Final Cut Pro X

Sound for Video Session: Premiere to Audition with Dynamic Link & Mix vs Isolated Tracks in FCPX

In this week's sound for video session, we discuss two questions:

- How do I get a sequence from Premiere Pro CC to Audition CC and back again?
- I can record a stereo mix (L & R) plus isolated microphone channels on my recorder. When should I use which and how will those come through in Final Cut Pro X?

Gear used to record or discussed in this episode:

Electrovoice RE20 Dynamic Broadcast Microphone
Antelope Audio Orion Studio Computer Audio Interface - record with your pro-level XRL microphones directly to your computer
Sound Devices 633 Audio Field Recorder for film production - my main recorder for film/video

Outro music licensed from Artlist: Sunscape by Oliver Michael on One Moment. Artlist provides high quality music tracks for your film and video projects. You can receive two months off an Artlist account by using our link.

Copyright 2018 by Curtis Judd

Audio Loudness in Final Cut Pro X with Free Plugin from Youlean

For those who edit in Final Cut Pro X, ensuring that your audio was loud, but not too loud, and consistent from video to video has been a challenge. Of course you could buy expensive plugins to help with this and often what the pros do (it’s the cost of doing business and broadcasting your pieces on TV). But for those who are mainly publishing to the web and working on VLOGs or passion projects, the budget for expensive software or hardware loudness meters just wasn’t there.

Recently I found a free loudness plugin by Youlean which you can get over at Youlean. **NOTE** Several notified me that the Youlean site appears to display spam types of messages and opens new tabs. Close these windows and do NOT click on the links in them. I have notified the site owner and hopefully they can fix this soon.

And once you have that installed, you can get the right loudness consistently with the technique we show here.

For those not familiar with loudness normalization, here are a couple of other pieces where we go into some detail on how it works:

Links to Gear Discussed and Used to Record the VT500 lavalier review (which we use as a demo piece in this tutorial):

Voice Technologies VT500 Omni-directional Lavalier Microphone

Voice Technologies VT500 O Eco (same microphone without the waterproof case or extended accessories and lower price)

Blackmagic Ursa Mini Pro - for talking head shots. quite a lot of moire with this particular shirt

RODELink Wireless Lavalier Filmmaker Kit

Sennheiser EW 112p G3 Wireless Lavalier Kit (516-558 MHz)

Panasonic GH5 Camera - for product shots

Panasonic 12-35mm f/2.8 Zoom Lens

Copyright 2017 by Curtis Judd

Video Editing Apps: Which Should I Use?

Short answer: Try a few for a month each and go with the one that works best for you. Power Director was my first consumer level editing app. You could actually sync audio to video in the app but it was manual. And it crashed quite often (this was a 32 bit app back in the day).

Then I upgraded to one of the lesser versions of Sony Vegas. Not bad, but also still 32 bit. Not quite as crashy but not exactly stable. crashes were more common when the timeline was longer than a couple of minutes. No way to live if you really want to produce content.

When I first started editing video a little more seriously, I had a look at Premiere Pro (then version 5.5) and Final Cut Pro X. At that point, I really liked how fast and responsive FCPX was but it crashed. A lot. About every 5 minutes. I don't know why and maybe it was just my particular computer at the time, but that wasn't going to work for me. So I settled on Premiere Pro, starting with CS 5.5 and kept with it up through CC 2014. Premiere keeps getting better and better. But it is sort of like Photoshop in that it is still using the same basic approach as NLEs have used for a long time. The timeline is like a table and you lay out your clips on the table. If you make an edit where you decide to pull a clip from earlier in the sequence and then want to insert it farther to the right, you have to move everything around. Or at least I never learned a better, more efficient way to do it. It might just be me.

Then I decided to give Final Cut Pro X (10.1.something) another try. They definitely fixed the instability issues I experienced on my first try. But this time, FCPX made me angry. Well, not really angry, it just didn't make sense. But I forced myself to stick with it for a full month through the trial period.

And eventually, it all clicked and made sense and saved me a lot of time when I needed to pull a clip or add a new clip from the middle of the timeline. The magnetic timeline just shifted everything over perfectly. And that included all the secondary footage and titles and everything. Rad!

The metadata and search features were nice though I believe a lot of this has been added to Premiere since I moved to FCPX. The library structure, while a little maddening at first because Apple uses different names for things (e.g., project = timeline or sequence), is very useful. I can have a library of related videos broken down into separate events. So my YouTube series on a particular topic, can all live in a single library which makes it easy to re-use clips between episodes. I always found that more difficult in Premiere, having to import an additional project or just go find the clip out on the hard drive.

Audio workflow: No, FCPX doesn't round trip audio to Audition like Premiere with a simple right click. But for short pieces like I typically cut (usually no more than 10 minutes in length, often less), I actually post-process the audio in Audition first, then bring it all into FCPX and sync to the video and then cut. So my audio post is already done. This works fine for simple pieces where you're not doing any sophisticated sound design. This inverted process works nicely for most of the corporate pieces I do.

Same goes for color grading. I pull all the raw footage into Resolve first, color it, export, then bring it into FCPX for editing. Am I crazy for doing this? It is completely backwards from traditional post workflows. I think it works fine for short pieces. But I totally see why they do it the inverse way for longer pieces. No way do you want to do all the post work on every single clip when you will eventually only use 3% of the footage.

So for now, I've landed on FCPX as my editing app of choice. But now there are more options than ever.

DaVinci Resolve 12. I cut one of my recent YouTube pieces in Resolve 12. Wow. They've come a long way even in the last 2 releases. I think that I would consider Resolve 12 a genuine candidate and for those on a tight budget, a very good candidate. The free version seemed to have everything I needed to get the job done. I was a little clumsy with it, simply because it was my first edit, but it looks really great. The only thing is that you have to have a full-fledged computer with a discrete graphics card. So this isn't going to work on your MacBook Air or a similarly spec'd PC. In many ways, Resolve 12 felt very much like Premiere to me.

There are other options of course, some of them free. HitFilm 3 Express is available for free. I simply haven't had time to dive in and assess it. There's also Lightworks. Avid Media Composer is still in wide use in the feature film and TV markets. So many options create an almost dizzying landscape for the budding video editor.

But my take is that you just have to find what works for you. Most of them have a trial period. I'd suggest you download them and give each of them a month trial to see how they fit your style.

Then make a decision and learn the ins and outs. Don't waste time endlessly trying every new version of every new NLE. I keep up on what comes in the new versions but have decided to switch no more than every 2 years or so. That's why I'm staying with FCPX for now.

Learning Final Cut Pro X

Final_Cut_Pro I've been listening to this podcast called FCPX Grill hosted by @ChrisFenwick over the last several weeks. Chris bills it as, "An open, honest, and level-headed discussion with users of Final Cut Pro X to discover how they are using the application." And I must say, it is interesting.

He concedes that he is overly opinionated, but makes many good points. He used to edit in Premiere, switched to Final Cut Pro 7, was outraged when Final Cut Pro x was announced, but now has become a huge proponent of FCPX.

When I first switched to a Mac almost 2 years ago, I tried the trial version of Final Cut. It must have been version 10.0.something. It was pretty cool but one thing scared me away quickly: It crashed. Way too often.

Since I'm a photographer, I had to have Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom so Creative Cloud became my solution. And by default, Premiere became my non-linear editor app. And over time, I've become reasonably comfortable with Premiere Pro. I was skeptical about whether or not Adobe would really deliver new functionality and bug fixes more quickly with their Creative Cloud offering but I must say, they've been doing a pretty nice job on that front. Seems like we're getting a solid 2 functional enhancement releases per year and several bug fix updates in between. That's way better than the previous 18 to 36 month upgrade cycle.

I also found myself relying on After Effects more and more for my corporate video gigs. I still haven't fallen in love with SpeedGrade and much prefer Davinci Resolve despite SG's round-trip capabilities with Premiere. Also not a huge fan of audition, though it is hard to beat it in terms of the roundtrip workflow as well.

But Fenwick had me convinced that I at least need to give FCPX another look. So I downloaded the trial again a few days ago and have been watching a few tutorials online to get familiar with it.

Wow. It is very much an Apple approach encapsulated in an app. I mean they really questioned some of the fundamentals regarding NLEs. So far I'm still getting my bearings. I'm starting to wonder if I'll really be able to make a good decision with only 30 days of trial time, but we'll give it a go and force myself to use it for my projects in the next few weeks.

Evidently, the quality of the H.264 exported files from FCPX are better than from Premiere and Adobe Media Encoder. I have to say, it looks good on that front so far but is it something my audiences/clients will notice? More tests ongoing.

I also haven't tackled my round-trip workflow with Resolve yet. Or with audio apps. To be honest, for short pieces, I just color correct, grade, and edit audio before even taking it into Premiere. That's fine when you just have 10 or 20 short clips. Not reasonable for most indie filmmakers when you're doing a longer piece, even a short film.

One thing that alarmed me last night was that FCPX crashed. That's the first time this round so far, but not a good sign. Are any of you experiencing that on 10.1.3? Some of the reviews/comments in the app store express pretty serious frustration along these lines for this version.

For Pro apps, crashing needs to be very rare and Premiere has delivered well on that front, at least for me.

More to come.