Initial Final Cut Pro X Thoughts: Importing, Keywords, Smart Collections, Metadata

UPDATE: I wrote a more extensive look (and mini-tutorial) at importing, keywords, organization, etc., with some thoughts on settings and such (with images), over at Creative Mac/Digital Media Net.

Sorry for the long title, but I finally was able to get to work with Apple’s Final Cut Pro X, and I wanted to put some initial thoughts down. So far, I’m really digging the great new ways to organize all my media, especially with the interviews I’m going through for a behind-the-scenes doc I’m cutting. It’s a great way to dip my toes into FCP X.

Using a new Mac mini (base model with 8GB of RAM, which makes ALL the difference), I fired up Final Cut Pro X and easily imported footage that’s already been processed, from a behind-the-scenes documentary I’m cutting for a film I did a few years ago, and it was automatically put into various categories since the footage is a variety of formats and dates, including the Sony EX1, Panasonic HVX200, Sony V1u and an unidentified mini-dv camera (I received the tape from an out-of-town actor). No problems working with the footage whatsoever. I was also using some video tutorials to help guide me.

This reminded me of late 1999/early 2000 when I lived in Orlando and was cutting my first feature Skye Falling, while learning to edit with Final Cut Pro 1.0 on my old G3 Power Mac (bondi blue). I used a free video CD I got with the software, I believe hosted by Josh Mellicker. It took me a while to watch the video and cut the film, about 2 months, but it helped.

So with FCP X, I’m using my buddy Kevin P. McAuliffe’s training videos (part 1 and part 2), and they’ve been helpful so far. I may check out those from FCP X gurus Larry Jordan and Michael Wohl.

I’m only dipping my toes in, and just going through all the interviews, about 2 to 3 hours worth, and tagging keywords. When I imported the footage (even if it was off cards), I had the opportunity to allow FCP X to do an Auto-Content Analysis (done as a background task, and performed quickly), which would identify clips (single shot, wide shot, close-up, two people, etc.), analyze video for stabilization and color correction and analyze the audio, etc. I didn’t do any of that, but I can do it anytime by right-clicking the clip and instruct FCP X to do it.

The keywords are really handy, since everyone involved with the film, cast and crew, were asked basically the same questions, and I can easily find which ones said more about a certain question that I can pull from during that part of the documentary, plus anything of interest. Most of these interviews were one- to two-man bands, and no logging was ever done. So this is VERY helpful with all these long interviews!

From there, I can have FCP X create Smart Collections based on the analysis of footage, keywords, etc. This is a tremendous way of organizing all the footage, which is nicely organized to begin with, not just a bunch of clips I had to manually tell FCP to import into bins I named (tape 1, tape 2, etc.). Metadata also plays a big part in these Smart Collections. I’m going to start organizing things with the Smart Collections, because what’s the point of all my keywords if I don’t use them?

Which leads me to metadata, and this is one that I’m going to need to use Philip Hodgetts’ excellent book, “Conquering the Metadata Foundations of Final Cut Pro X.” This is my next step in FCP X, because I feel metadata, Smart Collections, Content Auto-Analysis, range-based keywords, and more, all put FCP X way ahead of the other pro editing software, including Apple’s own FCP 7. And make no mistake, this is a professional non-linear editing app.

I feel organizing media makes Final Cut Pro X stand above the professional NLE competition, and will make editing much faster. I won’t lie, it was daunting when I first launched the app, but I’m entering in slowly and trying to organize my clips the best way possible. I haven’t done any editing, other than putting one clip on the timeline (woo-hoo!), but that comes next, after I feel comfortable with my media organization.

More soon! Oh, and did I mention the 64-bit really made me smile? Things didn’t drag at all, and I’ve had an 8-core Mac Pro with 8GB of RAM, running FCP 6 three years ago, while cutting a feature film, and it wasn’t nearly as fast as FCP X on a 2.3 GHz Intel Core i5 (dual-core) Mac mini! That’s not to say a Mac Pro with FCP X won’t be faster than my Mac mini, because it will, of course.

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  1. Hmm. Now I may just pull out those 35 hrs. of miniDV tapes of a documentary that I never started about Liberia.

    • hmcknight
    • August 4th, 2011 12:33pm

    It’s making my life easier, I’ll tell you that much. I’d love to try cutting a short film with it, because having the clips be organized according to scene, type of shot (wide, close-up, etc.) and keywords will be very helpful. A feature, it’ll be essential!


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