Reference Movie export
Missing capabilities are slowing being brought back to FCPX. One that is still missing is reference movie export. Reference movies can be a misunderstood form of QT and can cause problems when the referenced media and ref.mov file loose track of one another. I imagine Apple has decided it's not worth their effort considering it has no place on an iPhone.
It does have a place, and is a powerful tool,in the pro community where shared storage is more common. We use it to feed our Episode watch folders without having to copy the actual media. I can send GBs of footage into a folder in a few seconds.
It's also useful in syncing. I can sync video to audio without making duplicates of the audio and video allowing work to begin without waiting for the media to copy.
Reference movies are an easy way to present growing files. The video and audio essence can grow independently of the ref mov which is updated at a set time.
Lastly we prefer our editors not twiddle their thumbs as media is copied or flattened out of FCP. We allow them to export ref movies, taking only seconds, to Episode or CatDV watch folders where the mov can be flattened or transcoded allowing the editor to move on with their work.
Unlike my my Reel/tcsource request this will require a change to AVFoundation which FCPX relies on. Currently AVFoundation does not support the creation of reference movies. This may sound like a big deal but AVFoundation is far from being finished... at least I hope so. It's missing many of the abilities the QT API has so I hope reference movies can be added.
One thing preventing ref mov in FCPX is that render files are in some proprietary format, so that would need to change to standard .mov files.
I'm curious what others think of reference movie export in FCPX, hopefully Apple is listening.
[John Heagy] "Reference movies can be a misunderstood form of QT "
Quicktime is legacy. AVFoundation is the way forward.
While there might be some way to create a new form of Reference moving, accelerating export, which is already happening, is a more productive way forward for most.
If there's going to be linking to clips it would probably be through XML.
[Craig Seeman] "Quicktime is legacy. AVFoundation is the way forward."
I thought I was pretty clear in saying I want QT ref via AVFoundation. Understand that AVFoundation is the future of QT. AVF replaces the QT API not the QT.mov file format. AVF only makes .mov currently, so the way forward is AFV and QT.mov. On top of all that the only difference between a self contained .mov and a reference .mov is the path to the media. Like with QT Reel, Apple could do this while falling off a log.
[Craig Seeman] "If there's going to be linking to clips it would probably be through XML."
That would be great except render files are not listed in XML, therefore no linking to rendered media for effects. XML only links to original source files... reference mov links to finished/rendered media.
The closest FCPX has to a ref.mov is the actual FCPX project file. Unfortunately they are all named exactly the same (CurrentVersion.fcpproject) whose bright idea was that!
[John Heagy] " On top of all that the only difference between a self contained .mov and a reference .mov is the path to the media"
But this is key and I think Apple will take a different route depending on the progress with the use of the underlying database and FCPX media. I don't think it's as simple as you think only because you're implying a direction Apple probably doesn't want to take. My own guess would be that the underlying changes will also come to the fore when Send To/From Motion and Logic happens. Just my guess but I think Apple is looking in a very different direction rather than repeat the old method.
[John Heagy] "That would be great except render files are not listed in XML"
... currently. Although it may happen someplace other than further XML development.
I can imagine it'll also be around improvements in collaborative workflow which, after all, Reference movies are a cousin of.
I'd suspect what Apple has in mind will tied into the "underbelly" more closely than reference movies were.
[Craig Seeman] "I think Apple will take a different route depending on the progress with the use of the underlying database and FCPX media. I don't think it's as simple as you think only because you're implying a direction Apple probably doesn't want to take."
Yes, quite possibly. I'm just expressing the feature I want, and the easiest way to get there knowing what I know today. Heaven forbid Apple keep/update something as old as QT ref if there's a new more involved way that currently no third party apps support.
Setting aside how/if Apple would replicate ref .mov in another form... how many would want the ability to send a tiny file that represents the finished timeline to third party apps (not just other Apple apps) the way ref movie does today? This has to be the finished timeline including renders, not like xml today.
A reference movie has one gotcha. Everything it references has to be the same codec, same frame rate. In FCP X it all mixes as long as its the same frame rate, without any render required. I doubt they'll be changing QuickTime specs, so making a reference that references h264, XDCam, DVCProHD, and ProRes all in the same wrapper isn't gonna happen. So there wouldn't be much point in making a reference movie if you have to first transcode all the media to the same codec first. Legacy required that step as part of the process up front, so reference movies were a natural thing to do.
[Bret Williams] "A reference movie has one gotcha. Everything it references has to be the same codec, same frame rate."
That is not true. A QT ref can contain mixed codecs and frame rates. It's FCP7 that will not accept or produce such a ref .mov.
[Bret Williams] "In FCP X it all mixes as long as its the same frame rate, without any render required"
That's only a temporary condition in FCPX. If you want to export anything FCPX will render to a single codec. Would you want an export containing mixed codecs and frame sizes? The point of any export, including ref.mov, is to represent the finished timeline not the project file.
Reference movies would be nice, but what I would like even more is getting Smart Rendering back.
In FCP 7, when you imported media in a timeline, it became that media-timeline.
If you put in XDCAM in a timeline, it became (if you say so) an XDCAM media-timeline.
If you just put some media in there, cut few simple things with dissolves, without any effects, and all the same codec, FCP 7 would just export very fast by copying the original media and just adding the fades.
FCP X recompresses everything. Only when you work in Prores, it seems that export is as fast as copying in FCP7. I did lots of tests, even with 10.0.6.
Yes, rendering from XDCAM to Prores is fast in FCP X, but it's still 5x as slow as the fast copying FCP 7 did.
For the work on congresses where we have tight deadlines and lots of media, this kills FCP X for us. We can use it for other projects, but untill Apple has that covered (or has export times as fast as FCP 7 in these scenarios, but a 500 procent increases seems unlikely for the moment), we will have to keep using FCP 7.
Reference movies would be great too, but the above is a bit more urgent for me, because with reference movies you of course always have to have the original media connected.
I sent Apple feedback a couple of times about this, so I hope they are thinking about it.