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Update: NAStastic adventures in FCPX.

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John Davidson
Update: NAStastic adventures in FCPX.
on Sep 27, 2012 at 9:36:41 pm

I've been off the radar a bit working with FCPX on a NAS environment and thought I'd share with you guys how it's working out.

For clarity, we work with 2 mac pros (2008 Kona 3/ 2010 BlackMagic Decklink Studio) on single 27" monitors and a fully loaded iMac 27 (Blackmagic Studio Express Thunderbolt) with a 6950 Nvidia card. We have seats of Production Premium and seats for Creative Cloud. Our NAS is a mac-mini server with a Sonnet Echo Express Pro loaded with a Small Tree ethernet 6 port card and an Areca 1882x going into a ProAvio 8MS with 8 Hitachi Deskstars (3TB) drives in RAID5. RAID speeds are in the 600/500 range. The video feeds out to 4 rooms (3 in use, waiting on an imac refresh for 4th) via ethernet. This has turned out pretty great for us as we work primarily in prores.

How we use it:
Media
Media is located on the server RAID in a folder called "Media". Subfolders are broken into networks / shows / elements. Graphics are loaded in their own folder so all after effects projects are located and usable on the server.

Downloads
All edit systems download mail and website attachments to an 'all downloads folder' on the server. This is very useful for 'yousendit' deliveries, graphics, trailer, etc that we work with.

Graphics
All systems render graphics to a "renders" folder on the server. No issues with relinking. The 2010 mac pro has all the ae plugins and is the graphics workhorse. For simple titles, etc the other systems can help 'fill in' as needed. We've been picking up motion more and more as well.

FCPX
We have an FCPX DMGs folder that stores all FCP Events and Projects on the NAS. Although FCPX doesn't work with NAS, it WILL mount DMG's as individual drives. Therefore, we use the very handy 'create disk image' application created by Andreas Kiel. Some relocated projects don't like being moved, but we've had no problems with new events/projects placed in DMG's. When a system needs to access a project, you mount it, open fcpx, and there it is.

Sharing Projects
This past week we worked on a sizzle featuring about 8 shows for a network. Each show got it's own DMG/Event and we loaded in many episodes as referenced clips that were stored in the Media folder. This was excellent as we were able to divide and conquer. 2 of us were keyword tagging elements while a third worked on the actual edit. When it got time to work on a new shows 'section' of the sizzle, the "KeyMaster" would quit fcpx, unmount the associated DMG, and the editor would mount it and was off to the races cutting the next section of the sizzle.

Editing, Transitions, Effects, and Generators
Editing with FCPX has had some issues as we continue to avoid working in the primary. It's great for building clips but hazardous when it comes time for revisions. One thing that has helped us is creating our own custom transitions in motion and copying them to a 'shared transitions' folder on the RAID. Once dropped into the appropriate local folder, we're up and running. This also applies to custom slates built in motion with editable sections in FCPX. We really enjoy creating our own transitions and effects. Great fun during down time!

Sound Effects and Music
Sound effects libraries and music libraries are stored locally. Music is kept in iTunes, so we keep identical music libraries on each edit system. Sound effects are kept on local drive events because DMG's can only be mounted on one system at a time. These are all identical (using finder copies) across each system to prevent relinking issues.

Mixing
I'd hoped to be able to comment on X2Pro as they promised a v2 release in August, and then revised to a September release. They basically have a day to get the update out unless they plan on a weekend release. Perhaps there were some last minute issues with 10.8.2 that need to be worked out before release. I'd rather they take their time and get it right. Until then, we're using roles/strip silence in Protools. It's annoying, like cooking on a campfire vs a microwave, but at least we know it's a short term problem. Our mixes are still good. It helps to think of the current situation as how we used to do it in the old days with tape with various tracks broken out across several spots in a string out.

So that's our current status with FCPX. Today I was asked a questions about FCP7 and couldn't remember the answer. I guess that means we've officially moved on :).

This is an evolving process so it will change for sure. If you found this interesting and have questions, send them on!

John Davidson | President / Creative Director | Magic Feather Inc.


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craig slattery
Re: Update: NAStastic adventures in FCPX.
on Sep 27, 2012 at 11:14:03 pm

[John Davidson] " Until then, we're using roles/strip silence in Protools."

Can you explain? are you saying you are not using X2pro at all?


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John Davidson
Re: Update: NAStastic adventures in FCPX.
on Sep 27, 2012 at 11:22:05 pm

That's correct. The AAF's created by the current version of X2Pro do not allow for handles, which would result in literally 20 hours of audio being embedded assuming we're working with a show with 4 tracks of audio and using media from around 5 episodes. This is far too big for our needs at this time. V2 will allow custom handles and should be here in days if not hours.

With roles, we generate multiple tracks that are the full length of the spot based on VO, SFX, MUSIC, SFX2, etc (to prevent overlapping). The Protools mixer then runs a 'strip silence' filter on each track which reduces it to just the audio data and removes all silence. It takes him all of 8 seconds. The annoying part is selecting roles as roles sets must be created with each project.

John Davidson | President / Creative Director | Magic Feather Inc.


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craig slattery
Re: Update: NAStastic adventures in FCPX.
on Sep 27, 2012 at 11:35:15 pm

That's interesting, we are testing FCPX on our program next week. Magazine program for the BBC, Im cutting an 8 min item for our Glasgow show. We are planning a stand alone operation for the test. Ie not on the xsan, but working with stand alone drives. We really just want to see how the software works under editorial pressure. We will export a QT that scotland will import into there TX program, cut up and Grade etc. But Im a little worried about the audio.

[John Davidson] "With roles, we generate multiple tracks that are the full length of the spot based on VO, SFX, MUSIC, SFX2, etc "

I assume you export a separate QT for each role, is that correct?


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John Davidson
Re: Update: NAStastic adventures in FCPX.
on Sep 27, 2012 at 11:38:36 pm

That should be fun!

[craig slattery] "I assume you export a separate QT for each role, is that correct?"

Actually no, X will create all the separate tracks and folder them for you using the 'share' menu. It's pretty solid about it, but aaf's would be better/easier.

John Davidson | President / Creative Director | Magic Feather Inc.


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craig slattery
Re: Update: NAStastic adventures in FCPX.
on Sep 27, 2012 at 11:48:16 pm

Thanks John, and thanks for sharing your experience with FCPX


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John Davidson
Re: Update: NAStastic adventures in FCPX.
on Sep 27, 2012 at 11:52:14 pm

You bet. If you hit issues when making revisions to the primary, "Lift from Storyline" (opt-cmd-up arrow) will move the primary track to secondary and save you some grief. Good luck!

John Davidson | President / Creative Director | Magic Feather Inc.


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craig slattery
Re: Update: NAStastic adventures in FCPX.
on Sep 27, 2012 at 11:58:06 pm

No worries, thanks.
One other question, exporting the roles the way you mentioned. Do the levels and key frames, fades etc exist in the exported media or does the sound guy start from scratch rebuilding the mix in relation to our guide QT?


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John Davidson
Re: Update: NAStastic adventures in FCPX.
on Sep 28, 2012 at 12:01:58 am

Don't quote me on this, but I don't believe it strips anything off what you add to it. In other words, if you want it effects out, remove all the effects and fades before export. Perhaps dupe a project and rename it 'audio export" and remove anything you don't want him/her to have. You may also want to break apart all audio from video in this export.

I'm also curious how X2Pro will handle this. Traditionally we want this material to be as clean and unaltered as possible.

John Davidson | President / Creative Director | Magic Feather Inc.


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craig slattery
Re: Update: NAStastic adventures in FCPX.
on Sep 28, 2012 at 12:07:19 am

Yeah I just did a test, it doesn't strip anything off, which is not ideal. My understanding is that X2pro leaves it on, but the clean audio is still available.


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Keith Koby
Re: Update: NAStastic adventures in FCPX.
on Sep 28, 2012 at 9:04:40 pm

John,

I've been asking for a feature to be added to several capture apps (justin, vtr xchange, media express etc) that would allow for a sidecart xml to be created with the captured clip which would contain role information. Just:in for example has different capture presets. Imagine a scenario where you establish presets for your source materials to add video and audio role metadata to a sidecar xml on capture. Also, a MAM mechanism to do this on files would be great.

Keith

Keith Koby
Sr. Director Post-Production Engineering
iNDEMAND NETWORKS
Howard TV!/Movies On Demand/iNDEMAND Pay-Per-View/iNDEMAND 3D


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John Davidson
Re: Update: NAStastic adventures in FCPX.
on Sep 28, 2012 at 9:09:38 pm

That kind of touches on something else we're running into. It's a huge pain when you keyword tag a 2 hour movie that's low res and then you get a high res clip that's a few frames off - then you have to keyword all over again.

It'd be great to copy metadata/keywords to a new clip. Role sets and keyword sets should also be included in metadata on either the QT or Event. I'm sure it'll get there.

John Davidson | President / Creative Director | Magic Feather Inc.


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Charlie Austin
Re: Update: NAStastic adventures in FCPX.
on Oct 1, 2012 at 5:14:16 pm

[John Davidson] "I'd hoped to be able to comment on X2Pro as they promised a v2 release in August, and then revised to a September release. They basically have a day to get the update out unless they plan on a weekend release. Perhaps there were some last minute issues with 10.8.2 that need to be worked out before release. I'd rather they take their time and get it right."

FWIW, x2Pro 2 is just waiting on app store approval, so it's done, apple has it, and it will hopefully appear soon.

-------------------------------------------------------------


~"It is a poor craftsman who blames his tools."~


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John Davidson
Re: Update: NAStastic adventures in FCPX.
on Oct 1, 2012 at 5:17:16 pm

Good news! Although it's weird they're holding it up. Maybe it'll come out in conjunction with an FCPX 10.1 update. #dreaming

John Davidson | President / Creative Director | Magic Feather Inc.


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Charlie Austin
Re: Update: NAStastic adventures in FCPX.
on Oct 1, 2012 at 5:42:47 pm

[John Davidson] "Good news! Although it's weird they're holding it up. Maybe it'll come out in conjunction with an FCPX 10.1 update. #dreaming"

It apparently takes up to 3 weeks for apple to approve things for the app store. Same thing happened with EDL X... 3 weeks. Who knows why. It's worth the wait though.... ;-)

-------------------------------------------------------------


~"It is a poor craftsman who blames his tools."~


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craig slattery
Re: Update: NAStastic adventures in FCPX.
on Oct 4, 2012 at 4:23:23 pm

[John Davidson] "Editing with FCPX has had some issues as we continue to avoid working in the primary. It's great for building clips but hazardous when it comes time for revisions. "

Hey John, Craig here again. Why not edit in the primary story line?


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John Davidson
Re: Update: NAStastic adventures in FCPX.
on Oct 4, 2012 at 5:45:48 pm

Initially we thought it would be best to place voiceover as our primary track as VO is typically the 'backbone' of a spot. This was good until we needed to start shifting SOTS around and changed VO copy per client notes. Then end pages (title treatment and tune in time) started slipping around, final duration changed (because we don't have visual timeline markers), and all sorts of havoc ensued. The position tool was also creating lots of little micro-gaps in primary that were distracting.

I feel that from a fundamental level the concept of a primary/secondary as a-roll and b-roll is excellent for just about everything except promos, because there's really no a-roll track to define the primary storyline. Some spots don't have voice over, some spots don't have music, some spots don't have much video - each promo project is different. Basically, everything in promos is B-Roll. Making a consistent system of avoiding the primary for 3 editors to collaborate with was much more difficult when the 'backbone' changed every other project.

While we CAN build a promo and wield the power of the primary storyline to great effect, it's revisions that get us. To make many of these revisions we have to move clips out of the primary into secondaries, which creates issues with connected elements following the move into secondary, etc. As soon as we got the idea that all footage in a spot is b-roll, the use of our frankenstein style of editing in FCPX made sense - and alleviated worries of the 'how in the heck are we going to make these revisions without destroying everything' variety.

So we use the primary as a gap clip the length of our project and place markers on it at exactly :20 or :30 in the timeline, depending on the length of our spot. It is in effect a massively oversized marker container.

John Davidson | President / Creative Director | Magic Feather Inc.


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Charlie Austin
Re: Update: NAStastic adventures in FCPX.
on Oct 4, 2012 at 8:08:21 pm

[John Davidson] "So we use the primary as a gap clip the length of our project and place markers on it at exactly :20 or :30 in the timeline, depending on the length of our spot. It is in effect a massively oversized marker container."

Same here. It actually works really well except, as I just discovered, keyframed video fades/dissolves etc, don't currently come across in an EDL which, sadly, I still need to generate. I figured I'd just dump everything onto the primary with a couple secondary's and put dissolve effects on the clips. Worked great, took about 2 minutes. Then I got some revisions. Ended up undoing it all to make the changes.

I'm thinking I might just create all secondary's as needed for crossfades etc and continue leave the primary empty. Then they'd behave like compound connected clips and all will be right with the world. :-) On a side note... EDL X and X2Pro 2 are getting their first (for me) real world test today. Sending a bunch of stuff to finish without running it through FCP 7. So far so good... ;-)

-------------------------------------------------------------


~"It is a poor craftsman who blames his tools."~


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