One of the best features in FCPX is multi camera editing. It takes seconds to sync up footage and start cutting, but there are things that you can do to before and during editing to make the task easier. Here's ten top tips!
Following on from the earlier article about FCPX and the new Mac Pro, I've put together ten top tips gathered from many multi camera edits.
10) Turn Off Unwanted Audio
You might have used the audio to sync the angles, but turn off unwanted audio tracks on angles. You certainly don't want the grinding of a DSLR or any echoes to the main audio. Should you have a spot audio sound you wish to incorporate from a clip that's not part of the main audio, this can be turned on in the Inspector just for a single clip on the timeline.
9) Name Your Cameras in the Metadata
Not only will this get your angles in the correct order, it will also associate clips together that have been shot on a specific camera and lay them out on a single camera angle. FCPX does a pretty good job of working out what camera shot each clip, but this method will lock it down.
It is hard enough to get camera guys to call their clips by understandable letter & number strings, so doing this removes errors. You can lasso the clips of a camera and change the name on all of them at once. It makes sense to use Cam 1 Cam 2 e.t.c. as these numbers will reference the keys you have to press to cut.
8) Enable the Clip Overlay information.
By toggling this on in the settings menu at the top of the Viewer Display, it will name every angle by camera name on the bottom left. Toggle on timecode for that to be displayed on the bottom right of each angle. If you are syncing up DSLRs, then timecode won't mean much.
7) Check Your Sync
Timecode sync should be perfect and the audio syncing in FCPX is very good, however things can be slightly out, so it's always worth a check.
In an interview, try parking on a blink or play over a big head movement to see if everything tallies. I tend to pull DSLR footage forward 1 frame when paired with traditional video cameras as the picture often lags the audio very slightly.
Don't forget you can always open up the multicam clip in the Angle Editor and slip an angle either way. This new sync will be reflected in all clips in the project being edited. It may be old school, but a handclap in front of the interviewee's face or a manually fired flash in a multicam concert or sport setup always provides a fallback method of syncing.
6) Grade in the Angle Editor
Do all your angles have the same exposure? If not, just have a tweak in the Inspector for each clip. You can monitor all of the angles at once in the Angle Viewer and see your colour corrections update live so you can match the other angles. It also saves you having to step through your cut applying a grade each time a camera appears. Don't just stop there, adding a vignette to the top half of a two shot is a good example of giving your production a bit of extra polish.
Check the cameras used are progressive or interlaced. If mixed when editing in an interlaced timeline, toggle interlaced angles to progressive to match the progressive cameras. No need to worry if you are editing in a progressive timeline.
5) Apply a Compressor and Set Audio Levels in the Angle Editor
If you are cutting an interview, apply a compressor to the camera angle in the Angle Editor that contains the main audio. Check for levels & compression by playing with the monitoring set to that angle. Again, you can always go back and change the settings and levels and these will be rippled through your multicam cut. You will see the waveforms redraw when you go back to the Timeline.
Unfortunately you cannot break apart the tracks further to apply different instances of audio filters.
4) Make a Multicam Smart Collection
Chances are your poster image of the multicam clip will look like one of the 'raw angles' in the browser. Or worse, black. Yes it has a different icon, but a smart collection makes them a lot easier to find.
3) Lose Library & Browser to Get Bigger Display of Angles
Multicam clip on the timeline ready for cutting angles? Good, why don't you lose the Browser and Libraries as this will give you more real estate to see what's going on.
2) Do a Quick Audio Mix on the Timeline Before Starting to Cut
One really annoying thing about FCPX's multicam is that it puts a 'ghost' audio edit under every picture cut when displaying expanded audio if you are only switching angles of video.
Unfortunately, you cannot select a range to adjust audio that spans across these edits. So take a look at the waveforms and balance out the questions and answers roughly before cutting angles. It is common practice to lower the interviewer's mic whilst the interviewee is talking to remove spill & phasing. Do the opposite for questions.
Selecting a range for audio across a clip without the audio components expanded does work, although it puts some 'phantom keyframes' on the nearest edits to the in and out points which is not really ideal. It also of course affects all tracks.
The multicam in FCPX is very flexible, an angle doesn't just have to be an angle!
In this example you can see each angle is actually a compound clip that contains a shot chromakeyed over a background. You can switch just as if they were ordinary angles on the timeline!
To build this multicam chromakey edit, sync clips as normal, but then click on each shot to make compound clips in the Angle Editor and then add the background and keyer inside of those.
You can put a logo or bug over a shot or resize footage for a close up if you have the luxury of 4K in a 1080 timeline Also think about setting up an extra angle as a two box split with interviewer and interviewee or maybe a split screen of two musicians in a music video.
All is possible in the Angle Editor with compound clips.
So there you go, ten Final Cut Pro X multicam tips, I'm sure there are more, feel free to add yours in the comments below.
Peter Wiggins is a broadcast freelance editor based in the UK although his work takes him around the world. An early adopter of FCP setting up pioneering broadcasts workflows, his weapon of choice is now Final Cut Pro X. You can find him on Twitter as @peterwiggins or as he runs the majority of this site, you can contact him here.