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Final Cut Pro Capturing


Before capturing media into Final Cut Pro, you need to assemble all of your source videotapes. Videotapes can consist of a variety of formats.

To avoid any confusion, Final Cut Pro makes it easy to configure the settings for your video format. Navigate to the Final Cut Pro Menu - Easy Setup.


You will see common settings for DV, HDV and HD formats. *If you don't see your format listed, click on the 'Show All' button. This will list all the supported formats that you can bring into Final Cut Pro.

This tutorial assumes you will be capturing into Final Cut Pro via a firewire cable. All of the steps are exactly the same, regardless of what format of videotape you have. However, you need to be aware that if you are capturing material that is not of DV format, an additional capture card will be needed in your computer.

This tutorial also assumes that you will be controlling your camera (in terms of shuttling through tape) through a firewire cable connection. Many consumer and professional decks do not include firewire as a controllable option. Final Cut Pro does support RS 422 controllable tape machines. To use this option, you will need to purchase a USB to serial adapter, and also a serial to RS 422 cable.

For a list of common capture cards, visit Apple's web site at www.FinalCutPro.com.


One minute of DV video is equivalent to 216 MB (megabytes) of storage. Or 1 gigabyte of storage equals about 5 minutes of DV video.

Final Cut Pro supports optional capture cards that allow you to capture from higher quality tape machines that are not DV. If you are using one of these an optional capture card, your storage requirements can be much higher. An 8-bit uncompressed frame is about 700k per frame. This means that just one second of material will use 42 MB!

Some capture cards require even higher storage requirements. Examples of these would be cards that capture at 10 bit uncompressed or in high definition format.


If you are using the mini-DV tape format with Final Cut Pro , there are a couple of very important things you should take into consideration.

DV timecode is known as DV time. It always starts at 00:00:00. One problem with the Mini-DV format is the timecode will reset to zero again if the camera operator does not record at the end of a previous shot. This can cause havoc with the capturing process if the timecode numbers on the tape keep jumping back to 00:00:00.

If you plan on re-purposing or re-capturing your clips at a later time, it is extremely important that the timecode numbers on the tape run consecutively. Otherwise it will be difficult to reassemble your show back into Final Cut Pro.


Professional audio CDs support an audio sample rate of 44.1k (44,100 samples per second). DV cameras are usually set to record an audio sample rate of 48k (48,000 sample per second)

When outputting a sequence from Final Cut Pro, it is recommended that the audio sample rates for all the clips to be 48k. Fortunately, Final Cut Pro will perform the conversion for you. This requires extra processing power. If you are working with the DV format, it is recommended that you convert all of your audio to 48k before importing them into the browser window.

I have seen some cameras that default to 12 bit audio (32k audio). I do not recommend using 32k audio for use within Final Cut Pro. Some cameras allow you to manually change the default audio sample rate. Make sure it is set to 48k. Check your camera settings prior to shooting.


To open the log and capture menu, navigate to the File | Log and Capture menu.

If Final Cut Pro does not detect a video signal, you will see color bars with preview disabled in the viewing area. In addition, if your tape machine does not support firewire or RS422 control, you will not have any machine controls at the bottom of the log and capture window.

Even if you do not have machine controls, you can still capture media from this window, as long as you are supplying a video signal into Final Cut Pro.


Even if you do not have machine controls, you can still capture media from this window, as long as you are supplying a video signal into Final Cut Pro.

This graphic shows the log and capture window. Notice the three separate tabs that include your logging, clip, and capture settings.

Each tab represents its own window.



Before capturing it is important to understand the different tabs within the log and capture window. Remember, these tabs can be torn off, just like any other tabbed window.



The capture tab shows the type of device control being used and the type of video input. In this case, we are using a firewire connection for our device control.

One of the most important organizational features of Final Cut Pro is specifying where captured media is going to be stored.



The scratch disks button will allow you to set the path for where your digitized media will be stored. Clicking on it will reveal the scratch disks dialogue box. At the top of the box, you can manually set where your video, audio and render files are stored.


You should form a habit of always checking the scratch disks dialogue box. Otherwise you may lose track of where Final Cut Pro is storing your media.

A critical issue can arise when capturing media with an optional high end capture card. Certain high-end capture cards may require that the media be stored on a special set of hard drives, or hard drive array. If you do not specify the proper hard drive in scratch disks window, Final Cut Pro may encounter playback problems.


Below, is the default path of where your captured media is stored. It is helpful to remember this path, just in case you forget to check the scratch disks window.


If you are using a separate hard drive for storing your media, you need to specify that drive as a scratch disk.

The above window shows the default path of your scratch disk settings. It is:

Macintosh HD | Users | Student | Documents | Final Cut Pro Documents

If you are working in Final Cut Pro, and have lost track of some captured media, this would be the first place to check. Also, it is important to remember, that if another user has logged into the machine, the media may be stored under that particular users folder. In the above diagram, 'john' is the current MAC OS X user.


The clip settings tab allows you to modify whether you are recording video, audio, or both. By default, Final Cut Pro automatically is set is to record both video and audio.

If you are recording from a DV source, Final Cut Pro will disable the controls at the top of the Log and Capture window.

Since recording DV material is a digital transfer, it will only allow an exact copy of the media to be made. Therefore no adjustments are possible during the recording process.



When using the DV format with Final Cut Pro, you are limited to capturing two channels of audio at the same time. Under the audio format menu, you can select how these channels are recorded.


CH 1 (L) + CH 2 (R)

This setting will record both channels of audio. These channels will automatically be linked with the video clip. In the timeline these channels will be independent of each other. This setting is recommended if you have two distinct channels of audio recorded on your videotape.


Choosing only CH 1 or only CH 2 will record one channel of audio that will be linked with a video clip.


This setting will record both channels of audio, but they will be linked together. CH 1 will automatically be panned to the left, and CH 2 will automatically be panned to the right. Do not use this setting if you have two distinct audio channels that have been recorded on your videotape.


This setting will record both audio channels, but will set the default pan value to be centered for both tracks. Use this setting if you want your audio channels to be mixed together.


If you are using a camera with a single microphone, you may find it easier to record only a single channel of audio. This will make the editing process easier, since Final Cut Pro will only drag down one linked audio track with each video clip. Otherwise, you will be using two tracks in the timeline instead of one.


After you have set your scratch disks, it is important to understand the logging tab.

The logging tab is very important when it comes to organizing your material after it has been captured. Pay close attention to the log bin display. Currently this is set to the 'Misc. Shots.'


When you open your log and capture window for the first time, Final Cut Pro will place log bin display (the clapper), outside of a bin (n the name column). By setting the logging bin before capturing, your clips will automatically be placed inside the correct bin within the browser window.


By control clicking on the 'Misc. Shots' bin inside your browser window, you will be able to set 'Misc. Shots' as your log bin.

Notice the small film slate icon right where the red arrow is pointing. This clapper designates that 'Misc. Shots' is now a logging bin. Any shots that are captured into Final Cut Pro will automatically be placed inside this bin.


Before you capture a clip, it is recommended that you type in the appropriate logging information under the logging tab.

Here is a brief description of each individual heading. Two of the most important headings are: the reel heading, and the description heading.



As described earlier, the logging bin is where the individual clips will be stored in your browser window after you have captured some media.


Notice, next to the 'Misc. Shots' there are two icons. Clicking on the left icon will automatically move your logging bin back up a level in the directory hierarchy in your browser window.


The icon on the right will create a new sub-bin within your current logging bin. The film clapper icon will automatically move down to indicate your new logging bin.


Notice, in this example, a new 'Bin 2' was created in the browser window, and is now marked as the logging bin.


To move the film clapper back up to 'Misc. Shots' bin press the icon with the up arrow in your logging window.




Each time you capture media from a different source tape into Final Cut Pro, you need to change the reel number to something unique. It is recommended that the reel number be a three-digit number. This is necessary if you plan to take your project to an outside post-production house that requires reel numbers to be three digits.

Pressing the film clapper slate to the right of the reel number will automatically increment your reel number by one digit. In this example, reel 002 would automatically become reel 003.


If you plan on re-capturing your clips at a later time, and have you multiple source tapes, it is extremely important that each tape is given its own unique reel number. Write this number down on the spine of each tape. The consumer DV tape format records timecode on the tape starting at 00:00:00:00, which means all of your source tapes will have similar timecode numbers. The reel number is the only way for Final Cut Pro to tell the difference between which tapes it needs to re-record your clips.



The name box cannot be modified. Final Cut Pro will build the name from the description, scene and shot/take rows.


The prompt checkmark indicates that if no name exists for a clip after you have captured it, Final Cut Pro will automatically bring up a dialogue box giving you a second chance to name the clip. It is recommended that you leave this option checked.



The description box is a common area where you can give your clip a name. The name column will automatically include information from the description, scene or shot/take headings if the box next to each of them has an (x). In this case, because the description is labeled as 'Sailboat Zoom Out,' the name heading will automatically update to match the description.





This box is optional. If you type something in the shot/take box, it will be available as a column heading in your browser window. An (x) in the shot / take box will add the information to the name of the clip. Which means 'Sailboat Zoom Out' becomes 'Sailboat Zoom Out_2'


is a text area where additional information can be given to a clip. Information will appear as a column heading that can be displayed in the browser window.

The mark good check box will mark the clip as good and will display a check mark in the good column of the browser window.



Final Cut Pro will display the information that you have entered in the Log and Capture window within the browser window under their designated headings. Based on the above examples, the column headings in the browser window may look like this.


If Final Cut Pro detects a controllable tape machine, you will have a series of controls at the bottom of your log and capture window.

You may find it useful to learn the keyboard shortcut commands for navigating the jog and shuttles controls.



Final Cut Pro uses the familiar J, K, L keys that many other non-linear systems use. The keyboard keys (J, K, L) can be useful when navigating a controllable deck.

J Key - Plays forward

K key –Pauses

L Key – Plays backward

Before capturing, navigate to a place on your source tape and press the mark in button at the bottom of the log and capture window. Then, navigate to an OUT point on your source tape, and press the mark out bottom.


In the upper left corner of the log and capture window, a small box displays the duration between the IN OUT points that has been specified on the source tape.

In this example, 05;03 has been marked. This means the tape machine will back up to 08;49;01 and begin recording until it reaches 08;54;03 for a total of 5;03.


If you manually type in a value in the clip duration box, which is in the upper left corner of the window, Final Cut Pro will automatically mark an OUT point for you to determine that duration that you have specified.



If you are recording material that is fairly generic, you can mark an IN point and manually and specify a duration without having to shuttle the tape machine to an OUT point.



At the bottom of the log and capture window are three capture buttons and a log clip button. After marking IN OUT points in the log and capture window, you will need to tell Final Cut Pro what to do next.



Pressing the log clip button will immediately enter your clip into the logging bin. It will be marked with a red slash through the clip icon, indicating that the clip is offline. In this case, the 'Sailboat Zoom Out_2' clip has been logged. Final Cut Pro will allow you to capture the actual media for the clip at a later time.

It is common practice to log all of your clips first, and then go back and re-capture them later. Logging all of your clips before capturing can save you time. If you are capturing from multiple video tapes make sure that you change your reel number in the reel heading of your log and capture window. This reel number is a unique name that Final Cut Pro will ask for when you decide to capture the media for a logged. Clip. If you do not have unique reel numbers for your logged clips, you may have a difficult time finding the correct tape to capture from.



Once your clips are logged, they will be offline. This is shown by a red slash mark through the clip icons. Select the clips you want to capture in the browser window.


You may have several clips that need to be captured. You can select multiple clips in the browser window by holding down the command key.

Next, press the batch capture button. This will cause your tape machine to capture all of the logged clips automatically. The batch capturing process will stop at each new reel, indicating that you must put in the next tape. Once this process is complete, your clips will update and reference to the media captured.



you choose, after you have marked IN / OUT points on your video tape, you may capture the clip immediately, without having to log it first. By selecting the clip button, your tape machine will rewind, and capture the clip. This clip will be placed inside your logging bin once is has been captured. In this case, it would be placed inside the 'Misc Shots' bin.



If you have a deck that does not support external control via Final Cut Pro, you can still capture media using the capture now button.

You may want to label your clip in the description heading in the log and capture window before pressing the capture now button. If you do not, the clip will be unlabeled after your press the esc key.

It is important to note, that pressing this button will immediately begin the record process. Pressing the esc key on the keyboard will end the capture process. The captured clip will appear inside an external viewer window.

Using the capture now button will not automatically place your clip into your logging bin. You must manually drag it from the external viewer window to the browser window. Final Cut Pro will then prompt you to label the clip. After you label your clip do not rename the clip.


If you close the temporary viewer window that pops up immediately after using the capture now feature, the media will still exist on the hard drive. You must then manually navigate to the file and either delete it, or import it into your browser window.


A very important time saving feature of Final Cut Pro is a function called DV start / stop detection. By selecting a clip in the browser, and then navigating to the Tools | DV Start / Stop Detection menu. Final Cut Pro will automatically subdivide the clip into markers.


Unfortunately, not all cameras support the use of DV start / stop detection. The easiest way to find out is to select a long clip in the browser window and navigate to the Tools | DV / Stop Detection menu and see what happens.



In order for the DV start | stop detection to work, the date and time must be set on the DV camera.

If Final Cut Pro does not detect any camera time stamps, then nothing will happen. If it does detect time stamps, your clip will have segment markers inside it. Each time the camera starts and stops recording it will create a segment marker.


Each marker represents a piece of media. Markers can be used just like clips. Double clicking on a marker will load it into the viewer window.

Refer to the organizing elements module for information on how to change markers into sub-clips.



To avoid problems with Final Cut Pro it is recommended that you convert all of your audio to a common sample rate. If you are digitizing from a DV source, a common sample rate of 48k is normally used.

You can use iTUNES, which comes standard with MAC OS X, or Quicktime Pro to convert audio sample rates.

If you insert an audio CD into your computer, the iTunes application will automatically launch. If you are converting audio that is already on your media drive, simply navigate to your dock and launch the application.

After the iTunes application is open, navigate to the iTunes | Preferences menu.



Select the importing tab and change the import using pull down menu to AIFF encoder, and set the configuration menu to custom.

An AIFF dialogue box will appear where you can specify the sample rate, sample size, and whether your file is in stereo or mono.


Change your settings to 48.000 kHz audio sample rate, 16 bit sample size, and stereo channels.



Under the iTunes advanced tab, change the music folder location to the place you would like to save your converted music tracks.

In this example, the folder location has been set to the desktop.


If you insert an audio CD into your Macintosh, your tracks will automatically show up in the iTunes interface window.

Check the tracks or songs that you wish to convert, and then press the import button in the upper right corner. iTunes will then automatically convert all of the tracks for you.


These converted tracks will be located in the music folder location that has been specified in the advanced tab.

Once the tracks have been converted, you can import them directly into the browser window.

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Storyboard Editing in Avid Express Pro / Media Composer was the previous entry in this blog.

Render Status In Final Cut Pro HD is the next entry in this blog.

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