FCPX to AE & Avid to AE

FCPX-AE & Avid-AE

Very often in the editing process, we get to a point when we need to shift from cutting and assembling our edit, and into the stage of refining it with motion graphics, visual effects, or color grading. Most modern NLEs have the tools that can do such tasks, but depending on the complexity of these finishing techniques, you may need to turn to a program like After Effects. It’s no secret that After Effects is one of the industry standard compositing/motion graphics applications that professionals of all tiers use to complete a project. Getting timelines or footage from Premiere to After Effects is an easy task that can be accomplished in multiple ways. However, if you an editor who uses Final Cut Pro X or Avid Media Composer, getting your timelines into After Effects may be a bit of challenge. However, there are dedicated workflows and applications available for editors of those programs.

FCPX to AE (Automatic Duck XImport)

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This new plugin from Wes Plate brings the functionality of bringing Final Cut Pro X timelines into After Effects. The original Automatic Duck plugin allowed users to send Final Cut Pro 7 & Avid Media Composer timelines to After Effects for polishing and other effects. The process works by creating an XML in Final Cut Pro X. From there, open up After Effects and navigate to Import>Automatic Duck Ximport AE. A dialogue menu will appear and you can navigate to the location of your XML file. Select your XML file, decide whether or not to modify settings, and hit Return. The translation will produce a folder and composition based on what you named your timeline in FCPX. Open the composition and you can see what transferred and what didn’t. This plugin will read third party plugins like Boris FX, Coremelt, and others. The ones that probably won’t carry over are any FCPX Motion template based plugins, like those from MotionVFX, Ripple Training, or Pixel Film Studios.

I personally haven’t had a project to test this plugin, but when I do, I plan on trying this workflow to see if it is another solution I can have in my arsenal.

Avid Media Composer to AE

In this video tutorial, post production guru Kevin P. McAuliffe shows us how to roundtrip Media Composer sequences to After Effects and back. First, he right clicks on his sequence in the project panel and selects Export. In the Export settings, he selects Options and chooses AAF along with AAF Edit Protocol. He also selects Include Video/Data Tracks, enables the Link option, and sends the AAF file to the desktop. Inside of After Effects, he goes to File>Import> Pro Import After Effects. In the dialog menu, he navigates to the AAF file and modifies the settings to accommodate his file. This allows for After Effects to create a composition that looks identical to how his timeline was cut. From there, he breaks down how to export from After Effects using the DNxHD codec. Once he exports it out, importing it back in Media Composer is a smooth process based on the DNxHD codec he used.

I’ve cut on Media Composer in the past, and from what I see here, this is a very similar process to getting FCP timelines to After Effects. The only difference is the name of the file intermediate you use to get your timelines from one place to another. Personally, I’ve never been a fan of how Avid has compositing situations and its continual lack of blend modes boggles my mind. However, this tip is handy for anyone who deals with Media Composer on a regular basis.

From what you can see here, getting your timelines from FCPX and Media Composer to After Effects is not as hard as it looks. Knowing how to use these methods can be beneficial for those situations when you need to hand off your timeline to a visual effects artist or animator. There are probably other methods than the two I highlighted here, so feel free to find those so you have a backup plan.

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Setting Up Multi-Cam in your NLE

A Team NLE

As an editor, I’ve been in many situations where I have to cut a project that was shot by multiple cameras. If production sets up their cameras so that I can easily match things up and cut like a technical director, my job is much easier. If they don’t, however, it can be a painstaking task trying to figure when each camera is in sync with one another. You can’t always control the method to which you receive footage from multiple cameras, but it is an essential skill to know how to set up your timeline to do multiple camera editing, also known as multi-cam. I’m going to briefly breakdown the steps it takes to set up a multi-camera edit in popular NLEs such as Avid Media Composer, Final Cut Pro X, and Adobe Premiere Pro.

Avid Media Composer Multi-Cam

In this video tutorial, editor Jon Christenson shows the basics of setting up a multi-camera edit in Avid Media Composer. This type of edit in Media Composer can be set up using timecode, in & out points, or the start of clips. In his example, he uses a clap from three clips to set a sync point for all clips. From there, he uses multiple bins to sort out his clips he wants in the multi-cam, as well as a bin for grouped clips. Utilizing the Fast Menu in the bin, he chooses Group Clips to create his multi-cam edit. Once he has his multi-cam clip set up, he sets up his buttons to make the multi-camera edit more streamlined and efficient. Then, he can do a multi-cam edit by pressing a key mapped to a specific angle. Although I don’t use Media Composer as much as I should, I have to say they have a robust system for multi-camera editing.

Final Cut Pro X Multi-Cam

In this video tutorial, Apple certified and GeniusDV trainer Jon Lynn shows us how to set up a multi-cam edit in Final Cut Pro X. In this program, you first select the clips you want. Then, you right click and select a new multi-cam clip which brings up a dialogue menu. Once you have your settings, use the Angle Viewer and click on the angles you want to cut to while playing back the multi-cam clip. In my experience, I found this multi-cam system very fluent and easy to use in comparison to Media Composer. Although it has a different paradigm than other track based editing systems, the multi-cam functions in FCPX are extremely robust.

Adobe Premiere Pro Multi-Cam

In this video tutorial, Lynda instructor Jeff Sengstack demonstrates how to set up a multi-cam clip in Adobe Premiere Pro CC. There are two ways to set up multi-cam clip in Premiere Pro. I typically set it up from the timeline level where I have my clips set up as needed. The other method is doing it from the project browser, which is the method Jeff uses. With the clips he has selected in the project browser, he right clicks and selects Create Multi-Camera sequence. From the dialogue menu, he can choose how to sync his clips. Once that is taken care of, you should get a new sequence clip in the browser. Now, he can begin cutting the multi-cam clip in his timeline using the available tools. I’ve found Premiere’s multi-camera abilities to be the best of the track based NLEs. I have used Final Cut Pro 7’s multi-camera function before and found it hard to wrap my head around. Premiere’s multi-cam function always seemed to work for me.

As you can see from these videos, multi-camera editing is relatively easy to set up, depending on your NLE of choice. Trying to cut without multi-cam functions is possible, but can be tedious and frustrating in longform projects. I know from earlier experience, I tried to bypass using multi-cam editing and wasted hours fixing things that could have been addressed sooner had I learned how multi-camera editing works. I highly recommend you learn multi-camera editing in your NLE and save yourself some time on those long and complex edits.

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How to Create Nested Sequences

A Team NLE

Timelines, or sequences as they are known in certain NLEs, are the foundation for editors to arrange their footage into a comprehensive narrative. Timelines allow us to insert video, audio, titles, transitions, and more to take us from point A to completion. However, there comes a time when you are editing in your preferred NLE and having a lot of tracks or connections clutter your timeline. In a situation like this, creating a sequence within a sequence, or nesting, will consolidate your assets into one. Every major NLE has the ability to create nested sequences, or compound clips as they are called in Final Cut Pro X. With the video tutorials below, I will highlight this technique so that it can become a part of your skill set.

Avid Media Composer

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In Avid Media Composer, the act of nesting is known as collapsing. As Avid guru Kevin P. McAuliffe shows us in this tutorial, when your timeline gets heavy in effects and clips, collapsing items in a sequence can be much more effective than using video mixdowns. In order to collapse your video/audio assets, select all that you want to include and hit the collapse button, or a custom keyboard shortcut. Once your assets are collapsed, you can step into the collapsed sequence, or double click and modify your clips as needed. If you are a Final Cut Pro or Premiere Pro editor, Media Composer’s method of nesting may seem a bit confusing at first, but with time and practice it starts to make sense. One of the drawbacks of a collapsed sequence in Media Composer is that you can only see one timeline at a time.

Premiere Pro

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Adobe Master trainer Maxim Jago shows us the process of nesting clips into a sequence in this PeachPit tutorial. Nesting sequences in Premiere is very similar to Final Cut Pro Legacy’s process. Select the video and audio assets you want, go to Clip> Nest and it will ask you to name your nested sequence. Once you’ve given it a name, it will appear in the timeline as one clip, as well as the project browser. I like this form of nesting because I can cycle between open sequences with ease.

Final Cut Pro X

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In Final Cut Pro X, the process of creating nesting sequences is called creating compound clips. In this tutorial, master trainer Jon Lynn shows us the process. You can create compound clips from the timeline as well as the Event browser. Select the clips you want in your timeline and go to File -> New Compound Clip (press option + G). You can also select your highlighted clips, right click and select new Compound Clip. Similar to Avid Media Composer, I would have to “step in” to see the assets in the compound clip, and since FCPX doesn’t allow you to see multiple timelines at once, we’ll have to wait for further improvements.

Overall, the art of nesting a lot of content into its own sequence is something that comes in handy on small and large projects. Even with all the innovations made by these primetime NLEs, nesting is a technique that won’t be going away anytime soon. I strongly recommend you learn how to nest content into its own sequence in whichever NLE you use.

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Digital Rebellion Tools Review

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When I started my journey to becoming an editor, I wanted to know all the tools I would need to get the job done. I believed all I needed was a good computer, some software and footage to work with to do it. As I progressed in my journey, I was introduced to tools that not only made my job as an editor easier but also helped me troubleshoot issues that I may run into. One particular developer of editing tools I’m thankful for discovering is Digital Rebellion. Founded in 2007, Digital Rebellion has developed maintenance and workflow tools for Final Cut Pro 6/7/X, After Effects, Premiere Pro and Avid Media Composer. My first exposure to them was when I used the FCS Remover to remove Final Cut Studio 2 and reinstall it cleanly. Since then, I have purchased Pro Maintenance and Pro Media Tools and never looked back. These tools have helped me troubleshoot issues that I would have had to spend hours looking through forums to get the answers to. I can’t imagine editing without them. I’ll give a brief overview of some of the applications from Pro Maintenance and Pro Media Tools. Hopefully, you’ll either trial or purchase them after you know some of their capabilities.

Pro Maintenance Tools

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These set of tools were originally available for Final Cut Studio but have since expanded to include Final Cut Pro X, Avid Media Composer/Symphony and Adobe Premiere Pro. Within these tools are applications that can trash/store your preferences, analyze why your NLE crashed, repair your NLE, manage your plugins and more. Some of my commonly used applications are Preference Manager, Crash Analyzer, and Plugin Manager.

Preference Manager allows the user to save, backup and trash preferences from the aforementioned programs. This application is really helpful when you run into an issue that was potentially caused by your current preferences. Instead of going through the many Finder folders to locate your preference files, Preference Manager is able to do it at the press of a button. If you want to import preferences from another machine to yours, you can do it relatively easy by importing them.

Crash Analyzer looks at your editing application crash logs and attempts to diagnose why it crashed. In the application window, it will provide suggestions to help alleviate the problem so you can get back to editing. This application is a godsend for editors who have dealt with their editing applications crashing without knowing how to fix it. I can’t count how many times this app has helped me troubleshoot the crashes I get. The best part is that a widget at the upper right part of your screen will appear as soon as your editing application crashes giving you the opportunity to investigate further. If you get Pro Maintenance Tools, Crash Analyzer is an additional must have.

Plugin Manager allows you to easily and quickly organize your editing system plugins. With this application, you can install new plugins and enable/disable current plugins without having to worry about locating them on your computer. I’ve used this app to help troubleshoot some plugins I have that may be causing issues with Final Cut Pro that are hindering my ability to finish an edit. It’s useful if you just want to disable a plugin as oppose to completely uninstalling it. I haven’t had a chance to explore its further capabilities but I plan to in the near future.

Pro Media Tools

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This set of tools helps with the efficiency side of your workflow. There are tools to offload your media to multiple drives, set project folders, detect gamma shifts, handle QuickTime files, notify you of renders and more. Not all the tools in this set work across every editing application so if you are a single editing application user you’ll be limited by that. Some of the tools I find myself using often are Auto Transfer, Post Haste and Edit Detector.

Edit Detector is an application that can detect edits and scene changes in QuickTime movies. This application is helpful for when you have to take pre-edited video and break it up for things like color correction, visual effects and motion graphics. It also comes with a sensitivity slider that determines how in depth you want the application to detect cuts and scene changes. The user has the ability to manipulate edit points if needed as well as export into multiple formats such as individual QuickTime movies, FCP marker lists, EDLs and more.

Auto Transfer is a handy application that allows the user to transfer media from camera memory cards to your computer. You can set it up to transfer to multiple drives so you can ensure backups in case of technical mishaps. I use this application often when I deal with AVCHD media and DSLR media. It’s much more efficient than doing a copy and paste from folder to folder in my opinion. With the metadata options, I can tag relevant info to clips to aid in the logging process.

PostHaste has been my go to application for project organization since its inception. This application allows you to use and create project folder templates, which you can use to organize footage, project files, mograph assets and more. You can also import previously used project folders to create a brand new template if you want. I firmly believe that every editor should have PostHaste in their arsenal.

Overall, Digital Rebellion’s two toolkits are a must have for editors. They help in troubleshooting and helping editors keep things moving. Although it’s most available for Mac at the moment, the developers have plans to have these toolkits available for PC users in future updates. Digital Rebellion also has other great product offerings such as Pro Admin, Pro Versioner, Cut Notes, Edit Mote and CinePlay.

I’m the NLE Ninja with Audio Micro asking you to stay creative.

Sound Effects

Creating a Bin Structure Inside Your NLE

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One of the things I pride myself on having when I edit a project is a proper bin structure. When you are tasked with having a project that contains over 100 clips of footage, titles and miscellaneous assets such as photos, logos, motion graphics and more, your project browser can get very messy very quickly. Below is an example of a typical bin structure I utilize on projects. I add or delete bins based on my needs so this can change at a moment’s notice. I’m going to breakdown the significance of each bin and some of their sub bins so that you get an idea on how to structure your bin organization.

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Audio

In this bin it’s obvious what’s placed here. I have sub bins for royalty free music tracks and sound effects. If I need an additional sub bin for something like voiceovers, I would create another bin and title that VO. If I want to get even more picky and specific, I would create sub bins for audio formats such as .mp3, .wav or .aiff. I would create sub bins within the music sub bin and sound effects sub bin for each of those formats. The benefit of doing that is to know what format I’m dealing instead of grouping everything into one bin and being none the wiser.

Images

In this bin is where I place client images, artwork, logos and more. In this particular example, I have sub bins for many of the popular image formats such as jpeg, png, tiff, psd. With images, it’s really easy for it to become messy and confusing if you just import all your images into one bin labeled images. This sub bin structure is meant to help sort and differentiate between what I have to work with. In most situations, I may not need all these sub bins but I keep them in case I’m given more client images down the line.

Mograph

This bin is meant to hold any motion graphics elements I plan to use or any exports that were created in After Effects. I may have custom motion graphics I created and plan to use and the last thing I want is it scattered all over the place. AE renders is a base folder I would use when starting a project. I could add sub bins within that labeled client custom mograph or segments to reflect graphics exported from After Effects that need specific bins. The other sub bin you see has the name of some popular royalty free graphics developers I use on regular basis. This sub bin has a tendency to grow or shrink depending on the need of the project. For most cases, I usually have at least 3-5 sub bins in this section just in case.

Footage

By far the most important bin to have in any structure. This is where my footage will go but I usually have several sub bins with the Master Clips bin. I like to label my footage bin from what card and shooter/camera they came from so I can reference them in case anything goes offline. There are obviously different ways to go about this but essentially all footage will go here. If I plan on using sub clips in the edit, I would create a folder for that and place them there. I tend to rarely use sub clips in most edits I do because I have a different method of sorting my footage.

Sequences

It is in this bin where I’m extra picky and cautiously organized. I keep versions of my main sequences as the project progresses usually appending them with something like this: Project Name_Main_01. With the underscores, I am able to go back to the first cut of my main sequence in case I need to start over or pick an arrangement that worked previously.

The selects reel bin is meant to have sequences of my footage grouped by the following criteria: b-roll and sound bites. What I do is go through my master clips and drop them in the appropriate titled sequence. For example, if I come across footage that has interviews or dialogue relevant to my edit, I would drop them in my sound bites sequence. That way I no longer need to use my project panel to search for specific clips. I can go through my selects sequences for either interviews or b-roll and grab what I need. I found this method very efficient and it also allows me to move faster.

Conclusion

This bin structure is a useful base for which I organize most of my projects. With it, I can add or delete bins if needed and keep everything as organized as possible. It’s good to have an evolving bin structure as one structure may not always be sufficient and you need to examine how to make it better for any specific project. Overall, utilize a bin structure to maintain your sanity and have peace of mind when you are editing. I’m the NLE Ninja with AudioMicro asking you to stay creative.

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