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Getting a better hold of search

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Tangier Clarke
Getting a better hold of search
on Feb 2, 2020 at 3:03:43 pm

Folks, I've been using FCP X since day one and the search capabilities have been great. However, when it's not, as many of us do I find workarounds.

How do you go about isolating specifically what you're looking for using the search field when FCP X search doesn't seem to work correctly? FCP X doesn't support grep (that be great) and doesn't have a "begins with" or "ends with" feature.

I have a selected smart keyword collection of synced clips named by scene and take created by Sync-N-Link X. For example 13T01, 13BT02, 58AT04, etc. When I enter "13" in the search field of the browser, I get back not only the clips with a 13 in their name, but a large amount of clips that have no "13" in the clip name, metadata, or in the audio/video components that make the synced clip.

I wish I could do something like "13*" in the search field so that I only get clips which start with the number "13" just in case there were a clip named "113T01" also.

I want to lock down why my search is failing. I don't recall in previous versions of FCP X. I would expect to only get clips at least with a "13" in the name. I tried setting up a smart keyword collection specifically for clips with a "13" in the name, but the results were similar to using the search field; the difference being about 5 clips. That's peculiar.

Any ideas folks? I hope this isn't one of those moments where after all my years of using FCP X, my brain is just skipping a beat here and I've forgotten how to do something trivially simple.

macOS: 10.15.2
FCP X 10.4.8


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Jeremy Garchow
Re: Getting a better hold of search
on Feb 2, 2020 at 5:29:13 pm

Why not a Smart Collection or Library Smart collection that includes the Scene "13"?

To edit, just double click the smart collection and change the number

Something like this:



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Tangier Clarke
Re: Getting a better hold of search
on Feb 2, 2020 at 5:42:03 pm

You're correct and I am fully aware that I can do that. I could also put the browser in list view and just look for the 13 then go back to icon view. However my typical workflow has been to quickly search for what I need inside a synced smart playlist using the scene. I don't recall having this much trouble. Perhaps there's something unique about the media/project I am working on.


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Jeremy Garchow
Re: Getting a better hold of search
on Feb 2, 2020 at 6:13:29 pm

So you are saying a smart collection doesn’t work?


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Tangier Clarke
Re: Getting a better hold of search
on Feb 2, 2020 at 8:50:36 pm

It can work if the scene is a the search criteria. Then I would have to either make a smart collection for each scene or modify the smart collection each time I want to change scene numbers. I have a general smart collection for synced and multicam clips. What I would like to do is, while having the synced clips smart playlist selected, be able to type the scene number of the clip which is also the beginning of the clip name, into the search field and only those clips show up.


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Jeremy Garchow
Re: Getting a better hold of search
on Feb 2, 2020 at 10:31:33 pm

I guess I’m confused.

With that collection selected, hit the filter button (looks like a little webpage next to search, select format > scene and type the number.

That should return all clips in that collection with “13” in the scene.

You are saying that doesn’t work?


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Tangier Clarke
Re: Getting a better hold of search
on Feb 3, 2020 at 5:03:01 am
Last Edited By Tangier Clarke on Feb 3, 2020 at 5:12:48 am

What I am saying is I shouldn't have to isolate the scene in the smart keyword collection. Since the scene number is embedded in the name anyway, I should be able to simply type in the search field "13", while having my smart keyword collection selected (which only isolates synced and multicam clips), and I get clips that at least have "13" in the name.

This is significantly faster than me isolating smart keyword collections for each scene or changing the smart keyword collection for each scene. When I want scene 14, 22, 59, etc, I should be able to (as I've done for many years now) just type that into the search field and I'll get those scene results since the number is in the clip name anyway.

This is not happening. I am getting the clips I want and a large amount of clips that don't fit the search criteria and I am trying to understand why that is.

When I type "13" in the search field I am getting synced clip results that have no "13" in the clip name, no "13" in the video file within the synced clip, and no "13" in the audio file for the synced clip.

If this helps to make more sense: my synced clips names are based on the audio recorder's naming which already has the scene/shot/take in the clip name. Sync-N-Link X provides that option to create synchronized clips based on the audio file name. Therefore I don't need to rely on the actual scene data in the scene column. That's actually slower for me than the way I've been doing it. I am now trying to figure out why FCP X is giving me so many results that have nothing to do with the numbers I type into the search field.

I guess part of the equation is having a better understanding of what FCP X is actually searching when something is entered into the search field. However I haven't had this issue before this version of FCP X..at least I don't remember having this issue. I generally typed in which scene I wanted (which was in the clip name) and I got back only the clips with that scene number or those plus scenes that may have that number in the clip name. So at least (for instance) I'd get scene 13T01, at most I'd get scenes 13T01, 13AT01, 13BT01, 013T01, and 113T01, etc. and any subsequent takes with a "13" in it.

I hope this makes more sense.


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Jeremy Garchow
Re: Getting a better hold of search
on Feb 3, 2020 at 6:25:03 am

[Tangier Clarke] "I hope this makes more sense."

Yes, I know the workflow well. I use Sync-n-link too. Thanks for clarifying.

Perhaps I should have been more specific.

When searching for a generic term like 13, FCPX searches everything (like "Text includes 13"'. Anywhere a 13 shows up, you'll get a result. It could be a day, a year, an obscure piece of metadata.

What you could do is hit command-f and choose Format > Scene > Includes > 13.

That will limit your search to only clips that have 13 in the scene, and not clips with 13 in any piece of data.

Then, just clear the 13 out of the Scene field, and you will get all of your clips back in the Browser.

Then you can close the window (command-w). Then to search again, hit command-f. The same fields should be available, and then you can type a new scene number, or you can even add something like a "Text" field if you want to add a different qualifier, or other things like clip must be a Multicam.

Then clear those fields (or turn off the check mark), close the window, and keep working. If you find yourself doing common/repeat searches, making a library level smart collection (even if it's blank with no Scene number) can sometimes be 'faster'. Just double click on it, add the scene number, and let fcpx search.

The filter window allows you to stack search qualifiers to really narrow down exactly what you need. You will notice little icons in the Browser search window that indicate a Filter search is active.

Notice the icons in the search bubble above the filter window, like this:



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Joe Marler
Re: Getting a better hold of search
on Feb 3, 2020 at 12:27:32 am

[Tangier Clarke] "What I would like to do is, while having the synced clips smart playlist selected, be able to type the scene number of the clip which is also the beginning of the clip name, into the search field and only those clips show up."

Tangier I agree I wish the FCPX search terms were more flexible. E.g, Finder has many adjustable search terms, including "raw query": https://macmost.com/powerful-searches-with-raw-query.html

However in my simple testing you can have a smart collection on synced clips, have a scene number, and query on that scene number. But it hits on both clip name and scene number, so you can't selectively query just one in the search box.

FCPX doesn't have query syntax in the search box like Finder. With Finder you can search on "name begins with" or "name contains", or "scene number equals", also and/or boolean terms together: https://developer.apple.com/library/archive/documentation/Carbon/Conceptual...

With FCPX you can't even select multiple keyword collections or smart collections for an intersection (logical AND) search. You can only CMD+click multiple items for a union (logical OR): http://www.statistics4u.com/fundstat_eng/dd_prob_union_sect.html

It would be nice if you could OPT+click for logical AND, and if the query syntax was more sophisticated.

FCPX uses SQLite whereas Finder is using Spotlight or some other query parser. Typically relational databases have a query optimizer which builds an access plan, which is then passed the storage engine layer for execution. It can work well but may require debugging of the access plan (by a sophisticated end user). Apple is probably trying to avoid this, hence that limits the complexity of the relational engine they're using.

You could argue that Finder and Spotlight have complex query capability yet maintain good performance. Well, I often encounter situations where the Spotlight indexes are stale or malfunctioning and I have to manually rebuild them. The SQLite database (despite the limitations) is very reliable.


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