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Tutorial | Cut Lines: Final Cut Pro DV Start/Stop
Posted May 30, 2006 Print Version     Page 1of 1

This month in our ongoing series of Final Cut Pro tutorials we'll look at an example of a timesaving workflow for capturing wedding and event footage, and how to use this to set up a very flexible and powerful editing environment. As always, these methods can help you save time during the postproduction phase of work on your project.

Let's start with a quick look at the capturing process. There are basically two ways to capture: Batch Capture and Capture Now. Batch Capture is a method by which you create a list of in and out points for each scene you want off a tape. These are entered manually as the timecode off the original tape, telling FCP what to capture and what to ignore. Then you submit the list you typed in as a Batch Capture. Personally, I only use this if there are only a few shots off a long tape that I want, as it is a bit time-consuming.

Capture Now
The second method is Capture Now, which is what I use to capture footage from wedding and event shoots. I want the whole tape, not just a few scenes on it. First I rewind my tape in a MiniDV tape rewinder (never use your camera or deck—get a rewinder and save the wear-and-tear on your other equipment). Then I pop it into my deck, open the Log and Capture window (Cmd+8), give the capture a meaningful name, hit the Play button, then hit the Now button to start the capture. Very simple! But limiting? Let's find out . . .

Jump to the end of our imaginary capture session. We hit the end of the tape, or the end of the entered timecode, and the FCP message pops up, "End of tape" or "End of timecode." At this point it shows up in our bin. Let's call it "Kim's Reception, Tape 1."

So, here's this captured footage in our bin—one long hour made up of many shots. One problem in what I call "novice editing" is that I used to load that Master Clip into the Viewer, mark an in and an out point, drop that into the timeline, make new in and out points, drop that clip into the timeline, etc., etc., etc. This approach is long and boring! This is not my brand of editing.

As I mentioned in last month's Cut Lines, with this method you also run the risk of having a crossfade transition fall where a scene jumps from one shot on the Master Clip to the next shot where the camera stopped and started recording. Well, we saw how that can easily be fixed without losing our edit's pacing and timing. But there's an easier way.

DV Start/Stop
The first thing I'm going to do with this clip is use what I personally think is one of the most ignored features of FCP 5: DV Start/Stop Detect. Make no mistake—it's there, and it works (see Figure 1).

figure 1

Figure 1. The first thing I'm going to do with this clip is use what I personally think is one of the most ignored features of FCP: DV Start/Stop Detect.

In my Browser, I highlight our clip, "Kim's Reception, Tape 1." Then I go to Mark > DV Start/Stop Detect, and let it run (Figure 2). It should only take a minute or two.

figure 2

Figure 2. After I highlight my clip, I go to Mark > DV Start/Stop Detect, and let it run.

The results are amazing. All of a sudden, your Master Clip will have a Disclosure Triangle next to it. Click it, and down will drop a list of new clips called Segment 1, Segment 2, Segment 3, etc. These are the Sub Clips it created from our Master Clip (Figure 3).

figure 1
Figure 3. Here are the Sub Clips it created from our master clip.

If you double-click one of these Sub Clips to open it in the Viewer, you'll see it looks as if it physically starts and stops as its own small capture. Thus, when you drop it into the timeline, you will not be able to drag the ends farther out; it's only allowing you physical access to that small clip of material. This way you can't put a crossfade on it and in the middle of fading out, have it jump to the next shot your camera took. You are physically limited to only that clip.

How it Works
Let's look at how this works. On DV tape, there is a ton of metadata that is written. Metadata is information written to a semi-hidden track of the tape that has logging info such as time of day, date, camera settings, etc. (just about every digital cataloging function you can think of uses metadata to tag and categorize information).

Thus you have two timecode sources: the timecode we're all used to working with, hours:minutes:seconds.frames, and the Date Stamp time code. Date Stamp timecode is the time of day and calendar date. FCP uses this Date Stamp info to create the Sub Clips. FCP ingests pretty much all the metadata your tape has recorded to it. So it looks for sections where the time of day jumps, as when you stop recording at 7:43 p.m. and start recording again at 7:46 p.m.

If you let your camera run nonstop, this feature won't help you, as there will be no Date Stamp inconsistencies to detect, thus no way to know how to separate scenes. But most professional event videographers I know don't run their cameras nonstop. They are experienced and know which shots to get, when to be ready, etc. Plus, I just can't see editing a five-hour event shoot and going through ten-plus hours of tape. That's just a lot of extra, needless work.

Organizing Sub Clips
So, we have our Sub Clips—cool! Now what? Well, you can rename them if you want. You can even move them to another bin. That's what I do. I create a bin that has all my clips in it, one I call "Captures."

Inside of that is a bin with my Camera 1 captures called "Cam 1," another for my Camera 2 captures, etc. So, inside my Camera 1 captures bin, I'll make a "Sub Clips 1" bin, so I know these are the Sub Clips from Camera 1, in the capture of Tape 1.

I then select all the Sub Clips we just made off our Camera 1, Tape 1 capture. You can lasso them with your mouse cursor in traditional Mac style, or you can select the first clip, then hold the Shift key and select the last clip, etc. Once they are all selected, I drag and drop them into the new bin. Presto change-o! I have Sub Clips in that new bin, organized and easy to get to!

Why did I do this? When we go back to our Master Clip, "Kim's Reception, Tape 1," we'll notice that all the Sub Clips listed when you open its disclosure triangle have red markers next to them. Also, if you double-click this Master Clip, you'll see in the Viewer that it is full of red markers. Since I want to do my own in and out points during the edit, or at least leave myself the option, these red markers may get in the way. So, in the Viewer, looking at this Master Clip, I go to Mark > Markers > Delete All. Notice, significantly, that all the red markers in our Master Clip, "Kim's Reception, Tape 1," have disappeared in the Viewer, and so have the Sub Clips listed under it in the browser! There's no more disclosure triangle next to our Master Clip! Does that mean we lost all our work?

No. If you look back in the bins we created to organize all our tape captures, inside the Cam 1 bin, in the Sub 1 bin, they are all there, still intact (Figure 4). Neat trick, eh?

figure 4
Figure 4. If you look back in the bins we created to organize all our tape captures, inside the Cam 1 bin, in the Sub 1 bin, they're all there, still intact.

Flex Time
Now I have flexibility in my editing that I didn't have before. That's the name of this game, using a tiny bit of time and effort to create an editing environment that allows for fast editing, as well as flexibility and options that help translate your wonderful creativity to the timeline.

One final word of caution: when you drop these Sub Clips into your timeline, you have to overlap them if you want to do transitions like crossfades. To skirt any limitations this might impose, in the timeline I have my playhead at the end of the last clip I placed. I hold the Shift key and press the right arrow key. By itself, it would move you to the left one frame. With the Shift key, you move one second.

So let's say I plan to do two-second crossfades. I hold the Shift key and hit the right arrow key twice. That jumps me to the left two seconds. Then I load my new Sub Clip into the Viewer to be sure I have what I want, make any in/out points I may need, then hit F10 (or hit the red Overwrite Edit button in the Canvas) to do an overwrite edit. That way I physically have at least two seconds of "handles" (remember that discussion from last time) to accommodate our two-second cross fade when I am ready to drop them in.

There's a shortcut for adding that crossfade to a series of clips in the timeline, too. But I'll leave that for another day. Happy editing!  

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