Tag workflow

Tag workflow

FCPX SAN Workflow Dos and Donts

August 11, 2014 Tags: , , ,
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Hey guys,

Sam here again… so, contrary to what a lot of people believe, SAN workflow in FCPX is actually very simple and straightforward, especially with the newly released version (10.1.2). While I’d still say that the Avid Unity workflow is still a little more robust with its bin locking features, working from a SAN/network in FCPX is still very practical. Also, in terms of price vs. performance, I’d say FCPX is the way to go, as Unity setups tend to be slow and extremely overpriced. The truth is that you can have multiple editors easily accessing the same media and passing projects to each other seamlessly. All you really need to know are a few things:

Do’s:

Keep all your media centralized on the SAN – For me, best practice is to put your original Camera negatives into a “Media” folder on your SAN. Within that, create a new folder based on your project, and then a “media” folder within that and place your camera/sound originals in there accordingly in their original directory structure.

Keep your media outside of the library – When you make a new library, from your preferences, first make sure that “leave files in place” is selected. Then, select your library, go to “modify settings” in the inspector, and set your media to be imported to a folder that is outside your library (this can be on the SAN). When you import media now, your media will added to this new folder, but it will be adding “Sym Links” (similar to aliases) that are pointing back to the original media that is also living on the SAN (see above). This will come in handy for Archiving and media management later (see below for why).

Keep your Libraries on an internal drive – If you’ve worked off a network in FCPX and experienced slow opening Libraries, and generally slow performance, it’s probably because you have your libraries on the SAN itself. The reason for this is because SAN’s are designed to handle large chunks of media, not the small database files that FCPX creates. If you’re on a network… run a test from a large library that has media outside the bundle (so it should be a lightweight file) and copy that file from the SAN to your desktop. You’ll notice that the copy time is probably far longer than it should have been. Now, copy a regular media file over. If you’re on a decently fast network, this copy should be MUCH faster than the library copy was, even though the library was much smaller in size. This illustrates this issue. For this reason, best practice is to keep your database on local storage (especially if you have a new Mac Pro which has an extremely fast internal SSD) or an external hard drive. You will see a significant increase in speed and application startup times doing things this way.

Make sure all Editors’ Libraries are pointing to the same place – The best way to do this is to make a master editorial Library for your primary editor using the import steps described above, and then duplicate that library and hand it off to each new editor. If you’ve kept your media outside your bundle, this will now be very similar to the standard FCP7 approach most of you are used to… and basically all you’re doing is passing each editor a duplicated “project file” that is making sure that your “capture scratch” is all being set to the same place for easy reconnecting later. This way, any time an editor imports media, you’re guaranteed that it’s going to the right place in the database, and that this database is the same as what your other editors are working from.

Use Xfer Libraries and keep those on the SAN/Network – Because two editors can’t work from the same library at the same time, you should have a centralized Xfer library that editors open and close when they want to pass new edits to each other (this can also live in a dropbox/google drive). If an editor needs to pass media or an edit to another editor, they should consolidate their library first to the network to make sure all media they’re referencing lives in the correct place (see below for the reason why), and THEN pass their project(s)/event(s) into the Xfer library to distribute to other editors. They should then close the Xfer library so others can access it.

Use consolidate commands and Hard links to seamlessly and non-destructively consolidate media in FCPX – Ok, so here’s something really cool not a lot of people are aware of. If you are using the FCPX media structure in the correct way, because of the way FCPX takes advantage of Hard Links (for the record, I have no idea what real definition of these are… just what they do), you can have multiple copies of the same file on a drive/SAN/network, and those files will only take up the space of a single copy of that file. To ilustrate, here’s a simple test you can run:

  1. Create a new library set up the way I described above, and make sure the media folder in your library is set to the same drive your Camera Originals/files you want to import are stored on.
  2. Check and see how much space is still left on the drive. Write this number down.
  3. Take a relatively large file (minimum 5+ GB) and Import into the library and confirm that you have sym links show up in your original media folder.
  4. Now, use the consolidate media command new in 10.1.2 to have that media you just imported copied over to the new library.
  5. Ctrl click the file and select “reveal in finder” and then look in the original media folder and confirm that the file you imported no longer has an arrow next to it (meaning that this file is now an actual copy and no longer a sym link).
  6. Check the total disk space on the drive/SAN/network. It should still be identical to the number that you wrote down.
  7. This means that you have two “copies” of the file on the same drive, but you are only losing space for one of them because of “Hard Links.”

The reason for this is that because it’s using Hard Links for your media, FCPX is keeping track of the files you have on a drive, and if you use the FCPX commands to manage your media, you can have files living in more than one place on your drive, but not be penalized in terms of disk space.

What this means is that in terms of archiving and importing new media, if all your editors have their libraries pointing to the same media folder, and you are using the consolidate media commands correctly, you now have the best of both worlds; you can copy your media onto the network and have that directory structure remain untouched by FCPX… but you can also ensure that all of your editors have the same access to media that all your other editors have access to because everyone is consolidating to the same place when they import to new things, and you are never losing disk space because of this. Not only that, but when you’re done, everything is simple to archive because everything you need for a project will be living within a single directory which you can easily archive whenever you need to, and you’ll be sure that you’re not missing anything. Hard Links are great.

So, to recap… here are some don’ts:

  1. Don’t keep your media inside the library on the network. This will make your libraries far less portable.
  2. Don’t let your editors have their library Media folders pointing to different places.
  3. Don’t keep your Library Media folders on different/networks/SAN’s drives than your original negatives if you can avoid it.
  4. Don’t keep your libraries on the SAN/Network – except for a single Xfer Library for people to pass edits and events to and from (but even then, you should probably put this Xfer library in a dropbox).
  5. Don’t try Group workflow on a large project without first running tests with your network (especially disk permissions which can do all kinds of weird things to you).
  6. Don’t let your editors start cutting without explaining the workflow to them ahead of time and making sure they understand why they’re doing what they’re doing.

Also, for some more information about how media management works in FCPX, check out this awesome video by Dustin Hoye:

For an expanded understanding of working with FCPX on a SAN, check out this great resource posted recently on fcp.co:

http://www.fcp.co/final-cut-pro/articles/1467-free-pdf-fcpx-in-a-shared-environment-updated-for-10-1-2

DCP through FCPX/Compressor

August 8, 2014 Tags: , , ,
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Hey guys,

Sam here… some of you guys know about this, and some of you don’t, but you can actually make and view your own DCP’s using Compressor (or in FCPX), and it’s ridiculously easy.

We demoed this for folks who visited the FCPWORKS suite at NAB, and I even had one of my We Make Movies shorts (Agnes) screen at the NAB StudioXperience 4k Filmmakers Showcase. The only reason I was able to get them what they needed (a 4k DCP) was because of the Wraptor Plugin/DCP Player combo. Given my timeline and how quickly I needed to turn it around, I just wouldn’t have bothered with the other solutions due to their complexity and inability to easily check/preview the DCP on my Mac. Honestly, the workflow for this is so easy, I kind of felt like I was cheating or something. In my mind, DCP creation was supposed to be hard. That’s no longer the case. Thanks Quvis.

Anyway, in order to make a DCP through Quvis Wraptor in Compressor, here’s what you need to do:

  • Buy the Wraptor 3.1 for Apple Compressor ($699)… you can also try the watermarked version for free.
  • Buy the DCP Player ($699 to own) or rent it ($60 for 30 days, $360 for the year)
  • Download and install the plugin in Compressor
  • Export a master file of your movie (Prores XQ, 4444, or HQ are your best bets), with your audio channels laid out according to your DCP requirements
  • Drag the file into compressor
  • Apply the Wraptor plugin, configure for resolution (2k or 4k), frame rate, and number of audio channels
  • Set your destination
  • Export
  • Check it using the DCP Player Software
  • Bring it to the theater or upload to a server

You can also set up a custom Compressor setting that you can use right in FCPX from your timeline.

When it’s done exporting, you’ll have a DCP folder that you can preview right on your Mac using the DCP Player software. It’s going to automatically interpret the color space of your DCP file to display on your Mac pretty much the way you’ll see it in the theater.

In terms of quality, there’s no difference between what we were able to see on the Quvis DCP in the theater vs. the very same file encoded by the Studio’s post house.

On a new Mac Pro, with the recent Quvis 3.1 upgrade, you should see near real time encoding for 2k DCP’s (it will take longer for 4k).

The main difference between what Quvis does vs. the free Open DCP software is the ease of use, render time, and higher quality of the signal to noise ratio in the DCP’s you’re generating. Bottom line is that if you find yourself needing to deliver to DCP regularly, the Wraptor/DCP player gives you the best bang for your buck.

One small thing to note… encrypted DCP’s are not supported yet… so if you find that you need that, you’ll need to get additional 3rd party software to encrypt the DCP.

Anyway, for you FCPWORKS customers out there, if you find yourself running into issues, hit us up at workflow@fcpworks.com and we’ll help you out.

Resolve Workflow Test Results

August 6, 2014 Tags: , ,
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Hey guys,

Sam here. Did some pretty comprehensive FCPX roundtrip tests today using a whole bunch of different types of media in the new Resolve 11 Beta (#2)… tests were done in a 1080p 23.98 timeline… but so far, the results are really promising. At this time, there are only two major issues with the roundtrip:

1. Synchronized clips were not working at all.
2. Synchronized clips created through Sync N Link were also not working (might be part of the same problem).

If you’re using synchronized clips, the workaround right now is to use “Break Apart Clip Items” in your FCPX timeline and then send to Resolve. The only real issue about this is that you’ll need to reapply keyframes and transforms in your timeline after you do this if you want those to come through into Resolve, as they get wiped away when you break apart your sync clips. As always, before getting into the conform stage, you should duplicate your master timeline beforehand so that you can reapply anything you need to later by using Paste Attributes.

Anyway, while there was some other weirdness, this is pretty much ready for primetime on big projects for roundtripping so far as I can tell… and there are some MAJOR XML roundtrip improvements with the new version of Resolve 11. Here’s a quick rundown of what is/isn’t working:

Spatial Conform – Correct (although it doesn’t appear so right away as you have to set the renders back to Fill when you roundtrip into FCPX)
Markers – don’t roundtrip
Multicam – Works
Transform – works, even with keyframes
Crop – Ken Burns does not work… only exports with “end” animation
Primary Color – sort of works… Color tab mostly correct except for slight highlights adjustment, exposure tab works, saturation tab not accurate at all
Secondary Color – Secondary and masks don’t work
Effects – Didn’t translate/roundtrip correctly (settings went back to default on roundtrip)
3rd party plugins – The one i tried from Luca VFX actually works… even bringing over the adjustments I made to it. This was surprising
Titles – worked correctly, except that font didn’t carry over on roundtrip
Compound clips – kind of worked… compound clip came in as a single clip, but there were a whole bunch of inconsistencies inside it. In general, these probably aren’t too functional for color correction anyway. You should break apart before sending to Resolve.
Speed changes:
HUGE improvements here over previous versions. Here’s what I found-

Worked on import and roundtrip:

  • Fast speed
  • Slow speed
  • Reverse
  • Normal speed quality
  • Blade speed (variable)
  • Range speed (variable)
  • Custom speed
  • Ramp to 0
  • Ramp from 0

What didn’t work:

* Frame Blending and Optical Flow didn’t carry over (reset to normal on roundtrip and couldn’t determine what they were set to in Resolve). You should set these after the roundtrip in FCPX.
* Instant replay (combining a forward and reverse speed adjustment in the same clip)

Overall – the fact that the speed changes worked so well was HUGE, and most of the issues I described above are holdovers from the current XML implementation (although Spatial Conform works considerably better). Really, if the BMD team can get Sync clips (as well as Sync N Link versions of those) working, the FCPX-Resolve roundtrip becomes about as good as anyone can reasonably ask for… and I think it’s already better that what any of the other NLE’s can do as it currently is right now. Lots of progress here.

Thunderbolt Bus Mapping on the New Mac Pro

August 5, 2014 Tags: , ,
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Sam here… Before we get to the Thunderbolt busses on the New Mac Pro, here’s a few things you should probably know about Thunderbolt and modern macs:

  • Macs that are still Thunderbolt 1 only: Mac Mini, iMac, Macbook Air
  • Thunderbolt 2 supported Macs: Macbook Pro, Mac Pro
  • You can connect up to 6 Thunderbolt devices on a single Thunderbolt bus.  On a Mac Pro, you can do up to 36 Thunderbolt devices.  Note: this is very device dependent.  In real world testing, depending on what kinds of devices you’re trying to hook up, you may  only get up to 2-3 per bus before you start having problems.
  • The Mac Pro is the only Mac that has more than one Thunderbolt Bus (it has 3, actually).  This means that even if you have more than one thunderbolt port, it doesn’t mean that you’re necessarily getting the full 10 or 20 GB/s to your device from each port.  It’s all pulling from the Thunderbolt bus that the port is connected to.  This means that if you have multiple displays (even Apple Thunderbolt Displays), these devices will affect Thunderbolt performance as you continue to add devices to your bus.

How you attach your devices to the new Mac Pro is really important as it will affect performance across all of your devices.  Here are some tips for mapping out your thunderbolt devices across the individual buses.

  • Do not attach more than 2 displays to a thunderbolt bus.  If you do, expect to see problems.
  • You can connect up to 6 Thunderbolt/mini displayport displays (2 on each bus) to the new Mac Pro.
  • You can connect up to 3 4k displays (1 each on buses #1 and #2) and a third through the HDMI port, which connects to the third Thunderbolt bus.
  • On my setup, I have my ports configured this way: my two desktop monitors are on bus #1.  My Promise R8 and some additional thunderbolt storage is on bus #2.  My Ultrastudio 4k for video I/O is on bus #3, and I’ll connect additional drives/peripherals when necessary to this bus.

When you take full advantage of the the Thunderbolt mapping on the New Mac Pro, you can do something like what we did at the RED booth at NAB.  We had two LG 21:9 Ultrawide monitors (3440×1440) each hooked in to buses 1 and 2, as well as a large 4k Sharp HDTV (think it was the 70”… but I could be wrong) hooked up to the HDMI port.  We were able to get realtime playback of 4k Prores (playback set to High quality) in FCPX off a Promise Pegasus while simultaneously getting realtime 6k Dragon Playback in Resolve off the internal Mac Pro SSD (yes, both programs were open and playing back at the same time).  We had FCPX on one of the LG’s with the AV out to the Sharp, while resolve was open on the other LG Monitor.

And while you would never actually have a reason to do this in a real world workflow… the fact is that you can if you wanted to, and you knew how to map your Thunderbolt ports correctly on the new Mac Pro.  We are living in interesting times.

Azteca Goes to X

November 17, 2013 Tags: , ,
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Azteca edits Mexican soap operas using Final Cut Pro X.

Azteca, one of Mexico and Latin America’s top broadcast network is producing its prime-time network soap operas in Final Cut Pro X. After testing the solution for several months alongside legacy versions and other NLEs, Azteca chose to embrace Final Cut Pro X as its main editor for a number of daily episodic shows. Read More

Detective Dee

July 1, 2013 Tags: , ,
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Tsui Hark edits Young Detective Dee: Rise of the Sea Dragon using Final Cut Pro X.

In more than 30 films over three decades, renowned Chinese director Tsui Hark has regularly looked to the past to move his art forward. By bringing the advanced filmmaking techniques of the West to Eastern genres like wuxia (sword fighting and kung fu), gangster dramas, and romance, Hark helped create the Golden Age of Hong Kong cinema Read More