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FCP 6.0 workflow guidance: New to HD/Matrox MXO solution

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Shannon Taggart
FCP 6.0 workflow guidance: New to HD/Matrox MXO solution
on Sep 12, 2009 at 5:45:01 pm

Hello Everyone,

First, I hope this is the right forum for this. Please forgive me if I missed a more appropriate one. And I'll also apologize in advance for a somewhat lengthy post.

I'm moving from the Premiere Pro PC World to the FCP Mac world and SD to HD simultaneously and realizing how ridiculously naive I was to think it would be an easy transition. I'm having format nightmares, trying to figure out the most efficient workflow. I've been combing through this amazingly informative site non-stop for the past few days trying to educate myself. My head is spinning. So I thought I'd throw my situation out there and see if I could get some direct advice from the experts:

I am shooting and cutting a lot of documentary style pieces about an alternative high school in the Bronx and also trying to set up a chromakey studio where we can do student newscasts etc.

Ultimately I'd like to shoot and edit in HD - because it seems the time has come (also my new JVC Pro HD "baby cam" doesn't shoot SD), but I'll probably be outputting to the web and SD DVDs as well, so I'm doing the format dance.

First, here's the equipment I'm working with:

MAC Pro: OS X Version 10.5.8 with 2x2.26Ghz Quad-Core Intel Xeon, with 16GB 1066MHz DDR3 Memory - Final Cut Pro 6.02

Drobo 1TB external drive (X2)


Cameras: Panasonic AG-HVX200AP and a JVC Pro HD

(Just FYI I also have Reflecmedia Chromatte set up as well as the Red Giant Primatte Keyer (but my chromakey issues are for another post I suppose)

My original thought was that I'd use the deck to make HD DV copies of finished pieces, but then I learned it's not as simple as just playing them off the timeline through firewire like in the old SD days. Apparently (duh) I'm going to need to need a capture card, or this Matrox mxo device to be able to do that in real-time? Naive. I'm telling ya.

Meanwhile, I can't seem to get FC Pro to recognize the deck when it's in HDV mode, although it does fine in regular SD mode. Somehow I haven't stumbled on the right combination of settings there. So I haven't been able to try the export to tape option in FCP to see how that works.

I looked into the Matrox MXO solution, which sounded like a real possibility - because apparently you can upres to HD or downres to SD straight out to the deck. So that way I could just edit in an HD timeline, play it off the timeline into the deck and record both an SD and an HD version. Then I could recapture the SD version and run it through compressor for a letterboxed SD DVD. (I think I'm understanding that right?) This would save loads of render time I assume. But it looks like the Matrox MXO doesn't support 24p footage and I tend to shoot in this format (exception: green screen). I think the more prohibitively expensive MXO 2.0 might but don't know whether it'd be worth all that money to preserve my 24p preferences:)

Also, the Panasonic shoots DVCPro HD on the P2Cards - which is best for green screen, but I worry about how that will interact with b-roll shot from the JVC camera, which does not have DVCPro capabilities (not to mention that you only get 20 minutes of video on those two expensive cards, so shooting all of our day to day stuff on them doesn't make sense).

So I guess my questions to you amazingly smart folks out there is:

Considering all the above, what is the most efficient workflow/shooting settings for my situation? Also trying to move into this mostly tapeless universe, which frankly sort of scares me. So I know I have to get more organized about how I store and back up my source footage.

So much to think about. Can someone out there please talk me down and help make it all manageable?
:) I'm a decent storyteller and editor, but I really stink at the technological side. But I am SO trying to learn.

Bless your heart in advance for any advice you can give!!

Thanks so much,

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Steve Oakley
Re: FCP 6.0 workflow guidance: New to HD/Matrox MXO solution
on Sep 15, 2009 at 8:21:17 pm

Hi Shannon

all MXO products support 24P and adding 3:2 pulldown on output to get to 29.97/59.94 as appropriate for the format.

you have to flip the switch on the JVC deck from DV to HDV in order to get HDV back to the deck. 99% chance that the problem. if not ( its in the right position ) then trash fcp prefs and try again. it does work. the JVC deck will only take HD as a FW HDV signal. it will however accecpt SD as Y/C ( ideally ) or composite from any MXO. you can use the DV or RS422 for VTR control when outputting. another option for quick DVD's is to feed the MXO output to a DVD recorder..

ideally what you would want to do is feed the camera directly into the MXO2 ( or mini ) to capture to prores straight to HD. that will make for much better / easier keys then HDV... not that HDV is terrible.

you can mix and match HDV and DVCpro footage on the same TL without a problem. the MXO series products will down / cross convert to whatever you have them set to output. they just work in that respect. if you haven't bought anything yet, a MXO mini might fit your budget if its tight as you can input and output with it, including feeding your camera into it for chromakey captures.

Steve Oakley
DP • Editor • VFX Artist

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Shannon Taggart
Re: FCP 6.0 workflow guidance: New to HD/Matrox MXO solution
on Sep 18, 2009 at 2:31:28 pm

Hi Steve,

Thanks so much for your help! So for my purposes, you think the MXO mini will be sufficient? What would be the advantage to getting the behemoth MXO2 Max?

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