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Wrapping up Peakbreak and getting the C300 wet

The last two days of shooting at the Peakbreak bike race. Today the winner needed 6 hours for the 180kms through the mountains in Salzburg. In the rain. The C300 took a beating and got wet, but never seemed to care really.


We are having one more day tomorrow with lots of interviews to wrap the production, but the on-the-road edting is done. 


Finally all footage is in FCPX. Here is the body-count:

Almost 4.000 clips. Less than last year, but still 31 hours of footage (including some long GoPro on-board-shots). It will take me some hours to digest all this and form a below-30-minutes-story out of it.


This is the clip of the rainy day:


New FCPX findings after 6 days Peakbreak

After 6 days roadtrip-production we have not as much to report as 2011 when FCPX was new to us.

This year the ingesting, keywording and editing works mostly fine. I am now at almost 3000 clips and while last year my old Macbook (2008) with 4GB started bitching around with 1500 clips in FCPX 10.0.0 I have no problems at all now with FCPX 10.0.5 and the Macbook from 2011 with 16GB RAM.

We got a request to send a few minutes of news rushes of a stage and a few pictures for the stages before.

So after shooting another 450 clips during stage 2 we got back to the hotel, started our ingest plus backup plus basic key wording (day, camera, operator)…..then put some rushes into a timeline (already had some prepared last night) and also adding some interviews.

The problem: I was so fast done with these rushes I am now waiting for FCPX to complete the ingest. As long as clips are not finished ingesting you cannot export the timeline. 

That´s how fast it is. Of course it is only partially good news, because basically the delay during ingest comes from the fact that FCPX stops ingesting in the background while I edit. We were having a discussion if it would be faster to use XDCam Transfer and then import the re-wrapped files at least for some cards. But to me in the long term of the project it makes more sense to stick to the FCPX-only workflow instead of having to keep track which cards got imported how. The question is, if FCPX will ever be able to ingest while I am editing.


After day 4 we had 3 clips that were imported from a camera-archive that showed up as missing media, while the rest of the card was online. To my surprise there is now a "tapeless-batch-capture" feature in FCPX called "re-link Event files from camera /archive" and it is in the File>Import menu 

Now that is a nice addition to the feature set.

We basically have only one issue in our roadtrip-workflow: Since we are two editors it would be nice to share the event on one mobile drive. You can set it up via LAN and SAN and whatnot, but not in a mobile setting. If I have an event I can then also share it and share the projects that I generate in the event. The problem here is that the Event is growing every day. So if I share after 3 do I sync that event with the other one which has only 2 days in it?

Our solution now was to create a new event with the same native media on the second machine; e.g. Stefan makes an event with all "Day 3 footage" and edits a project with that. I can simply copy the project and then RELINK it to my Event, although it has nothing to do with Stefan´s event FCPX relaizes it is the same media behind it. It works amazingly well. But we would prefer to work in the same event on the same thunderbolt drive and edit in it simultanously. That would lift FCPX to another level for these kinds of gigs.


The Peakbreak 2012 FCPX initial setup

Day 1

Ok so here we are again in Seeboden at the scenic Millstätter Lake in Austria.

First we set up the edit station. It fits all into one bag nowadays. Macbook, a couple of drives, some plugs and USB-sticks.

The idea is to move all Footage from the camera cards (CF, SxS, SD etc) to one drive. Then set up an Event "Peakbreak 2012" in FCPX on another drive and import the cards/archives into this event. With copy engaged FCPX will copy all media onto this event-drive, creating an immediate backup in the process.

The original 3,5'' drive that was planned for this task failed after arrival here (was tested the night before at home….must have disliked the driving)… now we use a 2,5'' WD FW800 drive as Footagedrive; but I hope it is big enough. The good thing about it is it doesn´t need power, so we can offload the cards in the car on the road now, speeding up our process even more.


In FCPX I create a Folder for every day. Into the folder comes a Keyword collection for Day, Cam and Shooter: e.g. StefanEXDay1 is one collection. That way I can always find it fast in my footage if needed or when he says "I shot that guy on day 3 with my EX" I will find a shot there with the time reference.


So with these basic keywords in place we start logging the footage with our story lines in mind: certain rider names, certain subjects (technical gear, handicapped people etc). We will end up with a ton of keyword collections, but after a few days you just drag favorites into these "bins" and when editing the documentary later and you look for "technical gear for handicapped people shot on EX in slow-motion by Stefan" the smart collection will be done in seconds….. 

Day 1 was a 110km ride over 3 mountains from Austria into Italy ending on the legendary Monte Zoncolan. The Monte Zoncolan is very steep for race bikes ……but the highlight of the day was a handicapped hand-biker, who finished the stage in time also. You will see his effort in the first web clip of the event.


One year after FCPX - packing for another Peakbreak

Exactly a year ago I started using Apple´s FCPX and immediately jumped into it on a big production. It became a FCPX-MegaTest and I blogged about my experiences here:

It is time for another Peakbreak production this week. We are packing the gear and preparing for 9 days of shooting with 5 camcorders (one Canon C300, two Sony EX-1, one Canon 7D, one Panasonic HVX200) and several GoPros.  

This time it will be much smoother experience. FCPX has grown with 5 updates, my Macbook Pro has an i7 CPU a much better GPU and 16GB of RAM and we, Alban Egger and Stefan Krösbacher, have used FCPX on dozens of high-quality productions now and know how to use it.  

Since I just relaunched my site with a blog-feature, this year I can do it here. So we invite you to follow us and see how on-the-road-productions are done in FCPX 10.0.5 (at least how we do them ;-) )

Peakbreak is a bicycle-race for hobbyists in Austria and Switzerland, where the riders have to bike mountain-stages for 8 days. They have to compete on some very legendary climbs like Groglockner, Monte Zoncolan and the Kitzbüheler Horn. Here is the race-site.

We bring these camcorders + audiogear a Cinevate Atlas slider, 2 Macbook Pros, 1 WD MyBook (2TB), 1 Samsung USB-backup drive (2TB), an iPad and some rain-covers for all that.


FCPX "find me if you can" Tips&Tricks


new update June 13th

Apple does not explain all features in FCPX. Apparently nobody reads manuals, so Apple doesn´t even make a decent one. In this post I will try to show you a few hidden features.

BEWARE: I am using a german keyboard. So some shortcuts might not work with yours. I anyway suggest everyone should go through the COMMANDSET and you will find some commands you never knew existed in FCPX! 

But now on to some tips:

8. Keeping track of plug-ins

I have a Mac Pro and a Macbook Pro. Depending on my travel situation I often edit on the Macbook and finish the projects usually on the Mac Pro. In the course of an edit we keep creating and publishing titles, generators and effects in Motion or we buy/download plug-ins on the go. The problem is, when you get to the second machine the plug-ins/titles/generators etc are missing!

My solution is simple and demands a little discipline. Whenever I publish or install a plug-in or effect I also copy it into my DROPBOX. The effects-templates are always stored in your "username>movies>motion templates" where you find this view:

In the DROPBOX I created a folder with the same structure and it is easy to find the necessary tools there.

Some plug-ins (like e.g. mFlare) need to be uninstalled in one machine before being used in the other, which is a problem sometimes. But most can be used on several PCs as long as they don´t run simultanously

7. Some tricks to speed things up if you feel FCPX slows down

- get 16GB RAM at least

- turn off waveforms in the Event until you need them; the event will update the thumbnails much quicker

- on IMPORT turn off any of those automatic tools. Auto-Balance, only uses renderpower for nothing. All this can be done later and much more efficient only on the parts that are actually in use. You can also import without optimizing first until you feel your machine has trouble playing back h.264. You can then still choose "File->Transcode Media"

- in the timeline you can select clips by hovering the mouse and pressing "C", no click needed. This way the playhead stays where it is and you can turn clips on and off - even while the playhead carries on -  with "V". "C"-"V" is one of my favourite combos these days.

- set your commands for Trim-Start and Trim-End and Trim-to-selection. With me these are "1", "2", "3" and they accelerate my editing sessions.

- If you have several layers of clips above each other press CMD-S to turn on "clip skimming". This way you don´t skim the top layer, but the clip you are actually skimming over. You will also see the timecode of that particular clip, instead of the projects timecode.

In the screenshot below you see the playheadat 5 seconds. You also see the toplayer has a green field. But in the connected clip you see the skimming line  a few frames later and the corresponding timecode of 15:08:50. The effectlayer between them is not visible. That´s clip-skimming and very helpful.

- if you have a hard time getting used to a trackless timeline, simply create secondary storylines or compound clips for certain "tracks" like the Lower 3rds, Sound FX, Music etc. In the image below you see a compound clip handling a certain role of audio. You could do that to all of the roles. But after a while I got used to roles and the item list, so giving up on tracks altgether ;-)

- selecting projects without going to the project browser: instead of heading back to the project browser every time, you can press the "back to last project" and HOLD the mouse button! Now the recent projects pop up. This also works in the forward way (see screenshot)




6. Open Clip in its own Timeline

The command "OPEN CLIP in TIMELINE" opens a clip and all its audiotracks into a seperate timeline, where you can adjust the audiotracks without getting them out of sync. Turn tracks on/off or adjust their levels etc.

I mapped this to CMD- ^ as open timeline and SHIFT- ^ to close this timeline again

^ is on my keyboard right above TAB. On an US keyboard, that is the tilde key. ~

5. 3-point editing the FCPX way

Shift-R / Option-R….your new 3-point editing tools. Select a clip or range in the a clip or set the In Point in a clip in the event and use Shift- or Option-R to REPLACE (replaces with the whole clip from the event) or REPLACE FROM START (replaces the length of the clip in the timeline). If you add SHIFT you can do it backtimed!

You can also press I (IN) and O (OUT) anywhere in the timeline just like in other NLEs! Now select the In for any clip in the event and hit Q to send this clip as a connected clip to the timeline in exact this I-O region.

Now here´s a cute trick: try this in any other NLE. Let´s say you have a great shot of audience cheering and want to put it somewhere. Select the In-point in the event. Now play through your timeline and while the playhead passes a good spot (some shakiness in a cam?) hit "I", the playhead plays on...when ready hit "O"...then hit "Q"....FCPX will play on, but it will also have put a connecgted clip into your I-O-region. And it will play on.

I can imagine a sitcom editor who watches through his show and drops laughter in on the fly without ever stopping the playhead.......

4. Moving clips vertically e.g. from Primary Storyline to Second Storyline

I read people complain you can´t move clips in a "Tracks" manner.

Normally If you just grab a clip and lift it "up" (or down!), the magnetic timeline will close the gap and stuff might get out of sync.

If you use "ALT-CMD-arrow up" the clip goes up vertically and get replaced with a GAP clip - the rest of the timeline stays untouched. 

This works also in the other direction! Select a clip and use "ALT-CMD-arrow down" and the clip will slide down. But watch out: as a feature the audio of the clip that was in the primary before, will be pushed down as a connected clip. So the audio will stay consistent even if you replaced something in the primay storyline.


3. Use Auditions for ending-versions

If you have a final clip for your ending with a certain sound-effect and graphic/logo/slogan connected above and below and your client wants different versions....use auditions instead of totally new project-timelines.

take the final clip in the event and drag it above the "Add to Audition" and connect the different sound-effect graphic/logo/slogan to it. Changing the Audition-clip will now change the clips connected to it.

I made "CTRL-ALT-right arrow" my shortcut to switch through auditions 

2. Copy/Paste ColourEffects without other effects!

Many people complain (and I agree) that FCPX does not allow to copy/paste selected effects from one clip to the next. Whenever you do so you apply ALL effects to the new clip. This includes the Audio-effects. So when you have different resizing and compressor settings on one clip and want to copy the resizing, you also paste the wrong compressor settings into the audio.

At least (and not many people know this) you can copy/paste the COLOURBOARD effect alone. So this command only pasts your colour-correction with its masks to another clip. All other effects and the audio stay untouched. Here´s how:

Go to the menu of "Final Cut Pro" and select "Commands..."-> Customize

Now search for the word "APPLY". You will find 3 commands that "APPLY the Colour Correction to previous clip" second last and third last clip.

This is not might wanna take some clip that is on the timeline 50 cuts earlier. But you can workaround it and it is a hint that are many features hidden in the command-set. Go look through it!

1. Audio Equalizer AUGraphicEQ in the Mac OSX Section of the EQs:

When you open theAUGraphic Equalizer it comes with a 10-band control-panel.

Did you know you can switch this to a 31-band panel?


Beware ....switching between them resets it. So if you want to use 32-bands on a clip....make sure you stick to it!