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Multicam from hour-long SDHC import

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Bill Rabkin
Multicam from hour-long SDHC import
on Feb 11, 2013 at 1:51:36 am

For my Public Access station, I shoot hour-long concerts in SD, on camcorders that record on either miniDV tapes or on SDHC cards. I shoot each concert with 3 cameras of various types, depending on what is available for me to borrow from the access studio at the time. The 3 camcorders may be any combination of these recording media and file types:

  • miniDV tape - DV SP mode (Sony PD-170)

  • SDHC Card - .mov file (JVC GY-HM150)

  • SDHC Card - .avi file (Panasonic AG-HMC80)

  • When I shoot with 3 PD-170s and capture the 3 tapes, I have 1 continuous clip for each tape. I mark the "clap" as the first marker on each clip and create my Multicam clip. No problems when all inputs are from miniDV tapes.

    However, when I shoot with one or more SDHC card camcorders, since the concert is about an hour long the camcorder records it in 4 or 5 separate .mov or .avi files due to the file size limitations of the FAT32 file system.

    Now for the Multicam question:

    What is the best way to make a Multicam clip out of source inputs in which a concert consists of 4 or 5 separate clips from each camcorder? Only the first clip contains the "clap". The other clips from the same camcorder follow in order, with no loss of frames between the end of one file and the start of the next file.

    Please note that the file sizes are not the same on the JVC and Panasonic camcorders. For example, a recent concert recorded files of these sizes:

    JVC: First three .mov files, 3.71 GB each; final .mov file, 3.04 GB
    Panasonic: First three .avi files, 4.28GB each; final .avi file, 1.16GB

    In FCP7, I would insert all of the files from one camcorder onto a timeline, adjust the color and audio if necessary, then export that timeline to a (single) QuickTime .mov file. Next, I would import that QuickTime movie into my FCP7 Project, thereby turning the 4 or 5 separate files into a single clip. I repeated this process for the other SDHC recordings. Then, I created my Multicam clip from these imported .mov files (one for each SDHC camcorder) together with one captured clip for each miniDV camcorder.

    While this technique worked, it took some time to accomplish and it doubled the amount of disk space used by each SDHC camcorder. There must be a better way to do this in FCPX. What would you recommend, please?

    Bill Rabkin

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    Charlie Austin
    Re: Multicam from hour-long SDHC import
    on Feb 11, 2013 at 9:48:36 pm

    [Bill Rabkin] "There must be a better way to do this in FCPX"

    I may not be the best source for info, having not done a whole lot, but i'm pretty sure that, as long as all the clips have the same audio, you can import them into an event, select all the clips you'd like to sync/combine, and select "new Multicam Clip" from the File menu. FWIW, here's a link i just posted above...


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

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    Bill Rabkin
    Re: Multicam from hour-long SDHC import
    on Feb 11, 2013 at 10:47:58 pm

    Thanks, Charlie. I have not tried creating a Multicam clip by sync'ing on the audio, for a couple of reasons:
    (1) I don't always have good audio on every camcorder
    (2) I've read in several places that sync'ing on audio can take a long time, since FCPX must analyze the waveforms of each of the clips in order to align them.

    So, I first set a marker in the first clip from each camcorder at the frame where my clapboard "claps." Then, when I create a Multicam clip I sync on "First Marker." Since there is a clapboard "clap" only in the first clip from each SDHC camcorder, I'm looking for the best technique for including the remaining camcorder clips into my Multicam clip.

    Bill Rabkin

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    Bill Rabkin
    Re: Multicam from hour-long SDHC import
    on Mar 1, 2013 at 4:27:48 am

    Still looking for the solution. Perhaps I did not explain the issue well enough.

    I tried FCPX audio sync'ing to create a multicam clip, but it doesn't work for a shoot in which each camcorder records more than one (contiguous) file during the shoot because the maximum file size limits imposed by the Windows FAT32 file system, which many camcorders use. This file size limit results in a long shoot being recorded in multiple files, each of which (except for the last one) is approximately 13-14 minutes in duration.

    For example, assume that you're shooting a 25-minute lecture. The camcorder records a person speaking for 25 minutes, but due to the file size limit it must record this in 2 separate files on the media. Assume that these files are named A1 and A2. The last frame of A1 is immediately followed by the first frame of A2; no frames of the lecture are lost.

    If you were shooting with only one camcorder, you'd simply import both files, insert A1 into a project timeline, then insert A2 at the end of the timeline. Your timeline would look like this:
    The total project duration would be approximately 25 minutes. You're ready to edit.

    However, in a 2-camera shoot the second camcorder will also record 2 files, Assume that they're named B1 and B2.

    In FCPX, you will import a total of 4 separate clips: A1, A2, B1, and B2. What you want is a multiclip that looks something like this:

    Here, clips A1 and B1 start at timecode 0:00:00 (approximately), and clips A2 and B2 start immediately after the ends of A1 and B1, respectively. The total length of the multiclip is approximately 25 minutes, and you'd see 2 angles in the Angle Viewer.

    If you select all 4 clips and create a multiclip by sync'ing on audio, FCPX lines up similar audio waveforms to establish what it believes to be synchronization. But since the waveforms represent a person lecturing for 25 minutes, the waveforms in A2 and B2 look like those in A1 and B1, so the resulting multiclip looks like this:
    All 4 clips begin at approximately 0:00:00, and the total length of the multiclip is only about 13 minutes.

    So, the question is this: How do I multicam edit a 2-camera shoot whose length causes each camcorder to record 2 or more separate contiguous files during the lecture?


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    David Eaks
    Re: Multicam from hour-long SDHC import
    on Mar 1, 2013 at 10:34:11 am

    I think you just need to "tell" FCPX that the clips are from the same camera, or angle, so it puts them on the same track. Fill in camera name, angle etc. in the inspector for all the clips and try making a new multicam clip. If automatic still doesn't get it right, set the angle assembly and clip ordering to use the info you entered earlier. Also, if it doesn't get the angle assembly right, you can just rearrange it manually.

    When syncing by audio I've found that if one of your cameras doesn't have good audio and won't sync well, turning on the audio enhancements temporarily just during sync helps.

    Alternatively you could make the split clips into single clips by either compounding or exporting but you shouldn't need to.

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    Bill Rabkin
    Re: Multicam from hour-long SDHC import
    on Mar 4, 2013 at 9:55:55 pm


    Doh! It turned out to be easy to create a Multicam Clip from source media from different camcorders that recorded several individual clips for an hourlong program. Here's what I did:

    For the "A" camcorder, I created a Project. I inserted all of the clips from that camcorder onto the primary storyline, in chronological order. Then, I selected the entire storyline and created a New Compound Clip. I named this "Compound A." I set a Marker at the "clap" frame.

    I did the same thing for the "B" camcorder, creating "Compound B."

    I then selected both Compound A and Compound B, and then File > New Multicam Clip. Done!

    Hope this technique helps other multi-camera shooters with tapeless media and long programs.


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