Final Cut Pro X Tutorials

As 2011 comes to a close, I find I am between video edit projects and thought it might be the time to consider upgrading from the very familiar Final Cut Express to the new Final Cut Pro X. With an entirely new GUI and workflow, it seemed a bit overwhelming. While Apple shows workshops for FCPX, there are none offered at either the Tampa or Brandon stores. Before deciding to stay put and start my next project with the tried-and-true FCE, I did a Google search for FCPX Tutorials. One of the top hits was to an incredibly useful and well made series of online video tutorials by Izzy Hyman. If you are looking for an overview to get you well on your way to using FCPX effectively, point your browser to for the free series of 25 lessons. You will not be disappointed! You can pay to download local copies of the training and exercise material if you want to take it with you on location. For just a little bit more, you can buy a 6 month membership and have access to over 150 training videos that cover not just editing but camera work, lighting and audio too. So in summary, I'll paraphrase recent credit card advertisements:

Learning FCPX basics in an entertaining way, free. Using FCPX, $300. Adding Compressor, $49. Being able to replace Toast for producing DVDs and BDs, priceless!

Authoring BluRay For WDTV Live Hub Media Player

Authoring BluRay for WDTV Live Hub:

For the best, flawless playback:

License MakeMKV and open the index.bdmv from your BD, DVD or Toast disc image. Select a title and drill down to select its audio and export a suitably named .mkv file which you can copy to the WDTV Live. It plays perfectly and I am consuming many CPU cycles replacing all of my previous .mp4 files created with Elgato. The difference is amazing.

For next best playback:

Format: Elgato Turbo.264 HD
Use: Custom Profile HD 1080p 16:9 20000k IP Progressive Scan which is modified from default HD 1080p profile for Data Rate, GOP Structure and Source Deinterlace

Hint at eyetv lounge states to override GOP Structure of Auto (IBP) and use IP frames only. Seems WD Live TV has a problem with B frames. The default from Elgato creates an .mp4 file that WD Live does not play well (it plays fast). You can also convert this file to mpeg using VisualHub (no longer supported) and move the output to a thumb drive but that file won’t work right for FF/Rew and it adds another step.

YouTube HD looks better and does a better job with transitions. Need to test with WD playback.

Using either QT or an HD Elgato profile at 20Mbps (its max) and building a disc image via Toast does not play well on WD Live TV Hub. Any AIC input to toast plays back in 4:3 ratio despite being 16:9. It also plays fast.

Authoring BluRay For BD-R

Toast Pro DVD Authoring

Written by Elgato and sold by Roxio, Toast 10 allows the creation of up to 30 minutes of Blu-Ray compatible video to be written to a standard DVD however, this will create a smaller file than the same source written to BD even when there is enough room on the DVD.

Important Note: Video from FCE only works with Toast 10.01 or 10.02. Versions 10.04 and 10.06 kick off a source material error, -18771 but the later versions support chapter marks. One suggestion is to use 10.02 to encode then stop the process saving the working files. Move them into a later version which will skip the encode and begin at the disk multiplexing step. I just accept the default chapter markers every 5 minutes. Toast 11 generates problems with rewind and fast forward operations and the video on DVD (and BD) terminates just seconds before the actual end so there is some kind of buffering issue. Every release introduces more problems with Toast. If only there was a better option.

I did discover that writing the project to a disc image rather than to an actual disc with Toast 10 added a brief audio drop at around 25 minutes that was not there if writing to a disc and then reading the disc and saving to a disc image.

Set-up Blu-Ray Video:

Add the not-self-contained QT video file exported from FCE to a BD Video project. Edit that entry and set the thumbnail and edit text properties of each clip and move up the duration (line 3) to overwrite burn date (line 2) for disc info. Also set the video thumbnail for the menu.

Menu Style: Passport 16x9 (change button highlight color from default Yellow to Gray), Aspect ratio Widescreen. I’ve had mixed results with Auto Play On Insert under disc tab, change the disc and menu default title “My Movie” to the appropriate title on the Menus tab.

Burn Blu-Ray On BD25-R:

I am using an external OWC Mercury Pro with an LG WH12LS39 BD reader/writer over Firewire 800 since my iMac i7 does not support an eSATA connection. The manual prefers BD-Rs from Sony or Panasonic but I have had great success with Verbatim (much better than with the Optical Quantum BD-Rs packaged with the burner).

What went wrong:

I first tried to burn a disc image first with Toast 10 however, the first attempt was supposed to require 16BG created a 25.53GB file which was too large to fit on BD-25. Switched to Toast 11 (each time I switch I have to reinstall the appropriate HD Plug-in for that version). The first attempt to write directly to BD25-R failed without ever writing to the disc so I switched the encoding settings to the default “Best”. This used all but 2GB of the 25GB. Despite taking a really long time to create with 2 hours of content (and sustaining the internal temp of the iMac to 158F), the next morning the disc was created. I typically do not clear Toast’s cache files until I am absolutely certain that I won’t need them.

I tried twice to copy the newly burned BD25-R to a Toast disc image and both failed indicating that a data recovery option could be set to help. Both times, the LG burner went offline and had to be power cycled.

For the third attempt, I went back to the saved project file (.disc) and tried to save a disc image directly from Toast 11 which did the muxing. It was able to reuse the previously generated cache files and parsed through the multiplexing stage in a few minutes. Unfortunately, Toast became unresponsive and required a force quit.

For BD, when I try to save a disc image from the encoded project, it fails with a message that I can find no details for from a google search:
Couldn't Complete The Last Command Because Of A Mac OS Error: Result Code=-50

One attempt contained 5 titles totaling 2:02:00. The resulting video was stunning except the next to the last title would only play black for a few seconds then return to the menu. It was not the longest video either. All other titles played as expected. The missing video rendered just fine to another BD so there was nothing wrong with the source. I eventually cleared Roxio’s cache and tried again overnight. This time it worked.

What finally worked:

The most successful workflow mirrors what I did all along for BluRay to DVD - Toast 10.02 muxing QT AIC source material from FCE with Best encoding setting directly to Verbatim BD25-R. The LG burner took full advantage of the 6x write capability of the BD-Rs (the drive is capable of up to 12x write). Once complete, mount the BD and copy it to a disc image for safe keeping and making additional copies later.

You can play a mounted BD disc image with either the embedded Roxio Video Player (found in the Toast application package) or VLC.

Timecode Calculator

Simple software that elegantly performs a specific task well can be a real joy. Timecode Calculator is such an application. When editing video in Final Cut, the last step is to match up royalty free music to the video as an underscore. After identifying the start and end points in the timeline that I want to group thematically, I use Timecode Calculator to determine the duration. I keep a separate iTunes library of royalty free music (primarily from Fresh Music and Freeplay Music) that is sorted by duration. Since Final Cut Express works best with AIFF, I up-convert the more compressed tracks in advance. From there it is a simple step to audition tracks around that length to select one. If needed, I can adjust the timeline in order to use the selected track. Use the pop-up menu option to Show In Finder then import that file into my FCE project. For longer, multi-disc projects, it helps to keep a separate list of which tracks have already been used so I don't use one more than once unintentionally.

I started using Netmedia's Timecode Calculator at version 1. Version 2.3 is Lion compatible. There is nothing as good at the Apple Store and Kagi sells this for only $7USD.

Camera lenses vs. scopes

The real problem, aside from fixed aperture and relative lack of portability of scopes, is that scopes have a different optical design. While a good camera lens is also worried about the optical performance at the edge of the glass, scopes not so much. Emphasis is on performance at the center where a scope's subject is usually placed. 

For camera optics, a fixed telephoto always outperforms a zoom but the realities of travel photography has to include bulk (how many different lenses can you carry) and weight (both from what is allowed and hand-held vs. tripod). This is where a single zoom can be the best compromise. With digital cameras, every time you change a lens, especially in the field, you introduce a change of getting dust onto the sensor's glass. Other considerations include the maximum aperture of the lens (best performance is usually a couple of f-stops smaller than wide open), bokeh (the quality and shape of the blurred, out of focus parts of the image), image stabilization, autofocus speed and cost.

Another consideration is that while the desire is always for stronger magnification, especially with wildlife photography, lens performance still trumps. A cropped image from a good performing 200mm lens shot in RAW format at the highest resolution the camera is capable of still trumps a larger but softer image from a lesser performing 400mm lens. 

NIK Software Plug-ins

Right before our Yosemite trip, Outdoor Photographer magazine ran an all black and white issue. This was fantastic timing as I started with black and white photography 40 years ago and read everything I could find on Ansel Adams and his Zone V System. I was inspired to try black and white photography again at this iconic destination. The plug-in for Aperture/Lightroom/Photoshop, Silver Efex Pro 2, was featured in the article and I downloaded the 15 day, fully functional free trial upon our return. I started within Aperture and converted a Canon Raw landscape from Yosemite Valley into the best black and white image I could. I then started with the same master image and used the niksoftware plug-in. Wow! Now the difference was subtle in many cases but as I worked with more and more photos, it was obvious that I could consistently obtain better results with the plug-in and in less time. Check out the Silver folder of photos in our Yosemite 2011 set.

I figured that if that plug-in was so fantastic, the other plug-ins in their workflow would be as good. I was not disappointed. Their u-point technology is an extremely easy way to create a mask layer and apply specific modifications to a selected control point. I went back to earlier Canon Raw master images that I had already tweaked within Aperture to my complete satisfaction and easily improved upon them. Using the plug-ins within Aperture is easy enough however, you need to edit with each plug-in separately and remember the recommended workflow sequence. If you order the version that works for Photoshop, each plug-in is presented in a menu and you can switch between them before returning control to Photoshop. The big advantage for the Photoshop set is that the changes are done as layers. For Aperture, the changes are not modifiable but you can always return to the master and start over if need be.

There are lots of high quality training videos posted at the website so check them out and take advantage of the 15 day free trial. The good news is that while an individual plug-in can be pricey, the entire collection is available for the price of 2-3 plug-ins. I am licensing my demo versions and think you will want to as well. Just so you know, I am in no way associated with NIK Software and I am not compensated for this review.

Cotton Comfort Camera Vest

The Cotton Carrier vest system has made it possible for me to hike and carry my Canon 7D and EOS L-series 100-400mm lens all day long without discomfort. I had tried every kind of "comfort" neck strap but always ached at the end of the day. I saw the advertisement in Outdoor Photographer and started researching to see if it was as good as I hoped. Everything I read about it at different sites was positive so I decided to give it a try. It worked beyond my wildest hopes and I would recommend it to anyone who carries their gear for hours at a time. This is an extremely comfortable way of distributing the weight of a camera body and large lens so that it does not dig into your neck and shoulders on all day hikes. Walking, biking, it all works. 

Two suggestions: The first time you try and lift your camera out of the chest receptacle be careful, I bopped myself in the nose. It really doesn't take that much effort to lift it out, just make sure the waist is properly adjusted. The other suggestion is if you are carrying your vest on the outside of your backpack, use the provided camera tether strap to secure it to the pack so it doesn't fall off. Also there are lots of companies that will stamp out custom dog tags. The elastic strips on the shoulder straps of the Cotton Carrier Vest system make the perfect place to keep your contact information should you ever misplace the vest. 

Digital Photography School Online

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Canon EF 100-400mm f4.5-5.6L IS USM Telephoto Zoom Lens

This has been my go-to lens for many years now. It is a great all-in-one wildlife photography travel lens but it does present a number of compromises.

The biggest issue with the lens is its push-pull design. Because of having to equalize air pressure when extending or compressing the lens, this is not a weather sealed lens. You can draw fine dust into the lens which then can get onto the digital sensor of your camera body. Neither is it a lens for a wet environment. A heavy rain can mean disaster, even if in a rain cover is used, as humidity can be sucked into the lens which can fog the internal lens elements.

That said, there are many positive attributes too. Weight, great zoom range for wildlife, reasonable auto-focus performance, image stabilization for hand-held mobility and good glass are all on the plus side of the equation. The single best analysis I found on this lens was that it becomes much, much sharper at f8 or smaller. This is a significant difference and not to be ignored. If you are shooting with this lens, set your DSLR to AV at f8 and let the camera take care of the rest. The edge detail of the eyes of your wildlife subjects will improve significantly with all else being equal.

Backup Of Camera Flash Memory In The Field

Backup of Camera Flash Memory In The Field

Backing up still and video images from cameras such as Canon's 7D and G12 is easy. I import the still (RAW, jpeg) and video (.mov) directly into a subject specific Aperture library. Aperture knows what images have already been imported. If you shoot RAW + JPEG, I import them as separate masters. If I don't need the RAW version, it can easily be deleted to reduce the size of the library. It also seems easier to import all images and delete the ones you don't want than to exclude them from import. Anything previously unchecked will keep showing up for subsequent imports. Backing up any still images recorded with an AVCHD camcorder like the Canon HF200 can also be loaded into Aperture. These appear in the root of the AVCHD card in the DCIM folder.

Backing up video from an AVCHD camcorder like the Canon HF200 is a bit trickier. There does not seem to be any advantage of doing anything more complex than copying the SDHC card to a folder on your Mac but if you intend to use FCE's Log and Transfer option from the backup, you need to retain the integrity of the full filesystem in the copy. This is where it gets to be a pain as there are not only the new clips and thumbnails, there are index files that need to be updated to include the new clips. In the Private/AVCHD folder, you'll need to copy over the new contents of STREAM (.mts files) and CLPINF (.cpi). You'll also need to replace the previous versions of INDEX.BDM and MOVIEOBJ.BDM. Miss any one and FCE won't be able to see all of the clips. I don't think FCE needs PLAYLIST as that is specific to the camcorder. If you import your video clips into FCE via Voltaic, you only need to keep a copy of the .mts files in STREAM. It does not need the full filesystem of the AVCHD card.

For whatever reason, I've not found any OS X application that can read through the SDHC card and make an incremental copy elsewhere. I stress incremental because I see no good reason to have to re-copy an entire SDHC card just to get the new ones. That does not mean you need to deal with manually copying files over. OS X is unix based so an rsync command via Terminal will do just what is needed. You can adjust your script as needed. A quick tip is to drag the desktop icon (not the Finder's sidebar icon) of any disk or folder into terminal to see its full path for use in the script. So for example, to sync up a folder copy of an SDHC card, from terminal I run the command:

sudo /usr/bin/rsync -E -a -x -S --delete /Volumes/CANON_DC/ /Volumes/External500/CanonBackup

If you start to backup another card, just change the destination path to a new folder or rename the first folder. Check out man pages on rsync for more options but these work nicely.

Renting Specialty Glass

If you've ever wanted to get your hands on expensive, specialty glass for a test drive before purchasing or to fulfill s short-term need, check out I've rented the Canon EOS 300mm f2.8, 2x and Wimberly II head to take to Yellowstone and a Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 for slot canyons in Arizona. You can rent the lens with damage waiver coverage too which is not a bad idea when you are holding a lens you can't normally afford. Why risk having to buy one as a replacement when you can't justify buying it for yourself?

Toast Pro DVD Authoring

Toast Pro DVD Authoring

Written by Elgato and sold by Roxio, Toast 10 allows the creation of up to 20 minutes of Blu-Ray compatible video to be written to a standard DVD. Important Note: Video from FCE only works with Toast 10.01 or 10.02. Versions 10.04 and 10.06 kick off a source material error, -18771 but the later versions support chapter marks. One suggestion is to use 10.02 to encode then stop the process saving the working files. Move them into a later version which will skip the encode and begin at the disk multiplexing step.

Before testing HD video, I had already switched to Toast from iDVD since iDVD could not author a DVD with less than 90 minutes worth of compression. Most of my projects were in the 45 minute range which left a lot of unused space on the disc. Toast can compress for a 60 minute SD project and the results were much better. I did discover that writing the project to a disc image rather than to an actual disc added an audio drop at 25 minutes that was not there if writing to a disc and then reading it and saving to a disc image.

Testing Toast 11 Pro now.

Blu-Ray Video
Menu Style: Passport 16x9 (change button highlight color from default Yellow to Gray), Aspect ratio Widescreen
Encoding: Auto Best or Custom - Video Format MPEG-4 AVC, max Average and Maximum data bit rates to 26.0 Mbps, Motion Estimation Best (checking Half-PEL also helps but slows down processing), Re-encoding (set to Automatic but is it ready as-is and should be none - Toast seems to ignore this option), Field Dominance (set to Automatic but should it be progressive? Source is not.)

Record to disc then mount it and make a disc image from it to save. This works better for audio than saving to disc directly from the encoded files that Toast created.

Converting to SD

The same 16:9 QT video from FCE works nicely as input to Toast for a widescreen SD DVD. There is no need to export a different source file from FCE.

Output From Final Cut Express

Output from FCE

To preview the final product in the shortest possible time, export for use on WD Live media player.

Format: Elgato Turbo.264 HD
Use: Custom Profile HD 1080p 16:9 20000k IP Progressive Scan which is modified from default HD 1080p profile for Data Rate, GOP Structure and Source Deinterlace

Hint at eyetv lounge states to override GOP Structure of Auto (IBP) and use IP frames only. Seems WD Live TV has a problem with B frames. The default 1080p profile from Elgato creates an .mp4 file that WD Live does not play well (it plays fast). You can also convert this file to mpeg using VisualHub (no longer supported) and move the output to a thumb drive but that file won’t work right for FF/Rew and it adds another step.

The preset YouTube HD looks better and does a better job with transitions.

Using either QT or an HD Elgato profile at 20Mbps (its max) and building a disc image via Toast does not play well on WD Live TV Hub. Any AIC input to toast plays back in 4:3 ratio despite being 16:9. It also plays fast.

For final Disc-based presentation...

Export QT but uncheck the make self contained option. This creates a very small file very quickly then leaves Toast to encode the file. Toast takes advantage of the multiple cores of the iMac i7, something FCE does not do. Within Toast, use custom encoding configuration of avg. 19.5MB/S with peak 26MB/S and Progressive but this is limited to 30min on single layered DVD media.

Save the final output from FCE as self contained in case there is an opportunity to re-render it to a better output in the future. It is a compromise over saving the raw input files and the FCE project. This file is much larger than the movie rendered by Toast in the next step. Save it as Quicktime and check self-contained. This output file will remain in AIC format which has a much higher bit rate than H.264. Remember, AIC is for editing, H.264 is for final presentation. You would not want to re-edit H.264 as that would further compress an already compressed file.

If you want an H.264 version too, export using Quicktime Conversion. The absolutely best results are from Quicktime directly which will mimic the source file’s format and resolution (H.264). Using the Export As option, change QT’s size to HD1920x1080, no improvement seen from "deinterlace source" when the original was shot as 1080/60i. The i7 core iMac seems to be 2x duration for rendering, 4x if deinterlace is selected. A huge improvement over the 6x duration on my 3yr old MacBook Pro. Elgato’s turbo.264 HD is a very usable option that offers a huge time savings but the results are not as good for a final version.

iStabilize Is Amazing

iStabilize video clips

This is an excellent add-on application for removing shake from video, including AIC captured from a HD camcorder. This app is configured as the editor for video in my FCE. Select a clip and right-click chose Open In Editor. Select “Use Spatial Selection” followed by “Track Motion” from the Stabilizer menu. Select “New Edit Session”. If your monitor resolution is 1920x1080, the main window will fill the screen blocking the edit control pop-out from view. Shrink the main window’s width to see it. The default sample time is 1.0 sec and increasing this value helps if the camera is moving wildly like in a rocking boat. You can sample the results and change them to experiment. Chose to erase or zoom. If erase, you can zoom into the frame in FCE to crop out the black areas. Note that this will try and keep the position of the frame centered and cannot correct blurred images in frames when the camera was moving too fast. End the edit session and export. Export as AIC is faster but larger and is easier on FCE too. You can have multiple edit sessions, each with their own in/out points and stabilization settings and can enable/disable them from the Movie menu. Saving these tracks into the edited AIC does not appear to cause FCE any grief.

Audio Editing WIth Final Cut Express

Audio Editing

I mostly replace the audio with music but sometimes you want to keep some or all of it. Wind noise is difficult to remove. Use Audio Filters -> Apple -> AU Graphic EQ and drag sliders below 100-200 hz. to get rid of most wind noise.

Editing AVCHD With Final Cut Express

Editing with FCE

Very few of FCE’s transitions seem to work well in HD resolutions. Long time SD 3D favorites like Cube Spin or Page Peel fall apart in HD. Dissolve, Center Wipe and Clock Wipe, Ripple, Push and similar are ok.

Beware using Apple’s Magic Mouse (which I otherwise love). The slightest accidental brush across its top can move the edit cursor position unintentionally. I usually fall back to the Mighty Mouse when editing. I am also using Shuttle Pro2 USB controller. I’ve created macros with Keyboard Maestro that can be triggered from the programmable buttons. For example, cut a clip with the razor blade and right click to select it. You need to ESC before you can delete. I have a macro that does this sequence. I am missing Backspace from the extended keyboard which does a ripple delete rather than leaving a gap which then has to be closed. This can be done with Function-delete and is a forward delete with text in any program.

Tips and Shortcuts

To save a custom window arrangement in FCE, position the windows and hold OPTION while selecting menu option Window:Arrange.

Roll moves the out-point of left clip and in-point of right clip w/o changing duration. Ripple will change the length of the clip that the directional cursor is pointing to regardless of the direction you drag the cursor. Slip and Slide work with 3 clips, moving the center clip within the duration of the surrounding clips or changing the overall duration.

Option-select allows just the video or audio of a linked clip to be selected then deleted or modified. This beats locking the channel that you want to keep.

Motion: Set the end-point keyframe first. Best to set a keyframe for all (scale, rotation, center and anchor point). Go to starting point and change values and set a new keyframe. To modify the linear path between keyframes, set the Canvas to show Image & Wireframe. Using the pen tool, drag a calculated keyframe to a new location on the canvas and use the Bezier Curve handles to change its curve.

High quality AVCHD footage can stand a zoom of 125% and still look decent. I’ve used 108% routinely to get rid of some framing problems with good results.

Audio: To see audio waveforms, select Settings from the Sequence menu. The tool on the left side of the bottom of the timeline that looks like a belt passing over 2 pulleys is how to get a volume level red line in the audio channels. Use the pen tool to set keyframes and drag the volume up or down as needed.

The key “a” is the timeline’s arrow and “b” is blade but “bb” is blade the cuts through all the video and audio elements at the selected time with a single click.

Problem Clips

AVCHD and .mp4 seems to need keyframes and really short clips present a problem. One solution that seems to work is to export the problem clip(s) as a self contained QT then import it, replacing the problem AIC clip with the QT version.

Importing AVCHD Into Final Cut Express

Importing AVCHD:


I first tried Flamingo to catalog and Voltaic to create an Apple Intermediate Codec (AIC) version of selected .mts files. These files are suitable for editing in FCE not for direct playback.

Voltaic output resolution - same as source, AIC 1920x1080i. Voltaic states deep in their online documentation that it is most useful for converting AVCHD into other distribution formats directly. It uses the same method to create AIC as FCE does directly but contrast and color saturation appears better. It also does a better job of naming the files in the proper sequence. FCE shows clips 1, 10, 11, etc. FCE’s Log & Transfer has a better preview option and is probably faster at transcoding. Voltaic only shows 2 frames per second. Note: Set destination folder before starting conversion. Clips are named exactly as they are on camcorder with 4 significant digits. I’ve not seen an option to exclude audio from the conversion which means if you don’t want it, it has to be deleted in FCE’s timeline.

Elgato’s turbo.264 HD

I have also experimented with this software and dedicated hardware combination to accelerate video format conversions. The only real override needed to work with 1080p is to change the Data Rate from the default max of 10Mbps to the software max of 20Mbps (20000 kbps). Elgato also shows forcing the H.264 profile from Automatic to High. Save this as a custom configuration - which can only be done if you have a clip in the queue (you can drag any .mts file from Finder). FCE can use it as long as it was saved before starting FCE.

For input to FCE, Elgato creates .mp4 (H.264) files which take additional time to render on FCE’s timeline. These files also seem to have 4 audio tracks in FCE. I find it faster overall to keep the input as AIC but am getting very good results using turbo.264 HD on the output side.

More advanced dedicated hardware converters like Matrox MXO2 Mini only work with Final Cut Studio.

Final Cut Express

Running very nicely on the new iMac i7 quad core with 4GB memory. FCE maxes out at 2.5GB allocation so the only need to consider an upgrade would be for parallel processing to reduce page swapping between other concurrent applications.

Start with a new Project as Apple Intermediate Codec 1920x1080i60 with audio at 48KHz. I’ve gotten pretty good results downgrading to AIC 720p30 but the camcorder is shooting 1920x1080i60 so might as well keep it the same.

FCE can easily import the .mts files but you need the full SDHC card’s data structure. You can mount the camera directly, use an SDHC card reader with the card, save the full contents to a folder or make a disk image of the card with Toast and mount it. What is required for Log & Transfer in any case is that the full hierarchy of files be present, not just individual .mts files.

With the files available, use FCE's Log & Transfer. You can preview each clip and set in and out points and disable audio before importing. You can deselect audio for selected clips in the Import Settings tab. When you play each clip to set in and out points, you will still hear audio and you can reselect audio for that clip if needed. I’ve found a problem with scrubbing the preview timeline that causes FCE to lock up forever. To avoid this, click on the timeline, don’t drag the cursor in it.

Preparing Still Images In Aperture For Final Cut Express


I create a library for each year of general photography but will dedicate a big trip to its own library. I create a Project for each day and combine photos from all cameras chronologically. Selects photos are rated as a 3 for ease of selection later. Edit and crop each as needed. For a quick fix, try Presets:Color Fixes:Auto Enhance (Pulldown menu or F13). If shooting RAW and JPEG, import as separate masters. That way, RAW can be deleted if not needed to save disk space. Export photos by day for print image use (web, printing). For video use, select all 3-star rated images in the Project and duplicate versions. While the new “ - Version 2” images are still selected, change their rating to 5. There are other ways to do this with keywords but this is easy. Select the new 5-star images and crop horizontal images for 16:9. Sometimes, a horizontal image will work better cropped vertically rather than force it into a 16:9 format. I leave vertical images as-is and try and use multiple images in the same frame to fill the 16:9 format, typically with a thin black bar between them. Export these images full sized into their own folder for later import into FCE.

If you ever have problems with a library, launch Aperture while holding CMD-Opt to check structure.

Notes On AVCHD Editing With Mac: Equipment Summary

Goal: Find the best quality output for the shortest rendering times. Create Blu-Ray compatible DVDs. I’ve also experimented with using HD source files to create SD output (NTSC 720x486, de-interlaced). It is no where as sharp but you can also zoom into the frame up to 80% (44% fills the SD frame) without the image falling apart too badly.


Canon HF-200

Shooting MPX (24 Mbps, 29.97 fps, 60i) on 32Gb SDHC class 4 cards which holds approximately 2.5 hours of video. I don’t remember the specific reason, but I read it is best to keep AVCHD clips at less than 4 minutes duration. Probably because of file size issues.

Canon 7D and G12

Depending on subject, I’ll shoot JPEG or RAW only most of the time. If unsure of conditions, I’ll shoot both as a pair, especially if flash memory capacity is not an issue. Shooting RAW can give you a buffer of +/- 1 EV over shooting RAW. Most times however, after I tweak a RAW image, it looks just like the JPEG that the camera produced. Make sure the clocks are in sync when using multiple still cameras.


iMac 27” i7 Core 8Gb RAM, IOGear Multi-card reader that supports SDHC. FW800 1.5TB and 500Gb working volumes with a 4.5TB RAID 5 for Time Machine to back it all up. A MacBook Air is used for backup in the field.