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TOPIC: Confused by media management

Confused by media management 17 Dec 2016 13:04 #84067

  • Verster
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I am trying out FCP10 for the first time - in trial version. It is looking very promising so far, but despite going through various online tutorials I am utterly confused by the media storage/transcoding process. I originally, while shooting, transferred raw card data onto external hard drives, which I am now in turn importing into a FCP10 library I set up. In the import dialogue box I have checked "Leave Files in Place" and have unchecked the proxy and optimization options. Yet the FCP library file is massive - and this is due to large clip files in the "Original Media" folders in the library. I was under the impression that FCP10 directly accesses original raw files (as Premiere Pro seems to do) or creates low-res proxy files for its own use - but the hard drive spaced used here is simply too massive to be workable. It makes no sense to have large raw files replicated (in presumably transcoded form) like this.

Am I missing something very basic about the way FCP10 works here?
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Confused by media management 19 Dec 2016 15:15 #84097

  • VidGreg
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Hi Verster, Welcome to the forums.
If in "transferred" the raw files onto a hard drive, you just copied the folder from the camera card, this is still seen as a camera card, not as transcoded files. Therefore, FCPX cannot use as media without "Importing" the files and adding Apple file structure to them. FCPX does allow you to begin editing on camera card files, but it needs to import them at some point or you will have "Missing Media Files" warnings. You can not "Leave Files In Place" for a camera card file structure. Every camera manufacture has their own camera file structure.
You can create media storage locations wherever you want.
I suspect you are confused because you have 1 set camera card files and then you "Imported" the files into FCPX which will indeed double the size of the media files.
You can create a camera archive inside FCPX or via the Finder, but this is not the same as importing files for your FCPX project/library. You can create and store your "Library" wherever you want also and if it is on a different drive, say your boot drive, than your media files, you can then leave the "Imported" files on the external media drive.

Hope this Helps, Greg
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Confused by media management 19 Dec 2016 19:24 #84105

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What Greg said is spot on

Think of the Cards you copied over your drive as your media Backup, FCPX does not edit from your only backup in case something terrible happened, what it does do is create a copy of the media which you can either put inside the library or a folder of your choosing.

If the media you have is not in a card format, lets say a video you downloaded, or some other video file, those files can be left in place. If you decide you don't want the double headroom, all you need to do is after creating the library delete the original copies of the cards, though I would not recommend it.

My recommendation is have a separate Hard Drive for Cards backups, which you can copy on your own, or use FCPX archive function which puts them in a bundle.
And have a separate hard drive to edit on, where you have your library and the media you're working on either inside or outside the library.
Keep the FCPX library backups on your Mac.
This way you're backed up no matter what, lets say your editing HD fails, you have the Library backup on the Mac and the camera cards backup on the other HD so you can continue working
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Confused by media management 19 Dec 2016 20:31 #84108

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odedh wrote:
My recommendation is have a separate Hard Drive for Cards backups, which you can copy on your own, or use FCPX archive function which puts them in a bundle.

The .fcparch (that's the file extension) is extremely useful. It's better than a manual card copy, because no matter where the files copied outside the library (in the import process) have gone (i.e. if the external drive is not available), there never is a need to relink media. On a windows system, the .fcparch file is simply ignored, you have the original card structure intact and can easily relink the media. You can move the archive later on. As long as your Mac has access to it, FCP X will spontaneously find the media associated with a project and link them anew, automatically.
odedh wrote:
And have a separate hard drive to edit on, where you have your library and the media you're working on either inside or outside the library.

With the luxury of an existing archive, I often import only the clips I want to the library or to a folder outside the library after I selected them in the import window's preview. Rule: all files that are copied are also wrapped as movs, thereby making the clips self-contained. And, er, proprietary. Not every application on every platform will open them. So it's a good idea to keep the archive.
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Confused by media management 20 Dec 2016 03:16 #84116

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I have never completely trusted the FCPX archives. Admittedly I don't have any proof that they are unreliable, but there have been posts discussing that archives have become corrupt in early versions of FCPX. The dozen or so that I have made over the past few years have always opened when I needed them, but I have been reluctant to use them on a regular basis. We copy the entire folder structure of each card to two separate external drives, and then we import a working copy to the project library duplicating the media for a third time. This gives us two backups to the project media. Lots of files for sure, and relink not always pleasant, but we've never lost anything we couldn't recover. I might have to test some archives in the latest FCPX.
Creating history....one edit at a time !
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Confused by media management 20 Dec 2016 04:16 #84119

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In the first couple of versions, as you said. They've been stable for way longer. And easy to convert back to a simple folder with your camera card in it. We use them quite a bit.
Last Edit: 20 Dec 2016 04:17 by FCPX.guru.
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Confused by media management 20 Dec 2016 05:00 #84120

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A camera archive is just a folder..with the extension....fcarch.....in fact if you send a camera archive to someone who does not have fcpx installed on their system, that is exactly how it appears. As a folder full of files. So I don't see how it could corrupt any easier than a folder could on any other mac system.

I trust them, big benefit when working with metadata because they preserve that along with your clips.
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Confused by media management 20 Dec 2016 05:45 #84121

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Thank you everyone.

What we did with footage while shooting is to make direct card-to-drive copies on two different drives - hence the camera card structure remained intact. I have found that FCP10 can directly access (via aliases in the library package) certain card formats such as the Canon XF100 without importing them again (this might be because of a plug-in I had for the camera for FCP7?) but not the ones we have mostly been using, such as the Canon C100 and the Sony FS5. Files shot on the latter cameras, as suggested in responses and as I understand it now, have then been "rewrapped" rather than transcoded - and what I have ended up doing now is to keep one set of drives with original card structure as backup and then to delete the original card-structured files from the other set of drives we are editing from once they have been imported and put into the "original media" folder in the FCP10 library package. I checked the QT file specs on MPeg Streamclip and the codec, size etc all still seem exactly the same. So thanks for further clarifying all this.

What I am still wondering about is the following: I upgraded from FCP7 principally because of using different formats, most of which need to be transcoded to something like Pro Res before being usable in FCP7, a process which requires a massive amount of both time and drive space. Adobe Premiere was touted as a NLE system which entirely did away with the need for transcoding, rendering etc - but I found it clumsy and slow, and was told that FCP10 would offer all the same advantages. FCP10, as per the current discussion, does need the extra drive space for rewrapping the camera card files - while the space needed is much less than for transcoding to Pro Res 422 HQ, there is still a storage issue involved. However, it would seem that Premiere also does some kind of automatic rewrapping/transcoding/optimizing of files - which seems to slows down the programme significantly. I am not sure how that relates to the sequence setup involved. Does anyone have an idea on how file preparation and drive space in Premiere relate to the discussion on FCP10 here? I am very unlikely to go back to Premiere Pro, but it would be good to understand this all better.

Thanks much again.
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Confused by media management 20 Dec 2016 14:41 #84128

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Verster wrote:
What we did ...

Yes, media management can be confusing with FCP X. Because there are so many options. There are also methods of leaving certain files in place (importing naked clips or dragging the whole card folder to an event via Finder, bypassing the import dialog), but as someone wise commented in another thread, it's not the FCP X' way.
Verster wrote:
FCP10, as per the current discussion, does need the extra drive space for rewrapping the camera card files - while the space needed is much less than for transcoding to Pro Res 422 HQ, there is still a storage issue involved.

Well, you could simply and recklessly DELETE the card after you copied the files to the library (or elsewhere), couldn't you? What are you worrying about? 50, 100, 200 GB on an external USB 3 drive? Usually 500 GB are 50 €, 1TB ~ 80 € (last time I bought one, did prizes rise significantly since then?), is that really a concern for anybody ???

And then you had NO BACKUP.
Verster wrote:
However, it would seem that Premiere also does some kind of automatic rewrapping/transcoding/optimizing of files - which seems to slows down the programme significantly. I am not sure how that relates to the sequence setup involved. Does anyone have an idea on how file preparation and drive space in Premiere relate to the discussion on FCP10 here? I am very unlikely to go back to Premiere Pro, but it would be good to understand this all better.

No, Premiere can't wrap files. It attaches files though (X ... something, similar name like XML, is an indexing file, EDIT: I think it's XMP). But usually you just link to the original file, and that's the extend of it. You can leave it like that, make no backup, edit, export. But as I said before, you can edit without backup in FCP X as well.

Premiere doesn't care about media management. It lets you import from several NO_NAME or UNTITLED folders from the same root level of the same drive, it lets you import orphanized clips. You are in charge, and it's your fault if much later you discover that sound isn't in synch, timecode errors occur or, worst of all, your whole project becomes corrupt due to unknown errors.

I am sure you knew how to prevent these problems with Premiere. You can outsmart FCP X (see above) and not allow the app to control the media by it's own rules. There are ways to do that. Some report good experiences. The majority (I've seen that) invites disaster. And doesn't know what went wrong and complains about FCP X.
Last Edit: 20 Dec 2016 14:58 by Axel.
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Confused by media management 20 Dec 2016 15:21 #84129

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VErster, welcome to the family. Most of us have had similar experiences. Media Management in FCPX can be studied online but it's only through several projects that it finally dawns upon you which system you like and which methods you need to make sure your media is securely where you think it's supposed to be. In our shop, we have defaulted to using the managed library structure for everything, file duplication and drive space be buggered. That way, we know where everything is. Mostly.
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Confused by media management 20 Dec 2016 16:22 #84134

  • Axel
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If for nothing else but a good representation of all what's going on, you could try Library Manager. The free version doesn't allow you to manage files and places, but it shows you where everything lives. You will be less confused.
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Confused by media management 20 Dec 2016 18:10 #84139

  • joema
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Verster wrote:
...What we did with footage while shooting is to make direct card-to-drive copies on two different drives - hence the camera card structure remained intact. I have found that FCP10 can directly access (via aliases in the library package) certain card formats such as the Canon XF100 without importing them again (this might be because of a plug-in I had for the camera for FCP7?) but not the ones we have mostly been using, such as the Canon C100 and the Sony FS5...have then been "rewrapped" rather than transcoded...

This is a good point, and you're right it is very confusing -- largely because it is poorly documented.

We are frequently told to leave the card structure intact, don't extract the video files, because who knows when some editing software will need all those for something. OTOH, doing that can prevent FCPX from using "leave files in place", and cause it to consume lots of space for re-wrapped files. But only with certain files from certain cameras. It is unpredictable and undocumented.

There may be other issues with extracting certain types of video files. I've tested this with .MTS files extracted from an AVCHD bundle and it does allow "leave files in place" and prevents re-wrapping but it causes performance degradation due to excessive I/O in larger libraries. That is also undocumented.

I have every book on FCPX ever written, most of the video tutorials from various providers, and I don't recollect this being clearly explained in any of them.

Verster wrote:
...What I am still wondering about is the following: I upgraded from FCP7 principally because of using different formats, most of which need to be transcoded to something like Pro Res before being usable in FCP7, a process which requires a massive amount of both time and drive space. Adobe Premiere was touted as a NLE system which entirely did away with the need for transcoding...

Adobe still touts this. Their web site still has the introduction to Premiere CC video which says: "...the 64-bit optimized Mercury Playback Engine...allows editors to work at...4K and beyond...without the need for time-consuming transcoding".

However Adobe finally realized this wasn't practical on most machines for H264 4K and recently added a transcoding to proxy feature like FCPX has had for years.

Verster wrote:
...Does anyone have an idea on how file preparation and drive space in Premiere relate to the discussion on FCP10 here? I am very unlikely to go back to Premiere Pro, but it would be good to understand this all better...

There really should be a detailed white paper on this but there is not. In general FCPX is similar to Premiere in that it has sufficient performance to edit from the native camera files at 1080p and below. FCPX is much faster and incurs less CPU load than Premiere CC 2017 on the same Mac hardware. But at 4K H264 and above, you generally need to transcode to proxy for smoothest performance, at least for multicam -- with both FCPX and Premiere.

To my knowledge Premiere doesn't take much additional space or re-wrap AVCHD or XAVC files. FCPX does in certain cases which are poorly documented. It definitely does not re-wrap for XAVC-S files from Sony A7-series cameras, despite being in the card structure copied to disk. It does re-wrap video files contained within AVCHD bundles from Canon 1080p camcorders.

In general with the cameras my documentary team uses, we can use FCPX like Premiere from a space consumption standpoint. Unfortunately there are exceptions to this such as the AVCHD case and I don't think there is good documentation on this.

I think the C100 uses AVCHD and the FS5 uses XAVC-L. AVCHD is definitely re-wrapped, I don't know about XAVC-L.

There is probably commented source code in FCPX that clearly describes all these cases, e.g, if THIS file type/structure do this, ELSE do THAT.

Apple may not want to document this because they consider it an internal implementation detail subject to change, but back in the real world, we need to know this to plan space management. Having every single user do their own R&D experiments or rely on forum posts of unknown veracity is not efficient.
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Confused by media management 21 Dec 2016 14:45 #84166

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joema wrote:
It definitely does not re-wrap for XAVC-S files from Sony A7-series cameras, despite being in the card structure copied to disk.

I am sorry, I must add to the confusion, because right now I'm very confused myself. I have a library with FS7, A7RII and XC10 footage, all copied from whole card structure copies. I had asked the cameramen not to destroy the card structure. Whereas the Canon was mov anyway, the Sonys are now movs too. In former times, the camera operators had a habit of picking the best clips themselves (or what they thought were the best clips, but more often than not we disagreed there) and deliver those in an ordinary folder for me to edit. I could have left them in place, but I copied them to the library nonetheless. I was very surprised that they hadn't been wrapped, but remained .MP4.

You made me doubt if I remembered correctly, but right now I have a couple of A7RII cards here, XAVC-S UHD. I plugged them in just now, imported one clip (no transcoding, to the event) and revealed the imported clip in Finder (in Original Media): *mov*

joema wrote:
It does re-wrap video files contained within AVCHD bundles from Canon 1080p camcorders.

Probably always, in any case. But if I had ripped the bundle before, if there only is a STREAM folder left or just naked .MTS, it doesn't matter if you copy them or leave them in place (creating aliases in Original Media): no wrapping then.
Last Edit: 21 Dec 2016 14:51 by Axel.
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Confused by media management 21 Dec 2016 15:26 #84168

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Axel wrote:
joema wrote:
It definitely does not re-wrap for XAVC-S files from Sony A7-series cameras, despite being in the card structure copied to disk.

I am sorry, I must add to the confusion, because right now I'm very confused myself. I have a library with FS7, A7RII and XC10 footage, all copied from whole card structure copies...the Sonys are now movs too....

Thanks for this correction -- you are right and I am wrong. XAVC-S files are re-wrapped, unless they are copied out of the camera card structure before importing. I was mislead because FCPX can be sluggish in indicating this. E.g, in the import dialog if you click on the XAVC-S top-level folder you copied to disk, it will often say "leave files in place" for a while. Sometimes if you spin down the disclosure triangle next to this folder it will update the UI and show "copy to library", other times not immediately.

However in all cases of importing from the XAVC-S card structure copied to disk, FCPX will copy those to the library and re-wrap them. If the .MP4 files are first copied outside the card structure, they will be imported without re-wrapping.

This is a particularly big problem because Sony video files are numbered C0001.mp4, etc. without the in-camera ability to override this sequence or assign a prefix/suffix, and the sequence restarts from C0001.MP4 with every new card on every camera. Thus on a big shoot you can end up with many files having the same name, which must be kept in separate folders.

The files themselves cannot be renamed without causing other problems since the XML files have the original .MP4 file name embedded. Renaming the .MP4 files or even the .MP4 and corresponding .XML file will cause an error on import. I think only Sony Catalyst Prepare software can do this which updates the XML file internals. Unfortunately Catalyst Prepare is now subscription-only at $150 a year.

Despite the theoretical "best practice" guidelines, this situation encourages copying .MP4 files out of the card structure so they can be renamed and managed. Doing so also prevents FCPX re-wrapping on import. What impact this has on FCPX performance or editing features, I don't know. It is not a good situation.
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Confused by media management 21 Dec 2016 16:20 #84171

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joema wrote:
This is a particularly big problem because Sony video files are numbered C0001.mp4, etc. without the in-camera ability to override this sequence or assign a prefix/suffix, and the sequence restarts from C0001.MP4 with every new card on every camera. Thus on a big shoot you can end up with many files having the same name, which must be kept in separate folders.
...
It is not a good situation.

This can't cause any trouble if you follow the recommended routines, camera archives, events, smart collections and so forth. When I started with editing in 2001 with FCP2, the bridal kiss was interrupted with a shot of a hippo's ass farting. I had forgotten to create a log bin for the project, the shots were mixed up.

You are right, I tend to have quite a few clips named C0001.mp4 in any given library. Whether I rename them or not depends on the numbers of clips I have to make searchable, usually I don't look at the names at all. But renaming them just happens on the event level anyway, the Finder names remain C something. I am curious to learn when this can cause problems with XMLs and the like, I think not. Legacy FCP had an option to copy the browser names to the source clips. That was when you hadn't manually logged them one at a time (in which case they were captured with the name you gave them). That was then, but nowadays names are more like tags for you. In list view, you can then click on the name column and will then see your clips in alphabetical order, which is an old-fashioned, but not the worst method for finding clips. What could possibly be the downside of this?
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Confused by media management 21 Dec 2016 21:18 #84183

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I just re-checked in 10.3.1, and the previous behavior about throwing errors on import if the filenames differed from the XML contents no longer exists. It definitely existed before. This apparently gives more freedom to rename XAVC files without using subscription-based Sony Catalyst software, but it would require testing.

While renaming files prior to import may not be the best idea from a pure database context (in fact it violates the database concept of "dataless keys"), it is nonetheless a common practice. That is why Mac Finder, LightRoom, Sony Catalyst and other software allow bulk renaming of filenames. It is also why many cameras allow assigning filename prefixes or suffixes in camera, or whether the filename sequence restarts with a new card. However Sony cameras (at least up through the A7RII) do not for video files.

Re Weddings you may be thinking of smaller-scale productions with limited post production pipeline stages. My doc team just shot an event using 16 simultaneous cameras and over eight days produced 2.3 terabytes and 199,000 files. Sometimes as these assets progress through various specialized post-production steps, it is useful to rename the files. E.g, if I want a graphic artist or VFX person to start parallel work on a file, why should I give them an entire AVCHD bundle or XAVC folder tree? I will probably copy out the video file and rename it something useful to them.

Likewise there are certain archival situations where you're hunting for a file and it's very handy if it has a unique or near-unique name. Having hundreds or thousands of files named C0001.mp4 does not help.

You are right that in general it's best to fight the old tendency to rename files -- or even look through them using external tools. Just import everything into FCPX "as is" and use the database to manage things. I try to do that but there are nonetheless real world situations where renaming files helps in certain cases.

Re the OP question about re-wrapping behavior on XAVC files, I just checked on 10.3.1 and it has the following behaviors:

(1) If original XAVC-S folder tree is copied to disk and FCPX import dialog pointed to top-level, e.g, folder containing MP_ROOT, DCIM, and PRIVATE: "Leave files in place" is grayed out and "Copy to library" is selected. Imported files are re-wrapped.

(2) If original XAVC-S folder tree copied to *subfolder* on disk and FCPX import dialog pointed to *parent* folder: "Leave files in place" is available. However selecting this still results in re-wrapping on import. This may be a UI bug.

(3) If XAVC-S .MP4 files themselves are copied to a folder and FCPX import dialog is pointed there: "Leave files in place is available, and they are imported without re-wrapping. The library file remains very small and import happens much faster. Whether this causes any downstream performance issues would require testing. In the AVCHD case it appears to work but the I/O performance problems only become apparent at large library sizes so testing is very difficult and time-consuming.
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Confused by media management 22 Dec 2016 18:36 #84209

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joema wrote:
I just re-checked in 10.3.1, and the previous behavior about throwing errors on import if the filenames differed from the XML contents no longer exists. It definitely existed before. This apparently gives more freedom to rename XAVC files without using subscription-based Sony Catalyst software, but it would require testing.

I don't know. I had downloaded Catalyst Browse before, for free, on an old Mac. Just now I downloaded Catalyst Browse again from this site. Remembered my old password, registered. Stuck card in, navigated to the clips, previewed them, renamed them (the shortcut "F2" is monitor brightness, would probably needed to be changed in system preferences). Opened FCP X, cmd + i, et voilà: clips appeared with new names!

This looks like a sensible solution: change the clip name on the card itself! Perhaps I'll start using this on some upcoming Sony project. But generally, I agree with Ronny Courtens (thread: "rename source file in fcpx"):

ronny courtens wrote:
There are many utilities that let you name and organize footage from camera cards and that can convert the clips to a decent editing format, one of them is ClipWrap.

The golden rule: leave original media untouched once they are imported. This applies to any NLE. You can rename clips to whatever you may like inside the NLE, but It makes absolutely no sense changing names of original media once they have been imported. This has always been a cause of media management problems with FCP7, and I hope they never add this "feature" to FCP X.

joema wrote:
Re Weddings you may be thinking of smaller-scale productions with limited post production pipeline stages. My doc team just shot an event using 16 simultaneous cameras and over eight days produced 2.3 terabytes and 199,000 files. Sometimes as these assets progress through various specialized post-production steps, it is useful to rename the files. E.g, if I want a graphic artist or VFX person to start parallel work on a file, why should I give them an entire AVCHD bundle or XAVC folder tree? I will probably copy out the video file and rename it something useful to them.

You are right with the smaller-scale projects of mine. However, I don't see anyone manually rename 199,000 files, even if there was batch renaming (for which you'd probably need Catalyst Prepare). I do my own post with After Effects though. Why AAE and not motion? Many reasons, I am used to it like I am used to Photoshop. The built-in Mocha tracker is much more powerful than that in TrackX, so if I want to start compositing in earnest, I precompose the "layers" in FCP X, compound them and XML them via XtoCC. I re-import the rendered AAE exports in FCP X and replace the compound clip. More straightforward as it sounds. I spent quite some time for every composite clip in AAE, renaming them takes just seconds. Also, if I know that AAE will be involved, I transcode to ProRes in advance.
Last Edit: 22 Dec 2016 19:35 by Axel.
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