So… the title of this blog is a bit of a trick question. If you’re using any of the built in FCPX effects, titles, or generators, or you’re using most of the 3rd party effects or templates, you’re actually using Motion without even being aware of it.
However, because of the new integration with how FCPX works with Motion and the loss of the “Send To Motion” command, I tend to feel like Motion has become the forgotten App in the the Apple Pro Apps ecosystem. I sort of feel bad about this, because Motion is actually awesome, especially if you’re an editor like me who has no interest in becoming an After Effects/Nuke genius.
No one has the time to know and be good at everything. I always gravitated towards the Edit and Color correction ends of the business. While I had an understanding and interest in essential GFX and audio techniques, for me, if I couldn’t get something done quickly on that end, it just wasn’t going to happen… and I never had the time or natural inclination to become an After Effects or Pro Tools Master. For whatever reason, those apps just never made sense to my brain the way Final Cut, Color, and Resolve did. I liked to stay in-app/as integrated as possible when it came to GFX and audio and is why I bothered to learn Motion and Soundtrack Pro back in the FCP7 days.
The truth is that, even though GFX may not be your thing, especially if you’re a one man band, your clients are still going to expect you to be able to do high quality lower thirds, titles, and other common GFX tasks… especially for lower budget corporate, commercial, and internet projects. In fact, just about any Youtube video you make for a paying client is going to require you to know how to make some kind of endtag for it. In fact, many of these tasks end up being repetitive, and in most cases would tend to be best suited for having a template you could work with quickly right in your NLE.
This is where, as an editor, getting to know Motion was my best friend.
The reason is that things you make in Motion will show up automatically as titles, generators, or effects in FCPX, and understanding the rigging and publishing concepts inherent in Motion can save you RIDICULOUS amounts of time in your edits. It’s a bit of a different way of working, which may be why a lot of people haven’t gravitated to it… but when it comes to 85% of the common tasks asked of an editor, between FCPX and Motion, you’re going to save a ton of time doing it that way, and often at a higher quality because of the time saved and simplicity of the workflow, than you would banging your head against the wall with After Effects renders.
Also, Motion becomes a lot more powerful the deeper you get into it.
The good news is that Mark Spencer from Ripple Training created some of the best tutorials for Motion that I think anyone has made for any kind of app. More specifically, his tutorials for Rigging and Publishing for Final Cut Pro X, Mastering Replicators, Mastering The Camera, and my personal favorite, Mastering Shapes, Paint Strokes & Masks, are just awesome… especially for the average editor who just wants to be a solid B when it comes to GFX, and just wants to know how make something that looks professional quickly.
Anyway, if you want to get up to speed quickly on Motion, I can’t recommend Mark’s Motion 5: The Complete Series (which has all the tutorials I just mentioned) highly enough.
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:
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:
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.
Check and see how much space is still left on the drive. Write this number down.
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.
Now, use the consolidate media command new in 10.1.2 to have that media you just imported copied over to the new library.
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).
Check the total disk space on the drive/SAN/network. It should still be identical to the number that you wrote down.
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:
Don’t keep your media inside the library on the network. This will make your libraries far less portable.
Don’t let your editors have their library Media folders pointing to different places.
Don’t keep your Library Media folders on different/networks/SAN’s drives than your original negatives if you can avoid it.
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).
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).
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:
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 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
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 email@example.com and we’ll help you out.
The Eizo CG-277: The most versatile 2nd display monitor for FCPX
Sam here… wanted to take a minute to talk about a monitor I really love that I think is specifically designed for the needs of FCPX users. It’s the 27” Eizo CG – 277, and as far as I’m concerned it’s the best monitor on the market when you factor in size, price, performance, ease of use, quality, and flexibility. Here’s some reasons why:
Can be used either as a desktop display or as a grading monitor with a native resolution of 2560×1440.
Built in, incredibly easy calibration tools (no probe necessary) using Eizo’s ColorNavigator NX software. Through the built in probe, the monitor will automatically compensate for ambient light in the room to ensure a color accurate signal.
Direct attach to Mac through Mini Displayport or through HDMI
Support for 10 bit HDMI (using either AJA or BMD video I/O)
100% Rec 709 accurate or 91% DCI-P3 accurate
Multiple color spaces built in that you can easily switch to, and it’s very easy to create your own custom ones.
Excellent blacks and contrast ratio
MSRP is only $2499
Here’s how I’m using it:
I’m primarily using it as my 2nd display/grading monitor in FCPX. For the most part, I’m running through mini displayport as 2nd desktop display. When it’s time to do color grading, I’ll either quickly switch over to the built in 8-bit A/V out on the New Mac Pro through the HDMI out if I just need to know what I’m looking at, or for more high end projects, I’ll go through the A/V out on my Ultrastudio 4k for 10-bit grading (I’ll typically only do this if I’m in Resolve, as grading in 8bit off the HDMI is a bit more flexible in FCPX, and I don’t really need to go the 10-bit route for most projects… 8 bit if fine for the color tools in FCPX).
The real advantage of this monitor is its flexibility and how easy it is to set up, calibrate, and switch between color spaces and signals.
A couple gotchas:
Out of the box, your REC-709 profile may not look right. Using ColorNavigator to recalibrate will quickly correct this.
In desktop mode (mini displayport) there’s a slight gamma shift through the Mac OS vs. running through the HDMI out on the Mac/Macbook Pro… I think it’s because OSX is adding something to the display profile. It’s not terribly noticeable, but if you’re doing sensitive color work, you’ll want to be doing it over the A/V out from the Mac Pro, or through the HDMI out from your AJA/BMD box.
There’s no SDI in… for me, I don’t really care about this… but it’s important to a lot of people for some reason. If you understand how to get your HDMI signal in properly (and there’s not much to know), there aren’t really any advantages to SDI… in fact, I think HDMI is far more manageable and flexible for the average person.
Anyway, if you’re budget conscious but don’t want to sacrifice quality, for me, the CG-277 is the way to go. I’ve been using it since it came out, and I really don’t have any complaints. In terms of price/performance and what the average FCPX user needs out of a 2nd color accurate display… there are almost no drawbacks, and it’s a bit of a no-brainer.
At FCPWORKS, we only sell the products we would use if we were our clients… and we’re a proud reseller of Eizo products. So, if you’re interested in buying one, get it through us (at the same price you’d find elsewhere), and we can walk you through any tech issues you might run into and get you up to speed, calibrated, and ready to edit.
On FCP.CO our own Sam Mestman talks NAB 2014 and Final Cut Pro X.
“Personally, I think NAB 2014 is going to really highlight how the way we are acquiring, editing, and distributing our media is changing,” Sam says. “Camera prices are going down and resolution is going up. Shared storage environments are now becoming affordable for smaller shops. 4k workflow with modern hardware is no longer a big deal and HDMI 1.4a (and soon 2.0) make viewing that content really straightforward.”
“It was just a few years ago when the typical person walking the show floor was asking themselves “what gear is going to give me the best shot of delivering a film print/Digibeta/HD-Cam SR to a movie theater or cable network for Broadcast?” This year, I think the majority of people walking the floor are going to be asking themselves “what gear is going to give me the best shot of not only delivering to the network, but also DCP, iTunes, Netflix, Youtube, Hulu, and is there a good way for me to do it in 4k and at half my previous budget?””