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Creating Reference QT from FCPX or anything else

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Nicholas Zimmerman
Creating Reference QT from FCPX or anything else
on Oct 8, 2019 at 8:37:34 pm

I’m looking for any solution available that can generate reference QuickTime files on a modern OS X box (or even Windows). There is a particular workflow in place to generate reference files with universal pathing, that will then be run through automated transcode hot folders.

The optimal solution would be something that can run from within FCPX (RIP ClipExporter 2), however a standalone app or DAM would also work, so long as it could receive additional audio streams from other files.

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Joe Marler
Re: Creating Reference QT from FCPX or anything else
on Oct 9, 2019 at 8:57:35 pm

Don't understand the question exactly but Quicktime Player 7 Pro had the ability to rapidly make a small video reference file from an image sequence. This in turn could be imported to FCPX which would access the underlying image sequence as a video. It allowed construction of time lapses from stills without transcoding.

I understand starting with Catalina this capability has been restored to Quicktime Player 10.


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Doug Metz
Re: Creating Reference QT from FCPX or anything else
on Oct 10, 2019 at 3:27:39 pm

[Joe Marler] "I understand starting with Catalina this capability has been restored to Quicktime Player 10."

Coming from you, I'm inclined to believe it. But I can't find any corroborating evidence anywhere, including Apple's QuickTime support page... and I'm not in a position to upgrade to Catalina just yet.

Doug Metz

Dalton Agency


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Joe Marler
Re: Creating Reference QT from FCPX or anything else
on Oct 10, 2019 at 8:31:56 pm

I may have misinterpreted it but this article said "A classic QuickTime feature makes its return in Catalina with the Open Image Sequence command, which lets you open a collection of still images and convert them into a video file."

https://www.macworld.com/article/3444585/8-hidden-features-of-macos-catalin...


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Nicholas Zimmerman
Re: Creating Reference QT from FCPX or anything else
on Oct 14, 2019 at 4:29:59 pm

While adding support for image sequences is great, this is describing encoding a video, not creating a reference Quicktime, which is just a tiny .mov file (<1MB), that references the original media instead of encoding new media.

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Doug Metz
Re: Creating Reference QT from FCPX or anything else
on Oct 14, 2019 at 10:25:35 pm

The old QuickTime / FCS reference file export is something I've used extensively in the distant past, and did save lots of time and drive space. Unfortunately, that functionality is not part of the core media framework and is going away entirely with Catalina.

I'll also say that more than a few of my old QT reference movies are irretrievably broken due to missing or corrupt render files. Better to export self-contained to future-proof your work.

Doug Metz

Dalton Agency


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Nicholas Zimmerman
Re: Creating Reference QT from FCPX or anything else
on Oct 14, 2019 at 11:24:20 pm

While Apple themselves have not released any updated methods of exporting QT References, they have added the features needed to build them in AVFoundation. We’ve reached out to several developers, and the possibility of creating these files with the modern frameworks appears to be very doable, it just hasn’t been done yet. Regarding the breaking of these files, that really isn’t a concern for us. These are essentially temporary alias files that are dropped into a Vantage farm to generate countless (i.e. hundreds) of different encodes. Once those files are generated, the reference QT is immediately destroyed. Duplicating this media would create hundreds of terabytes of temporary files every month, which is not conducive to this workflow.

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Doug Metz
Re: Creating Reference QT from FCPX or anything else
on Oct 15, 2019 at 2:31:07 pm

Thanks for the elucidation! Hadn't looked at this in a long time.

Doug Metz

Dalton Agency


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Joe Marler
Re: Creating Reference QT from FCPX or anything else
on Oct 15, 2019 at 1:49:33 pm

Thanks for that correction. The QT7 Pro "Open Image Sequence" command included the ability to save it as a reference movie, so I wrongly assumed that restoring this feature in Catalina QT10 also included that. But it appears to only include the ability to encode an image sequence as a regular video file.

The QT7 reference movie feature was nice and fast on the creation side, but without transcoding it was generally quite slow within FCPX. So I would often end up transcoding it anyway.

Here is an old link that supposedly has PHP code to produce a Quicktime reference file: https://www.phpclasses.org/package/1946-PHP-Generate-Quicktime-Reference-Mo...

The original Quicktime format specification included a provision for reference movies consisting mostly of pointers to external sources. I assume that was implemented via the Quicktime framework which has now been taken over by AV Foundation: https://developer.apple.com/library/archive/documentation/QuickTime/QTFF/QT...

See "Reference Movies" on page 81 of the ver. 1 Quicktime File Format Spec:
https://developer.apple.com/standards/qtff-2001.pdf

Using reference movies via AV Foundation was mentioned in this 2015 WWDC talk, so it must still be possible (in some fashion) from an API standpoint: https://developer.apple.com/videos/play/wwdc2015/506/


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Nicholas Zimmerman
Re: Creating Reference QT from FCPX or anything else
on Oct 15, 2019 at 4:47:23 pm

This is a fantastic batch of resources! I’m going to look more into the PHP thing in particular, as a simple web interface to combine files sounds like exactly what we need.

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NickZimmerman.net
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