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FCP7 editing and organising tips for a feature project

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Nicolas Mandri
FCP7 editing and organising tips for a feature project
on Oct 14, 2015 at 7:05:10 pm

Hi all,

I'm starting a new project that will be huge and that I will be adding material to, so I want to make sure I organise it properly since the begging.
The project will be filmed in different stages and so far I've filmed 4 stages that I've captured into 4 different capture bins. I thought this would be best to keep the actual project size lighter, but I'm not sure if that's the best option.
Since I'm still at the beginning stage I wanted to ask the help of you experts out there so I organise the footage and create the easiest and most efficient work flow for a project that will be very heavy.
So, I guess the three main questions I'm looking an answer for are:
1. How to organise the capture to make the project much more efficient considering there will be at least 1 TB of footage?
2. How to organise the footage in the project so as to avoid crashing, slowness etc issues later on?
3. What would be the most efficient way of classifying the material i.e making subclips, using markers or some other method?
Any tips will be hugely appreciated!

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Dave LaRonde
Re: FCP7 editing and organising tips for a feature project
on Oct 14, 2015 at 10:24:34 pm

One thing jumps right out at me. For a purportedly huge project, 1 TB of footage isn't very much.

FCP will NOT edit properly in highly compressed codecs. It's an invitation for disaster, and it usually comes in the middle or end of a large project.

FCP likes its footage in the ProRes family of codecs, and the overwhelming favorite is ProRes 422. If you can't transcode or convert as you ingest into ProRes, expect problems later.

Dave LaRonde
Promotion Producer
KGAN (CBS) & KFXA (Fox) Cedar Rapids, IA

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Nicolas Mandri
Re: FCP7 editing and organising tips for a feature project
on Oct 15, 2015 at 7:33:09 pm

Thanks very much for your reply Dave. I have everything in ProRes 422 but great tip. I have 1TB so far of footage but we'll be shooting all year so I'm worried that we'll have over 10TB when we finish. Any tips on how I could organise the footage the bins. My vocal fails me at the moment but I'm really looking for tips on how to classify all the footage. Should I make sub-clips or will using markers suffice, especially when we are talking about interviews.
Again, thanks so much for the help

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Nick Meyers
Re: FCP7 editing and organising tips for a feature project
on Oct 15, 2015 at 11:54:38 am
Last Edited By Nick Meyers on Oct 15, 2015 at 12:03:56 pm

is this a documentary of a scripted drama?

either way, 2 simple things I can say right now are:

don't mix your capture / preparation work with your editing work.
they are two quite separate tasks, often performed by two separate people.

you cant contain a large show like yours in one project.
you need to strategise how you will spread the editing across a few projects.

Shane Ross made some training material specifically about project organisation in FCP,
you should see if you can find a copy.


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Nicolas Mandri
Re: FCP7 editing and organising tips for a feature project
on Oct 15, 2015 at 7:52:02 pm

Thanks Nick for the reply. It's a documentary and I'm really worried that it'll get so big that it'll be a nightmare later to organise, hence why I want to get it as right as possible since the beginning.
So do you think that I should have all separate projects so as to divide it in bite size chunks and then try to piece them all together at the end into one sequence? At the moment I've separated all the capture scratch by event and I've created on project per event.
I looked for Shane Ross' DVD but we don't have it in Brazil and I really need to get going on this project. If you have any tips you might want to share it would be hugely appreciated.
Thanks so much

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Nick Meyers
Re: FCP7 editing and organising tips for a feature project
on Oct 16, 2015 at 10:14:03 pm

yes, it will get big, too big for one project.
and yes, you have to be organised, no matter how big or small the project is.

as i say you have to break the show into smaller chunks.
not bite-size, something larger.
on dramas i work in 4 acts, sometimes with special projects for specially large sequences
that's easy, it's scripted.

the docs i've worked on have had clear-ish narrative,
one was defined by geographic locations, so we used that as our way to break it down.
my last one is more character driven, and we have projects for the main groups of characters.

now the final film is not all one place of person followed by another,
but building the various scenes, it's great (essential, really) to have easy access to all the material from those same people or places.

i should say that one the important factors in all this (for me) is that FCP cannot maintain master / affiliate clip relationships between different projects.
a working master / affiliate clip relationship means you can match frame from a clip in the timeline to a bin in the browser.
this is very handy and makes editing a lot faster for me.
but NOT being able to do this between different projects makes file harder for us FCP editors
and that's why i strategise the break up of the projects

but back to the organising of the rushes

our last doc was shot quite randomly, so we found it best to break down our shoots into what we called (like FCPX) EVENTS
these days, with file-based cameras, there are more files than ever
so we placed each event's worth of files into it's own dated folder
0915a on the street
0915b Bruce IV

that's September 15, events A and B

the clips were also named accordingly, with the date, description, camera ID, and file number
0915a on the street_a001

for what it's worth, a lot had been shot before i got it,
so we had an overview when we were creating the names

those folders were imported into FCP as bins.

we had separate projects for Log& transfer, and basic organising
separate projects for syncing our multiple cameras
separate projects for subtitling.

this simplified the processes, and avoided clutter within theses preparatory projects.
it also allowed multiple people to be synching at the same time, for instance.

on a drama, i work with a separate project for each DAY'S shoot,
and do all the various prep tasks for that day in the one daily project.
a doco may be worked the same way depending on the circumstances,
as i say we got a ton of footage all at once

at the finder level all these projects are kept in their own folders
whatever, but mainly they are away form the EDIT projects, which are in an EDIT folder.
both in a *PROJECTS folder, of course

when the work is done, or as it is being done,
prepared scenes are brought into the various edit projects
this is for the mot part a simple copy/paste,
an important thing to note is that if you copy/paste a bin and a timeline of the same material TOGETHER
they can lose their master / affiliate relationship
copy the bin, then the timeline or vice versa,
or copy the timeline only, and then "Create Master clips"
or copy the bin only and make rushes sequences if you don't have multiple cameras.

Pluraleyes also messes with the M/A relationship
and after using it, and fine-tuning the results, we would completely re-fresh the material, replacing the shots with new source clips.
boring, and complicated!

for viewing and selecting material, my preferred way is to work in TIMELINES
everyone is different, of course, but that method works well for me, as it's primarily a visual process.
and as i mentioned these days, every shot is it;s own file/clip,
so being able to scoot though a lot of them quickly makes for much easier work.
(FCPX excels at this, with it;s "Skimming" in the browser)

i can use markers for important IV moments, or shots, but mainly i have a process of viewing the rushes,
and selecting the best shots / moments / comments, and placing them at the end of the timeline,
so i have all the rushes, then a collection of the best bits.
then i copy that selection, and start shuffling / editing it,
until i have my first decent edit,
which i copy into my main edit timeline, where i build up sequences of scenes.

main point i'm making is that having your rushes in timelines is the best way to quickly skim though them
having the material in "events" makes it easy to locate.

each show is a little bit different, and requires different methods and systems

if you have long interviews, and can afford transcripts, they can help immeasurably.

i once did a show with lots of crowd-sourced archival
we used a method of using comments columns for various keywords and ratings.

apologies for my long windedness
hope you get something out of it!

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Nathan McAlpine
Re: FCP7 editing and organising tips for a feature project
on Oct 15, 2015 at 6:18:17 pm

Footage should be organized by day shot. Create a new folder for each day. Call each folder, Day 01, Day 02, etc. Within the day, create a new folder for each camera, Cam A, Cam B, etc. Within each camera folder, create a new folder for each card, or "Roll", Roll001, Roll002, etc.

Transcode all footage to Pro Res 422, or XDCAM, depending on what you're shooting on. Only XDCAM if that's the native format your camera shoots on. Keep transcoded footage next to the raw footage in a folder called "transcoded".

When organizing in FCP 7, organize by Scene. Make a new bin for each scene. Within each scene, you can bin footage by shot type or whatever makes sense for the project.

Designate each track on the timeline for specific things. A1-A4 could be dialogue, A5-A8 for Music. A9-A10 for ambient sound. A11-A14 for SFX.

Nathan McAlpine
Sales Promotion & Production
WDIV Local 4

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Nicolas Mandri
Re: FCP7 editing and organising tips for a feature project
on Oct 15, 2015 at 8:09:20 pm

Thanks so much Nathan! Great, great tips! This is really useful!

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Michael Aranyshev
Re: FCP7 editing and organising tips for a feature project
on Oct 27, 2015 at 9:29:34 pm

I cut six features, a few docs and over fifty episodes of Reality TV in FCP. Most of the stuff you read about organizing is superficial. First, breaking the show in pieces doesn't help if you version like crazy. The number of sequences affects the size of the project file to much greater degree than the length of the sequences and the number of clips. Second, creating elaborate bin structure is a waste of time. Why put footage into Day 1, Day 2 etc bins when FCP can perfectly sort the list of clips according to the Date Created? The same applies to most of the properties of your footage. Keep all source footage together. Don't spawn versions. Make sure the amount of tracks in your timeline is reasonable.

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