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FCP X and long form

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Oliver PetersFCP X and long form
by on Jan 16, 2013 at 5:53:21 pm

I'm curious what the experiences have been with folks working on long-form jobs like documentaries and movies. More than 60 minutes in length and 20 hours of footage. What have the experiences been - good and bad? Any successful workflow tips or things that throw the project off the rails? I'm asking this same question of the Premiere folks, too, BTW. Thanks.

- Oliver

Oliver Peters Post Production Services, LLC
Orlando, FL
http://www.oliverpeters.com


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Mark DobsonRe: FCP X and long form
by on Jan 16, 2013 at 7:41:31 pm

Hi Oliver,

I've done a couple of long-form edits. Nothing quite as exciting as documentaries and movies.

These have been edit of 2 one day conferences one a 3 camera shoot and the other a 2 camera shoot. Aaaaargh!

The first one produced a 4 hr master which for expediency I split into 3 sections ( for eventual distribution on DVD ) This was edited together from 3 cameras, 2 x xf305 and 1 x EX1 resulting in a total of over 12 hrs material. Unfortunately the job was a real pain because the files from the EX1 had to be synced manually. ( FCPX ver10.0.3 I think )

But the system itself, FCPX running on a 2008 quad core with 22GB ram coped fine apart from the obvious long time for any universal rendering.

The second job was a one day conference recorded on a C300 and XF305. This resulted in an edited back master of 50 minutes and went very smoothly despite the ten hours worth of combined footage / files. Again despite numerous spinning ball type force quits and a long wait for renders this job went very smoothly.

Both these jobs were filmed and edited at 1080P ( @ 25P here in UK ) with all the files on external GTech drives connected via ESata.

I produced 1080p Pro-Res 422 edit masters and produced my deliverables from these. Were I to do these jobs again the overhaul of the function of compound clips with the release of 10.0.6 would speed things up.

The way I have learnt to work with FCPX is to spilt the edit into fairly short sections and then bring these together in a master project as they become formalised.

Fulfilling these 2 edits has given me an added confidence in FCPX as most of my edits are 10 to 30 minutes.

Mark


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Oliver PetersRe: FCP X and long form
by on Jan 16, 2013 at 8:10:08 pm

[Mark Dobson] "Again despite numerous spinning ball type force quits and a long wait for renders this job went very smoothly."

Any idea what caused these?

[Mark Dobson] "The way I have learnt to work with FCPX is to spilt the edit into fairly short sections and then bring these together in a master project as they become formalised."

How responsive was the system, once you had everything in a combined master timeline? Were you still able to easily make adjustments at this point with relative ease?

- Oliver

Oliver Peters Post Production Services, LLC
Orlando, FL
http://www.oliverpeters.com


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Steve ConnorRe: FCP X and long form
by on Jan 16, 2013 at 8:33:17 pm

I've cut 4 event documentaries over with around 40-50 hours footage in each show. Mixed source including XDCam EX, AVCHD, mp4 from GoPros and Mpeg 2 from Nanoflashes. Total length 100 - 110 minutes, broke them down to 25-30 minute projects and reassembled at the end, large timeline was manageable but not very fast in places, although this seems to have improved since 10.6.

I don't get the spinning beach balls at all but re-draw of waveforms and filmstrips slows things down significantly if left on. Large timeline is much better with them off, obviously. I didn't use compounds at all but I will be using them extensively in all new long projects.

I've also cut a 100 minute feature film with footage from Nanoflash, DSLR and GoPro. about 40 hours source material. Followed the same workflow with no different issues.

2008 Mac Pro with 16GB RAM, 2 x 2.8 Xeons, Ati Radeon 4870 and GSpeed Q SATA RAID

Steve Connor
'It's just my opinion, with an occasional fact thrown in for good measure"


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Steve ConnorRe: FCP X and long form
by on Jan 16, 2013 at 8:58:34 pm

Actually I just reassembled all the pre-grade and audio mix reels, which I haven't done since before 10.6 was released, there is a noticeable difference in timeline speed, it's much more manageable.



Steve Connor
'It's just my opinion, with an occasional fact thrown in for good measure"


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Mark DobsonRe: FCP X and long form
by on Jan 17, 2013 at 7:55:21 am

[Oliver Peters] "[Mark Dobson] "Again despite numerous spinning ball type force quits and a long wait for renders this job went very smoothly."

Any idea what caused these?

..................................

I've always had problems with FCPX and Spinning balls despite carrying out every remedial recommendation in the book. And these increase exponentially with longer and more projects. Preference manager is one of my best friends.

I put a lot of my problems down to my 2008 2x 2.8Ghz Quad Core intel MacPro and also realise that most people do not suffer from the same issues I have had.

FCPX has improved massively since it was released and had it not it would have become untenable as a working NLE.

.......................


[Mark Dobson] "The way I have learnt to work with FCPX is to spilt the edit into fairly short sections and then bring these together in a master project as they become formalised."

How responsive was the system, once you had everything in a combined master timeline? Were you still able to easily make adjustments at this point with relative ease?"


.........................

By this stage you are dealing with compound clips, and once they have re-rendered themselves into the new project, adjustments are made by using the open in timeline option, and unless really substantial do not cause any problems.

So to answer your question the system was pretty responsive once every thing was rendered. Without rendering, totally unresponsive due to the power of my system.


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Chris KennyRe: FCP X and long form
by on Jan 16, 2013 at 8:37:55 pm

[Mark Dobson] "The way I have learnt to work with FCPX is to spilt the edit into fairly short sections and then bring these together in a master project as they become formalised."

This is just a good practice in general with longer pieces. It makes everything much more manageable. Colorists will usually want to work off of 20-30 minute reels, for instance (it's in our deliverables specs), and sometimes final programs are even delivered in reels, if they're delivered in formats like DPX. Most feature editors seem to work like this by default.

--
Digital Workflow/Colorist, Nice Dissolve.

You should follow me on Twitter here. Or read our blog.


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Spencer AverickRe: FCP X and long form
by on Jan 16, 2013 at 10:51:41 pm

I'm looking forward to hearing about a feature length workflow in X, maybe sort of like we did with Walter Murch on Cold Mountain, although I think it's realistically a 10.2 or 3 update.
In March I'm editing my final feature narrative done in FCP7. Moving to Pr and some X after that, but I'm definitely intrigued by some of the features in X as they would apply to a long from narrative. Organization and media management is solid and I love the idea of audition for quickly replacing out takes.


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Nicholas KleczewskiRe: FCP X and long form
by on Jan 17, 2013 at 3:24:50 am

I have posted on here before about this, but no one ever replies, I think my issues are a little over the average users needs, but yes I am currently editing a huge feature documentary in FCPX.

10,000 clips 300 hours of footage. Ive edited 10 feature docs, most larger in scale than this, so I'm a bit of a workflow junkie to say the least. Let me just say, I love FCPX for all the reasons anyone who loves it does, but doing this feature has been difficult.

First, media management. FCPX absolutely cannot handle huge Events. If you look at my last multi page post, you will see why working in multiple events sucks for long form verite style documentary and actually, breaking up over multiple Events actually gives you worse spinning beach balls than doing it all in one, when you need to search across all at any given time. (Kinda how documentary work goes when any shot could be the first, and any could be the last) So i started getting creative with workarounds. Again, read my huge last post to get more detailed info. But basically, I made Compound Clips and outside Multicam clips (Plural Eyes) of absolutely everything and imported that. Instead of 10,000 clips, there are now about 130 and even though it references the exact same number of media files, performance is completely different, not perfect, but manageable.

In my long post you will see how I discovered that FCPX handles merging of Events together in completely different ways depending on how you go about the process, and some really crazy results can take shape. I'll just say, I must have been on to something as an entity I shall not name (creators of said program) got in touch with me and are asking to collaborate on "huge project" workflow enhancements.

Another large issue, Favorites. Favorites are a decent trade off for subclips, but not entirely. For one, if you accidently hit F while overlapped with a current favorite in a master clip, all metadata you entered for the favorite gets immediately erased and the word "Favorite" simply returns. Worse still, in 10.0.6. Favorite creation behavior changed. Before when you pushed F and got a new favorite, it was then highlighted. You could, as footage still plays, hit Tab, name the clip, hit return, and keep going without ever stopping. I did a 60 min doc before this one that was much smaller and subclipping with this was a revelation. After 10.0.6 creating a Favorite makes the highlight jump back to the clip name rendering an all keyboard logging work flow impossible. Last issues are when searching with only Favorites on, you get a instances of the master clip with the favorite as a drop down returned, rather than just a list of clips that match. not a big deal if you have just a few clips, but 50 with drop downs for each blows.

So for this new film I am switching to Markers. Better work flow in that its possible to stay on the keyboard, but not great in other ways. Marker searches reveal all markers attached to the clip even if they don't apple to the search, and of course unlike favorites you still need to set an I/O around the area you want. But overall, this is working well for me.

A huge plus since 10.0.6 is really investing yourself into Compound Clips. When you start thinking about individual clips as just parts and pieces of what could be a large clip of alike footage, combined with the amazing power FCPX has to skim footage, it becomes hard to ever go back to another NLE.

Anyway, I'm considering doing a blog series on my experience since it seems like fairly uncharted territory.

Director, Editor, Colorist
http://www.trsociety.com


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Mark DobsonRe: FCP X and long form
by on Jan 17, 2013 at 9:05:55 am

[Nicholas Kleczewski] "Worse still, in 10.0.6. Favorite creation behavior changed. Before when you pushed F and got a new favorite, it was then highlighted. You could, as footage still plays, hit Tab, name the clip, hit return, and keep going without ever stopping."

I too have found the new behaviour really frustrating. I would really like there to be an on-off switch for the new persistent ranges feature. Whilst I'm happy for the developers to improve the functionality of the software it really annoys me that one has to unlearn previous workflows that one has developed to work within the previous confines.

I am constantly hitting alt X to clear these ranges. I had become totally used to the way the selection and nomination of favourites worked and am still struggling to get back up to speed. So your post provides useful feedback.

For me one of the biggest frustrations of FCPX is limited amount of individual customisation that is available ranging from the inflexibility of the pre-set window arrangements through to being able to turn off default 'improved' behaviours that one doesn't want to take advantage of.


[Nicholas Kleczewski] "But basically, I made Compound Clips and outside Multicam clips (Plural Eyes) of absolutely everything and imported that. Instead of 10,000 clips, there are now about 130 and even though it references the exact same number of media files, performance is completely different, not perfect, but manageable. "

Sorry Nicholas but could you explain what you are doing here. Are you exporting a master file of selected clips and then re-importing this into a fresh event?


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Nicholas KleczewskiRe: FCP X and long form
by on Jan 17, 2013 at 12:36:28 pm

[Mark Dobson] "Sorry Nicholas but could you explain what you are doing here. Are you exporting a master file of selected clips and then re-importing this into a fresh event?"

Check out my rather long and boring post about that matter here: http://forums.creativecow.net/readpost/344/16539

Director, Editor, Colorist
http://www.trsociety.com


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Mark DobsonRe: FCP X and long form
by on Jan 17, 2013 at 12:49:13 pm

[Nicholas Kleczewski] "Check out my rather long and boring post about that matter here"

I have to agree with you and unfortunately it doesn't answer my question.

But thanks anyway


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Oliver PetersRe: FCP X and long form
by on Jan 17, 2013 at 2:30:29 pm

All good feedback. Generally all NLEs have a finite number of "programming objects" they can effectively address. That manifests itself in various ways - total media files in an MXF folder (Avid), total project file size (FCP legacy), etc. Seems like that may be the root cause of some of the issues being described. I wonder how tied to the amount of RAM that is for FCP X?

- Oliver

Oliver Peters Post Production Services, LLC
Orlando, FL
http://www.oliverpeters.com


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Nicholas KleczewskiRe: FCP X and long form
by on Jan 17, 2013 at 2:50:12 pm

I figured the same thing. I've done some testing to that affect, and although I couldn't quite figure out any magical number, I could deduce that once an event got over about 270 MB in size things when extra haywire.

I did notice though that the slow down seems pretty linear as it grew. Not so much that there was a single cliff. It starts to present itself on any sizable project, gets a little worse, around that 270MB mark theres a bit of a cliff, and then continues from there.

This will never happen of course, but it'd be good if you could put the program in some sort of "Long form Mode" and axe a few of the conveniences of "all loaded, all the time" in order to get more reliability on huge projects. On normal projects, the way FCPX holds everything at the ready is great, but it just falls apart at a certain point.

Interestingly, once i finally get every clip "loaded" as was noted before, FCPX is still only hitting at about 7GB of RAM. It'd also be cool if there was a "Pay Me Now, or Pay Me Later" choice with just having a long startup while all that data was dumped into Ram at the top rather than needing to click through each section, and then id just be diligent about leaving FCPX open at all times. But again, i realize this is such niche stuff, no one is ever going to bother with it.

Director, Editor, Colorist
http://www.trsociety.com


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tony westRe: FCP X and long form
by on Jan 18, 2013 at 7:18:24 pm

[Mark Dobson] "I too have found the new behaviour really frustrating. I would really like there to be an on-off switch for the new persistent ranges feature. Whilst I'm happy for the developers to improve the functionality of the software it really annoys me that one has to unlearn previous workflows that one has developed to work within the previous confines."



[Mark Dobson] "am still struggling to get back up to speed."

I could have wrote this myself Mark.

I get why folks wanted it this way, but I had it down and could fly once I adapted to it.
I'm not alone : )


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Neil SadwelkarRe: FCP X and long form
by on Jan 20, 2013 at 7:27:43 am

Some of the experiences here are from editors working on older Quad core systems with older graphics cards.
Due respect, of course, but do things improve with a newer iMac i5 or i7, or the newest iMacs or MBPs with nVidia GPUs?

Because, for instance, in DaVinci Resolve, running on a new i7 MBP with the nVidia GTX 650, renders are happening as fast as in the 'latest' 8-core MacPro with 32GB RAM and a nVidia Quadro 4000 card installed. Maybe such a new system - iMac or MBP - with a SSD or Fusion drive may be the answer for performance with long projects.

I have also found that just replacing my boot drive from HDD to SSD has made a big difference to the opening speeds of a large (150 MB+) sized projects. SSDs also speed up rendering in some cases where disk speed not CPU speed is the bottle-neck. Like rendering to/from ProRes4444 or higher.

-----------------------------------
Neil Sadwelkar
neilsadwelkar.blogspot.com
twitter: fcpguru
FCP Editor, Edit systems consultant
Mumbai India


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Nicholas KleczewskiRe: FCP X and long form
by on Jan 20, 2013 at 1:19:47 pm

I have tested all those theories before, unfortunately its not the case. The rMBP running everything off a Pegasus has the same issues as a MacPro with a Geforce 120. I've taken a look further and found during these types of beach ball or slowdown situations, disks and GPU aren't even being pinged at all. FCPX is simply thinking.

One unfortunate thing is that any time FCPX is thinking, it only uses 100 percent of a single core, so computer speed matters a tiny bit but its not taking advantage of any real potential. While apple could open this processing thread up to multiprocessing, its probably more of an issue of addressable object limitations.

They'd have to come up with a system that doesn't plop everything into the Original Media folder as an alias making every file "considerable" to every action.

This is one of the places where Avid is still a powerhouse, although I wouldn't want to trade the performance advantage of FCPX for Avids.

Director, Editor, Colorist
http://www.trsociety.com


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