[UPDATE: I’ve experienced some stability issues with one of my sparse disks and lost some work. As such, I don’t use it anymore for work. I just keep my FCPX Event folders at the root level of whichever drive I’m working on, then use Event Manager X to hide or show whichever projects I need to work on. I would probably still use sparse disks if I need to send a project to another editor.
Also, be sure to check out my Radical FCPX Workflow. It will blow your mind and challenge everything you thought about life, love and the pursuit of happiness. ]
This is part 3 of a 3-part series on FCPX. In part 1 I covered whether or not FCPX is the NLE of the future. In part 2 I talked about some things to be mindful of. Today I want to quickly run down my workflow.
No matter what NLE you use, you should have a set workflow, ideally one that you have documented so that whenever you bring on new or contracted editors, they can work within your guidelines. These include naming conventions, transcode procedures, etc. It’s especially important to have a set workflow system if you’re completely tapeless. You can read about my tapeless workflow at bit.ly/ronsworkflow. I had to tweak my workflow a bit to work within the confines of FCPX’s library/database vs. project file system.
As you know, older versions of FCP used project files. For every project, there was a corresponding file. FCPX uses Events and Project folders, all of which are contained with the Final Cut Events and Final Cut Projects folders. When you create a new event or project in FCPX, you’re prompted to save those to a particular drive. Every event and project you save to that drive will be created in the same folders. So within the Final Cut Events folder on Drive A, you would have a separate sub-folder for each new event you create.
If you don’t ever plan to work with additional editors on a project, this is probably perfectly fine. However, if you do plan to share projects (and by projects I’m talking about over all video projects), then it could be a pain finding and selecting all the associated Final Cut events and Final Cut projects, then copying them over to a separate hard drive to send to someone. Also, FCPX opens up every event and project on a drive as long as that drive is mounted (unless you use a tool like Event Manager X which will create “Hidden” folders automatically, into which events and folders you DON’T want open can be placed. More on that in a bit).
One way to keep all your video projects nice and neat is to use sparse disk images. I learned this technique from Ripple Training. Read this blog post to learn how to do it. But in essence, when you create a sparse disk image, which is a virtual hard drive. When you create a new Final Cut event or project, save them to that virtual drive, not the root of the physical drive.
So, these are the specific the steps I take:
- I create a folder in the finder with all the folders related to my client project. This is adapted from my old FCP workflow. I like this system because then I control (instead of FCPX) where my files are located, what they’re named, etc. It’s organized how I like it.
- I create a sparse disk image, assign it a maximum size of 100 GB, then save that sparse disk image inside the client project folder. I usually name the sparse disk image and the associated drive the same name. Don’t worry about the disk size. The sparse disk image will NOT be 100GB. That number is just the maximum size to which it can grow. Basically I’m creating a 100GB virtual hard drive.
- I double-click the sparse disk image, thereby mounting the virtual drive.
- I launch FCPX, then save the new Events and Projects within that virtual drive.
- I use Event Manager X from that point on to decide which Final Cut Events and Projects I want open each time I launch the program.
- I will typically transcode my footage with MPEG Streamclip, and save those transcoded files to the HD Transcoded folder of my client project folder. I save music to the Music folder. Media to the media folder. Etc. Some of you FCPX users may be wondering why I don’t just import into FCPX and have FCPX transcode on import. The main reason I do this is because FCPX transcodes to ProRes 422 when transcoded on import. I like to work with ProRes LT. Also, as I mention in the next paragraph, I have a certain method to my madness for organizing files and prefer to keep my client media in that hierarchy (vs. all jumbled together in FCPX’s “Original Media” folder). (Note: as of May 2013, I’ve pretty much done away with transcoding first, and edit natively in FCPX).
- When I import any music, media, and video into FCPX, I make sure “Copy files to Events Folder” is UNchecked. This creates pointers within FCPX to my media OUTSIDE of the Final Cut Events folder. (But, keep in mind, all of this media is still INSIDE the client projects folder I created. So I can still copy that client projects folder to a drive to send off to an editor). I do it this way just because I’m anal when it comes to organizing. If you copy all your media to the Events folder, FCPX throws them all together in the Original Media folder. I like to have them nicely organized. Also, and perhaps more importantly, if you copy to the Events folder, you end up duplicating all the media, taking up more hard drive space. (Note: in the comments, Matt Lyons makes another great point for working like this. “Another advantage to this method is you can work easily with other NLE’s or VFX programs if the need arises, and all media is always available and organized.” If all your media is buried in FCPX’s Events folder, it’s hard to share that media with other NLEs or VFX programs. Thanks Matt.)
- If there are categories of media I want separated in the Events library, I will take the time to separate them into different folders in the Finder BEFORE importing. I then import the folders, and make sure the selection to “Make keyword collections from folders” is selected.
- When I export a project, I save the exported files to the (you guessed it) the Exports folder in the main client project folder.
- The full client project folder is what I copy to the backup offsite drive. (Although I’m not always good at taking the time to do that. But you should.)
That’s pretty much it. I’d love to know how some of you do your FCPX workflow. Remember, there is no right or wrong. But it would be great to get ideas from one another. So please share.