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First of all, I need to know whether you are talking about FCP 7 (FCS 3) or FCP X. For FCP 7, there is more or less only one workflow.


For FCP X, there are many. If you use FCP X, I need to know how fast your iMac is, it's connections, the harddiscs you have, how long and how complicated your projects will probably be, how you plan to grade and polish the sound.

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Then I recommend the following workflow:


a) Connect your card reader to the iMac and an external HD (preferably an SSD with Thunderbolt). Open FCP X, select the external drive (by clicking on it) and choose "create camera archive" (choose a name). This will backup the content of your card and you can edit right from the archive, disabling "copy files in FinalCut event" (translated from german, you will find it). You find this option as well in general preferences "import" as well as in the import dialog after you hit "import". If you don't copy the clips, there will be only aliases in the FCP event folder, keeping your project small. BUT: You always need to connect the external drive when working on the project or else your clips will be offline.


b.) Assign your sytem HD or any external HD/raid for the >New Event (choose a name), preview the clips you want right from your card, make selections with i & o or by the range (click & draw a yellow range within the thumbnail, you can select various portions of a long clip by keeping "cmd/⌘" pressed), and then you do check "copy files in FinalCut event".


c) Have both archive and event copies for maximum security.


d) Edit right and exclusively from the card. No fail safe option then, and if it's only a USB 2.0 connection, the skimmer will invite the much-hated "beachball of death".

Don't copy your card in the Finder! FCP X then doesn't recognize the folder as a camera, and you'd lose the very good "filmstrip view" in the import window.

In either case, uncheck "create optimized media" (=ProRes). ProRes at this stage is only needed for slow machines.

Organize your clips:

FCP X has the most advanced tagging system, allowing you to find any of your clips with very little effort. However, with the manageable project sizes you describe, you can as well skip this procedure and use the skimmer instead (hotkey "s" toggles this cursor behavior, it's very useful in the event window, often not so much in the timeline), I recommend you use the "view clips as filmstrips" (instead of "list", blue highlighted icon right beside the gear icon on the bottom of the event window). You can hover over all your clips, and you see them right in the viewer. Also, if you had recorded external audio, you can synch it in the event browser automatically (as an example of how powerful the tagging works, you can filter your search by the rule "synchronized clips", and FCP X will only show you the newly wed video & audio).


1. In preferences >playback, disable >background rendering. Reason: Your machine is fast enough, you can render complex parts deliberately by selecting them and hitting ctrl + r. We'll come back to that render issue later.

2. In the project window (filmreel-icon bottom left highlighted blue) first assign a volume by clicking on it once, then create a new project by hitting the "+" button. Make it ProResHQ with the image size and frame rate of your original clips. After this, enter the timeline by clicking on the filmreel-icon again.

3. Make a rough cut by throwing all the selections from your clips into the timeline. Use only "e" to move them from event to timeline (as recommended, use the skimmer in the event (shortcut ⌘1) and the old-fashioned playhead in the timeline (shortcut ⌘2). This of course is a matter of personal preferences.

4. Trim your edit using the trim tools (if you don't know, view a tutorial about trimming with FCP X).

5. Add b-roll and music asf. by "connecting" them to your "one-track" timeline with "q".

6. Grade / color correct your clips, apply effects and titles.

7. View your video, for now neglecting the audio. Everything should be fine.

8. NOW enable background rendering in preferences and choose ⌘ + shift + r (render all).

9. Work on the audio. Every time you pause for a few seconds, FCP X will render the video.

10. After this is done, do one of the following:


a) Create a ProRes HQ master on your harddrive by hitting ⌘ + e. From this self-contained, high quality video, you can use several tools like QT7, MpegStreamclip or compressor to encode an mp4 or mov for Youtube or Vimeo. I recommend the free x264 plugin.



b.) Simply >file >share >Youtube or >Vimeo.

I hope this is helpful.

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