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Final Cut Pro Quick Tip #41

The Zen of Logging By Stephen Schleicher

Ok, so you are not going to reach nirvana by simply following this quick tip, but you will understand how, by properly logging your footage, you can create a balance between your FCP editing world, and your hard drive file management.

As a side note in Final Cut Pro Quick Tip #40, I made reference to deleting footage from the Capture Folder on your hard drive and said it was really only possible to do it easily if you logged properly.

A personal workflow tip that has really helped me and a large number of students I teach is begin every project by making sure your footage is going in the folder you intend it to.  This is accomplished by configuring your scratch disk. I have previously covered scratch disk set up in Final Cut Pro Quick Tip #6, and I would encourage you to read the article for inner peace and harmony (not to mention saving yourself from aggravation later).

One of my biggest frustrations with another popular and highly used NLE application is in the way it names the clips on the hard drive.  Instead of conventional names like Wide Shot 002, or Girl waking down hallway, this application wants to name the files with some weird number/letter convention, making it impossible to identify the clip outside of the application. 

When you launch the Log and Capture window in Final Cut Pro, you have the option of naming the clip in the Description field.

As a good workflow practice you should put something in this field whether you are logging the clip for later batch capturing, or if you are capturing the clip after setting In and Out points, or capturing on the fly.

Why?  While you certainly can name the clip in the Browser window after capture, by giving a name to the clip, Final Cut Pro will save the actual file on the hard drive with the same name.

This means if you need to quickly locate a file/clip to move to another hard drive, share on a network, or simply want to identify a clip for deletion you can do that outside of the Final Cut Pro application.

I teach video production at Fort Hays State University, and one of the things I do at the end of each semester is clean up the Final Cut Pro systems once the students leave for holiday.   Because the students have been taught to use this workflow for their edits, I can easily delete the files that are no longer needed, and keep those that will be needed in the near future.  During the semester, if a student has set their Scratch Disk incorrectly, they can still find their clips and move them to the appropriate folder.

So what happens if you do not name your clips prior to capture?  They are saved as Untitled, Untilted1, Untitled2, etc.  Even if you rename your clip in the Browser Window, the actual media file still has no name associated with it.

How do you know which of these clips is the Close Up, and which one is the Beauty Shot?  You cant.  If you had hundreds of files in your folder named this way, it would be near impossible to find the file you need.

By taking the extra time to log your footage and name it correctly prior to capture, the better off you will be if you have to search for a missing clip, delete a series of files to make room on your hard drive, or if you need to move a specific clip to another application (motion or After Effects for example).  Mastering the Zen of logging can certainly cause a balance in your NLE universe.

For a complete list of all of my Final Cut Pro Quick Tips, be sure to check out my website at www.mindspring.com/~schleicher.


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Stephen Schleicher has crossed the country several times over the last couple of years going from Kansas to Atlanta , Georgia, and Southern California. In his time traveling, he has worked as an editor, graphic designer, videographer, director, and producer on a variety of video productions ranging from small internal pieces, to large multimedia
corporate events.

Currently, Stephen shares his knowledge with students at Fort Hays State University who are studying media and web development in the Information Networking and Telecommunications department. When he is not shaping the minds of university students, Stephen continues to work on video and independent projects for State and local agencies and organizations as well as his own ongoing works.

He is also a regular contributor to Digital Producer, Creative Mac, Digital Webcast, Digital Animators, and the DV Format websites, part of the Digital Media Online network of communities (www.digitalmedianet.com), where he writes about the latest technologies, and gives tips and tricks on everything from Adobe After Effects, to Appleā??s Final Cut Pro, LightWave 3D, to shooting and lighting video.

He has a Masters Degree in Communication from Fort Hays State University in Hays, Kansas. As a forward thinker, he wrote his Thesis on how Information Islands and e-commerce would play a major role in keeping smaller communities alive. This of course was when 28.8 dialup was king and people hadnā??t even invented the word e-commerce.

And, he spends what little free time he has biking, reading, traveling around the country, and contemplating the future of digital video and its impact on our culture. You can reach him at [email protected]

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