Sunday, April 7, 2013

Reality TV post-production with FCPX Day 3: ProTools & MXF export test

Hello All,

I know I was supposed to post 2 days ago, however running a reality television broadcast season on a new tool such as FCPX requires lots of resources as well as patience.

Post-Production status:
Episode one is already well under way. So far I am 4 minutes in. Not bad considering I've been cutting just for one day not to mention all the stress co-wokers magically lay on you when they all keep saying: FCPX won't work. Pffffff, it is so not true. FCPX works like a charm.

FCPX and Sound Design:

Thursday morning I was asked how I was going to provide an "omf" to the sound studio in order to have each episode properly mixed for broadcast. Above all, FCPX cannot and will not export omf files. Therefore I thought I had the two following options:

Option A)
Export a "Master File" for each episode:
Export Masterfile from FCPX share tab

with all of its audio tracks and that with one click by selecting "export roles as separate tracks" located in the "settings" tab
Export Roles as separate files (Setting Tab)
I thought: VoilĂ . Well I was wrong however still very enthused. The problem when you export your roles as separate tracks is that if you have many dialogues overlapping each other in your storyline/timeline (just like these in the image below)

Blue Audio Tracks labeled as Dialogues & overlapping

FCPX will export your dialogue Role as one track. Unless you relabel your dialogue roles such as Dialogue 1, Dialogue 2, Dialogue 3, it will work, however it will be time consuming knowing a 27min cut of a survival reality tv show has hundreds if not more than a thousand cuts. Therefore I turned to Option B.

Export using X2Pro ($150 in the app store). There are two versions, if you need to export wave reference files then get the X2Pro (not he X2Pro Le)

The process is pretty straight forward. X2Pro will create a file that ProTools will be able to open.

However....Make sure you go in X2Pro preferences and activate the 24bit audio option during export. And for some reasons, when I tried to export my 4 minute long Episode 1 cut in progress, X2Pro kept giving me an error, I therefore tweaked the export options and noticed that if I would turn of the 'Reference wave files in place" the export would work...

X2Pro export window

However, for some reasons X2Pro kept asking me permission to access my media. Fine with me as long as it can send my files to ProTools. The whole process: install, export, figuring out the export issue took me about 20 minutes. I then sent the files to a ProTools engineer who will get back to me on Monday morning. So far no complaints.
X2Pro Alert message

My next step was to find a way to export an MXF from FCPX in order to be able to deliver each episode on XDcam disks.

XDCam disk
I knew the solution lied within Hamburg Pro Media with their ImEx suite. So I contacted them and got the trial version: 

Just know that once Hamburg Pro Media provides you with their plug-in you'll have 7 days to export as many MXF as possible after that, you'll have to pay almost 800 for it.

Coming back to our MXF export, once you install the Imex Suite plug in for FCPX, if you want to generate an mxf you will have to do it through the compressor interface and chose the MXF export settings: however you'll most probably get this alert once you hit export. (I got it on 3 workstations)

Again, no need to swear out loud at either Apple, Sony or Hamburg Pro Media. This alert simply means that in the e-mail you received from Hamburg Pro Media (the one that contains the Imex Suite Installer .dmg file) you need to read it (the email) and you'll notice they provided you with a serial number that will activate the plug in.  Once you locate your serial, do the following:

Go to System Preferences, in the "other tab" (see image below) locate the MXF blue cube and click on it.

System Preferences Window

 Select the Software tab

MXF system preference window tab

Click on the "online tab" located on the bottom right
MXF system preferences software window
 And copy paste the serial number Hamburg Pro Media sent us by e-mail

MXF system preferences serial number window
Now you are able to export MXF files right out of FCPX. All right, that's it for today.

Monday I will talk about why I asked all the camera team to capture their footage using the FCPX import window. 

Coming up Wednesday: reconfiguration of the Xserve, Xraid and turn it into a SAN. So stay tuned and thank you for reading.

Joachim Levy
 Certified Trainer FCPX & FCP7
SAN integrator
Motion Picture Editor & Director

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