Another day… another edit. This one was fun.

It’s fun to edit a story where I get to push the fancy button a lot.

This is a story about a local author who wrote a guidebook for affordable fun in Seattle. I used photoshop skills to change the names on signs and stores. I created an animated copy of his book. We interviewed the author in front of a green screen to give the keying a shot. I animated book pages in motion. It was a lot of fun.

I’m feeling more confident with the interface. That doesn’t mean that it’s working perfectly for me, but I’m familiar enough to know what I can do, and how to work around what I can’t. I’m still waiting for that update this summer.

This is my entire timeline. Click to open full size.

I like to have my timelines as clean as possible, including the audio. I generally group my audio files in tracks based on the content. It’s taking some effort to let go, and let the audio clips fall where they may.

I got to use photoshop to change some signage, and put it over rolling video to help “sell” the shot.

It's fun to use photoshop to modify reality.

Overall, it was a fun experience. The green screen key was instantaneous, and required no modification at all. I still want my “send to motion” back, and it feels to me like I should be able to drag the motion project file directly into an FCX bin, and drop it into the timeline. There may be a way to send the file back to motion for modifications, without rendering a new output file, but I haven’t figured it out yet.


I need to vent

I’ve edited several projects for our daily tv show on FCX, and the experience has been a bit of a roller coaster… highs and lows.

I’m optimistic about the future of this thing, and I don’t know why I keep starting projects on it when there’s obviously so much they need to fix.

I’ve spend an entire day and a half on a 5 minute magazine story, and it’s been full of frustrations. I’ve spent enough time with this thing, learning it, and trying to coerce it and cajole it to make magic. I deserve to have a good productive rant.

So here goes…

Why can’t I slip a clip without moving the attached clips?
Why are there attached clips? Why can’t I unattach them, make an edit then reattach them? In other words why can’t I lock my tracks.

Why doesn’t this thing remember my ins and outs? Must I make everything a favorite?

Why can’t I lock the time position of a clip when I move it vertically?

Why can’t I lock the vertical or horizontal movement with the shift key when I apply a transform in the viewer?

If I build a bit of my timeline with some transitional effects, why can’t I pull that out of the primary storyline and place it in a secondary storyline? Why do I want to do this? Because I can’t slip my clips in the primary storyline without moving my connected clips. ARRRRRGH!

Why do I need to go into two nests just to animate my opacity on a clip? Open video animation, then click the most miniscule box to see the opacity animation. FC7 shows this directly in the timeline.

When I expand the video animation tab, why is there space wasted for parameters I can’t animate?

Why can’t I extend a clip to cover up some gap next to it, without leaving a zero frame gap? Really Apple… a zero length gap! What the heck is that?

Why does this thing default to 5.1 surround sound for new projects? Are they really expecting youtube video artists to be mixing everything in 5.1?

Why do I need to wait for all of the projects to load when I only want to use one?

Why is there no versioning, or a convenient way to save snapshots of the timeline at various points in time.

And if I make a copy of a project to save a version or snapshot, I can’t link to the renders I’ve already made without duplicating all of the renders. Seriously? That’s the best you could do Apple?

Why is there no attic, or autosave vault?

Why is there no way to relink clips that appear to be offline, even though I can see them on the hard drive.

Why doesn’t it add a keyframe when I change a parameter? That’s how FC7 works. When I have one keyframe and I make an adjustment further down the timeline, it should create a new keyframe.

There should be a way to paste an effect and scale the effect to the duration of the new clip.

Why can’t I copy and paste just one effect from one clip to another without copying every other effect, audio keyframe and filter as well?

When I click on an audio keyframe and hit OPT-UP or OPT-DOWN, why doesn’t it always adjust the level one db at a time? It seems to make larger adjustments if the timeline is shrunk very short and smaller adjustments if the timeline is tall. How does this make practical sense?

Why does this thing crash so much?

Why can’t I export a quicktime reference movie, and use the renders I’ve already made for a quick export.

And speaking of exports, why can’t I set an in and out point? I can only export the entire timeline? Really?

And still speaking of exports, what happened to multi channel exports? I can’t export stem tracks without turning clips on and off and performing multiple exports?

For every cool thing, there are 5 uncool things. For every efficiency they’ve added, there are 7 inefficencies. For every little bit of enjoyment that I have with this thing, there are 8 or 9 stomach-cramping, tooth-grinding, bowel-tightening frustrations.

It’s August 29th. Where are the fixes we were promised?

Thanks. I feel better now.

Beware Premiere XMP may take your footage offline!

I imported a few clips from an FCX project into Premiere Pro. They played well.

Closing PP, I went back to FCX to find that those clips I tested in PP, are now offline.

Premiere Pro by default will inject metadata directly into the original files. You can disable this in the preferences, under the “media” tab. Uncheck “Write XMP ID To Files On Import” as well as “Enable Clip And XMP Metadata Linking”.

I did a quick test, and it looks like this will keep PP from altering your clips beyond FCX’s ability to recognize them.

Hopefully, FCX will have a more robust relinking tool in the next build.

Another story airs… learning curve? Maybe.

Scroll down for the link to the edited video.

I’ve been avoiding the beast lately, but decided to let it out of its cage and wrestle with it a bit.

Overall, I’d say it took me twice as long as usual to cut it on X instead of 7. After 2 1/2 days of editing, I seriously thought about starting over in 7. I was feeling like what little creative energy I might have, was being sucked away by the frustrations of dealing with the half-baked interface.

That’s not entirely fair… I’d say it’s over half way baked, but oh so many issues

This was a 4 1/2 minute very inspiring story for our show.

I usually lay all the audio out first, then fill out the “b-roll” shots and effects.

The audio editing was still difficult, because of the nature of the “hidden” audio that must be revealed to be adjusted. I set up a keyboard shortcut to expand all the clips in the timeline, and another to collapse them all. This has helped the audio editing considerably. I still miss adding multiple audio dissolves with one click. I desperately miss it!

Where is the overlapping audio?

Perfect irony: I figured that by selecting the timeline view mode that just showed the audio waveforms, that I could more effectively mix my audio. Guess what? The overlapping “hidden” audio is not there. Expanding and collapsing all the audio clips does nothing. Grrrr.

Rude discoveries: creating a secondary storyline, I discovered that using composite modes inside the secondary storyline did not work. I wanted to put three shots panning over sheet music, overlaid over shots the pianist playing, dissolving between the shots on both the overlay track and the main video track. Since the composite modes didn’t work inside the secondary storyline, I kept them spiked over the main line, and since you can’t dissolve between the connected clips, I had to overlap, and animate the opacity to create an ersatz dissolve.

A snapshot of my timeline. Notice the overlapping connected clips over the main timeline.

FCX is intended to be fast and simple. Until the interface works the way you expect it to, it’s a giant workaround machine.

Balancing the audio. Open the audio enhancements tab for a clip. Notice the lack of controls in the “loudness” effect. The effect is a fairly basic compression effect, with the familiar parameters of “ratio” and “threshold”disguised as if they are in the witness protection program. So why not just use the compressor in the logic audio tools?

I tried using the audio compressor effect on the clips to try to balance the audio, but ended up just adding a gain effect instead. I could add 12db just in the timeline, but I needed more on several of my clips. The waveforms on the clip in the timeline seems to be fairly responsive. It reflects the outgoing level of the clip, not just the intrinsic level of the clip. I adjusted the level of the gain until the peaks of the waveform hit the red, then backed off just a bit. This actually worked to get me in the ballpark of the right audio level.

I still miss my normalization gain! Nothing is faster than doing that in FCP7!

I hate the copy/paste effects in X. Every effect and parameter is copied and I have no control over which effects or parameters are copied over to the new clips. This is a huge fail.

I hate that “send to motion” is missing. I built a motion project that looks like a large scrapbook page, and animated the camera to fly over the photos. Selecting in-points for long video clips in motion is problematic, so I placed my shots in an FCP7 timeline and sent it to motion. Then I opened the motion 4 project, closed it, and re-opened it in motion 5, to animate. I discovered that if I didn’t open it in motion 4 first, it would open without video. Crazy workaround. So now I’m going back and forth between FCP7, FCX, Motion 4 and Motion 5. Really?

Deleting optimized video. It works! I had some mp4 video that FCX optimized in the background. Deleting this optimized video created no problems whatsoever. When the pro res video disappeared, it played the mp4 video with no problem, and didn’t complain that the optimized video wasn’t there. Small win!

When will the update be coming? I’m still on the fence about whether to ditch FCX or stick it out. It’s not about money since I’ve already purchased the bastard child. My big investment now is time, and that is not a small investment. If it takes me an extra day to edit an average story, that’s not winning. If I get faster, and Apple comes through with improvements, then the cool effects in X makes it a win.

I’ve decided to embrace my masochistic tendencies, and start editing my next story on X. More on that later.