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Dictating notes directly into Final Cut Pro X with FCPXTRA

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Ever wanted to add notes to clips in FCPX via dictation? For $29, FCPXTRA enables you to dictate your thoughts right into the notes field in Final Cut Pro X

Jan Willem den Bok got in touch about his new application FCPXTRA that allows the dictation of notes directly into Final Cut Pro X. We were intrigued and asked if he could tell us a little more, which he has very kindly done. If the name sounds familiar, you might remember he was behind a set of add-on plugins called Final Cat Pro. (We cannot get the website to load.)

 

After filming the birth of the nation of South Sudan for more then 4 years, travelling back and forth 6 months ago (incorporating a civil war in what was supposed to become a documentary about hope and the rise of a nation), I ended up with 4 TB of clips and a big mess in my mind. I was really desparate because I had no ‘grip’ on my material. Where was that quote about? Where was that shot of?

That’s when I wrote my first plugin FCPXTA - turning Keywords 1.0 into 2.0, if I may say so. I think it adds a whole new galaxy to the FCPX universe. There is a free 5 day trial of FCPXTRA on my website. 

 

I’m dedicated to FCPX. Don’t know why. I cut like a ninja now, but there were times that I chopped of my own head from time to time with that samurai-blade called FCPX…

Now I’m fast. Faster then FCP7, but FCPX has some stupid annoyances. I'm not impressed with the 3D Title-Fisher-Price-Rubbish (We will be so bored with 3D titles in 6 months, anyone dare to use a page-peel? Was freaking cool in the summer of 1998!)

 

BUT BESIDES SPEED FCPX HAS ONE THING THAT’S SO MUCH OVERLOOKED: METADATA….

 

MacBreak hosts Mark and Steve rightfully dedicate their MacBreak episodes (143, 195, 223 to name a few) to the subject of metadata. Philip Hodgetts is a metadata-guru. Still a lot of filmmakers skip metadata and keywords, thinking it’s boring, too time-consuming and plunge into their edits with clips named #0001, #0002, without paying proper attention to metadata. But to me, Keywords and Metadata is what makes FCPX the-way-to-go. To me the power of Final Cut Pro X is in using Keywords. Keywords in Final Cut Pro help me to annotate quickly and create order in that 4TB of chaos. 

 

Coming home after my last documentary in South Sudan, overwhelmed by 4TB of stuff more than 4 years old, I HAD TO transcribe, outline and keyword everything. But how do you transcribe an interview? You can’t create a keyword for every line, or you’ll end up with a truckload of keywords. And even if you decide to do it like that, you can’t search for it easily. The results don’t show up in your ‘Find’ window. If you want to search in keywords you have to open a complicated pop-up box. It’s crazy!

 

After years of editing, I have discovered that the only way to really organize in Final Cut Pro is to create general keywords and to add information to the ‘Notes’ column of keywords. That’s the trick.

The possibility of adding information to the Notes column is the way-to-go if you want your metadata to be search-friendly, but the way to add this information is very time consuming. Because then you will be able to organize your selections with general Keywords like ‘Interview’, ‘B-Roll’ or whatever and specify each selection with the ‘Notes’ field next to the keyword.  But that takes too much time. Nobody wants to click for every keyword from the keyword-window to library to timeline back and back again. There had to be a better way. That's why I made FCPXTRA. 

 

FCPXTRA is a service saving you loads of time, not only when adding information to keywords, but also when you need to search for this information later on. If you need to write out your interviews or provide more information than a few words FCPXTRA Keywords Services can help. FCPXTRA groups your shots and stores the information in the 'Notes' tab. With the click of one button you can transcribe your interviews, specify your locations or mark specific qualities of the shot.

 

And then the fun begins. Because the time you invest in the beginning (pre-edit) you get back double in the edit and post-edit. I agree, for short 2 min videoclips you don’t need keywords or FCPXTRA. But when you need to organise, write out interviews, pinpoint locations, name shots, takes, specify names of people, dictate interviews…I think FCPXTRA can help.

 

I created FCPXTRA by myself, out of necessity. It’s not perfect yet, but the result is what counts for me. Now I can dictate my interviews very fast and efficient. Or type it if I like. I can symbolise my keywords, creating order by colors and symbols.

The plugin is doing some crazy stuff, an approach that Larry Jordan once called unique, which is GUI-scripting. Now formally FCPX is not scriptable. You can’t run Applescript-actions on it, there’s no library for it. But I’m jumping from field to window with this. GUI-scripting in FCPXTRA is emulating user-behaviour…simply said: pressing keys and menu’s so you don’t have to. That’s all, but it’s complicated to write for an ordinary filmmaker like me (I’m not a true coder, took me 6 weeks). 

 

But the best thing would be that Apple implemented the philosophy and functionality of this in a new version of FCPX. I’m truly convinced that it will be very helpful to filmmakers, directors, producers, editors.

In the coming month I will research more about the workflow of organising in FCPX. I hope to write an small ebook of my discoveries, with the editor of FCP.co allowing I’ll let you know when I’m finished. And I have a few other plugins in the pipeline, not as impressive as this, just smart add-ons for all you filmmakers and editors out there, to help make beautiful stuff. Because that’s most important thing.

 


jan willem den bokMy name is Jan Willem den Bok, I’m a Dutch filmmaker, making documentaries for 15 years now, you can see them with English subtitles on my website. I’ve just finished a documentary about South Sudan and I’m working on new ones in Brasil and Lebanon right now.

Like a lot of other independent filmmakers I do filming, sound, editing and directing by myself, giving me the opportunity not only to be flexible and cheap, but most of all to get very close to people.

I feel it’s an honour to be invited in the lives of so many people, that they are willing to share their feelings, their hopes and worries. I do all I can to amplify the beauty in people with my films and I believe that we as filmmakers must never forget that the person in front of our lens deserves all our respect and creative abilities.

 

 


Written by
Top Blogger Thought Leader

I am the Editor-in-Chief of FCP.co and have run the website since its inception ten years ago.

I have also worked as a broadcast and corporate editor for over 30 years, starting on one inch tape, working through many formats, right up to today's NLEs.

Under the name Idustrial Revolution, I have written and sold plugins for Final Cut Pro for 13 years.

I was made a Freeman of Lichfield through The Worshipful Company of Smiths (established 1601). Though I haven't yet tried to herd a flock of sheep through the city centre!

Current Editing

great house giveaway 2020

2020 has been busy, the beginning of the year was finishing off a new property series (cut on FCP) for Channel 4 called The Great House Giveaway. I also designed and built the majority of the graphics as Motion templates. It has been a great success and the shows grabbed more viewers in the 4pm weekday slot than any previous strand. It has been recommissioned by C4 for 60 episodes, including prime-time versions and five themed programmes. The shows have also been nominated for a 2021 BAFTA.

Tour de france 2020
Although both were postponed to later in the year, I worked again on ITV's coverage of the Tour de France and La Vuelta. 2020 was my 25th year of editing the TdF and my 20th year as lead editor. The Tour was the first broadcast show to adopt FCPX working for multiple editors on shared storage.

 

BBC snooker the crucible

BBC's Snooker has played a big part in my life, I've been editing tournament coverage since 1997. I'm proud to be part of a very creative team that has pioneered many new ideas and workflows that are now industry standard in sports' production. This is currently an Adobe Premiere edit.

amazon kindle BF

Covid cancelled some of the regular corporate events that I edit such as trade shows & events. I was lucky however to edit, from home, on projects for Amazon Kindle, Amazon Black Friday, Mastercard and very proud to have helped local charitable trust Kendall & Wall secure lottery funding.

As for software, my weapon of choice is Final Cut Pro and Motion, but I also have a good knowledge and broadcast credits with Adobe Premiere Pro, MOGRT design and Photoshop.

Plugin Design & Development

I'm the creative force behind Idustrial Revolution, one of the oldest Final Cut Pro plugin developers. It hosts a range of commercial and free plugins on the site. One free plugin was downloaded over a thousand times within 24 hours of release.

I also take on custom work, whether it is adapting an existing plugin for a special use or designing new plugins for clients from scratch. Having a good knowledge of editing allows me to build-in flexibility and more importantly, usability.

FCP.co

Now in its 10th year and 4th redesign, running FCP.co has given me knowledge on how to run a large CMS- you are currently reading my bio from the database! Although it sounds corny, I am pretty well up on social media trends & techniques, especially in the video sector. The recent Covid restrictions has enabled live FCP.co shows online. This involves managing a Zoom Webinar through Restream.io to YouTube and Facebook. 

The Future

I'm always open to new ideas and opportunities, so please get in touch at editor (at) fcp.co. I've judged film competitions, presented workflow techniques to international audiences and come up with ideas for TV shows and software programs!

 

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