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Recommended Final Cut Pro X Workflow for Music Video

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Bob Johnston
Recommended Final Cut Pro X Workflow for Music Video
on Aug 17, 2014 at 9:07:26 am

I've done some smaller projects before like vacation videos just for fun and interviews which are far less complex so I know the basics but the music video I'm working on is a bit daunting. I have a lot of footage to deal with.

I have four basic scenes which are *mostly* full takes - i.e. the band or the band member ran through the entire song. I guess I have about 3 or 4 at each location. Then I also have a few solo shots and misc. detail shots - waves, sun, water, etc.

75% or more of the shots will not be able to be auto sync'd to the music track because unfortunately we only had an iPhone for playback and it just wasn't loud enough to be clearly recorded.

My question is what kind of work flow would you recommend to put all this together?

Would you build one full length of the song multicam clip for each location? Or a compound clip for each location? I haven't really figured out all the benefits and drawbacks of compound clip vs multi cam clip other than it looks like the angle viewer doesn't work with compound clip (true?).

Anyway the whole thing could have been done better and better planned but the good news is that I have at least one full usable song length clip from each of my four major locations.

Are there any blog articles or tutorials you would recommend to help me out? I am just feeling a bit overwhelmed with the sheer number of clips I have to work with here. I also have only one monitor so I don't have a lot of screen real estate to view everythign at one time. Tips for breaking this job down into more manageable chunks will be much appreciated which is why I was thinking of maybe trying to create a multi cam for each of the four locations and then on the main timeline just edit between those four multi cam clips... I'm not sure if that's the right way to go or not though.

I have been watching these two tutorials so far:













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Bill Davis
Re: Recommended Final Cut Pro X Workflow for Music Video
on Aug 17, 2014 at 8:53:33 pm
Last Edited By Bill Davis on Aug 17, 2014 at 9:05:31 pm

First, Bob, relax.

This is precisely the type of project X can turn from drudgery to fun!

Start with the basics. The TIMING of the entire project is set. The music track is the timekeeper. Period.

Most of what you shot just needs to be synced to that. So start there.

(BTW, Forget about compound clips - they're NOT what you need for this - at ALL.)

Multiple angles of the SAME event (in this case, the song playback) are what Multi-cam exists for. So start by creating a new Multi-cam Project and as step one - importing your MUSIC BED.

Now you have the multicam timekeeper. Everything gets set against that.

Now start to bring your camera shots into the Angle Editor (new angle) and as you do that, just notice whether or not you might have decent sync sound to let X automate the synchronization. If you have some clips where you have good field sound. Bring them in as a batch and let X go to work on them. If some work, great. If no, no big deal. Just use a marker on both the music track (probably the initial downbeat?) and then find a matching point on ANY take and put a marker at the same place. X will sync based on the markers. Just go angle by angle, clip by clip. When you're done syncing a shot - remove the markers so X doesn see more than one pair of markers when you ask it to sync something. If you have a partial take, find ANY place to put a marker on that wild take. And go the the same spot in the music bed angle and put a marker there. Sync it. It will take some time, but in the end, patience WILL yield you a multi clip with all the sources synced to the music. All the angles organized and you'll be ready to switch the project..

Take that multi clip - open the angle editor and do a ROUGH CUT. Do NOT try to watch and switch everything in one pass. With too many angles it's just unnecessary and counter productive. Instead focus on the primary cameras or the main angles. Maybe start with your wide shots across ALL the angles and takes. This is just a foundation cut to build on. NOT a final switch. - You can start and stop. When you cut to a new shot, you can stop and UNDO that switch if it's wrong. So cut some, then re-rack to the start and refine your choices.

Then go to your other angles and watch for BETTER shots. Add ISOs or musician close-ups or whatever. Substitute as needed. It's EASY.

Finally, when you've finally worked the base switch to your liking, go to the Multiclip's Primary Storyline and your switch'd "master" will be waiting there just like any other Primary storyline, Which means you can STILL do cutaways, effects, and alter ANYTHING you want to.

Multi-cam in X is amazing. It's powerful, flexible and easy.

So don't worry. Just remember to read up and carefully set up your angles - basically marking the different angles in the clip metadata (Info window) so that X knows which angle editor tracks which shots should go on.

And its all downhill from there.

Have fun.

(I FORGOT TO MENTION!! - as the complexity of a music video grows, one of the MOST important organizer ideas is sometimes, just knowing which shots are from which performance - so consider starting with TAGS for Take A, Take B, Take C, and Take D, applied to everything from those different performances - without that, it's really easy to have 5 camera shots of the drummer playing at the 1:03 into the music track - and want to cut from a WIDE to a CLOSE - but not know which Drummer CU will match his expression or body position. So being able to sort by song take can be REALLY useful. Just a FYI.)

Personal plug. I learned this stuff on a Jazz music video I produced and cut in FCP X a while back and I produced a simple iBook from all the lessons I learned. If you're interested, search out "Jazz at the Nash" on the iTunes Bookstore. It's cheap and it covers this stuff in much more depth.


Know someone who teaches video editing in elementary school, high school or college? Tell them to check out http://www.StartEditingNow.com - video editing curriculum complete with licensed practice content.


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