Tag iPhone

Tag iPhone

Creating Music with FCPX

July 16, 2015 Tags: , , , ,
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Noah here, if you’ve ever met the FCPWORKS team during a trade show like NAB or IBC, you may know we occasionally host after show karaoke parties. We even carry a portable karaoke kit in a lovely Italian HPRC case (more on that in another blog). For some folks it has been a life-changing event. 

For example, Philip Hodgetts from Intelligent Assistance became so emboldened by our karaoke round at NAB 2014 in Vegas that he decided to take pro singing lessons and up his game. 

Inspired by Phil’s recent singing presentation during a session at the FCPX Summit in San Jose, I wanted to get in on the fun. I set out with a specific technical challenge: record songs without a recording studio or a crew and then master them using Final Cut Pro X.  

The Mobile Studio

Recording music ideally requires a enclosed space with great acoustics. So how about we do it with a truck instead? In this case I went with a Honda Odyssey minivan. It’s not quite Abbey Road but it’s got it where it counts. And where it counts is in this case is that I have access to one.  


Audio Recording Setup

With the studio set, I went for the recording equipment. For my “backing band” I chose the Karaoke Anywhere app on an iPhone 6+. (We use this same app for our FCPWORKS parties.) The song selection is not always vast but it’s easy to pick new songs and download them instantly. 

The iPhone can record the singing directly. But then the vocals are pre-mixed with the music tracks and I wanted flexibility in post. So I went with a Zoom H1 Handy recorder. The H1 is extremely compact with decent built-in microphones and preamps. 

Zoom H1 Handy

The H1 is also capable of WAV recording at up to 24-bit/96kHz quality. And it’s easy to mount just about anywhere. This is handy indeed inside my mobile minivan studio.  

Video Recording Setup

This is FCPWORKS so we’d need some video too. Considering the compact space and the no crew aspect, a GoPro seemed like a good match. I went with a GoPro Hero 3+ Silver Edition shooting in 1080p with a suction cup mount. What’s lovely about the GoPro is you can mount it and then trigger it with the GoPro App. This proved a little tricky for me because I was already playing the music on the phone. But I could start recording and then switch apps to Karaoke Anywhere. 

Production Workflow

Now I don’t necessarily recommend driving and singing karaoke at the same time. There is of course Carpool Karaoke. Then again it’s fairly possible that James Corden is being towed or at least escorted for these segments. There’s also this as precedent.  

The actual production steps were straightforward:  

  1. Start GoPro recording via the GoPro app. 
  2. Start audio recording on H1. 
  3. Choose and start song on Karaoke Anywhere. 
  4. Sing. 

I did this for a number of longish takes where I’d do at least 2 or 3 songs per take. Occasionally, I’d cut if a fellow driver started eyeballing me at a stoplight or if traffic conditions got especially challenging. 

Post-Production Workflow — Ingest

With the videos and audio recorded, it was time to get off the road and into FCPX for some editing. I actually wanted to try Logic Pro X for this occasion as it is geared toward audio editing mastering. But as soon as I started to work in Logic I felt like it was overkill for my two little audio tracks. Also I wanted to do some video edits and color correction so I’d need FCPX anyway. Also and this is key, most of the Logic filters and plugins are available in FCPX directly including their customer UI’s so it’s best of both worlds.  

Once in FCPX I’d first import the GoPro video clips, the Zoom H1 audio tracks. I’d also import the isolated music tracks from Karaoke Anywhere, which can be copied from the iPhone onto your Mac via iTunes. Before this I brought the MP3 from Karaoke Anywhere into Twisted Wave (my favorite audio swiss army knife) to convert them to 96/24 AIFs. Technically this step could be skipped but then you’re doing live sample conversion on the fly, which increases system overhead and can lead to audible popping/sync errors.  

Twisted Wave Audio Editing

Twisted Wave Audio Editing

I wanted to have the audio and video on different lanes so my workflow was a bit of a special design. First I’d match up corresponding GoPro, H1 and music track takes in the Event Browser and then File>New Multicam Clip. Then I’d step into the multicam clip and confirm audible sync between picture and sound. 

Sync markers in a Multicam Clip

Sync markers in a Multicam Clip

Finally I’d add a marker about halfway through each song on the 3 pieces of media. Next, copy the tracks and step out into a new Project Timeline, paste everything and make sure the markers from the multicam still line up so everything is in sync. I could have done it entirely in the Multicam editor but other than the initial sync I wanted magnetic editing so I could make quick changes/edits.  

Project Marker Sync

Project Marker Sync

Post-Production Workflow — Edit 

Generally speaking I didn’t make many cuts. The songs were complete takes from start to finish so I’d occasionally do a blade halfway down the track and slide the audio a few samples if sync was slipping. But generally I didn’t on these relatively short takes. I added a nice fade in/out for each song and that was about it. The rest was mixing. 

Original GoPro Take

Original GoPro Take

Post-Production Workflow — Mixing 

I’m not an audio engineer by trade but I know a few things. First was getting the balance between the singing track and the karaoke music right. That meant looking at the audio meters and carefully raising and lowering the volume levels until it sounded right to ear. Also the original GoPro audio was redundant and didn’t sound nearly as clear as the H1 audio so I’d just disable it entirely but keep it attached for sync reference.  

Post-Production Workflow — Audio Filters 

For most of the songs I added 3 audio filters: Pitch Correction, Fat EQ and PlatinumVerb. The pitch correction is fun because it shows you where you’re actually singing on key or not and you can apply some degree of correction. You have to be judicious as too much sounds unnatural (don’t tell this to Kanye). I found a little really helped.  

Pitch Correction Custom UI in FCPX

Pitch Correction Custom UI in FCPX

Fat EQ helped overcome the limitations of the car as recording environment and its boominess. It also helped a bit to overcome the solid if not amazing built-in mics on the H1. I have a Sanken COS-11D lavalier and a Shure SM58 handheld mic I’d probably try next time for better sounding recordings.  

Finally, PlatinumVerb adds some nicely shaped echo into the mix. This also helps overcome inherent singing mistakes and makes the environment sound less flat and dry. Again a little goes a long way and you don’t want to sound like you’re in a cathedral choir.  

Audio Filters in the Inspector

Audio Filters in the Inspector

Post-Production Workflow — Video Filters 

I felt like this footage should be black and white and grainy like a behind-the-music special or something along those lines. So I removed the color with the Saturation tab in the Color Board and added a Film Grain filter with the Realistic Grain style. I also added a vignette with a Color Board Mask to boost up the exposure inside the car while keeping the streets outside the window from totally blowing out. 

Shape Mask in the Color Board

Shape Mask in the Color Board

I also enlarged the GoPro 1920×1080 footage to 125% for a little better framing. I was impressed with how well the relatively highly compressed footage held up to grading and scaling.  


With the edits for each song pretty much complete, I went to export to Master Files as ProRes HQ. I could have gone directly to online sharing services or to H.264 but I wanted to have a high quality master. 

From there I opened up in the QuickTime Player and exported to the stock 720p setting. I could also have done this as a Share Bundle within FCPX but sometimes you just want to bang some out as quickly as you can. 


Without further adieu, here are the results. Hope you enjoy these and maybe get inspired to let your own inner voice bust out:

I also did one song without the camera running but it turned out decent, so here we go: 

Through this fun experience, I learned the following: 

  • The GoPro is perfect for unattended camerawork within a moving vehicle. 
  • The acoustics inside a moving van are surprisingly decent. 
  • The good folks on the road in San Francisco are very accepting.
  • FCPX alone can be used to produce music. 

We’d love to share the singing fun with you in-person at our next show. Maybe NAB? IBC? We’ll see you. Please drop us a line and we’ll add you to our guest list. 

Products mentioned

Zoom Handy H1 Audio Recorder

GoPro Hero 


Logic Pro X 

Final Cut Pro X 

Twisted Wave 


Karaoke Anywhere app 

GoPro App 


FCPWORKS Noah Kadner

FCPWORKS Noah Kadner

This blog post contains the personal musings of FCPWORKS’ Marketing Director, Noah Kadner. Prior to joining the company, Noah spent several years at Apple where he worked with internal Workflow and Editorial teams in support of Final Cut Pro X customers. Noah also directed a feature film available on iTunes called Social Guidance and wrote “RED: The Ultimate Guide to the Revolutionary Camera.” Noah’s ongoing career goal is communicating digital post-production workflows to experts and enthusiasts alike. You can follow him on Facebook or Twitter at @FCPWORKS.

10 Must-Have iPhone 6 Tips for FCPX Editors

December 29, 2014 Tags: , , , , ,
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Noah here.

As some of you might know, our typical FCPWORKS workflow services involve building FCPX editorial solutions around high-end 4K acquisition gear from RED, AJA, Blackmagic, ARRI, etc. That being said, we’re also firm believers in the philosophy of Chase Jarvis, “The Best Camera Is The One That’s With You.”

Some of the FCPWORKS team put this philosophy into action during a recent trip to Tokyo to attend the InterBEE trade show (where we learned all about the coming 8K future, more on that in a later post). On more than one occasion, we went to a great bargain sushi place near our hotel called Sushi Zanmai.

We decided to commemorate the place by shooting an impromptu episode of fellow FCPX consultant and trainer Chris Phrommayon’s YouTube restaurant review show, “You Try Now.” The challenge: we only carried an iPhone 6 and 6 Plus for cameras. To our eyes, this all turned out pretty well, but decide for yourself with the embed below and then read more all about our observations. Be sure to click on the gear on this clip and change the playback resolution to 1080p for the best quality:

This experience gave us lots of insight into ways that Final Cut Pro X editors can optimize their workflow with iOS footage. The camera on the iPhone 6 isn’t going to replace the 4K gear above, but it’s actually quite good and compares very favorably with other purpose-built 1080 HD camcorders.

The following suggestions can make the most of the camera’s capabilities so that when you get into editing with Final Cut Pro X you can achieve the best possible results.

10 Must Have iPhone Tips for FCPX Editors

  1. Use Focus/Exposure Lock. The iPhone has a great automatic focus/exposure meter but if you leave it on automatic you may find it riding the exposure and focus up and down within a shot. This could ruin a take if it happens during a key moment. So, watch the shot as you capture and if you notice this happening simply tap and hold on the screen on the subject you want to be exposed and focused on and the exposure/focus will lock for the next shot.
    iPhone 6 AE Lock
  2. Shoot Steady. Nothing screams amateur like shaky, handheld footage. Shoot with a an iPhone tripod if you have one, or brace the phone against a table, chair, or doorway. You can also hold the phone closer to your body and take shorter steps to maximize steadiness. The iPhone 6 Plus has built-in optical image stabilization that is quite good. Combine this with some judicious application of stabilization in FCPX and you can achieve nice, smooth camera moves that may fool some eyes into believing it’s a dolly or jib shot.
  3. Shoot Long Takes. A common camera phone habit is to start action at the moment you begin recording and cut right as you stop recording. But this can really limit your editing choices in post-production. Instead, start rolling, then count off a few seconds to yourself and then start the action. When the action has completed, count off a few more seconds and then stop the recording. You’ll be very happy to have those extra handles of useful footage, especially when you’re trying to fit a long voiceover onto a montage of shots in FCPX.
  4. Get the 128 GB model. The iPhone 6 shoots 1080/30p H.264 at approximately 18Mbps. This results in file sizes of around 135 MB per minute or about 8 GB per hour. Considering you’ll likely want to carry your own music, movies and lots of other apps on the same iPhone, leaving plenty of extra storage space for video is a great idea. Get the 128GB model. (It has a better resale value too.)
  5. Do Slow-Mo in Post. The iPhone 6 offers slow-motion modes of up to 240 frames per second. Unfortunately, in order to achieve these higher frame rates, the camera samples less of the sensor area (this is common on high speed cameras). The result is lower resolution in slow motion shots. You won’t notice this as much on the relatively small screen of the phone itself but it’s painfully clear when you look at the footage on an HD monitor back in FCPX. The built-in optical flow based slow motion in FCPX is a very good alternative. So, shoot full 1080p 30 (or switch to 60p if you are certain the shot will be slowed down).
  6. Watch the Color Temperature We found that the iPhone shoots a bit cool in terms of color temperature and responds well to a bit of judicious Color Board application in Final Cut Pro X.
    iPhone6 Tips Sushi
    Be mindful of mixed lighting sources as you shoot. And don’t use the onboard light unless you are literally in pitch blackness without it, as it produces a flat/deer-in-the-headlights look.
  7. Add Voice Notes While Shooting We were shooting a lot of b-roll/montage footage where we knew we wouldn’t use the audio being recorded with the video. So, we’d just annotate the video vocally as we shot. For “You Try Now“, it was “this is the dish we’re about to eat, this is how it’s made, etc.” This was much faster and simpler than stopping recording to jot down written notes. And when you edit in FCPX you can replace that temp audio with cleanly recorded voice over.
  8. Record Secondary Audio with Voice Memos We’re assuming only stock iPhone applications for this article, so this one is a freebie. Later in this article we’ll discuss additional apps but the Voice Memo app is a nice way to get audio-only clips. If you want to get the background ambience of a particular location to later lay over an entire montage, grab a quick minute or two of clean audio with the Voice Memos app and you’ll be all set when you get to the edit in X.
  9. Transfer Everything At Once The iPhone 6 Lightning connection is unfortunately limited to USB2. Even though the H.264 clips of the phone are smallish, they still take a long while to transfer into FCPX. Set aside enough time to transfer everything you shot for a particular project in one go- ideally during a long break or even overnight. You can always delete unused shots later but it’s better to get everything transferred first and then move onto the edit.
  10. Optimize on Ingest Do this for for better editing performance and quality. The H.264 long-GOP clips created by the iPhone can be played natively in FCPX but you’ll find performance suffers a lot as soon as you add filters/transitions/color grading due to the increased processing/encoding required. If you optimize to ProRes on ingest, this only has to be done once per clip and from then on the editorial performance will be much better. The lower spec’ed machines like Mac Minis and MacBooks will benefit from this the most. Make sure that the Create optimized media option is checked on import.

Other Apps

Movie Pro Recorder
We said earlier we’d assume a ‘stock’ iPhone but maybe you want to extend your toolkit a bit. Here are some other useful iPhone applications for video production:

  • MoviePro Recorder Enables 2K resolution and higher bitrates along with a host of manual controls and uncompressed audio. Filmic Pro also deserves a mention. You should test these apps carefully before committing to a workflow with one. The clips use up more space and might cause compatibility issues depending on the frame rates and resolutions you select.
  • Hyperlapse from Instagram Admittedly these clips are already getting a little cliche/gimmicky but they can make a great intro/outro to a location and the built-in real time image stablization is quite impressive.
  • Sun Seeker Technically this is a not a video/audio app per se but if you’re working on location stripped down with minimal gear, knowing the precise location of the sun throughout the day can be incredibly useful for planning out a shoot.


One key benefit of shooting video with an iPhone is staying lightweight and agile, but here are a couple of optional pieces of hardware that will add production value without too much extra weight.

  • Olloclip is a relatively lightweight lens adapter that gives you fisheye, wide angle, and macro options with great build quality. The current model is one-size fits all for both iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. So you can share one between two cameras if needed. Adds immensely to the optical variety of shots you can achieve with the iPhone.
  • Mikey Digital Let’s face it, the onboard mic on the iPhone is decent but like any onboard camcorder microphone it will never take the place of actual professional microphones for post-production usable sound. The Mikey will get you one step closer to that ideal while keeping your kit bag relatively light.
  • Fly X3 Gimbal Gyro-stabilized gimbals are all the rage now both with drones and handheld units costing into the thousands of dollars. The X3 is a very compact and relatively inexpensive ($330) unit for the iPhone 6 (but not the 6 Plus unfortunately). Looks very promising if you’re doing a lot of high motion/active sports work.

iPhone 6 Fly X3


When the first iPhone came out in 2007, it didn’t even have the ability to shoot video clips. I’d have been hard to convince back then it would ever replace even the most modest consumer camcorder of the time. With the latest iPhone 6 and 6 Plus however, the game has changed. The video quality possible with the onboard sensor and in the case of the Plus, optical image stabilization is quite impressive.

The iPhone 6 tips we’ve shared in this article can help optimize this quality and prep for Final Cut Pro X. We’re not quite ready to stop shooting 4K with awesome lenses for good but when the image need not be of pristine quality and/or you want to travel light, this is a great option. And for easy b-roll for projects, the iPhone 6 is also a no-brainer. Please share additional tips you’ve found and productions you’ve made with your iPhone in the comments.


FCPWORKS Noah Kadner

FCPWORKS Noah Kadner

This blog post contains the personal musings of FCPWORKS’ Marketing Director, Noah Kadner. Prior to joining the company, Noah spent several years at Apple where he worked with internal Workflow and Editorial teams in support of Final Cut Pro X customers. Noah also directed a feature film available on iTunes called Social Guidance and wrote “RED: The Ultimate Guide to the Revolutionary Camera.” Noah’s ongoing career goal is communicating digital post-production workflows to experts and enthusiasts alike.You can follow him on Facebook or Twitter at @FCPWORKS.