FCPX Change audio connection point

Connection point before adjustment
Connection point before adjustment

Changing Audio Connection in FCPX

Changing the connection point of the audio to a clip in FCPX is easy. That is, once you know how to do it. If not, you’re always guessing where the connection will end up and it’s a problem. To change the connection point of an audio clip, all you do is press

COMMAND+OPT and click on the audio track you want to connect under the video clip you want to connect it to. That’s it.

Connection point after adjustment
Connection point after adjustment

Fixed timelines

Along the same theme, perhaps you need to lock something into position in FCPX. At first, it doesn’t seem possible with the magnetic timeline. Apple giveth, Apple taketh away.

One of the difficulties in understanding how FCPX works is that the magnetic timeline is always floating. At first this seems irritating, as you might want to lock your piece of media at an exact time in the timeline. You can’t directly do that in FCPX. But what you can do is use the Place tool, slide things around and create a gap.

Position tool
Position tool

Then, in the gap, you create a sub-timeline or child timeline and edit in there. That way your main timeline stays fixed but you can work inside of your fixed time, say for a commercial spot or such.

We rarely use the position tool, as the select tool is generally much more powerful and (somewhat) non-destructive. But when you need to place a clip at an exact point, the position tool is what you want.

We’re working on the final editing stages of Antarctic Tears the film and it doesn’t have a fixed time space, but once or twice both the audio connection point and the position tool have come in very handy. FCPX is quite powerful but it can be mystifying when you’re not sure about a “secret” keystroke.

FCPX 10.1 disable audio without detaching

Double click clip expand
Double click clip expand

FCPX 10.1 Control clip audio without detaching audio

It is possible to disable the audio of a clip without detaching it. We’ve struggled with this some time, as after FCP 7, there seemed to be no way to independently control if the audio of an individual clip is active or not. The wrong way to do this, as suggested by other forums, is to take the audio level and just drag it down to -(infinity). This is a problem because if you’ve already adjusted levels, then you’ll have to fix them again.

Instead, use this simple trick:

Double click the audio track in a clip in the timeline while holding the OPTION key down.

OPTION + double click
OPTION + double click

The audio must be visible in the clip for this to work and you must click the audio waveform to make this work. If you just double click the audio track in the timeline without holding the OPTION key down, you will not be able to independently select the audio track. If you look at the two pictures on the right, the one with regular double click and the one with OPTION double click, you’ll see there is a small speaker icon in the audio track.

This little audio icon lets you know that you can now disable the audio by hitting the ‘V’ key. Then OPTION+double click the audio to collapse it back.

If that doesn’t work, right click on the clip and select Expand Audio/Video, then select the audio track, and select Expand Audio Components. You will now be able to Enable/Disable the audio track without losing your audio edits by just clicking ‘V’.

Before, we would Detach Audio, then create a compound clip, and enable/disable the audio there. The risk was that the audio and video could be misaligned, causing a sync problem. Using the Expand Audio Components with the OPTION+double click or right click, now the tracks stay attached, just like in FCP 7.

Sharing FCPX 10.1 projects

FCPX projectsThere are questions all over the net about how to share Final Cut Pro X (FCPX) 10.1 projects between different sites and editors. There are some discussions about how to use XML to transfer the files, or having shared drive locations. Those all may work, but they’re not useful with a 2 hour film’s worth of media (30+ hours) shared between different sites.

We at TVL Video have been using this technique to work on films between our locations in San Diego and Jackson Hole. The process has worked flawlessly and we thought we’d share the procedure with the rest of the FCPX community.

This procedure is wordy but meant to lay everything out as clearly as possible. Using this process, you will have a file small enough to fit in email, without having to transport video files around. This whole procedure is reliant on both sites have the same video files in the same Library and Event. That’s the one trick to it. As we’ve added files to the project, it’s easy to transfer them around. But there was no practical way to ship 168GB worth of footage around. So we shipped a drive to our Jackson site, brought both up and everything is working perfectly. We can review dailies and share our edits without issue.

Here’s the procedure:

Create a copy of the project to be transferred

– Click the project
– Right click and select Duplicate Project

Rename the duplicated project to the next version
Click and select the new project

File -> Copy Project to Library -> New Library
Select Movies on System Drive
Name the library “Transfer lib Vxxx”, where xxx = current project name
Click Save

In the popup window, make sure Optimized Media and Proxy Media are UNSELECTED
click OK
Wait a few seconds, then cancel any rendering activity
Select the new library
Right click on the created library and close it out of FCPX


Go to finder, find the created transfer library
Select transfer library
Right click on transfer library, select Show Package Contents
Go to the event folder (probably just a date)
Go to the Original Media folder
Delete all media out of that folder
Empty the trash

Go back up to the Movies folder or wherever you created the transfer library
select the library
Right click on the library
Compress “library name”
This creates a ZIP file that can be emailed
Delete the transfer library so only the zip file remains

Email or WeTransfer the ZIP file

Drop received ZIP file into the Movies folder
Right click on ZIP file and click “Open”
This will create an unzipped Library file
Delete the received ZIP file

Open FCPX 10.1
File -> Open Library -> Other
Click the Locate… button
Find the transfer library and open it

At this point, all of the clips will be broken. That’s okay.

Copy (click and drag) the video project to the Event folder (Antarctic Film)

When the copy control pop up appears, make sure Optimized and Proxy media are UNCHECKED
Click OK

Close the transfer library (right click, select close)
Open the transferred project in the Event folder

The project should now relink to all of the media, the project thumbnail may still show broken links, Eventually it seems to recover

In finder, delete the Transfer Library file (to eliminate confusion)

Good luck and enjoy sharing FCPX projects.


Mavericks 10.9.2 and Black Magic

Black Magic Ultrastudio Mini Recorder
Black Magic Ultrastudio Mini Recorder

If you are using the Black Magic UltraStudio Mini Recorder and have updated to Mavericks 10.9.2, you will find that your HDMI settings have been reset. As soon as the update came out, we added it to our machines in hopes that it would fix some of our FCPX woes, though it doesn’t look like it.

Instead, what we ended up with is a non-functioning HDMI to Thunderbolt converter. Very quickly we figured out that the only thing that had changed on the machine was the Mavericks update. So, we went into the System Preferences, into BlackMagic Design and, sure enough, the Set Input setting had reverted back to SDI Video and SDI Audio. As soon as we changed the settings, we were back in business and recording off the Nikon D800 for some demo work.

Screen Shot 2014-03-01 at 4.56.27 PM


People complain about this little wonder box because they have to go in and change the settings so it works with the HDMI rather than the SDI input. The people with SDI cameras have no issues, so there are never any negative reviews about this.

In any case, we were able to produce an entire video using the Nikon D800 and the Black Magic UltraStudio Mini Recorder. It allowed us to record directly to the computer in ProRes 422, something that camera does not do when recording directly to a compact flash or SD card. This little converter was well worth the money for us.

Setting change
Setting change

The only problem we have run into is it occasionally loses sync when disabling the camera and then restarting it. All you have to do is switch from Log and Capture to Playback and then back. It seems to work every time. Compared to some other solutions, this really has been a salvation for us to shoot very high quality without the need for an external recorder like the Ninja or Aja Ki.

The laptop is not practical in the field, for the most part, as a Ninja might be, but in the studio, recording directly to the computer has made things so much faster. We can review and check our work immediately, without having to unplug a drive, swap cards, or anything. It’s right there, on the computer, ready for review.

Now all we have to do is watch out when the latest Mac Maverick’s update comes out and changes our settings.

Audio effects missing in FCPX 10.1

We have been editing our first long-form video, Flash Photography Introduction, in Final Cut Pro (FCPX) 10.1 for a week.  We ran into Sound effectshaving all of the audio sound effects missing.  We found that if we quite FCP, opened iPhoto, close iPhoto, then re-opened FCP, the sound effects reappeared.

There have been all sorts of strange little bugs with FCPX 10.1.  The worst was editing yesterday.  The machine was grinding to a halt, so we closed FCPX and reopened it.  Our edits from the entire day were gone.

And the automatic backup files were corrupted – they wouldn’t open.

No we snapshot a project prior to closing.  It seems like 10.1 has quite a few bugs.  Our recommendation is to wait for 10.1.1 if you can.

Burning DVDs using Disk Utility

After completing a project edit in Final Cut Pro X or iMovie, you can create a DVD from those programs.  But how about if you want to make multiple copies or don’t want to risk going back into your timeline, possibly changing your editing.  This procedure will guide you from creating that .IMG file to creating a burned DVD that will play in a regular DVD player.

If you just right click on the .IMG file and select burn, all you will get is a data

Create .img disk file
Create .img disk file

DVD with some files in it that will not play on your computer or in a regular DVD player.  You have to use the Mac’s Disk Utility to create a playable DVD.

Here’s the process:

  1. In FCPx or iMovie, go to File->Share->DVD.  In the settings, chose burn to Hard Drive rather than DVD.
  2. Select a location to save the file to the desktop for easy access.
  3. Find and open Disk Utility (Applications – Utilities – Disk Utility; use Spotlight to find it)
  4. The .IMG disk image file should appear in the left hand column of the drives.  If not, go to File->Open Disk Image… and find your .IMG file.

    Burn from Disk Utility
    Burn from Disk Utility
  5. Click and select the disk image in the left hand column, then click the Burn icon in the top tool bar.
  6. Insert the blank DVD when asked to do so.
  7. Click burn when the option window comes up.
  8. Eject the DVD and try it in your computer or in a regular DVD player.

Using this method to create a DVD will result in a disk that can play in a regular commercial DVD player or a Mac.

Video retiming with FCPX

The retiming tool is handy in Final Cut Pro X (FCPX) for slowing video motion. One of the challenges we found is adjusting the shutter speed to get the best result from slow motion. FCPX has three different video quality options for retiming, or slow motion. There are Normal, Frame Blending, or Optical Flow. As expected, as the quality selection is increased, the rendering time increases. The increase in quality is well worth, as you can see a definite difference in the increase in quality.

The test examines the difference between 1/60th second versus 1/2000th of a second shutter speed on a Canon M-500 using the highest quality AVHCD at 24MB/s, adjusting video speed to 25% of original. One thing we found is the real high frame rate shots do not blend well when the object moving through the frame has a hard edge, like the back end of a mini van. Once the van is relatively small in the frame, the blending improves markedly. As seen in other video slowdown programs (Twixtor), hard edges do not seem to blend as well, as they’re very apparent.

We made this evaluation to see if the quality improvement with Twixtor might be worth it. But, we found that because the camera we are shooting potential shots with uses AVHCD, which does not handle strong motion well in the first place, getting a clean slow motion is troublesome. Also, we edited this video on a Macbook Pro Retina (MBPr) and found the AVHCD video on the screen just does not look good compared to outputting the video to the HDMI port to a regular HD 1080 television.

Creating Share DVD FCPX

To burn a DVD in Final Cut Pro X (FCPX) version 10.0.8 go to File > Share>DVD.  A

Background task indicator
Background task indicator

small processing bar comes up for a short time and disappears.  To see if it is processing, go to background task window in Window>Background Task, command 9 or click on the background processing window.

In this version compared to 10.0.4 the background task bar is the only indication that it is processing a DVD, which may lead to some confusion that it is actually processing.

Background Task Window
Background Task Window

It is easy to think the Share DVD command is not working because there is no visible progress bar.   Wait until your Project is done rendering any changes before you go to Share DVD.  Your processing time for the DVD will be improved.

Final Cut Pro X – Adjusting the volume of multiple clips

While continuing to work on an hour long video shoot in Final Cut Pro X (FCPX)

Final Cut Pro multiple clip selection volume adjustment
Final Cut Pro multiple clip selection volume adjustment

with three Canon M-500 cameras, one Sony RX-100 and a Zoom H4n recorder, we ran into the problem of needing to adjust the volume on mulitple clips simultanously.

To adjust the volume of multiple / several clips simultaneously select the clips to be adjusted with the mouse.

Then click Control + or Control -.

Doing this will increase or decrease the volume of all the selected clips by one dB (1dB) increments.

Making stereo out of a single recorded channel

One problem we have run into is recording a single left or right audio channel into the

Single channel of audio needing to be both channels
Single channel of audio needing to be both channels

Zoom H4n recorder using a single microphone.  This is how to convert stereo audio recordings (in this case the Zoom H4n, Zoom 1, Zoom 2) to single mono sounds that play through both speakers / headphones / audio channels.

When we get back to the edit bay with Final Cut Pro X (FCPX), we only have a single side working.  We really want to fill that null, blank or empty audio channel with something.  Usually an exact duplicate of the channel with some useful audio.

More than once, we have run into this problem.  But it’s infrequent except when the camera or recording device does not do channel redirecting like the Sony PD-150.  That ability was very handy and saved time in editing.

To make this audio file into a stereo selection, bring up the inspector window (Command-4) and select Audio.

With your audio clip to be modified selected, find the area with the Channel Configuration.

Click Dual Mono.

Doing this will spread the single audio track across both left and right channels.  Since

Dual Mono from single channel stereo FCPX
Dual Mono from single channel stereo FCPX

one of the channels is empty anyway, just deselect that channel.

Now the clip will play in both the left and right channels.

There are other methods, like making a copy of the audio track and then creating a compound file.  However, this adds additional complexity to the project and it only takes a one frame error to create all sorts of problems with the audio.  Although we used to do the multiple clip technique in Final Cut Pro 6 (and 7), this method is far more effective and less error prone.  Really, there is not too much to go wrong with this approach.