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Become replaceable. Have a life with better FCP project management

COW Library : Apple Final Cut Pro Legacy Tutorials : Dustin Lau : Become replaceable. Have a life with better FCP project management
A Creative COW Tutorial


Better living through better project and media management in Final Cut Pro


Dustin LauDustin Lau
Singapore

©2008 Dustin Lau and Creativecow.net. All rights reserved.


Article Focus: Sure, being replaceable can be scary -- but sometimes you NEED somebody to step in and help. Here are some of the tricks that Cow author Dustin Lau has learned for project set-up, file naming, and clear communication with other members of your team. These tricks will create smooth hand-offs from you to your temporary replacement -- and back to you when you return, without driving anyone crazy.


Being replaceable as an editor isn't necessarily something everyone is comfortable with.This is especially the case if the industry is very competitive where you are and there are far more editors than jobs available.

However, after many years of being on 24/7 troubleshooting duty and being unable to take leave or even fall sick, it becomes very important to be able to hand over your duties for your own sanity and personal life.

Sometimes, you realize that the world doesn't fall apart because you're not there, and that's a good thing.

Prepare a handover brief

This is a sample brief I prepared before I took 2 weeks off to get married. It's a Google docs presentation, so you'll need a Google account to read it. Google Docs is a pretty good tool for this, but you can use Zoho, Powerpoint or Keynote -- anything that will allow you to outline the project and workflow in way that anyone can follow.



Creating Episodic Templates easily

If you can spare the time, read my previous article on the beauty of standardized filenaming before you proceed with this section. Having these standardized filenames becomes very useful when you deal with an episodic series.

As each episode progresses, some creative decisions may be taken that will be maintained throughout the remainder of the series. It is best to have these sequences saved so they are easily repeatable throughout the duration of the series. These creative decisions thus have to be updated into a template project so all future episodes follow this standard.

But it's a pain to have to make changes to your current episode while updating a template project to reflect these changes in the future.

If your project has all its filenames in this format, it's simple to just hit cmd-f in the timeline, type "mytvshow-S03E04", and click "find all." All media specific to that episode will be highlighted. The other media which is generic (will remain the same week to week) remains unselected.

It's essential to create templates in FCP

You can then "make offline" (shift-d) the clips and have a new template to start the next episode.

The reason I make the clips offline instead of deleting them is so that they retain motion, distort, crop, filters, etc so you do not have to repetitively adjust the new files you are inserting to match a graphic doughnut, 16:9 box, etc. It is much simpler to use "paste content" to replace the offline file with the current episode's file.

Tune in to my next article to find out more about the power of the "find" function in FCP's Browser, Effects Palette and Timeline.

Music

Make loops of your music and mark the points that cut together with markers.
This way, you can have a hard 'in' on the music, loop it as long as required, and cut out with a hard 'out' when the segment ends.

Using loops in FCP

Sure beats fading it out.

There are some music libraries that give you short loopable files of their longer tracks. I never use them.
It's generally better to take their long track and make that loopable in some way, so there is a progression and change in the music particularly if it will be on for long.

This depends a little on your sense of music timing and knowing how to count beats, but it sounds infinitely better.

Full Frame Graphic Transitions

When you have graphics transitions, use markers to indicate the points at which they are full frame
so you can align your cut points to them.

Mark cut points for full-frame graphic transitions


Track Consistency

Be consistent with what you put on your video and audio tracks.

My full frame graphic transitions are always on the topmost track V8 or V9 unless they are meant to be within graphic doughnuts in which case they are on V5.

My main footage/B Roll is always on V1 unless it is cropped/keyed and has a background in which case it'll be on V4.

With this track consistency, it makes it easier to do tasks throughout a sequence like
  • running general 'one light' color corrections
  • adding flicker filter to graphic files with fine lines
  • adding broadcast safe only to shot footage which has not been legalized

In general, it makes it easier for the editor taking over to understand where things should go, and he or she can put things in the right place so it won't confuse YOU when you have to take over the job when you get back.

Speed up project opening and saving

Make a seperate project for generic elements
so your episode project only contains media from that episode
and is thus smaller, easier to manage, and less likely to be affected by corrupt media.

Anticipate Problems and Solve Them In Advance

If your machine has been unstable or if the power trips in your office often,
let whoever takes over know so he/she can take measures to safeguard against any loss of data/work.

Example
I had problems with FCP v6.0.2 saving corrupted project files that gave the "this file is too new for this version of Final Cut Pro" error.

Projects from later versions of FCP are unreadable in older versions


This error occurred in the same machine it was created in and even the autosave vault files gave the same error. The project file could not be opened in 4 other machines, whether the media was physically mounted or not. I had to roll back through a day and a half of auto saves before I found one that was valid and could be opened. My autosaves are 5 minutes apart and there weren't big changes or large amounts of media imported in between.

 I surmised that it was version 6.0.2 error as this had not occured in the previous few weeks I had worked on the project and had only begun after a company mandated application upgrade. This problem has since been fixed in V6.0.3.

Fortunately, I had the v6.0.1 version of FCP in my portable hard disk.

I have these versions of FCP v5, 5.1, 5.1.2, 5.1.4, 6.0.1, 6.0.2 on my harddisk, so that I can 'downgrade' the version of FCP I use anywhere if ever necessary, as it was in this circumstance. I left a copy of the v6.0.1 application for the editor taking over me to use by dragging the project file into the app file to open the project using v6.0.1 instead of v6.0.2 and avoiding the corrupt project error.

I will talk more about the contents of this hard disk in a future article.

 




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