Before you begin to capture material, consider your project specifications. Determine what you will capture, by complete tape or by selection.
Determine the codec, and remember to calculate the storage space requirements. (See Lesson 9 for more information on these calculations.) Also, test the first captured media files to ensure they are at the quality and resolution you intended.
The following strategies have been gathered through experience and discussions as common practices. There are numerous variations and personal preferences to the steps listed. Some of the following methods may work best when your project has specific circumstances, but use these examples as starting points and veer from the steps as appropriate.
Planning and Capturing
Source material may arrive on two different media—for instance, video tapes and DAT tapes. This is an area where many people make small mistakes that adversely impact the final delivery, so we will first detail the process of capturing picture and sound separately, then cover synching them in Final Cut Pro.
Source material may also arrive on a single medium—for example, when picture and sound were recorded simultaneously on tape or if sync was achieved during the telecine process. Toward the end of this lesson, we will cover single-source capture.
New Project Settings
When you create a new project, you can either use an appropriate Easy Setup, or you can independently set the sequence, capture, and device control presets along with the video/audio playback. A preset in Final Cut Pro is a preconfigured group of settings. For example, the device control preset has 12 settings that control your video deck. When you select a device control preset, all 12 settings are automatically configured. When you select an Easy Setup, Final Cut Pro automatically configures the settings of all the presets. The Easy Setup stores the sequence, capture, device control, and audio/video settings.
The Easy Setup is a great shortcut for many of the standard project configurations. However, if you need more granular control, and you configure an alternate sequence preset, save the modified setup as an Easy Setup so you can recall the settings in other areas of Final Cut Pro, such as the Sequence Settings window.
Here’s how to modify an Easy Setup preset:
- Choose Final Cut Pro > Audio/Video Settings, or press Option-Cmd-Q.
- In the Summary tab, select the mix of presets that suit your project.
- Click Create Easy Setup.
- Type a name and description for your Easy Setup.
Click the Enable Verification Of Device Control In First Start Dialog check box if you want Final Cut Pro to check for device control at application launch.
- Click Create.
- Enter a filename and location if you do not want to use the default location.
The default location for new Easy Setups is /Library/Application Support/Final Cut Pro System Support/Custom Settings.
- Click Save.
Your new Easy Setup is selected and will now be available as an option in all Setup windows.
Capture Media by Complete Tape
If your picture and sound are recorded on different media, you will need to capture each one separately. (See Lesson 2 for information on sound capture mediums.) Often, the easiest method for syncing picture and sound can be logging and capturing an entire source tape.
When you capture an entire source tape, you will capture one long clip instead of logging and capturing a tape as individual clips. Syncing picture and audio from an entire tape clip is sometimes easier and faster because the sync points in smaller clips can be unclear. This is especially true if you are not supplied with any sound recording location notes. Sound recording location notes will often identify start/stop timecodes and scene or take numbers along with general comments about the quality of a recording. Without this information, capturing the entire tape and breaking it down inside Final Cut Pro is often easier, especially since you will have the audio waveform to assist you visually. The same applies to picture. If there are no location notes or SMPTE clapboards, finding the sync points by capturing an entire tape will often be easier.
After capturing entire tapes, the long clips will be broken into more manageable lengths through marking, subclipping, and merging.
Here’s how to log and capture an entire tape:
- Turn on and connect your capture device to your computer.
For example, if you are using FireWire control, connect the FireWire cable between your camera or deck and your computer.
- From the Browser, click to select the Logging bin.
- Choose File > Set Logging Bin.
All captured or logged clips will now be placed into this bin.
- Press Cmd-8 to open the Log and Capture window.
- Type the Reel number of your tape and leave Prompt checked.
- Use the J, K, and L keys to locate the start of the tape, and set the In point.
Remember to allow some tape run from the head of the tape for pre-roll. The amount of pre-roll you require is dependent on your configuration and deck settings.
- Use the J, K, and L keys to find the picture or sound end point of the tape, and set the Out point.
- Click the Clip Settings tab and select the Video and Audio check boxes. Or capture video or audio only by deselecting either the Video or Audio check box.
- Choose the appropriate number of audio channels per clip from the Input Channels pop-up menu. Provided you have the appropriate third-party hardware, you can capture up to 24 audio channels in one clip.
- Choose how the audio channels are grouped by clicking the Stereo/Mono toggle. QuickTime 7 also supports discrete audio channels.
- Click the Logging tab.
- Click the Clip button to capture from the marked In to Out points.
For picture or audio delivered as files, see the “Importing Media” section later in this lesson.
Speed Clip Logging
If your final sound is recorded with picture or transferred and synced during the telecine, preparing your media is much easier.
Even though your audio and picture are synced on tape, whether to capture your media as one long clip or smaller clips is more a matter of personal preference. Generally, editors will log a pre-synced tape prior to capture. The following exercise will increase your logging speed.
- Press Cmd-8 to open the Log and Capture window, if it’s not already open.
- Type the Reel number of your tape, and deselect the Prompt check box.
When you deselect Prompt, you will not be prompted to enter a name when you log or capture a clip.
- Deselect the Description check box.
- Select the check box for Scene, and make sure Shot/Take and Angle are selected also.
- Enter a Scene.
- Enter a Shot/Take number.
The Shot/Take number will automatically increase after you log each clip.
- Set your audio Channel grouping and number of audio tracks.
Provided that you choose to maintain the same settings throughout an entire logging session, you will only need to set this for the first logged clip.
- Set your In and Out points for the clip.
- Press F2 to log the clip.
- When you’re finished logging all your clips, click the Batch button.
The Batch Capture dialog opens.
From the Batch Capture dialog, you can verify your capture settings and capture multiple clips at once. The Batch Capture dialog is useful because it allows you to view the total media time and disk space required based on the duration of the selected clips and the codec setting in your capture preset.
Marking Sync Points
If you have captured the entire source tape, each clip is one long file. In order to make it manageable for editing and syncing, you need to break it down into smaller segments. The segments can be scenes, like cinéma vérité, or individual takes a lá script style. The beginning of either a scene or a take is a natural place to begin syncing because the picture and audio probably began roughly at the same place. The method of location recording will determine how you identify sync. If the location sound was recorded with a SMPTE clapboard, or the timecode of the source video matches the timecode of the audio, then your syncing process will be more straightforward.
If your picture was recorded with a clapboard, you would identify the sync point as the moment the clapboard closed. If your picture was recorded with event sync, like a hand clap, you would identify the sync point as the moment the hand closed. If your location sound was recorded without identifiable sync references like timecode or event sync, then your sync point will vary depending on your given set of circumstances. However, the goal is to find a moment in the picture that will be easily identifiable in the audio.
The best way to begin is to load the master clip into the Viewer and use markers. Markers allow you to easily add a new name value to a clip. If a marker is used in a sequence or copied to another location in the Browser, it becomes a subclip. A subclip made from a marker keeps the name of the marker and adds the name of the master clip as an appendage.
You need to mark only the head of each take. The end of a marker is either the frame before the next marker or the end of the clip, whichever comes first. If you have any material you don’t want, such as a long tail at the end of the tape, simply place a marker at the head of the unused portion, and name it something like long tail.
Let’s cut down a single video and audio clip by applying a marker to the closed clapboard in the picture and find the audio event that matches. If you had captured an entire tape, you would continue to place markers on the long clip to identify all the sync points.
- Choose File > Open > Lesson 03 Project.fcp.
- Open the bin named 01 Marking.
- Double-click the Reel 04 video clip to load it into the Viewer.
- Use the J, K, and L keys to find the frame where the clapper is fully closed.
- Press M once to set the marker at the playhead location.
- Press M a second time to open the Edit Marker dialog.
- Name the marker the name of the scene or take. In this example, name the marker 04-04-1a.
- Double-click the Reel 04_audio.aif audio clip to load it into the Viewer.
- Use the J, K, and L keys to find the frame where you hear the clapper is closed. The audio waveform will be identified as a solid block.
- Press Cmd-+ to zoom into the audio waveform at the playhead position.
- Place the playhead at the first frame of the audio waveform when the clapper closes and press M once to set the marker at the playhead location.
- Press M a second time to open the Edit Marker dialog.
- Name the marker the name of the scene or take. In this example, name the marker 04-04-1a_audio. Click OK.
Prepare a Sequence for Combining Picture and Audio
After marking the clips, you will create a sequence that can act as a base for both the picture and audio clips.
Often, editors will match the video source-tape timecode to their sequence timecode to visually help identify a loss of sync. You can check the integrity of your clip timecode by placing the playhead over any given frame of video and make sure the sequence timecode matches the clip timecode.
Follow these steps to match the video source to sequence timecode:
- Click the disclosure triangle to the left of the 02 Match Source to Sequence Timecode bin.
- Click the disclosure triangle next to the Reel 04 video clip icon to see the markers. (Make sure your Browser or bin is in List view.)
- Double-click the 04-04-1a marker to load it into the Viewer.
Once a marker is loaded into the Viewer, it assumes subclip attributes.
- Press the Home key to go to the first frame of the subclip in the Viewer.
- In the upper-right corner of the Viewer, click the Current Timecode field to highlight the entire timecode number, and press Cmd-C to copy the timecode.
- Select the Timeline to make it the active window.
- Choose Sequence > Settings.
- Click the Timeline Options tab.
- The Starting Timecode field should already be highlighted. Press Cmd-V to paste the clip timecode.
The clip timecode now matches the sequence Timecode. You will find this useful if you use the sequence in the Viewer and turn on the timecode overlays. To show the timecode overlays for the Viewer, make the Viewer active, then press Option-Z. You can quickly scrub along all your selected scenes that originated from the same tape. It’s also a very quick way, while you’re syncing, to identify that your video is in sync.
Once you have prepared a sequence, you are ready to edit the marked clips. Final Cut Pro will automatically create subclips from the markers.
- Click the disclosure triangle to the left of the 03 Edit Subclips bin.
- Double-click 03 Edit Subclips Sequence to load it into the Timeline.
- In the Browser, click the disclosure triangle to the left of the Reel 04 video clip to reveal the marker.
- Drag the 04-04-1a video marker to the Canvas Overwrite overlay to edit the marker into 03 Edit Subclips Sequence.
The marker is edited into the sequence. Although we just edited the single marker into the sequence, if you had a number of markers on a clip, you could lasso and drag all your markers to edit them into the sequence simultaneously.
- Press the Home key to jump the playhead to the beginning of 03 Edit Subclips Sequence.
- In the Browser, click the disclosure triangle to the left of the Reel 04_audio.aif audio clip to reveal the marker.
- Drag the 04-04-1a_audio marker to the Canvas Overwrite overlay to edit the marker into 03 Edit Subclips Sequence.
- Press Shift-Z in the Timeline to fit the contents of the sequence to the window.
Once you’ve edited the picture and audio into the sequence, check the synchronized result. Checking sync will require you to play some, if not all, of every scene. Play the sequence, find dialogue or an identifiable picture and audio event, and make sure it looks and sounds correct. If you recognize a loss of sync, simply slip the video or audio by one frame at a time and play back the result. Continue slipping the video or audio until the clips look in sync.
Merged clips are a fantastic resource because they can link to multiple QuickTime media files while maintaining a single clip icon inside Final Cut Pro. You can merge 1 video clip with up to 24 audio clips. This is a perfect solution for projects shot on dual recording systems such as film and DAT.
Before actually merging two or more clips, you first need to decide your method. You have five options: merge by lining up the In or Out points, Timecode, Auxiliary Timecode 1, or Auxiliary Timecode 2. If you slated all your shots at the beginning with a clapboard, you could use the In points to line up the shots. If you tail slated the shots, you could use the Out points. If the timecode of your video and audio clips was synchronized during the shoot, you would choose timecode to merge and sync. The method you choose depends on your project conditions; in this example, you will merge using the In points.
Here’s how to merge clips from the Timeline:
- Click the disclosure triangle to the left of the 04 Merge Clips bin.
- Double-click 04 Merge Clips Sequence to load it into the Timeline.
- Hold down Shift and click to highlight the video and audio clips in the sequence.
- Press Cmd-L to link the video and audio clips.
Linked clips’ names have an underline.
- Drag the linked clip from the Timeline to the Browser, and release it into the 04 Merge Clips bin.
Merging clips directly from the Timeline is convenient, but there will be times when you will need to merge clips directly from the Browser. Merging clips from the Browser allows you to choose from multiple sync points.
- Click the disclosure triangle to the left of the 05 Merge Clips Browser bin.
- Hold down Shift and click the icon of video clip and audio clip to select them.
- Choose Modify > Merge Clips.
- The Merge Clips dialog opens; by default, In Points is selected. Leave In Points selected and click OK.
The video and audio clips have been merged, and the new clip is named after the video clip with the appendage Merged. If you want to merge audio clips without video, the top-most selected audio clip will form the new clip name.
All merged clips maintain their relationship to the individual QuickTime files, source tape, and timecode.
There may be instances when you can import some, if not all, of your media directly from files. If you’re fortunate, a lab or post facility will do the capturing for you overnight, and you will simply import the files. You can import individual files, multiple files, an entire folder or a group of folders. Alternately, you can drag files or folders from the Finder window directly to the Final Cut Pro Browser or bin.
- Click the disclosure triangle to the left of the 06 Import Files bin.
- Double-click the 06 Import to Timeline sequence to load it into the Timeline.
- Press and hold the Command key. Tap the Tab key, and release all keys when you see the Finder icon highlighted.
Pressing Cmd-Tab navigates you through open applications.
- Press Cmd-N to open a new Finder window.
- Click the Column icon to display the Finder contents in columns.
- Navigate to the Lesson 03 Media folder.
- Select the Reel 04 media file.
The benefit of viewing a Finder window in Column view is that you can preview your files.
- In the title bar of the Finder window, click and hold directly over the Lesson 03 Media icon (don’t let go of the mouse until instructed) and press Cmd-Tab to navigate back to Final Cut Pro.
- Drag the mouse to the Browser window and release the mouse when you see the Browser window highlighted.
This is an efficient way to import files. You can also import LiveType and Motion projects using the same method.
Import Files by Other Methods
- Open a Finder window, and leave the Browser of the Final Cut Pro interface visible. Locate the files you want to import, and drag the files directly to the Browser.
- Open a Finder window, and leave the Timeline of the Final Cut Pro interface visible. Locate the files you want to import, and drag the files directly to the Timeline.
- Press Cmd-I, locate the files you want to import, and click Choose.
- Choose File > Import > Folder, locate the folder you want to import, and click Choose.