|Using Automator for repetitive tasks in Final Cut Pro|
|A Creative COW Feature Article-Tutorial|
Article Focus: Automator is a tiny application included with Mac OS X with big power, quickly and easily creating custom workflows based on the work you actually do - no programming required. It's the perfect way to handle those pesky repetitive tasks in FCP. Do something once, then let Automator take it from there. This handy little tool can make the difference between keeping and losing your sanity -- and making or missing your deadline.
The core idea behind Automator is easy to understand:
Effortlessly streamline repetitive tasks.
Automator is a powerful little application included with OS X, and offers a number of ways to relieve the pain of repetitive tasks. Starting with Leopard, you don't even have to tell Automator what to do. Just tell it to record while you work, and you have pretty much all you need to never have to do it manually again.
Like so much else in the Mac OS, it's built on principles found in Unix. In this case, it's building complex capabilities from small, simple modules, which in Automator are called Actions. You can string together as many of them as you need, loop the results, customize them on the fly, load them into contextual pop-up menus to call them up when and where you need them, and more. The sky's the limit. If you can do it with your Mac, you can automate it.
Automator lives in your Applications folder.
It includes hundreds of built-in workflows, mostly in the finder, and although there are some included Aperture actions, most are in much more general-interest applications like iTunes, iCal, and so on.
You can download thousands more of these from Apple to do things like extracting pages from PDFs, free RAM by quitting Dashboard, creating icons from any picture...You get the idea.
If that was the whole story, it wouldn't be a story here. Seriously, if you can do it with your keyboard and mouse, you can automate it -- in applications including Photoshop, Office, and of course Final Cut Pro. The Cow's Dustin Lau shows how he built a custom workflow for creating scores of graphic animation sequences for multiple episodes of a TV series.
While it's highly unlikely that you'll ever need Dustin's specific workflow for episodic TV title , you'll learn a lot about what Automator can do in Final Cut Pro, and how, with some troubleshooting tips along the way.
Cute little toy? Nope. Automator is ready to do your heavy lifting in FCP. Wait'll you see what we mean.
Bonus: you'll learn a ton of FCP keyboard shortcuts.
Here's what Dustin has to say.
I thought you all might be interested to know how I've managed to use Automator's new "Watch Me Do" feature to automate a rather complex sequence of events.
replacing a set of 4 pictures in a simple animated sequence
There is no absolute deselect or select, so if a sequence has all, none or some auto-select tracks enabled, you do not know how the shortcut cmd-numpad0 will react, either selecting all or deselecting all. In my case, I made it such that all working sequences had all auto select track disabled.
The cycle repeats with the next image but selecting a different track in the image sequence.
The hard part creating an automated workflow is that even your pauses are recorded. You can't take too long to think about the next step, or you'll have to manually edit the pause duration after the record.
Building custom workflows yourself isn't complicated. You just need to be clear the exact steps required.
If you'd like to learn more about Automator, including how to integrate AppleScript and entries from the command line, start with the Apple Developer Connection's look at Automator.
Sure, this goes into more detail than most people need, but it really is a great place to start. And since when is "more than you need" a bad thing?
Here's an Apple online seminar on integrating Automator with Remote Desktop. See? ready for heavy lifting. You can find plenty more Apple online seminars for all levels of Automator expertise.
And when you're ready to develop Automator workflows for others to download, here are the pertinent Apple Human Interface Guidelines.