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Technique

Le présent article n'est pas disponible en Français
February 2009

In the final part of our CPN guide to Apple’s Final Cut Pro (FCP) editing software, Rick Young shows how to edit footage in Final Cut Pro that has been filmed with the F mode offered by Canon’s range of professional camcorders. Not forgetting that a key component of video movies is the sound, we show you how to edit audio and mix in Final Cut Pro.

Editing with the F mode

 

F mode and interlace controls on the Canon XL series camcorders.

When it comes to editing footage in Final Cut Pro that has been filmed with the F mode on Canon HDV camcorders, the process is quite straightforward. You capture your footage as HDV and once the footage is in the Browser of Final Cut Pro you are then ready to begin editing.

The simplest way to make sure that the format you are working with in your timeline matches the format you have filmed with is to pick up a clip from the Browser and drop this into an empty timeline. Provided you are working with Final Cut Pro 6 or software versions above this, you will receive a message confirming that you wish to set the timeline to match the format of the footage.

Click ‘yes’ and you can then edit your clips into the timeline, without requiring any rendering, unless effects are introduced into the production. If we click Settings at the top of the Final Cut Pro interface, under the Sequence Menu we can see that we are working with HD footage at 1440x1080 which is then stretched to fill a 1920x1080 frame. The important part is to notice the Compressor at work within Final Cut Pro is HDV 1080p25. The P stands for Progressive and the 25 refers to 25 frames per second.

 

Choose ‘Yes’ to ensure the Sequence matches the Clip Settings.

 

Choose the Sequence Menu and choose Settings.

 

Notice the Compressor is set to 1080p25.

Interlaced video is made up of two fields which are displayed very quickly at 50 times per second. Progressive images filmed in the F mode on the Canon cameras are recorded at 25 frames per second. Many people equate the progressive look to the film look as film is a true progressive way of displaying images.

Furthermore we can confirm the F mode footage by looking at the Project properties. Control Click on any of the clips in the Final Cut Pro Browser that were recorded using the F mode and, if we look at the Format found under Item Properties, we can see the footage has been recorded in HDV 1080p25.


 

Choose Item Properties – Format.

 

The format under Item Properties shows footage has been recorded in HDV 1080p25


 

You can use the Easy Set-up to manually choose 1080p25.

You can manually set up Final Cut Pro for a timeline that is ready to handle F mode footage. To do this:

  • (1) Select Easy Set-up.
  • (2) Select HD.
  • (3) Click HDV 1080p25 FireWire Basic.
  • (4) Press Set-up.

Now, create a new Sequence and straightaway when editing we can see no warning comes up asking if you wish the Sequence to match the format - as this has already been set manually.

Finally - if you were to edit the F mode footage into a Sequence in Final Cut Pro which did not match the native F mode footage - then the result would be material that required rendering. This is highlighted by a green or coloured line along the top of the timeline, which indicates that rendering is required for output.

© Rick Young

Click here to watch a video about working with the F Mode on Canon HDV camcorders.

Audio Editing within Final Cut Pro

Sound is as important as the images when it comes to editing. A good soundtrack will drive a production along and will complement a production by making the story flow. It has been said before that an audience will tolerate images that are far less than perfect - however, throw bad sound at the audience and the audience will turn off a programme without hesitation.

The key to getting your soundtrack to work well is for it to be integrated with the entire programme, so that it blends together with fades and cross-fades, providing a multichannel mix of music, sound effects, narration - or whatever the style of the programme demands.

Final Cut Pro provides the tools that one needs to achieve this and, just like with editing images, we need to understand the mechanics to achieve a smooth and seamless sound mix. And, like video editing in FCP, we do not need to know everything; we simply need to know the most important things.

© Rick Young

Click here to watch a video about how audio mixing works in Final Cut Pro.

Stereo Pairs

 

Choose the Modify Menu and scroll down to Stereo Pair.

When working in Final Cut Pro, more often than not, I work with Stereo Pairs. Here, each clip is made up of two audio tracks: a left track and a right track. When recording audio on most cameras, two tracks are recorded, and these can be either in stereo or two-channel mono. When these tracks are captured in FCP they can be recorded as Stereo Pairs.

In FCP you can tell if your audio is in the Stereo Pairs format by simply looking at the clip in the timeline; the Stereo Pairs format is defined by two vertical arrows that are facing each other.

Stereo Pairs effectively means that the clips are married together, so if the audio level of one channel is adjusted, so is the audio level of the other. If the clips are not Stereo Pairs, then, when one of the tracks is faded up or down, the other track remains unaffected. It is useful to have the two tracks tied together, so that any adjustments you make will affect both tracks.

 

Two facing triangles represent Stereo Pairs.

If the two tracks relating to a clip in your timeline are not a Stereo Pair it can easily be made into a Stereo Pair by highlighting the clip - selecting Modify - and clicking on Stereo Pair - the Stereo Pair command will then toggle on and off.

Many clips can be made into Stereo Pairs by highlighting several clips and then choosing Modify - Stereo Pairs. Check that the two triangles are present and this confirms the clips are Stereo Pairs.

Adjusting Audio Levels

When it comes to mixing sound, the core function is being able to adjust the audio levels. This means fading up and fading down, and applying this to the number of tracks as is required. This will make your audio mix work. Click the symbol at the base of the timeline that looks like two mountains.

 

Clip Overlays.

This will switch on audio overlays in each of the clips in the timeline - the audio level of each clip is represented by pink lines. Click your mouse on the pink lines and you can easily move the level up or down. The change in level is represented by a numerical db indicator.

If you play back the sound, you can hear the increase or decrease in level - this is also shown on the audio meters to the right. Levels should be adjusted so that the audio peaks at between -12db and -6db. If your audio shoots into the red, you know that you have gone too far!

 

In the timeline the pink lines represent the audio level adjustments.

 

Drag to increase/decrease audio levels. Changes are indicated in db increments.

Adding Audio Fades

 

Audio meters.

Adjusting the audio levels is one thing - what we really need to be able to do is to fade the audio in and out. This is the most powerful tool you have at your fingertips in achieving a balanced sound mix. To programme audio fades, first make sure your clips are Stereo Pairs, unless you know there is audio which needs to be mixed separately on either channel.

Select the Pen tool from the editing Tool bar. Click the Pen tool - this will allow you to adjust your audio levels. It can help if you increase the size of the tracks in the timeline by clicking on the boxes at the bottom left of the timeline.

To use the Pen tool click to plot audio fades click the Pen tool and plot two points within the audio levels. If you have set your tracks to Stereo Pairs, any point you plot will be applied to both audio tracks.


 

The Pen tool.

 

Click these boxes to increase/decrease the visual size of clips in timeline.


With your cursor, drag one of the points to the base of the clip - what you see is a programmed audio fade. If you play back the footage, you will hear the result.

You can increase or decrease the duration of the fade simply by dragging or, if you prefer, you can plot further points. For fine control, it can help if you expand the timeline.


 

Plot points to create the audio fade.

 

Drag points to create the fade.

Adding Audio Cross Fades

In Audio Transitions click the triangle to reveal the contents of the folder.

Audio cross fades are simple to include in your sound mix - this lets you seamlessly blend from one piece of audio to the next. Click the Effects Tab of the Browser.

Scroll Down to Audio Transitions and click the triangle to reveal the contents of the folder. Click the Cross Fade 0db transition and drag this to the edit point where two clips sit side-by-side. Drop the fade between the two clips. By default, a one second cross fade will then be added.

 

Double-click the cross-fade at the edit point to adjust duration.


 

Set the duration in frames.

Working with Multiple Audio Tracks

Creating an audio mix will more often than not involve several audio tracks. This is often the case as music, sound effects, dialogue and interviews or narration need to be mixed together.

To create additional tracks, click on the left of the timeline, in the grey area below the audio tracks, and select 'add track'. Repeat this procedure for as many tracks as you need.


Double-click the fade and you can then enter a different duration if you wish.

You can then play back the audio in real-time, stopping to plot key frames as required. It is also worth noting a few other functions that will help you to mix your audio.

 

Control-click to Add Track.

 

The Green buttons make audio active or mute.


 

The Audio Mixer: click the green button at the top to record Audio Keyframes; drag the faders to adjust individual tracks while playing back video in the timeline in real-time - if tracks are Stereo Pairs two faders move together.

The Green buttons to the left of the timeline can be switched on or off - so that if you wish to mute a track, click the green button and that track will then be rendered silent.

One final point - if you select the tools menu at the top of the interface then scroll down to audio mixer - you will see a virtual audio mixer will open up. Click the Green button on the top right and play back your footage on the timeline. If you then move any of the visible faders, you can hear the audio mix. If you have checked the Green box at the top, your audio mix will then be recorded.

If you are working with Stereo Pairs, you can adjust two tracks at the same time, as these are linked together. If you are working with non-stereo pairs, then only one track can be adjusted.

Well, that’s it. I hope you have enjoyed this series. I also hope it has inspired you to get out your Canon camcorder to go out and shoot some footage and then to use Final Cut Pro to help create the best possible video edits.

To find out more about the Canon video products mentioned in this article or to try out or purchase Canon video products, contact your nearest Canon video dealer. For contact details just click here.