Conversion
  •    When the Save window comes up, go to Format, and choose MPEG-4

  •   Give your movie a filename, and make sure your extension is labeled as .mp4
  •   Also make sure you've selected the correct place you want to save to (Desktop, or an external Hard Drive)
  •   Click Save.  Be patient! The conversion process can be slower than average and is dependent on processor speed.  G4 machines are much slower, and newer Intel Power Macs are faster; but regardless, it's worth the wait since the image quality can't be beat for the small filesize
It's also important to know that your compression settings can be tweaked in order to produce a higher quality output.  By selecting the Options button (to the right of the Format selection) you can change the Video, Audio, and Streaming settings.   Although there are many different "recipes" sometimes you just have to experiment with it to get the right one that works for you.

Last week, I wrote a blog about Timecode Breaks, which made me think about another subject regarding Timecode.  Even though they're not really related, I wanted to share a trick someone showed me awhile back to show the timecode over your video. 

I recently edited an event for a client who was very specific about what she did and did not want in her video.  So, to begin with, I applied a Timecode Generator Filter to her footage.  That way she could review the footage and make notes of exactly where she wanted cuts, what she wanted to use, and what she wanted to not use.

Incidentally, you might also want to check out an article about creating a visible countdown timer for Final Cut Pro.

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This page is a archive of entries in the Final Cut Pro 7 category from April 2009.

Final Cut Pro 7: March 2009 is the previous archive.

Final Cut Pro 7: May 2009 is the next archive.

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