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Presets and Preferences in Final Cut Pro for Mac OS X

Final Cut Pro's designers have carefully organized the tools you use to configure settings and preferences. The goal of this organization is to make it much easier for editors using the most common hardware and video formats to configure FCP—and much more difficult for users to unintentionally modify individual settings within a preset configuration. This chapter covers in detail the various preferences and customization options that are available in Final Cut Pro.
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Final Cut Pro's designers have carefully organized the tools you use to configure settings and preferences. The goal of this organization is to make it much easier for editors using the most common hardware and video formats to configure FCP—and much more difficult for users to unintentionally modify individual settings within a preset configuration.

FCP's preset principle is balanced by a highly customizable interface. At the end of this chapter you'll learn about options for reconfiguring Final Cut Pro's interface to complement your personal working preferences.

About Easy Setups, Presets, Settings, and Preferences

Capture, device control, and sequence settings are all organized into preset configurations, and these Audio/Video presets are grouped into master presets called Easy Setups.

Any of these preset configurations are completely customizable, but most FCP users should be able to choose an Easy Setup based on their hardware and video format, specify a scratch disk for media capture on the Scratch tab of the System Settings window, and forget about settings until they change their external hardware.

FCP 4 preference settings are accessed from four menu choices: Easy Setup, Audio/Video Settings, User Preferences, and System Settings ( Figure 3.1 ).


Figure 3.1 Access preference settings from four Final Cut Pro menu choices: Easy Setup, Audio/Video Settings, User Preferences, and System Settings.

Easy Setup

An Easy Setup is a master preset configuration of multiple Final Cut Pro settings: presets for a Device Control preset, a Capture preset, a Sequence preset, and Audio/Video Playback settings. Instead of choosing several presets and Video and Audio Playback settings using various tabs, you can make one selection in a single window: Easy Setup. FCP offers several standard Easy Setups, but you also have the option of customizing an Easy Setup.

Any customized setups you create are stored in the Custom Settings folder in the Final Cut Pro Documents folder, which makes your custom setups portable.

Audio/Video settings

FCP's Audio/Video settings have their own preference window, called Audio/Video Settings. That's where you can make detailed adjustments to your Sequence presets, Capture presets, Device Control presets, Video Playback, and Audio Playback settings, should the need arise. Your Audio/Video settings are summarized on the Summary tab. If for some reason you want to modify your underlying basic QuickTime settings, you can access them through the tabs in the Audio/Video Settings window.

User Preferences and System Settings

Unlike the Audio/Video settings, which are largely dictated by your hardware and video format, a preference is a setting that specifies how you want to work with your media in Final Cut Pro. FCP 4 preferences have been divided between two different windows: User Preferences and System Settings. The settings in these windows affect all your Final Cut Pro projects.

Accessing preferences and settings

Frequently, Final Cut Pro provides more than one route to access your settings for presets and preferences. For example, you can access the capture preferences from the Capture Presets tab in the Audio/Video Settings window, and also directly in the Log and Capture window by selecting a preset from the Capture/Input pop-up menu located on the Capture Settings tab ( Figure 3.2 ). The list of Capture presets you access directly from the Log and Capture window is labeled Capture/Input, but the preset list is the same, and any changes you make on the Log and Capture window's Capture Settings tab will be reflected on the Audio/Video Settings window's Summary tab ( Figure 3.3 ) and in the Easy Setup window ( Figure 3.4 ).


Figure 3.2 Select a different Capture preset from the Capture/Input pop-up menu located on the Capture Settings tab of the Log and Capture window.


Figure 3.3 Your change is reflected on the Summary tab of the Audio/Video Settings window.


Figure 3.4 You'll also see your Capture preset change in the Easy Setup window. All three windows reference the same set of Capture preferences.

One of the reasons FCP's designers based their configuration scheme on presets is that they wanted to make it easy to completely configure the program settings without having to alter individual settings. And it is easy to get confused. Some settings windows look the same but actually modify different program settings. For example, Sequence presets and Capture presets have separate QuickTime settings options. A mismatch between capture settings and sequence settings makes clips play back poorly when you start to edit them in the Timeline, and a settings mismatch is one of the primary causes of user difficulties with FCP.

So how can you avoid problems and confusion? When you launch Final Cut Pro for the first time after installing it, your answers to the Initial Setup questions determine the settings you see in the Easy Setup, Audio/Video Settings, and User Preferences windows. It's best to start with the default settings, use the recommended Easy Setup, and make changes only if you have a specific problem. If you do make changes, your troubleshooting will be most effective if you make one change at a time.

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