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The Top Ten Final Cut Pro X tips for editing under pressure

top ten fcpx pressure

Given two weeks, everybody can edit a piece on FCPX. That's a completely different matter when you've only got a couple of hours before you need to deliver or broadcast your edit. Ten great FCPX tips from Peter Wiggins to help everyone.

 

Final Cut Pro X is quick, but that creates its own problems. Producers realise that more can be done in the time available and they'll keep you working closer to a delivery or TX time. Gone are the 15 minute periods where you could put your feet up and watch the blue render line going across the screen. Simply put, FCPX will edit as fast as you can edit.

Over the last 18 months, I've used Final Cut Pro X in many high profile broadcast environments. So I thought I'd share my tips on making sure your edit reaches air under pressure. Not everybody can work under stress and I hope these tips might make an editors life easier.

 top ten fcpx pressure background render

10 Turn background rendering on

You might be the fastest FCPX editor on the planet, but you will still get distracted, talk to the producer, need the toilet or get a call from the wife or partner that you have to take. Having background rendering turned on means that by the time you’ve told them how to reset the home wifi router again, you’ll have a fully rendered timeline.
 

9 ‘The banker’ make an early safety export

An old trick from the tape days of editing. By exporting an early version (or 'banker') of your piece with a rough grade across all shots, you'll have a transmittable version in the slot should your edit suite die on you half an hour before air. It also gives the studio something to rehearse with so that the presenters can get the feel of the piece and write a sensible line out of it. 

 

8) Snapshot before any radical surgery

If you are going to do any radical surgery such as cutting a piece down or even adding a lot of new material, make sure you do a Snapshot. This moment in time will always be there for you when the producer says “You know what? I prefer the version we had earlier.” Snapshots also freeze compound clips.

 

7) Check your timeline, output settings and destination of export early.

Ten minutes before air isn’t the time to find out you’ve been editing in a progressive timeline for interlaced broadcast. Try a small export early as possible using your method of hitting air. Just because an export worked yesterday, it doesn’t mean that it will work today. Engineers love to change things without telling anybody. 

 

6) If you need to play live to air or to an EVS, check everybody is happy with your output

Playing to air from your timeline is the last resort, but one that has dug me out of a few very near misses. Make sure your viewing preference is set to Better Quality as this will be the signal that goes to your broadcast output. It looks pretty ugly when ‘Better Performance’ hits air and you can’t change it on the fly without stopping the timeline. Also get a vision and audio OK from the operator who will record or put your output to air. You have got the reference plugged in haven’t you?

 top ten fcpx pressure better quality

 

5) Turn off waveforms wherever you can if you are importing new media

Drawing of waveforms with large files slows down FCPX, so turn these off where you can. On the timeline is fine, but make sure they are off in the browser and inspector. If you trigger the waveform generation, quit FCPX and restart the application.

 top ten fcpx pressure hide waveforms

 

4) Tweak as you go

If you can, tweak the edit, audio and colour grade as you build. The Producer will have to look at notes or write a script, so use this time to get to the point on the timeline where you know everything up until then is finished. If you are waiting for material to be fed to you or you can’t make a decision on something until the end, put a ‘to do’ marker where you need to and remove it when you’ve fixed that section. Don’t go overboard, use these sparingly as large numbers of them can confuse things.

 

3) Can you export in chunks or parts?

Don’t leave exporting all the parts of the show until 15 minutes before air. Get rid of as much finished work as early as you can. The first rule of broadcast is ‘Always edit first what is on air first.’ It might seem obvious, but getting half an hour of a show fed gives you an extra half hour of edit time. If you don’t have the luxury of commercial breaks or studio chat to break your export up, see if you can export in chunks and then have an op stitch them together in a playlist for broadcast.

 top ten fcpx pressure check

2) Spend one minute before export slowly skimming through the timeline

Probably the most important minute of the day. Have you covered that join in the interview with a cutaway? Check you haven’t missed anything, check your file name and export range should you have one set. One trick I like to do is to just play through the joins in a piece on the basis that everything else should be ok.

 

1) Know what you can do in the time available 

The key to editing to a deadline. Don’t be afraid to tell the producer you think they are being over-ambitious. The best ever montage isn’t the best ever montage if it misses air. You can always add the bells and whistles if you have time. Turning half of them off on a timeline five minutes before air is a lot harder!

 

So ten tips that I hope will be of use. As Final Cut Pro X gets accepted more into broadcast workflows, hopefully the above might get a few editors out of some sticky situations and keep the shouting and heart rate down as well.

 

peter wigginsPeter 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 Twiiter as @peterwiggins or as he runs the majority of this site, you can contact him here.

 

 

 

 


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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