FCP X file management in a university computer lab
I'm the manager of a computer lab of 5 iMacs running FCP X (10.1.3). Any students, faculty, and staff on campus with potentially no previous experience with video editing come to use the lab, so I'm hoping to make it as simple as possible for them to manage their files.
When launching FCP X, it opens the most recently used library. Sometimes students will simply create a new event in that library, thus saving all their work into someone else's library. If students want to save their project to their own flash drive by dragging over the library, they would end up copying over else's project, too.
Basically, my goal is to have each student project saved in their own library and also not be so easily viewable/editable by the next person that walks in.
Ideally, I would sit down with each student to create a virtual drive (sparse image) they would save their library into, then eject at the end of their editing session so their library would be invisible to FCP X.
Another idea would be to have FCP X automatically close out of all libraries before quitting. When relaunched, it would prompt the user to select a library to open or to create a new one. I've tried to set this as a preference, but I don't know if that's possible.
Here are the computer specs: OS 10.9.5, 3.5 GHz Intel Core i7, 8 GB 1600 MHz DDR3
Any thoughts? Thanks in advance!
Make each student keep their library on a WD Passport Hard drive or similar that they keep for themselves. When they aren't there, the library can't open and cause any problems.
John Davidson | President / Creative Director | Magic Feather Inc.
If they were networked together via say XSAN you could do that virtually otherwise checking out external drives is the way to go. Or enforce user settings per student.
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John Davidson: hammer, meet nail. It solves even more problems than the original question posed, and makes it easier to nuke the shared system and get it back to default status every time.
There's one catch to this. If FCP X can't find the library that it had open previously, instead of asking which library should be opened with a prompt (like you'd get if you hold down Option upon opening FCP), it will instead Automatically create an Untitled Library in the User's Movies folder.
In the case of students having their own drives, this almost always guarantees that the last library used will not be available. If the next student double-clicks on their library or holds down option, Great! But if they forget, there's all these stupid Untitled Libraries created instead.
The workaround that I've found for this is to Lock the permissions of the User's Movies folder. Change the User permission (for the student user, not the admin, obviously), to Read-Only. This prevents FCP from creating any Untitled Libraries in this folder. And since it can't do that, it will instead bring up the Library Chooser prompt and ask the user which library they would like to open. Honestly, FCP X should have an option in preferences to Always do this, but it doesn't.
Only thing, the Motion Templates and Motion Autosave (as well as other folders of importance) may also be stored in the Movies folder. Just make sure that these folders still have permission for Read & Write and everything should be fine.
Television Adviser | FCPX Certified Trainer
Hi Sasha -
I know where you are coming from. When I have my "academia hat" on, I teach Visual Storytelling to over 100 students each year. We have a lab with 21 Mac Pro's and we switched over to FCPX 2 years ago. I had something like that with our Facillis set-up with FCP7, where only team members could access their partition. It was tied into their network log-in. Since FCPX we have not been using it, but FINALLY our IT folks are updating the software so that we can use that again. In the meantime, I just teach and teach again about the importance to create a new project with a unique name, saved to the video hard drive and close out any other Libraries that might be opened. Also, since students have to log on to each computer, FCPX seems not to remember what the last student on a different log-in had open. I am not in front of a system right now, but I will check that later. Good luck!
Senior Editor/Post Production Supervisor
Professor, VCU Brandcenter
Thank you everyone for your suggestions. (and one last question)
At this point, it works well enough to just set up a disk image for each student to save their FCP X library into. When they eject it at the end of their work session, FCP X won't be able to see their library the next time it's launched. Along the same lines, they can instead save their FCP X library into their own external storage device when setting up a new project. I will put a reminder on the desktop background for students to do this when beginning a new project.
Is there a way to have FCP X automatically close out of all libraries when quitting? This way, when relaunched, it will prompt the user to either open an existing library or create a new one. I think this would really help clue people in to where their project is going to be saved.
Whether or not you use the external drive option, I've got a couple ideas that I think might help. IF YOU DO DECIDE to have each student use their own drive, the last tip I've got will really be helpful.
I run an editing lab with 21 iMacs and a lot of high school students who are prone to working on the first library that they can get their hands on. They can't afford to each have an external drive, so that option is out for me. But here's what I do, and I think this might help with your last question.
I assign students in each of my classes to a computer and each computer has one external drive attached to it that has been partitioned with one partition for each class (Period 1, Period 2, etc). On each of these partitions is a Library (Period 1 Library, Period 2 Library, etc). You could do this or have each student create their own library on a computer drive, external public drive, or their own personal drive. This solves a little bit of the risk of one student overwriting another student's work since there's a different library per computer and per class.
The next thing that I have them do, and this is really important, so I teach them to do this from day one: HOLD DOWN THE OPTION KEY whenever you open FCPX. I repeat this over and over to them. Here's what that does: When you hold down the option key while FCPX is loading, you will get a library menu that pops up before FCP opens. In this menu you have three options: 1) Open a library that has already been opened on this computer in the past (the library will be in a list). 2) Locate another library (which will then be added to the library list for future reference). 3) Create a new library.
The power of this extra step is that when you use this library chooser to select your library before you open FCP, it will ONLY OPEN the library that you select. So, no matter how many libraries were open during the previous run, it won't open any of those this time. Just the one you select.
If they can remember to HOLD DOWN OPTION, they will always get to choose their own library and won't have bother with the mess of seeing everyone else's work cluttering up their screen (that's how I sell them on this slight inconvenience).
Now, you might say, "Yes, but can't I just have them double-click on their library from the Finder?" That would make sense, but unfortunately, even if they do this, FCP will still load that library along with any other libraries that were open the last time. Holding down Option is the only way to get it to only load one library.
You asked, "Is there a way to have FCP X automatically close out of all libraries when quitting? This way, when relaunched, it will prompt the user to either open an existing library or create a new one."
Here's my last power tip from one crazy FCP lab teacher to another. Let's say that each student has their own external drive with their own library on it. Now, John plugs in his external drive and opens his library and edits, then shuts down FCP and leaves with his drive. Sarah comes in and plugs in her external drive. She FORGETS to hold down option OR to double click on her library. She just opens FCPX and lets it go.
IF, when John finished working, he Closed his Library in FCPX so that there were no libraries open, THEN he shut down FCP X, in that case, FCP would ask Sarah which library she would like to open and she would think, "Oh, mine!" BUT the only way that FCP will ask this without holding down Option is if all libraries were closed before the program was quit during the last run. Chances are, not every student will remember to do this.
Now, back to Sarah. So she opened FCP without double-clicking on her library or holding down Option.
Here's the stupid thing that FCP X does:
Because it CANNOT FIND the last library that was open (John's), since John has ejected his hard drive and taken it with him, and since John didn't close all libraries ahead of time, FCPX AUTOMATICALLY creates an Untitled Library in the User's Movies folder.
You would think that FCP X would realize that the library that was open last is no longer available and then give the current user the option of opening a current library OR creating a new one. But no. It doesn't, it just creates a new one automatically.
Is Sarah is smart, she will realize that she's not in her library, but rather in an Untitled one and quickly open hers. But if she is starting a new project, she may not. Either way, you as the administrator now have this stupid, unnecessary Untitled Library sitting out there in the user's Movies Folder.
Here's how I've worked around this, and I love the results. LOCK the User's Movies Folder. Here's how: Go to the User home folder and right-click on the Movies folder for the User, then select Get Info. Under Sharing and Permissions at the bottom, change the Permissions for the student User (if you're logged in to that user, it will say (Me) beside it) to Read Only.
There's one caveat to this. Assuming that students aren't saving anything to this folder (because their media should be going on their external drive or somewhere on a server for you to get), they shouldn't ever need to have access to save anything here EXCEPT for Motion Templates and Motion Autosaves. If they are using Motion (or any other software that automatically writes to this drive), you'll want to go ahead and create those folders and make sure that permissions for those folder are normal (student can read and write). Be aware that the Motion Templates folder is actually "Motion Templates.localized".
Anyway, here's what this does. Back to Sarah. She opens FCP X. She didn't hold down option or double-click her library. John didn't close his library out the last time, so FCP X goes and looks for it. FCP X can't find his library, so it goes to create that stupid Untitled one - but it CAN'T! Permissions for that folder are Locked! So what does it do???? It brings up that wonderful Library selection window and prompts Sarah to choose a library.
What this does essentially is guarantees (especially in the case of students each having their libraries on a their own hard drive), that whenever a student plugs in their drive and opens FCP X, even if they forget to open their library, FCP X will still prompt them to find it since it will not have the ability to create an Untitled one.
I hope that this rambling helps you in your administration. I have thought long and hard over the best ways to keep my students focused on editing and keep my head from exploding with file management nightmares. So far, these tips have helped me stay sane most of the time.
Wishing you all the best!
Television Adviser | FCPX Certified Trainer