|Once in a while someone comes up a great idea for those who work day-in and-day-out creating programs with Final Cut Pro. FCP is a worthy editor by anyones standards, but its compositing capabilities are secondary to its editing workflow. Same thing can be said of any NLE. Their first and most powerful use is editing elements of picture and sound together into a sequence that tells a story of some kind, hopefully. Routinely professionals are adding sound elements and video effects that many of us use third party applications for.
The most-used application for video effects work is and has been for quite some time, Adobes After Effects. The workflow to date has been to export from your NLE the clips you want to really get that professional look out of into After Effects, a dedicated effects program. In fact there have been shorter projects entirely done in After Effects, because even though it could be used to edit projects together, the editing portion of the program was secondary to its effects capabilities. There is a tendency to forgo the use of the NLE to edit with.
Before now any programming you may have roughed out in any given shot would have to be discarded in favor of simply redoing some of it (like a fade up) in After Effects, and then exporting a rendered QuickTime file from AE, then re-importing that file into Final Cut Pro to edit it into your sequence.
The only way to save the programming you might have done in FCP was to render a QuickTime movie and import that into After Effects for further compositing. Depending on the job, you may have to export/import each clip individually. One thing that results though is that any keyframing you may have done in FCP is lost in AE. Cumbersome, tiresome, and at times took just enough of an effort, that editors might even be prone to skip the process all together just because of a lot of time and energy just to move the media files back and forth, etc
Maybe it would look a bit better with AE, but I just dont want to go through the machinations was what would go through their minds. If you wanted to do a series of shots (a sequence) to add an effect done better in After Effects, the editor becomes even less motivated. Each QuickTime Movie had to essentially be imported one at a time then re-edited in After Effects.
No more, Wes Plate and company at Automatic Duck have created pure magic. Their product will allow a Final Cut Pro editor to export an entire sequence in to Adobes product, and retain many of the keyframes created in Final Cut Pro when its opened in After Effects! Yeah, you read right, you can export an edited sequence, complete with keyframed images into After Effects, and it not only retains the keyframes (meta data in geekish) it imports all of the QuickTime movies and presents you with a composition that includes the shots edited as they were in Final Cut Pro! I told you it was magic
Automatic Duck has developed Automatic Sequence Export, an OMF export plug-in for Apples Final Cut Pro, and Automatic Composition Import FCP, an OMF import plug-in for After Effects to provide you with a powerful mechanism for combining the power of Final Cut Pro and Adobe After Effects. You will save hours of time, in turn you could save vast amounts of money as you spend your time being creative and not wasting it moving clips and rebuilding your timeline.
Automatic Sequence Export creates a representation of the Final Cut sequence and saves it in a format known as OMF (Open Media Framework), which was an initiative created and started by Avid Technology. In fact speaking of Avid, Automatic Duck has products for Avid folks too.
In addition to the timeline information, this OMF file contains links to the media for your sequence. Since both Final Cut Pro and After Effects are QuickTime-savvy applications, After Effects can use the media directly without any media conversion needed. Cool.
The OMF file is a representation of the metadata contained in the Final Cut sequence. Not everything in your timeline will translate into After Effects. Some FCP parameters dont have After Effects equivalents, other things are impossible to do programmatically as a plug-in, and other items are translatable- support just hasnt been built-in yet. It is important to work in Final Cut with the understanding that not everything translates, doing so will ensure the success of your project.
The suggested workflow is to use Final Cut to define the timing of your edit, to set up layers and mock up effects. Then use After Effects to complete the compositing, animation and effects for your sequence. Sort of an Offline effects edit in FCP, then a finishing done in AE.
When youre finished working in After Effects, render your composition to QuickTime and import the rendered file back into your Final Cut project.
Automatic Composition Import FCP will only import OMF files exported from Final Cut Pro using Automatic Sequence Export.
Its just not as important to get those effect keyframes back the other way if you really think about it
Heres a list of metadata that currently is supported for export from FCP:
So from this chart, you could see what to keyframe in Final Cut Pro, to reliably import into After Effects.
Not believing that voodoo like this was even possible, I gave it whirl. I turned this:
"Im a believer. Cant get over it. Gotta have it." These are words that come to mind
Simple, quick and saved me A LOT of work. Think if you had 50 or 100 edits to bring over, to use After Effects as your effects programmer. Cool.
True, FCP 3 can assign an editor application to a clip. What happens when you open a clip from FCP into its editor application is that clips entire media file opens in an After Effects project and you have to re-edit down only what you want to effect in After Effects. If you had added an opacity change in your timeline, it wont be there. Its better than having to do it the older way described at the top of this review, but you still have to edit down what you want to use, and you can only do this one at a time efficiently from within FCP 3. With Automatic Duck you get the whole banana AND you get the aforementioned keyframes to come across too.
Not an inexpensive plug-in particularly, but if you do this sort of work routinely, youre nuts not to purchase Automatic Ducks plug-in. Yes PLUG-IN. When you install the software, its added as a plug-in to Final Cut Pro. Shows up in the export menu from the edit menu. Another workflow feature, you dont have to open it separately from Final Cut Pro. Ive always liked watching ducks. This duck blew my mind.
-- Jerry Hofmann