Tips for using FCP to organize years of Home video

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by bcdavis75, Apr 3, 2018.

  1. bcdavis75 macrumors newbie


    Apr 3, 2018
    Hi all. First-time poster!

    So I'm just getting started with FCP after mostly using Adobe Premier. I'm sure I'm just scratching the surface but I LOVE the tagging/organizing capabilities so far. I used it for the first time to create a video for my daughter of our recent family ski trip. In doing so, I started to get a little familiar with the hierarchy of Libraries/Events/folder/projects etc.

    As I think about how to organize the YEAR of family iphone video currently sitting in Lightroom purgatory, I would love some advice for I start down this road.

    Namely, for any of you that have used FCP for you 100s or 1000s of little clips over the years, what does your Library / Event / Project hierarchy look like? I can envision project that overlap (or can be combined?);for example, Family Ski Trip, Spring Road trip, 2017 In review (which could contain parts of the two previous projects)... etc etc.

    On the media storage side, I have 2017 iMac with a 1TB drive on board. Where should the media live? The Libraries? I'm open to buying fast external storage although I don't want to get more than I need (speedwise).

    Thanks in advance!
  2. ColdCase, Apr 3, 2018
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2018

    ColdCase macrumors 68030

    Feb 10, 2008
    I have home video dating back to 1980, about 4TB.

    Over the years I've tried different ways to organize but I've ended up organizing by month and year the video was shot. I've creating a library for each year and keep the current year on local flash. In the library I have an event for each month. Projects typically use clips from the same month and are stored there. I move previous year's library off onto a 8TB RAID0. My libraries typically are 500-600GB which fit nicely on my 1TB of internal flash memory. Both are backed up to large external drives.

    I gather iPhone videos from family members and combine them with my G40, some GoPro, and my digital cameras. I notice most of the family members video are of pets :)

    I often clamp the GoPro on a vehicle or bike for a ride along. I set up separate libraries for these videos organized in the same manner. If there is a scene I'd want to use in a monthly or yearly feature, I'll clip it and add a copy to the home movie library.

    I tag as I go if I remember :)

    I publish a monthly highlight video and an annual DVD sized reel. I export as original and run them through handbrake to convert to appleTV compatible files using Handbrake presets. Subler adds metadata, I organize these by genre and add to my iTunes library. These also get saved off site on a server as disaster backups. I will also do separate special projects like a birthday party or vacation.

    The key is to think about how you are going to edit and publish the video, and organize to make that as simple as you can.
  3. joema2, Apr 4, 2018
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2018

    joema2 macrumors 68000


    Sep 3, 2013
    FCPX is good for this in that you don't have to buy an external management product. However it is designed to organize with the goal of editing, not organize with the goal of browsing outside the editor. IOW after your edit is done, if later you decide "where was the clip?" you have to fire up FCPX.

    However no other video browsing/skimming tool is as fast as FCPX, so you may as well use it for organizing and finding video material, whether you intend to edit each time or not.

    There is a 3rd party tool called FindrCat which takes your FCPX metadata and exports that as Finder tags, which you can then query using Finder or Spotlight. Thus you could theoretically organize your media in FCPX, make your video, export the metadata via FindrCat, and thereafter you wouldn't need FCPX to search it:

    A key in using FCPX is don't copy the media during import, but use "leave files in place". This doesn't work for AVCHD or folder-oriented media like XAVC, so you could re-wrap (not transcode) it before import using EditReady, then use import with leave files in place:

    Re how to logically organize media in FCPX, there is no single way. It simply provides the tools. In general I'd caution against using many events, as those are not really needed. In theory you could put everything in one event and use keywords and favorites to organize it. I'm not saying do that, just don't get carried away using events simply because of their familiar, folder-like appearance.

    It's important to understand that (unlike all other editors) FCPX allows true range-based keywording and rating. IOW you aren't tagging clips you are tagging ranges within those clips. These marked ranges can overlap. E.g, a 5 min clip could have ranges marked as "hugs", "Johnny", and the entire clip could be tagged "2004 Camping Trip".

    It's important to go slow, think about how you want it organized, import and tag some, then think about it. Don't try to devise a classification system in one step then impose it on a huge amount of material.

    A simple step that helps a lot is simply use the Reject and Favorite feature. Most video has large sections which aren't very good but you don't want to delete. E.g, camera pointed down, totally out of focus, etc. Marking these ranges rejected keeps that from cluttering up the Event Browser and makes subsequent organization and searching faster and easier. Likewise marking favorites is simple and fast. These can be "loose" favorites, IOW generally good and you'll subsequently classify those with keywords. Or they can be "tight" favorites, IOW only really great material, with broader keyword ranges covering surrounding material.

    On a physical level, the FCPX library will need to know where all the media as as time goes by. Just like Lightroom, iTunes or any other database-oriented media tool, if you move the media files outside of the app, they will get confused.

    FCPX can search and re-link media files which were moved and re-organized, but it's better to not rely on this.

    There is no hard limit on FCPX library or database capability. I'm editing a documentary which contains 20 terabytes of 4k H264 material in 8,000 clips, a total of about 230 hr. On a top-spec 2017 iMac 27 it handles that OK, although this may be getting close to the upper limit for a single library. In this case the media is on an OWC 32TB four-drive RAID-0 Thunderbolt array.

    A basic organizational principle is each FCPX library is a totally stand-alone entity. You can query across all events within a library but you cannot search across multiple libraries. So all related content which might conceivably need searching should be within a given library.

    The 3rd party tool Final Cut Library Manager can keep track of multiple libraries, whether they are on-line (ie connected to your machine) or off line:
  4. Msivyparrot macrumors regular


    Apr 5, 2017
    South Africa
    FCPX allows for the creating of smart folders, as you go through each clip, press the key icon, then you can create keywords, if you create a keyword, it is stored automatically, then each time you use the same keyword, it is stored in that keyword folder, then later you can create smart collections, using search results, to further refine the searching.

    This is the best part, and if you find video clips that are just awful, you can range select that portion, press the delete key, then you can set the show option to "hide rejected", this way all you see are usable clips.

    This is what Apple has come to call pre-editing, editing in the fcpx browser.

    FCPX has a lot going for it, it will be a useful archiving tool you will find!
  5. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009
    JoeMa, thanks once again for the useful info in reply 3 above.
    One more for my archives... !
  6. bcdavis75 thread starter macrumors newbie


    Apr 3, 2018
    First, thanks for all the great replies!

    Am I wrong or does this cause issues with keywords? Don't keywords only exist with an event? You could re-create them in each event/month in case but what's the advantage to organize that way?

    Yes I am firmly of the opinion that this video will never see the light of day unless I use the best possible tool for organizing and keywording. FCP really seems great in this regard and I'm sure I'm not even scratching the surface.

    Now, why is that? One issue I used to run into with Premier was exactly related to media location. What's the downside to just copying all the media into the library and doing away (or archiving) the media out of the original location?

    Makes sense. I'm starting to lean towards simply using 1 library and 1 event. Then I'd use Keywords for years, months, occasions, people etc. Any obvious drawbacks to this approach? I could still use a separate event for specific applications of course.

    I was just starting to look at storage. In fact, I was looking at an OWC array. I was conflicted about using SSD drives or not. Are spinners in a RAID 5 sufficient for 4k family movie type projects (I know... LOTS of variables there)?

    Another question. How easy is it to work with FCP across computers. The main applications I can think of is taking a bunch of clip with me on a MBP to organize on the road etc. Is the Library (and related media if using pointers) what needs to be copied over an back?

    Lastly, for now, when you want to be able to find a specific chunk of dialogue, do you typically just make a long keyword (or "keysentence"). Or is there some other dialogue (or transcription) feature to help with that kind of tagging?
  7. joema2 macrumors 68000


    Sep 3, 2013
    Keywords exist within events but all keywords in a library can be searched with a library smart collection:

    Nothing wrong with that -- provided you have the disk space and don't mind the extra time for the copy phase of data import. In order to prevent any missing media problems, FCPX was originally planned to always copy all media within the library. However in many cases this isn't practical. Import using "leave files in place" is a lot faster, but the files must remain available, although FCPX can search all folders on an entire hard drive to relink them.

    That would work. See MacBreak Studio #223, Warp Speed Keywording:

    Spinners are fine and SSD for this type of work rarely has any speed advantage vs a four-drive spinning array. However SSD is quieter. The problem with RAID 5 is it must still be backed up. RAID 1 or RAID 5 is no substitute for backup. There's an argument since you must back everything up you may as well use two RAID-0 arrays where one is off line except when doing backup. Being off line protects from various failure modes.

    A less-expensive high performance SSD method is using SATA SSD cards in an empty RAID chassis.

    For significant storage, I definitely recommend Thunderbolt over USB 3. It's easier to configure and the interface seems more reliable.

    You'd do that by creating a "transfer library" on a portable drive, then drag/drop the events or clips, then selecting the library and pick "consolidate" in the Inspector.

    You can put that in the notes field of favorites. The notes field is a column visible if you put the Event Browser in list mode vs the usual filmstrip mode. Anything entered in the notes field becomes searchable.

    See also Warp Speed Organizing:

    And One Smart Collection To Rule Them All:

  8. entropyfl macrumors regular

    Oct 12, 2009
    I'm also looking for better ways to organise our family videos - which, since the birth of our daughter have tripled in size since recording all the key moments.

    I'd been using FCP X method and just saving key moments as events i.e. family trips, Birthdays, Christmas etc but then I also created an event just for my Daughter and named each clip.

    I was happy with the above but then I had some final cut lessons for my work and my teacher said I shouldn't be keeping all family stuff like that as it can slow down Final cut and the best way is to create a new library for each project.

    The lessons made me rethink things and I'm now considering storing all my family videos in iTunes and then creating playlists to organise them. This way I can then stream easily to my Apple TV.

    I can't make my mind up though to be honest as I love the organisation tools of FCP but then love the ability to stream instantly from iTunes to Apple TV. I know there is airplay screen share but that never works well for me.
  9. bcdavis75 thread starter macrumors newbie


    Apr 3, 2018

    Some of the previous posters seem to have pretty massive Libraries. From all I've been able to tell, they can get pretty massive before performance gets materially degraded.

    I am curious though why you use Events at all? Couldn't you just use folders instead? This would allow you to keep your keywords standard across the entire family library.
  10. entropyfl macrumors regular

    Oct 12, 2009
    I don't know to be honest, I think I've just gotten into the habit and it helps me see things straight away. It might of come from using iPhoto in the early days when they had imports treated as events.

    At present I have all video files in finder folders sorted by year and then named in finder and then a copy of everything in the Final Cut Library. Its a bit of a mess to be honest as I need to pick a way and go with it. Also the reason I named everything in finder is because when you rename things in FCP or iTunes it doesn't change the actual filename in finder. I've got just under 1,500 videos to rename and its getting difficult to come up with creative names lol at the minute lots of clips are just of daughter so its Gracie laughing 1, Gracie laughing 2, Gracie laughing at park etc
  11. Chew Toy McCoy macrumors regular

    Chew Toy McCoy

    May 13, 2016
    I’m going to piggyback on this thread because I think it is related. I’m also new to FCP. Assuming this is possible, what is the best way to create multiple clips from the same source and be able to locate them quickly? Let’s say I have a 10 minute river rafting video. Within that footage I want to create a bunch of isolated clips of different lengths. How do I create and store them to quickly add to projects later?

    The nice thing about being new is I don’t have any back catalog of bad habits and slop to untangle. I also don’t have a ton of footage yet to go over. All my photos and videos are also in Apple Photos and I don’t really see a reason to change that. Even when I have videos or photos taken on something other than my iPhone or iPad I still drag them in to Photos. I’ll just have FCP point to those sources. Am I wrong thinking that?

    For where I’m at and my purposes I don’t really see the point of multiple libraries. Like Photos and iTunes you can make all kinds of creative playlists, albums, and folders but it’s all pulling from the same central storage location. Why would I change that for FCP? I’m also a Logic user and if you want your music project to contain all associated audio files than you select that option when saving the project. Does FCP work differently?
  12. joema2 macrumors 68000


    Sep 3, 2013
    As shown in post #7 above, you can mark multiple or overlapping range selections in a given clip using keywords: #7

    However that is visible only within FCPX -- it can't point other apps to those because they don't understand range selections.

    In theory you can organize a huge amount of material in FCPX. The upper limit is undefined but quite high -- I've edited documentaries with 20 terabytes, 8,500 clips, 230 hours of 4k material in a single library.

    FCPX libraries can be "managed", ie the media is copied inside the library or "unmanaged", ie media is outside the library. There are pros and cons each way. You can Google that to see various tutorials.

    Although it can be used as described above, FCPX is really not designed as a "turnkey" media organizer for end users. KeyFlow Pro might be better at this:

    Another solution is use FCPX to tag and organize the material then export that to Finder tags via the 3rd party utility FindrCat, then search for them using Spotlight:
  13. Chew Toy McCoy macrumors regular

    Chew Toy McCoy

    May 13, 2016

    Thanks for the reply. Looking through those videos and reviewing the Keyflow Pro it looks like there really wasn’t a solution to the main thing I was looking for, quickly creating and accessing smaller clips from a long source file. Going further down the research rabbit hole I came across this.

    It looks like it does that and everything else KeyFlow Pro does that I would use. I don’t really need collaboration tools at the moment which seems to be Keyflow’s main selling point. Kyno doesn’t have drag and drop but it does export directly to FCPX.

    It still seems a bit odd to me that you can’t do this natively in FCPX. If I have a 20 minute drone footage file that I want to make about a dozen sub clips out of then I should be able to have access those sub clips through a thumbnailed file of each. Grab one and drop it in the time line. Once I’ve created those edits I really don’t need to see the source clip in its entirety. Or at least that is the way I’m thinking now.
  14. ColdCase, May 18, 2018
    Last edited: May 18, 2018

    ColdCase macrumors 68030

    Feb 10, 2008
    I had tons of 2 hour videos imported from a VHS tapes where FCP didn't sense the clip boundaries and automatically separate them. I went through and brute forced it. You know, come to think of it, I probably used QT to split the clips and then imported into FCP. Its been awhile. Years ago there were a few more options for indexing video clips.

    Of course if you stop and start recording at the camera end, it will have a clip boundary that FCPX detects and will import the clip segments separately.
  15. fhturner macrumors 6502


    Nov 7, 2007
    Birmingham, AL & Atlanta, GA
    Just so you know, this isn’t really FCPX’s fault. The ability to detect clip boundaries is made possible by the timestamp that’s laid down on digital tape, like DV. When there is a break in this timestamp from one frame to the next, the import mechanism knows there’s a clip boundary. With VHS’ analog recording, there’s no such timestamp, so an NLE or import mechanism has no way to tell there’s been a new clip.

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