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Brian’s FCP Training (with Worksheet)

Posted by Brian on September 20, 2009

Hey Guys,

Thanks to Colleen, Henderson and Fran for coming to the training today. I think it was worthwhile, and for those of you who weren’t able to make it, I’ve included in this post the worksheet that was handed out during the training that details what was covered.

Apple Final Cut Pro 7 Training – MML Specific

20 September 2009



•What this training covers

•What this training doesn’t cover

•FCP interface

•The way FCP thinks

•Brief overview of video

•Common issues students have with FCP

•Solutions to these problems


•This training will cover the basics of what FCP is, how it works, and how it thinks.

•It will also explain some of the issues that students using the lab have, and why these problems exist, and how to fix them.

•Issues: System Settings, Log and Capture, Sequence Settings, Render Settings, Exporting.


•If you’ve never used FCP before, this training probably won’t make you a super-fast editor, but it definitely will make it so that you can assist the students working in the lab with issues.

•This training probably won’t give you the ability to teach others how to edit, but instead relies on the student’s knowledge of editing as a base.


•Browser: putting stuff (footage, pictures, sequences, effects, audio, text)

•Viewer: viewing stuff

•Timeline: building stuff

•Canvas: viewing the timeline


•Other windows (audio mixer, frame viewer, video scopes, voice over, timecode viewer)

•Resetting interface (ctrl-u)


**Number One Rule in the FCP Paradigm: Make a SELECTION, then MODIFY that selection**

(For example, if you want to modify an edit, SELECT the edit, then MODIFY the selected edit. Many students have difficulty understanding why something isn’t changing with an action, or why something else is changing with an action. And it’s almost always because they have nothing, or the wrong thing selected.)

•Project File (small file.fcp)

•Media Files (big

•Exports (medium

The FCP Project file is a small file with a .fcp extension that’s usually under a megabyte (MB) in data-size. Its job is to organize the big captured media in the way that you want it to. These captured media can be located anywhere, and the FCP Project File needs to know where. If it doesn’t know where they are, then it’ll complain of a broken link between the Project File and the Media Files. We’ll then need to re-link the two. I’ll explain how to do this.

The media files are big files (13GB/hr for DV) with a .mov extension (usually), and they are located in a Capture Scratch folder on the Scratch Disks. It’s called Scratch because it’s usually only there temporarily. The location of these scratch disks is very important, and the FCP project file always needs to know where it is.

Exported media are completed files (usually .mov as well), but these are formatted for delivery. Exported files take just the manipulated pieces of raw scratch footage as dictated by the project file and re-write a new file for delivery. You can chose to have these files “self-contained” or “reference” files. A self-contained file means that it’s a completed file that you can burn on a disc, upload to YouTube, etc. A reference file is a file that is a lot smaller in size, and – like the FCP project file – simply points to the raw scratch media.

The full process of making a FCP movie might look like this:

•capture footage from tape onto scratch space

•edit the movie cutting only sections of the raw footage using FCP

•add effects, text, titles, etc.

•export a file – self-contained movie

•delete scratch space to make room for the next movie.


There are many characteristics of video that play vital roles in your FCP editing, and it’s helpful to understand what each of these characteristics mean and how they work.

•File container format (.mov, .avi, .mp4, .m4v): These are containers, or wrappers if you like, in which the video is packaged.

•Codec (DV, HDV, ProRes, h.264): A codec is a COmpressor/DECompressor, or a COder/DECoder, which is a program that tells the computer how to code and decode the video. This is the most crucial characteristic of a video. Think of ice cream. A .mov is a cone, and a .avi is a dish. DV is vanilla, HDV is chocolate, h.264 is black raspberry. This means you can have a black raspberry cone, or a black raspberry dish. Likewise, you can have a h.264 wrapped in a .mov file format, or wrapped in a .avi format.

•Data size: this is how much virtual space the file takes up.

•Data rate: this is how fast the data is being read off the disk. Duration x Data rate = Data size. Or, seconds x MB/seconds = MB.

•Frame size: this is the resolution (in pixels) of the video. 720×480 is standard definition, 1280×720 is higher definition.

•Aspect ratio: this refers to the proportions of the entire frame. 4:3 (1.33:1) is known as full screen, 16:9 (1.78:1) is widescreen.

•Pixel aspect ratio: this refers to the proportions of each pixel. (Pixels in video aren’t always square!) For example, 720×480 SD video will be a 4:3 frame when the pixels are tall and skinny (.9:1), but 720×480 SD video can also be 16:9 widescreen if each pixel is short and fat (1.2:1).


•Media Offline/can’t find scratch media

•Version compatibility

•Can’t capture

•Unrendered (red lines above timeline)

•Out of sync video/audio


•Offline Media: The best way to solve this is to avoid this. The best way to avoid this is to do the follow before starting any FCP project:

  1. open FCP
  2. make sure no other projects are open (close them if they are)
  3. delete default sequence
  4. open Easy Setup (ctrl-q) and set up project with the correct video standard
  5. open System Settings (shift-q) and set scratch disks (and waveform/thumbnail caches, and auto-save vault) to personal external drive (or folder on tempwork)
  7. begin work on project by ingesting footage, making new sequences etc.

Doing this at the start of any project will save a lot of issues from happening. It’ll ensure that the .fcp project file knows exactly where the scratch media is, and that it’s named properly in the right folder. It’ll also ensure that the sequence settings match the imported footage so that you don’t get red-lines on the timeline signifying unrendered media.

If there’s someone in the lab who has already begun the project and things are a mess, everything is fixable, but it may take some time:

If there are red slashes through the footage in the browser, this means that the media is offline and the .fcp project file cannot find where this media is located. If this is the case, right click the file, and select “Reconnect Media” and click on the “Locate” button to tell FCP where the original file might be located. Hints for finding missing files: all captured media should be in a Final Cut Pro Documents/Capture Scratch/Project Name/File . If the student didn’t save his or her work before ingesting footage, the “Project Name” folder may be titled “Untitled Project #”. If the student didn’t enter a description when capturing footage, the “File” may be titled “”. In order to help the student prevent future problems, it would be good to organize the files in proper locations and name them before continuing work.

•Version capability. Final Cut Pro is not backwards compatible. That means, if a project file has been saved from Final Cut version 7, it will NOT open on a system running FCP 6 or lower. If a project file from version 6 is opened with version 7, the file will be updated, and you will not be able to go back to the FCP6 system.

•Capture problems. Most capture problems are avoided by setting up the project in the fashion mentioned above. If the Log and Capture window says “VTR OK,” then the deck is properly connected. If it says “Not Threaded,” there is no tape. If it says “No Connection,” then FCP isn’t reading the FireWire connection with the deck. To fix this, make sure the deck is plugged in properly, then go to View/External Video/Refresh A/V Devices. If that doesn’t work, save the project and restart FCP. If that doesn’t work, restart the computer with the deck plugged in and on.

Instruct your students to always write something in the Description field so that the scratch footage has a name!

•If there are red lines above the Timeline, or the canvas says “Unrendered” when trying to play, or if you hear beeping when trying to play, something might need to be rendered or something might need to be changed in the Sequence Settings. More often than not the reason for the red lines is there is a mismatch between the video used and the Sequence Settings. If you have HD video and you put it into an SD sequence, it’ll need to be rendered, as an example. The best way to fix this is to match the Sequence Settings (cmd-0) to the type of video being used in the project. If there aren’t any fancy video effects on the video footage, and it’s asking to be rendered, it’s probably fixed through changing the Sequence Settings. The one exception is audio. If a student is trying to put say an .mp3 into a sequence, she’ll probably have to render the audio to hear it play. To render a selection, simply click the Sequence menu, then Render Selection, and select Audio, or whatever you’d like to render. Hopefully the scratch disks are set, so that the render files are going to the right place. You might want to check System Settings before rendering to make sure. Where possible, set the Timeline to Unlimited RT.

•Audio/Video out of sync. If there are red flags on the audio or video clips in the Timeline, that say “-01:00” or “+01:00” for example, this means that the video and audio tracks are out of sync. This is avoided by making sure of the following: the Patchers on the left of the tracks in the Timeline are patched properly. The Linked Selection is ON (look at the second to rightmost button above the timeline, or Edit/Linked Selection or shift-L). Also, instruct the students that using Track Locking is a good way of getting your clips out of sync. This problem is fixed by right-clicking on the red flag and selecting “Move into sync” or “Slip into sync”.

•Exporting. When a student has finished editing their piece, they might want to export to a final format that they can share with others or submit for a class. There are bunch of ways to do this, and you’ll have to ask what kind of video they want. The easiest way to export a self-contained Quicktime movie is clicking on the sequence, setting the in and out points (or no i/os to default export the whole Timeline), then File/Export/Quicktime Movie. Make sure “Make Movie Self-Contained” is checked, and use “Current Settings” and you will have a Quicktime movie (.mov) with the same settings (codec, frame size, etc) as the Timeline. This file will not be further compressed, and will retain the data rate of the capture scratch media, so this will be rather large, but very high quality.
If you want to compress the video for a DVD or the web etc, go to File/Share, and select the kind of video you want and where you want it to go. For more advanced users, you can do File/Sent To/Compressor, and have more control over your compression settings. But for the majority of students the Share export feature will be sufficient.


Brian Chin 207-318-1799

2 Responses to “Brian’s FCP Training (with Worksheet)”

  1. Brian said

    So, I made this worksheet thinking that we had FCP7 in the labs, when we really only have FCP6, so there are two things to chage.
    1) Refresh A/V Devices is under the View menu only, you do not have to go into the submenu External Video
    2) The “Share” feature does not exist in FCP6, so if you want to compress you have to Export -> Using Compressor. You also cannot Send To -> Compressor.

    When are we getting the new FC Studio?

  2. alg said

    Actually we *do* have FCP7…it just took a little while to get it on the image.

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