Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Philip Hodgetts on Final Cut Pro X

At a recent Boston Creative Pro User Group meeting, Philip Hodgetts talked about meta data, the latest update to Final Cut Pro X, and demoed his utility 7toX for Final Cut Pro, which lets you take Final Cut Pro 7 projects across to Final Cut Pro X.

7toX for Final Cut Pro
Philip started out by demoing the conversion of an existing Final Cut Pro 7 sequence to Final Cut Pro X. To do the export you go to the menu item File>Export>XML, and you can choose to send the entire project, or just a Sequence. Both are converted to an Event in Final Cut Pro X, and the Sequence appears as a Compound clip in the Event. He explained:
The reason it's a Compound Clip is because in the current version of FCPX, if we send it an Event and a Project, it doesn't know that they are associated. It's a limitation of the way the XML is currently expressed. We have some positive signs that Apple has listened to the need and in a future version we'll be able to send it a version that has both Events and Projects.
In the mean time, he says, this works a lot like FCP7 anyway: when you open the Compound Clip you have the Sequence: "Compound Clips are really undersold in my opinion; they are a really useful tool to build pre-edits [and] keep edits within an Event."

He also pointed out that the example sequence contained some PCT files, but Final Cut Pro X does not support PCT files:
PCT files are part of the old QuickDraw image world that we have left behind. FCPX is not based on QuickTime anymore, it is based on AV Foundation.
Yet after running the conversion - which took a few minutes to do - the resulting Compound clip contained the images; the tool actually converts them to TIF files.

There are some thing they can't translate such as Motion Projects; to convert those you should import Motion 4 projects into Motion 5 and then publish them to FCPX and replace them. If 7toX can't convert something, it tells you; "We are completely transparent in our reporting," he explains; anywhere they make a change from the FCP7 sequence, they tell you what it has done.

"It's not a perfect translation, but it's a damn good translation," he said.
Richard Townhill (Apple senior director of applications marketing) has been quoted as saying "it's impossible to do this translation." In fact, what he said was, "it's impossible to do this translation with perfect fidelity." Is it exactly the same as in Final Cut Pro 7? No Partly because of limitations with FCPX XML right now, such as we don't have any way of sending it settings for transitions or filters that we apply. But we do translate over 30 transitions and 70 filters.
Philip also pointed out that Bins are reproduced as keyword collections, and track assignments are translated into Roles, which, according to Philip "are the appropriate way to do that in Final Cut Pro X."

He also explained the basics of Final Cut Pro X:
What is an Event? Apple in their wisdom decided to change the terminology. What we used to call a Project, which was our media and our bins and our sequences, has been converted into two completely independent things. We have our media store, which is called an Event, and then we have Projects, which are really just sequences. It draws media from Events, but it has it's own identity.
7toX does some interesting things when recreating the sequence; it creates secondary storylines when it sees contiguous clips in a track:
Notice that we have several secondary storylines because we have tried to read the mind of the FCP7 editor and made the assumption that if there are contiguous clips in a track, then that is probably the intent of a secondary storyline in FCPX, so we made that translation for you. We honor all of the scaling and positioning that is in FCPX.

Final Cut Pro X
After completing the demo of 7toX, Philip made some comments about the latest release of Final Cut Pro X, and on the future of FCPX: "I think they [Apple] are on a path where we'll see regular updates, and we'll see it filled out regularly." He also talked about whether Apple will actually add support inside Final Cut Pro X to open FCP7 files sometime in the future:
We [built this] with a very large amount of cooperation from Apple. I think it is very fair and very reasonable to say that this is Apple's solution for translating from 7 to X. It's not something that they didn't do, it's something they decided to do with a third party who had the expertise. The people on the team are currently working in FCPX XML and the people who worked on FCP7 are no longer in that part of the company.
On the latest release of Final Cut Pro X itself, Philip likes the new Clip Skimming, which solo's the layer you are skimming, as well as the support for layered Photoshop files, which let's you separate out an view the separate layers of the file. He'd like to be able use the skimmer feature inside layers.

He suspects that the Enhanced Keyer is good, though he noted that he hadn't really been able to test it as the existing keyer is so good:
I went through all my green and blue screen material, and I cannot find any material that I've got that requires the new features in the Keyer. Not because the new keyer is bad, but because the old keyer was so good.
Philip clearly thinks the new multi-cam feature was worth waiting for. He had said that he thought Apple was delaying multi-cam until the point where they could make it idiot proof, but "You can't make something idiot proof; they are very resourceful." He does think "they have made it a whole lot easier."

The new multi-cam feature improves on the previous version not just because you no longer have to having matching formats and tight control points, but because it will perform a synch using either audio or other metadata, and it provides the option to adjust the angles without having to remake the clip. You can choose which track to take the audio from, and you can have an audio-only track as a source. On the audio synching feature he noted: "Bruce Sharp at Plural Eyes showed us the way, and Apple has borrowed from the best."

Philip said that he likes the fact that Apple didn't talk about everything they did; "Apple will only ever point to three things in any major release." You now have the ability to re-link an Event file. He also showed the backup file which Final Cut Pro X now saves automatically every fifteen minutes "It'll offer you the choice of opening the backup if the file is corrupt." He did not recommend using the backup for version control as there's only one copy and it's overwritten. Instead, you can duplicate your project. For Collaboration he said that "as long as the person has the media, has the event, you can send them just the Project."

iTunes: 7toX for Final Cut Pro - Assisted Editing

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