Final Cut Pro now has slightly more than 50% of the professional postproduction market and is an NLE to be reckoned with. But it's still not 100% perfect, as nothing in life ever is. Fortunately, more and more third-party software and hardware developers are now warming up to FCP and creating plug-ins that add to its capabilities. One of the newest players in this field is EditMule Ltd. EditMule's software is simple to use, yet provides functions that FCP users have needed for a long time.
EditMule has three utility apps that work with FCP to make our lives as editors much easier, picking up the slack in three areas where FCP is lacking. Since each app is so small, simple, and elegant, I will quickly review all three in this one article. The three functions EditMule takes care of for us are as follows: assigning Scratch Disk settings on a per-project basis; collapsing Sequences to remove unnecessary tracks (a wonderful housekeeping task); and removing a specific filter, or filters, from a specific Sequence (thanks to this one, a question often asked on forums just became more fun to answer).
EditMule Auto Scratch (EMas)
These three stand-alone apps work with FCP via the wonderful XML interface. Auto Scratch sets Scratch Disks settings in the System Preferences of FCP on a project level, rather than on an application level. To set project-level Preferences, create a new FCP project (or find an existing one) and go to it in the Finder, right-click on its icon, and select Get Info. In that window change the Open With field to EditMule Auto Scratch (not Final Cut Pro) (Figure 1, below). This means that when you open the project file in the Finder (not from inside FCP), it will launch EMas. EMas will then use its own references to set up the project-specific Scratch Disk preferences when it opens the project for you.
The first time you open the project from the Finder, it will prompt you to set new settings, find settings to duplicate from an existing FCP project, or ignore EMas and just open the project with whatever FCP settings were the last time it was opened (Figure 2, below).
Selecting Create Link will launch your FCP project with an overlay window that prompts you to click OK after you've set that project's specific Scratch Disk settings (Figure 3, below). It really is that easy! There are also ways to modify the links, which is outlined in the User Manual.
EditMule Filter Remover (EMfr)
This little app works in a similar way, using the XML interchange built in to FCP. Consider this scenario: In a hurry to meet a deadline, I've put a De-Interlace filter on a whole lot of clips in my Sequence, assuming they'll need them. When I lock down the project, do a final review on my production monitor, I see that, on many of the clips, the filter is doing more harm than good. That's what I get for assuming while I edit! So I have to open each clip into the Viewer one at a time to remove that stupid filter, right? Wrong!
Instead of this painstaking fix, I go to my Dock (I put all my handy utilities in my Dock) and launch EditMule Filter Remover. It gives me a window that shows all open FCP projects. I pick the project, then I get a window that shows me all the Sequence in that project. I select that Sequence, and the lower part of that same window populates with all the filters used inside that Sequence (Figure 4, below). I check off the video and/or audio filter(s) I want removed. I can even turn on the optional Add Extension function to add something to the name of the Sequence so I know what I did. Click Remove, and presto, a new Sequence is created in my Project, with the specified filter(s) removed. This new Sequence has the same name as the original, with the extension I've added. By default, the extension is the time and date you did the operation. Having my original Sequence in untouched form is a great backup scheme, following Final Cut Studio's dedication to nondestructive editing.
The catch is that in a long Sequence this may take some time, but EditMule Software has an alternative workflow that will allow you to speed that up. You'd simply open EMfr alone (without FCP open) and specify an FCP project file, and it'll work via the XML data, without having to launch FCP and open the project. You'll find more information on this process in the User Manual for EMfr.
EditMule Auto Collapse (EMac)
This little app is great for me, since I do so much color work on my own projects and for other editors' projects as well. Color requires that you collapse a project, reducing the number of tracks. And it's just good housekeeping to keep your tracks to a minimum. I know from experience that over time, you create new tracks, move things around in the Timeline window, and eventually, you can have a mess (Figure 5, below).
When I hit this point and need to just tidy things up, I launch EditMule Auto Collapse from my Dock. It launches a window that shows all the currently open FCP Projects. I select one and click the Auto Collapse button. This opens a second window that shows me all the Sequences in that open project. I select the specific Sequence I want to collapse (Figure 6, below).
In the lower section of this window I can tell EMac to collapse or leave alone clips with specific filters. I leave a filter unchecked if I don't want clips with that specific filter to be messed with. Again, I can give it an extension (time/date by default) to remind me of what I just did to that Sequence. I click Collapse and EMac makes a new sequence (again, nondestructive) with the extension I specified. Now my Timeline window is much neater, easier to work with, and easier to navigate (Figure 7, below). I went from five scattered video tracks to only three tidy little video tracks. Sweet!
The one drawback of EMac is that it does not collapse audio tracks. I asked David Berezai at EditMule about this, and he said their development team had thought about this issue and would add it in the future if they received requests for it. Well, I have one request for it right here, guys! Just to get rid of the blank tracks a project can often end up with. But then, I do more audio work than many other editors do too.
These three apps are simple, use the wonderful XML exchange abilities of FCP, and do three very vital jobs for busy editors like us. Each has a user manual that is also simple, easy to understand, and to the point. Another great thing about these little gems is their price. EditMule Auto Scratch sells for only $35, EditMule Frame Removier is only $15, and EditMule Auto Collapse is only $25.
Be aware that the license is tied to your Mac's serial number, so you'll only be able to run it on one machine. David Berezai has told me that by the time this article goes to print, they expect to offering license discounts for three-plus licenses.
Personally, I've already found myself using these apps more than I thought I would in my own postproduction work. I love elegance and simplicity, and these plug-ins are about as elegant and simple as you can get. I highly recommend these if you find yourself needing any of the functionality they provide. And EditMule Software is always open to end user feedback, so don't hesitate to contact them with your comments. Of course, it would be great if FCP had these functions actually built in, but for now it doesn't—so thank goodness for EditMule Software!
Ben Balser (ben at bbalser.com) is an Apple Certified Trainer based in New Orleans. Along with training and consulting, he also produces documentaries and educational material, and he designs digital signage systems.