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Final Cut Pro User Preferences

It is important to understand what each preference means, because each preference will affect the functionality of the Final Cut Pro software.

The preferences for Final Cut Pro are located in the Final Cut Pro | User Preferences menu.

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After selecting preferences from the Final Cut Pro menu, a dialogue box will appear with all the available preference settings. The preferences window contains tabs that represent five main preference categories. Each preference setting will be discussed in this article.

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THE GENERAL PREFERENCE TAB
The general preferences tab contains the majority of functional preferences that affect the operation of Final Cut Pro.

LEVELS OF UNDO
The default setting for the number of undos is 10. You may want to increase this setting. Keep in mind that increasing this value will increase the amount of memory required for Final Cut Pro. The maximum value is 99. The keyboard shortcut (command + Z) will perform one level of undo each time it is pressed up to the value specified in the Levels of Undo box.

LIST OF RECENT CLIPS
This option will display a pull down list of recent clips that have been loaded into the viewer window. The most recently viewed clips appear at the top of the list. The maximum value for this list is 20.

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MULTI-FRAME-TRIM SIZE
This parameter represents the number of frames that will be trimmed when using the trim back and trim forward buttons in the trim edit window. The maximum multi-frame trim size is 9 frames.

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REALTIME AUDIO MIXING
Realtime audio mixing refers to the maximum number of audio tracks Final Cut Pro is able to play back at the same time without having to render. The default for this setting is 8 tracks, with a maximum value of 64. The theoretical limit of 64 tracks depends on your computers processing speed, memory, and data transfer speed of your hard drive. Therefore, setting this parameter to 64 may not guarantee the maximum number of realtime tracks. Tracks are counted as actual audio streams. Therefore, if you have a cross dissolve between two audio clips on a single audio track, it would count as two tracks. Audio filters applied to clips will also reduce the number of available realtime tracks.If you exceed the number of realtime audio mixing tracks, you will hear a beeping sound when playing back a sequence. The audio in the sequence must be rendered for the beeping sound to go away.

AUDIO PLAYBACK QUALITY
The audio play quality parameter tells Final Cut Pro how well to convert sample rates that differ from a sequence’s sample rate. It is recommended that you convert all of your audio files to 48kHz before importing them. By doing this, you will not need to worry about this setting. If all the clips in a sequence have the same sample rate, this setting will not affect anything.

If you mix different clips with different sample rates in the same sequence, it is recommended that you keep this setting set to low. Increasing it to high will increase the playback quality, but will reduce the maximum number of audio tracks that your system will be able to play back without having to render. After you are done editing and you are ready to output your show, change this setting to high to get the cleanest output.

STILL / FREEZE DURATION
This parameter will automatically mark IN / OUT points for a clip based on the specified duration when importing still images or creating freeze-frames. This is useful if you have a large number of still images that all need to be a specified duration.
All still clips imported into Final Cut Pro will have a maximum duration of 2 minutes and 10 seconds. It is important to note that the Still / Freeze Duration parameter only specifies the distance between your IN / OUT points, and not the actual amount of media created.

PREVIEW PRE / POST ROLL SETTINGS
These settings affect the pre-roll and post-roll of the position indicator when playing within the trim edit window using the play around edit loop button.
These settings also apply to the play around current button or the (/) key, which will cause the position indicator to play from start to end based on the pre-roll and post-roll settings.

DUPE DETECTION SETTINGS
The primary use of dupe detection is for traditional film editing. The handle size add frames to the beginning and of end each clip to be used for comparison. This feature is needed, because when performing a traditional ‘film’ dissolve, a negative cutter requires extra frames to create the film dissolve. These extra frames are normally lost. Threshold represents the numbers of frames that must be duplicated before an indicator will appear.

SHOWING TOOLTIPS
Checking this box will allow tool tips to appear by parking your cursor on any Final Cut Pro element. Tooltips will appear when you leave your cursor untouched while parked on a particular tool.

TRACK VISIBILITY WARNING
If you choose to uncheck this parameter, the following warning box will not be displayed when you change the visibility of a track. This option is simply a safety mechanism warning that you will lose your render files if you continue.

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The green light next to each track indicates that track visibility is currently on. Turning this off will prompt the warning screen to appear, unless the Warn if visibility deletes render file box is unchecked.

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BRINGING ALL WINDOWS TO THE FRONT
In most cases, you will probably want this feature left on. If you turn this option off, it will allow you to have Final Cut Pro interface windows behind other OS X windows or other applications.

USING DYNAMIC TRIMMING
Dynamic trimming is another feature that is new to Final Cut Pro 4.0. This function takes awhile to figure out. When in trim mode, hold down the ‘K’ key and press ‘J’ to trim to the left, or ‘L’ to trim to the right. If dynamic trimming it turned on, when you release the ‘K’ key, the edit points will automatically adjust to your playhead position within the trim window. This is a good feature to use when you are trying to fine tune your edits.

REPORT DROPPED FRAMES DURING PLAYBACK
Checking this option will cause Final Cut Pro to stop playback and notify you if frames have been dropped when playing clips or laying a sequence back to tape. With a properly configured and supported system, Final Cut Pro should not drop frames. If you see this warning, something is wrong and you should check the configuration of your system.

ABORT CAPTURE ON DROPPED FRAMES
This option will stop the capturing process if frames have been dropped while recording material.

ABORT CAPTURE ON TIMECODE BREAK
If you want to make sure the material that you are capturing has consecutive timecode numbers with no timecode breaks, then make sure this option is turned on. With this option turned on, Final Cut Pro will stop the capturing process if there is a break in the timecode.

PROMPT FOR SETTINGS ON NEW SEQUENCE
If you are working with different sequence settings other than those required for DV, then you may want to check this option so Final Cut Pro will prompt you to select the appropriate settings for each new sequence that is created.

PEN TOOLS CAN EDIT LOCKED ITEM OVERLAYS
Checking this option will allow you to adjust audio levels in the timeline with the pen tool even if a track is locked.

SYNC AUDIO TO
The function is used for capturing audio from devices that are able to receive an external video reference. You do not need to have this turned on if you are capturing from a DV deck or camera. It is only for (audio decks) that require video reference.

THE AUTOSAVE VAULT
The autosave parameters tell Final Cut Pro how often to automatically save copies of your project. Autosave does not save to your current project. Instead, it saves a copy of your project to an archive. The default location for the autosave vault is MAC HD | Users | User-Name| Documents | Final Cut Pro Documents | Autosave Vault. The location of this archive can be set within the scratch disks window.

If a change has not been made to a project within the specified numbers of minutes, Final Cut Pro will not save an additional copy. When Final Cut Pro exceeds the maximum copies per project, it will delete the oldest version in the archive. These old versions are moved to the trash and are not permanently deleted until the trashcan is emptied. If you simultaneously open more projects than the maximum projects set for Final Cut Pro to save, Final Cut Pro will override this feature and automatically save all open projects.

RECOVERING AUTOSAVED PROJECTS
If you are able to open your existing project, but wish to revert to an earlier version, navigate to the File | Restore Project menu.

A pull down list showing all available autosaved versions will appear. Select the project from the list that you wish to revert to. It is important to move your project file out of the autosave vault once you have opened it. Otherwise, your project will eventually be moved into the trash based on Final Cut Pro’s rules for maintaining the autosave vault.

FINDING THE AUTOSAVE VAULT
If you are unable to open your Final Cut Pro project, you will not be able to recover earlier version of your project using the Restore Projects menu. You must manually navigate to the actual autosave vault and copy your project to a new location.

Unless you have changed the autosave vaults default location, it will be located in the MAC HD | Users | User-Name| Documents | Final Cut Pro Documents | Autosave Vault folder.

Below is a typical example of where the autosave vault is located. Remember, each MAC OS X user will have a documents folder, which will contain an autosave vault.

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The autosave vault will contain all available archived versions of a project. Find the version that you want and copy it to a new location. It is important to copy your project out of the autosave vault folder, because it will eventually move itself to the trash over an extended period of time.

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THE TIMELINE OPTIONS TAB
The timeline options tab refers to new projects that are created. Remember, these settings will not affect existing projects or sequences.

STARTING TIMECODE
The starting timecode value by default is set to 1 hr. A 01;00;00;00 start time is an industry standard to which many television and production houses conform. However, if you wish to change the starting value you can enter it here.

USING DROP FRAME TIMECODE
This option specifies the timecode counting method used by ‘sequence1’, which is automatically created when you start a new project. If it is unchecked, the sequence will use the non drop frame counting method.

TRACK SIZE
This setting applies to the default track size in the timeline window when you start a new project. Choices are: reduced, small, medium, and large.

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THUMBNAIL DISPLAYS
This setting affects what is displayed within the clips of the timeline when a new project is created. Selections for the menu are: name, name plus thumbnail, and filmstrip.

For actual editing purposes, it is not recommended that you use the filmstrip display mode for the timeline.

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It becomes difficult to see where transition points begin and end when you have an extended timeline with many clips.

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AUDIO TRACK LABELS
This option determines the labeling method of audio tracks for a new project. Choices are: (A1, A2, A3, A4) or (A1a, A1b, A2a, A2b)

This represents the default set-up for Final Cut Pro. The track labels are A1, A2.

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Here are the new track labels. Notice how they are labeled A1a, A1b.

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SHOW FILTER AND MOTION BARS
Checking this option will automatically display the filter and motion bars below each of the tracks in the timeline when a new project is created.

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Filter and motion bars show plotted keyframes for filters and motion effects at the bottom of each track in the timeline. This allows an easy visual reference of where keyframes have been placed.

SHOW KEYFRAME OVERLAYS
Checking this option will automatically enable the keyframe overlays feature when you start a new project.

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The black overlay line in a video clip represents its level of transparency. The pink line in an audio clip represents its volume level

SHOW AUDIO WAVEFORMS
This option will cause audio waveforms to be automatically displayed in the timeline when a new project is created.

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SHOW THROUGH EDITS
This option will automatically enable through edits to be displayed in the timeline when a new project is created. Through edits show transition points that contain consecutive time code numbers between clips.

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DEFAULT NUMBER OF TRACKS
This option allows you to set the default number of tracks displayed in your sequence when you start a new project. You must always have at least one video track and one audio track. The maximum number of video and/or audio tracks is 99. For maximum efficiency, it is recommended that you start with a small number of tracks in order to preserve space when editing in the timeline.

THE LABELS TAB
The labels tab allows you to specify a short description for each label color.
Label colors cannot be changed. The work around is to re-arrange the descriptions for each of the colors.

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Labels can then be assigned to clips in the browser window. Labels are assigned to clips by control clicking the mouse in the label column next to the clip that gets the colored label.

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Final Cut Pro system settings was the previous entry in this blog.

Targeting Objects For Animation Within Motion is the next entry in this blog.

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