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About Final Cut Pro
Final Cut Pro is an advanced film editing that allows extensive control over digital video and movies. While this program offers almost unlimited options for film makers, you need only to know the basics to take a project from start to finish. The aim of this tutorial is to teach you these basics. If you would like to learn more about Final Cut Pro after completing this tutorial, the Final Cut Pro manual and various third-party manuals are available in the MRC Digital Media Lab. In addition, there are numerous helpful websites such as Ken Stone's which provide a wealth of information.
Please note that in this tutorial there are several tutorial movie clips you can view. They are denoted by a icon and will open in a pop-up window if you click on them.
How to Use Final Cut Pro in the MRC
Before you open FCP, make sure that the DV deck and the NTSC monitor are both on.
Setting Up Final Cut Pro | The Windows
In addition to saving your project (on one of the Save Disks, of course), in Final Cut Pro you also need to set the save locations for scratch disks to ensure that all aspects of your project are saved and stored properly. This sounds a little bit complicated, but don't worry. Just follow the directions below every time you open your project and you will not have any problems.
After opening Final Cut Pro (FCP) and saving your project, you will need to change the save locations for the scratch disks. This tells the program where to save your files as you work on them and as FCP creates new ones. DO NOT FORGET to do this every time you open the program, as other users will change the locations for their own projects. Choose "System Settings..." from the "Final Cut Pro HD" menu and go to the far left tab, titled "Scratch Disks." Click on the top button that says "Set" and find your project folder, then choose it as the location to save your work. Next, go to the bottom three items: "Waveform," "Thumbnail" and "Autosave" and set them for your project folder as well. If you will be bringing in more than 30 minutes of footage, uncheck the "Limit Capture Now" option or change the time to suit your needs. Click "OK."
The FCP Windows
Before you begin actual work on your project, you will find it useful to familiarize yourself with the work environment of Final Cut Pro as well as some of the vocabulary you may encounter as you work with the program. You may want to skim through the sections "The FCP Windows" and "FCP Glossary" at first and then refer back to them later as you work on your project. There will be highlighted words throughout the text; click on these to refer back to definitions that are presented in the following sections. Right now it is most important that you just get a basic feel for what you see on your screen.
When you open Final Cut Pro HD, your screen should look like the the image below. If it looks substantially different, go to the "Window" menu and select "Standard" from the "Arrange" submenu. You can use this command at any time to revert the windows to this default arrangement. Each of the windows will be described briefly below. You can skip to the description of a specific window by clicking on it in the image below.
Notice that there are two tabs in the Browser window. One is labeled "Effects." We will cover how to use effects later in this tutorial. The other tab should be labeled with the name of your project. This tab is where you can gain quick access to your video and audio files as well as your sequences. Later in the tutorial, importing files into the Browser will be covered.
The Viewer window is used to preview and edit individual clips from the Browser. Double-click on a clip in the Browser to make it appear in the Viewer. One of the most common uses of the Viewer is to define in and out points for a clip before moving it into your Timeline.
The Timeline window is where your edited video, audio and effects are displayed in the order that they will play. Simply drag video and audio clips from the Viewer or the Browser onto where you want to place them on the Timeline. Notice that the Timeline is separated into two halves by a horizontal line. The top half of the Timeline is where video clips are placed. Audio goes on the bottom half of the Timeline.
When you play your Timeline, it plays in the Canvas window. You cannot edit video or audio in the Canvas window.
This window contains various tools that you can use to edit your project. Although we will not cover these tools in this tutorial, it is definitely worth investigating these on your own time.
Use this window to monitor the level of your audio output. If nothing happens in these meters when you play your video it means that your video has no audio track (or an extremely quiet audio track).
Here are some of the terms that you will frequently see as you use Final Cut Pro. This list is by no means exhaustive, but it should give you a good grounding in some of the more common vocabulary terms that you will encounter as you work through this tutorial.
Batch Capture: an automated capture of clips that have been logged
Capturing: bringing video and audio files into FCP to use in your project; "capturing" is essentially a synonym for "importing"
Chapter Markers: if you are planning on putting your project onto DVD and want a chapter menu, use these to mark where your chapters are placed and what they will be named
Clip: an individual section of a video or audio file
Compositing: combining two images together to create a single image; use this to place an image over the top of your video
Compression: this is a process that can be used to make your video use less memory; however, the more memory you save, the more quality you lose
Effects: FCP's effects include video generators, titles, transitions and more; effects can be found under the "Effects" tab in the Browser and can be used for anything from subtle enhancements to dramatic changes
Export: create a new file in a different format (for example, a single QuickTime movie) so that other programs can read it
Import: bringing material into FCP to use in a project
In and Out Points: by setting in and out points, you can change when a clip begins and ends; think of "in" and "out" as "start" and "finish"
Leader: a video clip that comes before the main video; common examples of leaders are color bars or a count down
Log: setting in and out points for external media (such as a DV tape) before actually importing the material into FCP
Log Bin: this is where all of your logged clips are displayed; the default for this can be changed
Marker: saves a specific point in a clip so that you can find that spot later; create a marker by moving the playhead to where you want the marker, then press "m" on the keyboard
NTSC: this is the standard North American video format; PAL is a different standard that is not compatible with NTSC
Offline Clip: a clip that has been logged but has not yet been imported
Playhead: this is the small, yellow triangle in the Viewer or the Timeline that shows what part of the clip is currently playing
Project: contains all of the clips, sequences and files associated with the video you are working on
Rendering: the procedure that FCP must execute for processes that cannot be completed in real time before they can be viewed; if a sequence needs rendering, there will be a red line near the top of the Timeline and you will not be able to view the project until the sequence has been rendered
Sequence: a compilation of clips that have been organized; a sequence can make up an entire project or just a single scene; a project can have multiple sequences chained together
Slug: a video clip of nothing but a black background; create these using the "Video Generators" under the "Effects" tab
Sound Mix: the relative volume of separate audio channels in relation to each other
Tabs: these look like tabs on a physical filing system; essentially, they organize windows in a neat and orderly way; click on the tabs to navigate through them
Title: text that appears over the top of a video clip; create titles using the "Text" folder in the "Video Generators" folder under the "Effects" tab in the Browser
Trailer: a video clip that comes after the main video; often this is just a few seconds or minutes of a black screen
Voice Over: an audio track that has been separately added to the video to provide narration
Importing Video | Importing Audio | Log and Capture | Logging DV and Batch Capture
FCP can import the following formats:
Graphics: BMP, FlashPix, GIF, JPEG/JFIF, MacPaint (PNTG), PhotoShop (PSD), PICS, PICT, PNG, QuickTime Image File (QTIF), SGI, TARGA (TGA), and TIFF
Video: AVI, QuickTime Movie, raw DV
Audio: AIFF, Audio CD Data (Macintosh), Sound, and Wave
You can import video into FCP in a number of ways. You can drag your clip into the Browser window from where it exists on the computer. You can select "Files..." from the "Import" submenu of the "File" menu. If you need to get video from a VHS or DV tape, you can use "Log and Capture" (which will be discussed shortly). Be sure to save your files in your main folder so FCP can find them.
To import audio, it must be in a format that FCP recognizes. Secondly, it must be in your FCP project folder. If you have a song on CD (or similar media), you should first rip it from that media and then save it in your project folder before you use it in your project. This ensures that the music file is always on hand when you edit your project; if you leave it on the CD, you will always need the CD to properly view your project.
To import music from a CD, it is easiest to use iTunes to import the audio and reformat it appropriately. Once you have the audio file, move it into your project folder. Then drag it into the FCP Browser or import it using the "Import" command. You can also "Log and Capture" sound files from a DV, DVD, audio tape or VHS. To do this, Log and Capture the video (with audio, of course) like you normally would and then delete the video.
Log and Capture is the most common way of importing video from external media such as VHS or cassette tape. Select "Log and Capture..." from the "File" menu. This will open the Log and Capture window, which should look like the image below. The DV deck and the monitor should already be on, or FCP will give you a message stating that it could not find the device at start up.
All you need to worry about is the "Now" button on the bottom right of this window. To bring in your footage, click "Now", and a new window will open, waiting for material to import. Press "Play" on your device and FCP will record what shows up in this new window. If you are importing from VHS or if FCP says Waiting for Time Code, you must change your settings as follows: select "Audio/Video Settings" from the "Final Cut Pro HD" menu and set the "Device Control Preset" to "Non-Controllable Device." When the clip you want has finished, stop capturing by hitting the ESC key. FCP will automatically save the clip you just captured into the Browser. Make sure you rename the clip so that you will be able to find it later!
If you would like to bring in many clips at once, or mark several clips without actually importing all of the footage, you can use Final Cut Pro's Log DV and Batch Capture functions. To log footage, press "Play" in the Log and Capture window. Go ahead and set in and out points for your first clip (we will cover in and out points later in the tutorial). Click "Log Clip" to name the clip, and add a description. If you would like to capture the clip right away, click "Capture Clip." When you have logged all of your desired footage, highlight all of the clips in the Browser that you want captured (assuming you did not already capture them using "Capture Clip") and hit "Now" in the "Capture" area. To Batch Capture (capture all the clips that you have logged), hit "Batch." Note that this will only work if there are no time code breaks.
Editing and Assembling your Video
Working with the Various Windows | In and Out Points | Adding Effects & Text | Rendering | Audio | Working With Sequences
Once you have your audio and video clips imported into Final Cut Pro, you are ready to begin editing them and assembling them into a cohesive project. Here is the basic order of operations (after this summary, we'll go into each step in more detail): double-click on the video file that you are ready to edit in the Browser. This will cause the video to appear in the Viewer. Edit the clip in the Viewer, then drag it down onto the Timeline. Place your edited clips one after another in the Timeline in the order you want them to play. In the Timeline, add effects such as transitions and titles. Use the Canvas to view your Timeline at any point during the assembling of your project.
In and Out points define at what point you want a clip to start and at what point you want a clip to end. To set in and out points for a clip, first get the clip into the Viewer window by double-clicking on the clip in the Browser. Your clip should appear in the Viewer, and you can watch it using the "Play" button. Now, move the playhead to where you want the clip to start. Click on the button marked in the figure to the right as "Set In" or press the "i" key on your keyboard. You will see the "In" marker move to where the playhead is. Now move the playhead to where you want your video to stop. Type "o" or click on the "Set Out" button. The "Out" marker should move to where the playhead is. Now, click on the Viewer and drag your clip onto the Timeline. Notice that what has been placed onto the Timeline is only the area in between the "In" and "Out" markers. You can drag the clips in the Timeline to rearrange them. Note that the top half of the Timeline is your video track and the bottom half of the Timeline displays your audio tracks. You can watch the Timeline in the Canvas by selecting the Timeline and pressing the space bar on your keyboard.
Setting in and out points does not permanently change your clip. This means that you can set in and out points for a clip in the Viewer, drag that clip onto the Timeline, then change the in and out points in the Viewer without it ever affecting the clip that you already moved into the Timeline. This allows you to use multiple sections of the same clip. If you want to edit the in and out points for a clip that is already in the Timeline, double-click on the clip in the Timeline and it will appear in the Viewer. You can edit it directly from there.
Final Cut Pro comes with a number of effects that can be applied to your video clips. Effects can be found in the Browser window under their own tab. Note that there are a number of folders, each one containing a number of different effects. For now, we will focus on the video effects folders: Video Transitions, Video Filters and Video Generators.
Video Transitions: these provide different ways to transition from one clip to another
Video Filters: these effects apply to an entire clip; they range from very subtle (such as "color correction" - see video clip below) to extreme (such as the "pond ripple" effect)
Video Generators: these create a new clip; use to create such things as color bars, slugs and text
To apply these effects, simply double click on the desired effect. This will bring the effect parameters up in the Viewer. Adjust the parameters for the effect to your liking (every effect has different parameters; the best way to learn them is to experiment). Generators create their own clip, so you can drag it onto the Timeline like you would a normal clip. Filters are applied to a clip already in the Timeline by dragging the effect on top of the clip. Transitions can be applied to the juncture of two clips in the Timeline by dragging it where the two clips meet. Note that most effects need to be rendered before you can watch them; rendering is discussed below.
Creating text is slightly different. Text is located under the "Video Generators" file and is customized in the Viewer like you would any other effect (after double-clicking on the text generator, go to the "Controls" tab in the Viewer to type in your text). The difference with text is that the generated file can be placed over the top of another clip in the Timeline (a technique known as compositing), as is shown in the image above. This causes the text to be seen as superimposed over the top of the video clip it is paired with. If you want a solid background, you can put the text by itself on the Timeline.
Compositing can also be used with files brought in from other programs, such as Photoshop. Just drag the image onto the browser, then treat it like you would a generated text clip.
You may have noticed that when you insert or apply an effect, there is often a red line that appears in the Timeline (see image above). When this red line is present, you cannot watch that part of your project. That is because you need to render your effect. Rendering is the process that FCP has to go through to prepare certain things to be viewed. To render your file, go to the "Sequence" menu and choose "Both" from the "Render All" submenu. Depending on the length and complexity of your effect, this may take quite a while.
Now that you are familiar with how to work with video clips in the FCP Timeline, we can quickly go over audio. If the only audio that you want to use is the audio that is connected to your video, there is nothing special that you have to do. It should automatically be attached to your video clip. If you want to add music or sound effects, just drag them from the Browser onto the bottom half of the Timeline and move them to where you want them to go. By double-clicking on audio files, you can edit them in the Viewer window just as with a video file.
If you wish to add a voice over, select "Voice Over" from the "Tools" menu. A window identical to the image below will open. Once you get the microphone set up, all you have to do is click on the "Record" button (see image below). There will be a five-second count down, and then the clip will play and you can begin speaking. This feature allows you to speak while the sequence plays. The Voice Over tool will only work if you have a video track already in the Timeline.
Just like with video, there are a number of effects offered by FCP that can be applied to your audio. These can be applied in the same way that video effects are applied; just drag the effect from the Browser window onto the audio track. Double-clicking the effect lets you adjust the parameters in the Viewer.
Audio Transitions: these can be used to create smooth audio transitions from one clip to another
Audio Filters: most of these effects filter out certain parts of the sound spectrum and can be used to try and reduce background noise; there are also some that can be used for more dramatic effects ("delay" for example)
Final Cut Pro offers the user a great deal of control over the sound mix. For instructions on using FCP's mixing controls, watch the "Working With Audio Tracks & Keyframes" video below.
If you are working on a complicated or lengthy project, you may consider working with sequences. You may have noticed that as you edit your clips and arrange them on the Timeline, they are all under a Timeline tab named "Sequence 1." Sequence 1 also shows up in the browser with a different icon then video or audio files. You can create another sequence by going to the "File" menu, opening the "New" menu and selecting "Sequence." Notice that this creates "Sequence 2" in the Browser. Double-click on Sequence 2 and it will appear in the Timeline in a new tab. Now you can work on a separate scene in the new sequence. You can create as many new sequences as you like.
It is always useful to name clips in a logical way, and sequences are no different. To rename a sequence, select the icon that you wish to rename, then click once on the name of the sequence. This should highlight the name, allowing you to type in a new name.
When you want to chain your sequences together, create another new sequence. Now you can drag the other sequences into the new sequence. The older sequences will act like single clips, and you can arrange them similarly.
Finishing Your Project
Setting Chapter Markers | Exporting Your Movie | Recording to DVD | Recording to VHS | Compressing Your Movie for the Web
Chapter markers are important if you plan on burning your movie onto DVD and wish to have a chapter menu. Chapter menus allow the viewer to start the movie from various predefined points within the movie. Often, professional movies on commercial DVDs will have the movie divided into scenes.
To set chapter makers, move the playhead to the point in the movie where you want to create a chapter marker. Press the "m" key on the keyboard twice. The first time you press it, a normal marker is created. The second time you press it, a dialogue box will come up. Name the marker, click "Add Chapter Marker," then click "OK." Once you have added all of your chapter markers, you are ready to export your movie.
The first step to take when you export your movie is to open the "File" menu, open the "Export" submenu and choose "QuickTime Movie..." You should get a dialogue box that looks like the image below. Name your movie and choose a location (one of the save disks, please) to save your movie in. Unless you have a very specialized need, go ahead and leave the "Setting" and "Include" pull-down menus at the default values of "Current Settings" and "Audio and Video" respectively. If you inserted chapter markers into your movie, make sure that the "Markers" menu is set to "Chapter Markers." Finally, if you are planning to burn the movie onto a DVD (or record to a VHS) using the same computer that you are currently working on, be sure to uncheck the "Make Movie Self-Contained" box. This will speed up the encoding process considerably. However, if you plan on doing something other than burning a DVD or recording to VHS in the lab, make sure and leave this box checked.
Once you have exported your movie, you are ready to put it on a DVD. Toast, iDVD and DVD Studio Pro are available in the MRC lab. iDVD is best for a quick and easy setup and will provide enough options for most users. If you have something specific in mind and want to make a professional looking final product, DVD Studio Pro provides almost unlimited options (but has a slightly steeper learning curve). Toast is a good program to use if you want to make an extremely simple DVD interface. The MRC offers tutorials on all three of these programs.
If you want to record your movie to VHS, you need to first make sure that your video signal is going through to the NTSC Monitor. Turn the NTSC Monitor and the DV Deck on, then switch the DV Deck "Input Select" switch to "DV." Make sure that nothing is plugged into the patch bay. Go to the "Audio Playback" submenu in the "View" menu and select "Audio Follows Video." Then select "All Frames" from the "External Video" submenu from the "View" menu.
Assuming everything is set correctly, when you play your movie in the Canvas it should also play in the NTSC Monitor.
Cue up your video tape. Now select "Print to Video" from the "File" menu. You should get a dialogue box that looks like the one below. Choose a leader and a trailer if you want them, then click OK to start the process. Make sure and hit "Record" on the VCR.
If you plan on using your video on the web, chances are that you will need to compress the file. This can be done by going to the "File" menu, opening the "Export" submenu and choosing "Using Compressor..." This opens a separate program that you can use to compress your video. First, make sure that your video is listed as your "source." Now, choose your "preset." This will set what format your video will be converted to. Now, choose your "destination" to set where your video will be saved to. Finally, click "Submit" to start the process. Note that this does not change your original video file, it creates a new, separate file.
Learning More About Final Cut Pro
While this tutorial has showed you the basics of using Final Cut Pro, there is plenty more that you can learn about this program. The "Help" menu in Final Cut Pro takes you to a PDF version of the manual. The manual is also available for use in hard copy form in the MRC Digital Media Lab. Also available in the lab and elsewhere are a variety of third-party manuals on Final Cut Pro. Finally, the Internet has a number of valuable resources. Ken Stone's Final Cut Pro site is particularly good.