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Specifying Sequence Settings

Final Cut Pro provides a selection of stock sequence setting presets. Using a preset ensures that each new sequence you create will have the same settings. You can also choose to be prompted to specify the preset for each new sequence you create. The Preset Editor window allows you to duplicate and edit existing sequence presets to create new ones. The preset you choose will be applied to all new sequences until you change it. Sequence settings for existing sequences are not affected.

You can open and review or modify an existing sequence's settings in its Sequence Settings window. For more information, see "Changing the Settings of an Existing Sequence" in Chapter 4.

To edit general sequence settings for the current preset

  1. On the Sequence Presets tab of the Audio/Video Settings window, select a preset ( Figure 3.19 ); then click the Edit button.

    Figure 3.19 Select the preset you want to edit on the Sequence Presets tab of the Audio/Video Settings window; then click the Edit button.

    If the preset is locked, a dialog box appears indicating that a copy will be made for editing; then the Sequence Preset Editor window appears. Sequence settings are available on the Sequence Preset Editor's General tab and Video Processing tab.
  2. Enter a name and description for the preset. If it's based on an existing preset with one or two changes, you might note the base preset plus the changes.
  3. On the General tab, you can modify the default settings for any of the following ( Figure 3.20 ):
    • Frame Size: Specify the frame size for the output of the sequence. Enter a custom frame size in the Width and Height fields, or choose a pre-defined frame size in the Aspect Ratio pop-up menu.
    • Pixel Aspect Ratio: Specify a pixel aspect ratio that is compatible with your source video.
    • Anamorphic 16:9: If your source video is 16:9, checking this box ensures that FCP will interpret and display your source media's pixel aspect ratio properly.
    • Field Dominance: Specify the field to be displayed first on an NTSC monitor. DV defaults to the Lower (Even) setting. If field dominance is set incorrectly, moving areas of the image will have jagged edges.
    • Editing Timebase: This field displays the currently selected editing timebase. The editing timebase should be identical to the frame rate of the source clips in the sequence. All source clips with a frame rate that does not match the editing timebase are converted to the sequence's editing timebase and will require rendering. You can modify an existing sequence's timebase only if there are no clips in it.
    • Timecode Rate: The default setting— Same as Editing Timebase—matches the timecode playback rate to the Editing Timebase setting for this sequence preset. Always use this default setting unless your project requires a different timecode playback rate; for example, if you are editing 24 fps film that's been transferred to 25 fps PAL video.

    Figure 3.20 The General tab of the Sequence Preset Editor.

Specifying QuickTime settings for Sequence presets

The current video compression codec settings for the selected sequence preset are displayed under QuickTime Video Settings. The current audio sample-rate setting for this preset is displayed under QuickTime Audio Settings. Unless you have a specific reason to make a change, stick with the default settings. Selecting the appropriate sequence preset in the main Audio/Video Settings window should load the correct values for all other settings. Refer to Apple's Final Cut Pro 4 User's Manual for details on other QuickTime settings options.

To access the QuickTime video compression settings for the current preset

  1. In the QuickTime Video Settings section of the Sequence Preset Editor window, click the Advanced button ( Figure 3.21 ).

    Figure 3.21 Click the Advanced button in the QuickTime Video Settings section to access QuickTime video compression settings.

    The Compression Settings window appears ( Figure 3.22 ). The compression settings determine the compression codec used to process any material you render in your sequence.

    Figure 3.22 These QuickTime compression settings determine the compression format of any material you render in your sequence.

  2. Select the codec that matches your clip's capture settings. You can modify the default settings for any of the following:
    • Compressor pop-up menu: Choose a compression method (codec) to be applied to your sequence from the first Compressor pop-up menu. A second Compressor pop-up menu may have additional color depth resolutions available depending on the type of codec chosen. Certain codecs display an Option button next to the Cancel button. This button provides access to additional options specific to that codec.
    • Quality: Use this slider to adjust the video image quality. Least quality yields the highest data compression. Best quality yields the lowest data compression.
    • Frames per Second: Enter a value or choose a preset value from the pop-up menu to specify the number of frames sampled per second. Your frame rate should match the editing timebase of your sequence preset.
    • Key Frame Every n Frames: Check this box to manually assign keyframe intervals. Type a numeric value in the field to define the number of frames between keyframes.
    • Limit Data Rate to n KBytes/Second: Check this box to manually limit the data rate while capturing video. Type a numeric value in the field to define the data throughput in kilobytes per second.

To access the QuickTime audio compression settings for the current preset

  1. On the General tab of the Sequence Preset Editor window, click Export Settings. The Sound Settings window appears ( Figure 3.23 ). The compression settings determine the compression format of any audio you render in your sequence.

    Figure 3.23 The QuickTime Sound Settings window.

  2. You can modify the default settings for any of the following:
    • Compressor: Choose None.
    • Rate: Enter a value in this field to specify the output rate for the audio, or choose a predefined value from the pop-up menu to select from a list of standard sample rates.
    • Size: Choose a bit resolution for the audio.
    • Use: Choose Mono or Stereo output for the audio in your sequence.

Specifying video processing settings for a Sequence preset

The settings on the Video Processing tab allow you to specify how FCP will interpret color space when rendering clips used in sequences created with this sequence preset.

Older versions of QuickTime used DV codecs that converted YUV (the color space that DV video uses) to RGB (the color space that computers use) whenever rendering was required. This conversion could generate noticeable color or luminance shifts. Now, because QuickTime has added support for rendering in YUV (also known as YCrCb) color space, you have a choice. If you select a QuickTime codec that supports YUV color space, you'll be able to set additional options on the Video Processing tab.

To edit video processing settings for the current preset

On the Video Processing tab of the Sequence Preset Editor window ( Figure 3.24 ), you can modify the following default settings:

  • Always Render in RGB: Check this box to force codecs that normally process color using the YUV (or YCrCb) color space to render in RGB color space. This may cause slight color shifts in rendered material.
  • Render in 8-bit YUV: Choose 8-bit YUV rendering if you are working with 8-bit source video (DV/DVCAM) or using a capture card that handles 8-bit YUV video.
  • Render 10-bit material in high-precision YUV: Choose this option if you are working with 10-bit source video.
  • Render all YUV material in high-precision YUV: Choose this option to use additional video bit depth to improve the quality of 8-bit video that requires complex render processing. 10-bit render files take longer to compute.
  • Process Maximum White As (note that this pop-up menu appears only if Always Render in RGB is not selected):
    • Super-White: Choose this to match the maximum brightness of imported clips from RGB color space to the super-white levels of clips from DV camcorders.
    • White: Choose this to limit the maximum brightness of imported clips created in RGB color space to 100 IRE.

Figure 3.24 The Video Processing tab of the Sequence Preset Editor window.

This setting allows you to match the brightness levels of DV video source clips to integrate better with RGB elements. Many DV camcorders record video with white values that are brighter than 100 IRE (known as super-white). Brightness levels in these DV clips with super-white white values may not match other elements in your sequence—for example, imported graphics files or Adobe After Effects clips created in RGB color space.

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