New to Final Cut Pro X - Basic Video Import Question

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by DSTOFEL, Dec 29, 2016.

  1. DSTOFEL macrumors 6502

    Feb 11, 2011
    I'm a long time photographer, but new to video editing and just have a couple of basic questions that I'm hoping someone who uses Final Cut Pro X can help me out out (ie Video Editing 101 questions;-)

    So, I'm shooting video with a Canon 7D Mark II DSLR and a Sigma 35 1.4 ART lens. On this particular camera, I have the option of shooting either .MOV or in MP4 files. Also, I'm shooting in Full HD (1920 X 1080), 30FPS and All-I mode. So, I'm shooting the fullest resolution and least compressed files this camera can shoot. Note: I've tested shooting in both .MOV and MP4.

    My goal is to import the video into FCPX, edit it and output it for my wife's upcoming Youtube channel.

    My questions are:
    • Should I be shooting in .MOV or MP4?
      • I want the highest quality video and am not sure which to choose.
      • Will one versus the other make a difference in my ability to edit the video in FCPX?
    • When I view the "raw" .MOV or MP4 files using "Quicktime Player", the video looks very clean and appears to be very high resolution. However, when I import the video into FCPX, there seems to be some very noticable degradation in video quality happening. I've tried checking the "Create Optimized Media" checkbox in the Transcoding section of the FCPX import window (ie which creates a ProRes 422 copy for editing) and have also tried unchecking this box (ie to import the MP4 file....for example....without transcoding). Both methods appear to result in degradation of the video when viewing in FCPX. My questions around this are:
      • Is this normal that video quality is degraded when importing into FCPX? I can't imagine this is the case. I'm sure I'm missing something.
      • When should I be transcoding the video footage on import by checking the "Create Optimized Media" checkbox? Should I only do this when importing a file shot in .MOV format? I'm confused about when to "transcode" into ProRes 422 and when to just import the footage as shot (ie .MOV or MP4).
    Thanks for the help!
  2. joema2 macrumors 65816


    Sep 3, 2013
    I've shot and edited a lot of documentary video using the 5K Mark III. I usually used .MOV, 1080p/29.97 and IPB encoding. I tested All-I but couldn't see any difference and it took 3x the space. On a recent-generation Mac you should have good editing performance with either one. Creating optimized or proxy media is not generally required.

    That said, there's nothing wrong with All-I but I suggest you closely examine it, especially for motion and rapidly-changing scenes like water surfaces and strobe lights. Those stress the codec and expose any differences. When the 5D3 came out there was some concern about "mosquito noise" (fleeting granular texture on certain subjects) when using All-I but I don't remember what became of that. However I've examined closely projects shot with All-I and they looked fine.

    FCPX should show essentially the same quality as QT Player -- IF it's set for that. The viewer window in FCPX has a drop-down menu at the upper right where you can select "Better Performance" or "Better Quality". If performance is selected the image will be a bit soft and lower quality.

    If you somehow produced proxy media then set the viewer to proxy, that only shows 1/4 resolution (1/2 res in X & Y axis), so it won't look as good.

    In general late-generation Macs using FCPX have no problem with H264 1080p and normally optimized or proxy media is not required. 4k is another story.

    As an experienced photographer you'll be familiar with the exposure parameters but with video you should not shoot in aperture priority or full automatic mode. The shutter speed should normally be manually set to 2x the frame rate, or 1/60th sec for 30 fps material. This is the "180 degree shutter rule": Not following this can cause various artifacts, esp. walking horizontal bands when shooting under fluorescent lights or those dimmed with pulse width modulation.

    This creates a dilemma when shooting outside at wide aperture since the only remaining parameter to balance the exposure is ISO, which will only go so low. Thus videographers shooting with large sensor cameras at wide apertures will often employ a variable neutral density filter when shooting outside.
  3. DSTOFEL thread starter macrumors 6502

    Feb 11, 2011

    Thanks so much for the feedback and for all of the detail. I see now the problem that I was having was that I had the FCPX setting in the viewer window set to "Better Performance". When I switch it to "Better Quality", the video quality matches what I see from the raw footage via QT Player. I'm so new to FCPX that I wasn't aware of that setting. Thanks for that tip!

    With regards to MOV vs MP4. You mentioned that you're 5D MKIII shoots video in .MOV and that creating optimized or proxy media (on import into FCPX) is generally not required. Does this mean that you are able to import your .MOV files taken from your 5DIII directly into FCPX without any sort of transcoding? This is an area where I've had some confusion. I was under the assumption that if I shot video in .MOV ( I think these are H264) with either my 7D II or 6D that the video would need to be transcoded someway before I could edit the video in FCPX (ie either by "Creating optimized video" on import in to FCPX or via some other 3rd party tool), but that if I shot in MP4 (ie my 7D II has this option) that I could import the footage directly into FCPX without the need for transcoding. Is my assumption incorrect with respect to this? Should I be able to import .MOV files directly into FCPX without the need for transcoding and still be able to edit?

    With regards to ALL-I vs IPB: Thanks for the information you provided on this. I'll do some testing one versus the other to compare the quality and file sizes.

    With regards to the exposure advise: Thanks for the explanation. Yes, I have been shooting at 1/60 shutter speed to match my 30FPS setting I'm using on the video. I haven't run into an issue yet where I've had to use my ND filters while shooting video (ie with my 1.4 Sigma Art lenses for example). However, the majority of my video is going to be indoors under controlled lighting. However, I can see this being an issue on a bright day of outdoor shooting.

    Thanks again for all of the information. A great help!
  4. joema2 macrumors 65816


    Sep 3, 2013
    Yes you can import those directly (without transcoding) from your hard disk using "leave files in place", then edit immediately. As with Lightroom you can import directly from the camera card, but this precludes using "leave files in place". I always copy my entire card contents to a folder then import from that.

    The basic steps are:

    (1) Create a library
    (2) Create a project (ie sequence, or timeline). Generally use the automatic defaults for this.
    (3) Import the video files using either FCPX import dialog or drag and drop. Do not select any analysis options, and use "leave files in place". If drag-and-drop, verify some same import settings in the menu Final Cut Pro>Preferences>Import
    (4) Organize imported clips in event browser, mark favorites & rejects, then add those to the timeline
    (5) Edit on timeline
    (6) Export (aka share): File>Share>Master File>Settings, Format: Computer, Video codec: H.264 Faster Encode, Resolution: 1920x1080. You can also try exporting with "Better Quality" but it's slower and I really cannot see any visual difference.

    MacBreak Studio has several hundred free tutorials on using FCPX and Motion:

    Here is a video Larry Jordan did on Color Correction using FCPX:

    Ripple Training (who does MacBreak Studio) has entire downloadable classes on FCPX color correction, media management, etc:
  5. DSTOFEL thread starter macrumors 6502

    Feb 11, 2011
    Thanks again for all of the detail. I've been researching these topics tying to get a handle on the basics of FCPX. It's tough to find quality sources for this type of informaton that cover some of the minute details (ie that can trip up a beginner like myself). It's good to know that I have options of just importing my .MOV files with no transcoding into FCPX.

    Thanks for sharing the detail on a good basic "workflow". This really helps and is one of the things I've been wrapping my mind around. Your information is very helpful.
  6. MSastre macrumors 6502


    Aug 18, 2014
  7. DSTOFEL thread starter macrumors 6502

    Feb 11, 2011
    Great thanks! I have seen some of their promotional videos and they do seem quite good.
  8. DSTOFEL thread starter macrumors 6502

    Feb 11, 2011

    I've gotten quite a bit of practice in the last week with importing, editing, exporting and uploading to youtube (private test videos at the moment). The basic steps and detail you provided really helped get me "over the hump" on a few place where I was a bit stuck!

    What I've found is that all of my photography skills/experience are directly transferrable to video (ie exposure, white balance, lighting, DOF/Aperture, etc….) and my previous experience with iMovie has helped with the learning curve. I've been using my 6D rather than my 7DII as my lenses are more approprate to the field of view I get with FF vs crop. The 1080P footage looks great with the camera/lens combinations I'm using.

    I picked up an affordable lavaliere type microphone (Rode SmartLav Plus) and recording through the Rode Rec app on my iPhone and syncing it with the video in FCPX. It's working out very well. Much better than the Tascam stereo mic I had plugged directly into my 6D previously.

    I did have one more question I wanted to ask if you don't mind. By the way, I did compare the IPB to the All-I and have decided to go with the IPB setting. You mentioned in your post that on export from FCPX, you mentioned:

    "(6) Export (aka share): File>Share>Master File>Settings, Format: Computer, Video codec: H.264 Faster Encode, Resolution: 1920x1080. You can also try exporting with "Better Quality" but it's slower and I really cannot see any visual difference."

    I can't seem to find the setting for "Better Quality" (ie to test). When I export from FCPX (via SHARE), I'm choosing the destination of 'Export File" instead of "Master File" (I'm not sure what the difference is between the two). I'm exporting the video to my external drive and then uploading to YouTube from there. In FCPX, under "Export File>Settings", I'm selecting H.264 as the video codec. Is this the best option for quality 1080P video upload to YouTube? I don't see any options to select between "Faster Encode vs Better Quality" in the FCPX export settings. I'm wondering if you might be able to point me to that section. By the way, I'm using the latest version of FCPX (10.3.1).

    Thanks again for all the help.
  9. joema2 macrumors 65816


    Sep 3, 2013
    I have one of those I use for backup. A relatively inexpensive, decent quality wireless mic is the Sony EMC-AW4:

    In general we use Sennheiser G3 wireless lavs but the EMC-AW4 is handy to clip on quickly.

    'Export File' is just another menu path for reaching the same place. In that export dialog you'd pick Settings, then Format: Computer, Video codec: H.264 Faster Encode, Resolution: either 1920x1080 or 1280x720. At 1080 that encodes a file at 20 mbps which is higher than Youtube recommends but it will look good: upload settings

    I usually export to a file then examine it before uploading to Youtube. FCPX can also export directly to Youtube but I don't know the bit rate since I don't use that feature.

    For more detailed control over bit rate and resolution you'd need Apple Compressor which is a $50 app that works with FCPX:

    In general 720p is OK for most web content since people can rarely distinguish the difference between that and 1080 on many viewing devices. The file size hence upload time of 720p is about 1/2 that of 1080p. Everything ABC, Fox and ESPN broadcasts is exclusively 720p.

    However more people have broadband and view video content on larger screens nowadays so uploading 1080p may look a little more detailed in some cases.
  10. DSTOFEL thread starter macrumors 6502

    Feb 11, 2011

    Thanks for the additional feedback on the H.264 options as well as the other detail provided. This is all a great help and the kind of detail that is important, but is not intuitive for someone just beginning in me!

    I see now where I was going wrong with the export. Under Export File settings, I had selected "Video and Audio" as the "Format", instead of selecting "Computer". I think this was the default and I just went with it. When I select "Computer" as the format, then I see H.264 "Faster Encode" or "Better Quality' as options. With "Video and Audio" selected as the format, there is only one H264 option called "H.264". Thanks for the additional detail around this point.

    I'll take a look at Apple compressor. Thanks for that tip as well as the tip on Mic options. I had looked at the G3 and it seems to be highly recommended by many. That might be an upgrade option for me at some point. I'll look at the Sony as well.

    Thanks again,
  11. MSastre macrumors 6502


    Aug 18, 2014
    I usually export a master file directly to my desktop first. Then use different options from Compressor for sharing, depending on the destination. You can archive you master file for future use.
  12. DSTOFEL thread starter macrumors 6502

    Feb 11, 2011
    Thanks. I'll have to research a bit to understand the difference between exporting to "sharing" to a "Master file" versus to the "Export File" option. If I understand your reply correctly, it sounds like you are saving a master file in full resolution and then compressing for upload to internet, etc... via another method.
  13. MSastre macrumors 6502


    Aug 18, 2014
    That is correct. That way you have the full quality file as a base for whatever is needed for the final destination(s) or use. Even if you "share to" destinations with FCP X, it's always a good idea to have your master file for any future need. The very first thing I do is create a master file and save it.
  14. DSTOFEL thread starter macrumors 6502

    Feb 11, 2011
    I Just wanted to follow-up on this thread to close the loop.

    My wife has had a successful launch for her Youtube channel with a couple of of 15-20 minute videos posted (both cooking related videos). Thanks everyone for the feedback!

    For others who might be interested, I'll list what I settled on in terms of equipment used and other settings:


    -6D with Sigma 50 1.4 art for the "main body" of the video. Note: I purchased a VAF-6D Moire/Aliasing filter from Mosaic Engineering for the 6D. Night and day difference in quality of video with/without this filter!

    -7D II with EF 70-200 f/4 for cutaway shots.


    - Interfit F5 Three-Head Fluorescent Lighting Kit with Boom Arm (from B&H). Works great for the videos I'm shooting.


    -Rode Smartlav + Lavalier mic: Works great!

    So far, I'm shooting in Full HD 1080p 30fps All-I on the 6D and exporting out as MP4 H.264 (better quality) for the upload to youtube. I'm using Final Cut Pro X to edit the video.

    You can checkout her channel if you like to see how the above setup works:
  15. coldsweat, Jan 25, 2017
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2017

    coldsweat macrumors 6502


    Aug 18, 2009
    Grimsby, UK
    Just had a look at one of the Youtube clips & it's really good. For your future videos, don't forget to pull the zoom out a bit to add a 'TV safe area' - it absolutely doesn't matter for computer/tablet/phone viewing, but on certain smartTV's not properly setup your wifes forehead may be off the top of the screen.

    edit. In the same FCPX menu that you found the 'better quality' & 'better performance' options, there is an option to.... 'show title/action safe zones'. Don't worry about the inside box, just the outside one.

  16. DSTOFEL thread starter macrumors 6502

    Feb 11, 2011
    Thanks for the feedback. Greatly appreciated!

    Yes, I did notice that I missed on the framing....especially on the first video (i.e. muffins). On that one, I had everything framed up to what i thought was perfect for the opening segment. Then, my wife slipped a pair of shoes on before we shot the 'main' segment which resulted in the top of her head being pushed just out of frame at some points.

    On the second video (granola), I had everything framed up again to what I "thought" was perfect..... but noticed in the editing that my wife (i.e. "the talent":--) tends to get up on her toes from time to time and again and the top of her head is almost out of frame at many points. We're shooting the 3rd video tomorrow and I'm going to give her a bit more head room so that she stays in frame. I'm learning...slowly;--)

    Thanks also for the tip on the "show title/action safe zones". I'll look into that!

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