Creating Change Lists

A change list reports the differences between two versions of a sequence edited in Final Cut Pro. For film-based projects, the purpose of the change list is to describe the changes that need to be made to the workprint or negative since it was conformed to a prior version of the sequence. For DI projects, change lists are used to let other departments, such as the sound department or closed captioning department, know the details about changes you have made to the sequence.

When you export a change list, you can also choose to include in the change list file a change pull list, which lists film rolls in the order in which they need to be pulled to add any new film to the workprint, and a discard list, which lists any sections that need to be removed.

When you export a change list file from Final Cut Pro, you can also export a new cut list (and other standard film lists) for the sequence.

When creating the change list, Cinema Tools uses a variety of methods to match up the original and new edits to generate the change list. Following is a list of the methods in order from most reliable to least reliable:

When Are Change Lists Used in a Film Workflow?

Change lists are typically used in a cyclical workflow that involves digital editing, sound conforming, and workprints.

Figure. Change list workflow diagram.

Following is a typical workprint-based change list workflow.

  1. Stage 1: Making a Workprint Video

    Make a workprint from the original camera negative, with ink numbers applied to the edge, and make a telecine transfer video of the workprint.

  2. Stage 2: Exporting a Cut List of the Edited Workprint Video

    Edit the workprint video in a digital editing system and export a cut list (usually based on ink numbers) to use as a guide to conform the workprint, as well as either a Cinema Tools program file or a Final Cut Pro XML file from the sequence to use when exporting the change list.

  3. Stage 3: Projecting the Cut Workprint

    Project the cut workprint for screenings, and make decisions to cut or add to the movie.

  4. Stage 4: Making Changes in the Editing System

    Make any changes to the movie in the digital editing system.

  5. Stage 5: Exporting a Change List to Conform the Workprint to the Changes

    Export a change list, which provides instructions for modifying the workprint to conform to the new version of the movie.

  6. Stage 6: Conforming the Workprint Using the Change List

    With the change list as a guide, conform the workprint to match the new version of the movie.

Stages 3 through 6 are repeated until it is decided that the picture is locked. Finally, the original camera negative is cut to match the final workprint and cut list.

When Are Change Lists Used in Other Workflows?

Change lists can be used in a variety of other workflows, including those that do not involve film at all. These include digital intermediate, sound conforming, and closed caption workflows—any workflow where you need to know what has changed between two edited versions of a program.

The key to being able to export a change list is to have available either a Final Cut Pro XML file or a Cinema Tools program file that represents the previous version of the sequence. If you export the change list using Final Cut Pro, the file representing the previous sequence version is compared against the current sequence. If you choose to export the change list using Cinema Tools, you will need a second Final Cut Pro XML file or a Cinema Tools program file that represents the current sequence. See About Exporting Change Lists for details to help you choose how to export your change lists.

Figure. Diagram showing a change list workflow using two Final Cut Pro XML files and Cinema Tools.

Following is a typical workflow for using Final Cut Pro XML files to export a change list for use in a nonfilm project.

  1. Stage 1: Completing the Initial Edit of the Program

    Edit your program using Final Cut Pro as usual.

  2. Stage 2: Exporting an XML File of the First Version of the Program

    After you have finished the initial edit of your program and are ready to screen it and have other departments such as sound conforming and closed captioning begin working on it, you need to export a Final Cut Pro XML file for the program’s sequence. This XML file provides a snapshot of the current state of the project. It is required if you end up making changes to the project later and want to export a change list.

    Note: An alternative approach is to save a copy of the initial sequence. You can later export the Final Cut Pro XML file by opening that saved initial sequence.

  3. Stage 3: Screening the Program and Making Changes

    After you screen your program, you may find that you need to make some changes to it. Make the changes as needed.

  4. Stage 4: Exporting an XML File of the Revised Program

    After you have finished the second edit of the program and are again ready to screen it, you can either export the change list directly from Final Cut Pro or export a new Final Cut Pro XML file and use Cinema Tools to export the change list.

    Note: If there is a chance of additional revisions, you should export a new Final Cut Pro XML file even if you are going to generate the change list using Final Cut Pro, because the XML file will be needed to generate future change lists.

  5. Stage 5: Exporting a Change List

    The biggest difference between exporting a change list using Final Cut Pro and exporting one using Cinema Tools is that with Final Cut Pro you can choose to include any of the other traditional film lists along with the change list. There are other potentially significant differences discussed in About Exporting Change Lists.

    • To export a change list from Final Cut Pro: You select the first version’s XML file (Final Cut Pro assumes you want to compare this with the current sequence, so the second XML file is not used) and choose the type of list to export (PDF-format, XML-format, or style sheet–based).
    • To export a change list from Cinema Tools: You simply select the two XML files to compare and choose the type of list to export (PDF-format, XML-format, or style sheet–based).
  6. Stage 6: Using the Change List

    How you use the change list depends on the style of change list you chose to output (PDF-based, XML-based, or a custom output based on a style sheet) and who the list is intended for. A PDF version of the change list might be used by the sound department to manually adjust the parts of the program the sound editors are working with, or an XML version might be part of an automated process providing the closed captioning department with new video clips to work on.

About Exporting Change Lists

You can export change lists from either Final Cut Pro or Cinema Tools. This section describes the differences between the two methods. See Exporting Change Lists Using Final Cut Pro and Exporting Change Lists from Within Cinema Tools for details about the change list export process.

This section also describes the differences between using Final Cut Pro XML files and Cinema Tools program files when exporting change lists.

Exporting from Final Cut Pro

When you export a change list from Final Cut Pro, the following rules apply:

  • In addition to the change list–specific change pull list and discard list, you have the option to include all of the standard film lists such as a cut list, a duplicate list, and so on.

  • The change list’s frame rate is determined by the Telecine Speed setting in the Export Change List dialog. If you choose a Cinema Tools program file to represent the original edit, the program file must be based on the same telecine speed. This means that you can only export a change list from Final Cut Pro that uses a frame rate supported by a Cinema Tools database (24 fps, 25 fps, or 30 fps). However, you can export a change list from Cinema Tools that is based on nonsupported frame rates such as 50 fps or 59.94 fps.

  • You must select a Cinema Tools database. If you are not concerned about film-based settings such as key numbers or camera rolls, you can select any database, or even create an empty database in Cinema Tools to be used for this purpose.

The following diagram shows the basic process when exporting a change list from Final Cut Pro. After you finish the initial edit of the program, you export a Final Cut Pro XML file (or a Cinema Tools program file if you are using a film-based workflow) and screen the program. If changes are required, you make the edits in the sequence and then export a change list that compares the file representing the initial edit with the current sequence.

Figure. Diagram showing the workflow for exporting a change list from Final Cut Pro using an XML file for the initial edit information.

Exporting from Cinema Tools

When you export a change list from Cinema Tools, the following rules apply:

  • You must have two files: one that represents the original sequence and another that represents the new sequence.

  • You can use a mixture of Final Cut Pro XML files and Cinema Tools program files as the original and new sequences.

  • The frame rates of the original and new files must be the same.

  • By using Final Cut Pro XML files for the original and new versions of the sequence, you can output a change list with a frame rate that is not actually supported by a Cinema Tools database, such as 59.94 fps or 50 fps. This can be useful in nonfilm-based DI workflows. (Cinema Tools program files always use a frame rate supported by Cinema Tools databases.)

    Note: Change lists exported from Final Cut Pro are always based on Cinema Tools–supported telecine speed (TK Speed) frame rates, as specified in the Export Film Lists dialog. These frame rates include 24 fps, 25 fps, and 30 fps.

  • You cannot export any of the standard film lists, such as a cut list or a duplicate list, along with the change list, as you can from Final Cut Pro. You can include the change list–specific change pull list and discard list.

The following diagram shows the basic process when exporting a change list from Cinema Tools. After you finish the initial edit of the program, you export a Final Cut Pro XML file (or a Cinema Tools program file if you are using a film-based workflow) and screen the program. If changes are required, you make the edits in the sequence and then export a new Final Cut Pro XML file. In Cinema Tools, you export the change list by comparing the file representing the initial edit and the file representing the current edit.

Figure. Diagram showing a change list workflow using two Final Cut Pro XML files and Cinema Tools.

Should You Use XML or Program Files?

There are a few differences between using a Final Cut Pro XML file and a Cinema Tools program file when exporting a change list. These differences can help you decide which approach is the best for you to take.

  • When you export a Cinema Tools program file, you must also export a film list. If you do not need a film list, exporting a Final Cut Pro XML file is simpler. If you do need a film list, it is easy to add a Cinema Tools program file to that process and avoid having to go through a second export process to create the Final Cut Pro XML file.

  • Cinema Tools program files must use a valid telecine speed (24 fps, 25 fps, or 30 fps) as the frame rate. If you are not working on a film project and are using a frame rate other than the supported telecine speed frame rates, exporting a Final Cut Pro XML file retains the sequence’s frame rate. This frame rate is maintained if you export the change list using Cinema Tools.

Exporting Change Lists Using Final Cut Pro

Exporting a change list is similar to exporting a cut list. Take note of the following before you start:

  • Only one video track is compared: A change list describes the difference between a selected video track in one sequence and a selected video track in another sequence. It does not describe any other video or audio tracks.
  • Avoid modifying the Cinema Tools database between exporting change lists: When a database is altered after the previous list was exported, the new change list may not be reliable. However, if you did alter the database after you exported the previous list, you can eliminate this risk by exporting a new cut list for the previous sequence and saving a new program file. Then, use that program file when you export the change list.
  • If you have each reel in a separate sequence in Final Cut Pro, and you want to do some reel balancing: Perform the reel balancing edits after any other changes. See If You Need to Reel Balance for more information.

See Exporting Change Lists from Within Cinema Tools for information about exporting change lists using Cinema Tools. See About Exporting Change Lists for information about how the change list export process differs between Final Cut Pro and Cinema Tools.

About Change Lists, Effects, Gaps, and Soundtracks

If you add motion effects to a program, an optical will have to be made, and the length of that section of film changes, affecting the sync. The film assistant who conforms the workprint needs to know where to put in slug (fill leader or substitute footage) in order to preserve synchronization while the optical is being made. For this reason, Cinema Tools lists motion effects in the change list similarly to the way it displays leader information. For motion effects, “Insert Leader” appears in the Do This column, and “Effect” is displayed under the First/Last Key column. Gaps in a sequence are also described as leaders in change lists.

A change list does not provide information about transitions, superimposed titles (“supers”), filters, or soundtracks. However, to see whether or not any transitions or supers were changed or added, you can export a cut list and an optical list for each of the sequences and compare the lists. Or, if you are marking the transitions on the workprint, you can export a cut list with the change list and run the conformed workprint through the synchronizer, noting where the transitions start or end at different places in the cut list.

To export a change list using Final Cut Pro
  1. In Final Cut Pro, select the new version of the sequence, then choose File > Export > Cinema Tools Change List.

  2. In the dialog that appears, click Choose to bring up a dialog to choose either the Cinema Tools program (.pgm) file that you saved when you exported a film list for the previous version of the sequence or the Final Cut Pro XML file you exported for the previous version of the sequence. (They contain needed information about the previous sequence.)

    Figure. Export Change List dialog for choosing the file representing the original sequence and for choosing the list format.
  3. If you chose a Final Cut Pro XML file, choose the track number to compare from the Original Track pop-up menu.

  4. Choose the type of list to output from the List Format pop-up menu.

    The choices are PDF, XML, and With Style Sheet. See About PDF-Format Film Lists, About XML-Format Film Lists, and About Style Sheet–Based Film Lists for information about these formats.

  5. If you chose With Style Sheet from the List Format pop-up menu, choose a style sheet from the Style Sheet pop-up menu.

  6. Click Continue.

    There are two different dialogs that can appear: one for PDF output and one for XML and With Style Sheet output. The differences are similar to those between the Export Film Lists and Export XML Film Lists dialogs.

  7. In the Export Change List dialog that appears, configure the settings, then click Export.

    See Settings in the Export Change List Dialog for details.

    Figure. Export Change List dialog showing the list output options.

    When you select film list options such as Cut List and Pull List in the Settings area of the Export Change List dialog, the change list file includes (in addition to the selected change list options) the same content you would get if you exported those lists from the Export Film Lists dialog.

    Note: Keep in mind that the following settings should be the same for the two sequences you are comparing: Film Standard, Telecine Speed, whether key numbers or ink numbers are in the Included Columns area, and whether the “Start with 8 seconds of leader” checkbox is selected. The two sequences must also have the same editing timebase (set in Final Cut Pro).

  8. In the dialog that appears, enter a filename and choose a location.

  9. Click Choose Database to choose the database associated with the clips in the sequences you are comparing. (Make sure you select the same database that was used when the previous list was exported.)

  10. Click Save.

  11. If you selected “Save a Cinema Tools program file,” enter a filename and location for the file in the dialog that appears, then click Save.

    Give the program file a name that clearly identifies the sequence and the version, so that you can easily locate the file later if you need to export another change list.

A change list file is generated that contains all the lists you selected in the Export Change List dialog.

If You Need to Reel Balance

In reel balancing, heads and tails of reels are reapportioned to make sure the length of each reel is in the right range.

If you want to do any reel balancing in Final Cut Pro, perform the reel balancing edits separately from any other changes. For instance, to move a scene from the head of one reel to the tail of another, first conform the two reels to the change lists exported from their associated sequences. Then, in Final Cut Pro, cut the scene from the head of the sequence for reel 1 and paste it at the tail of the sequence for reel 2. Finally, export new change and cut lists for both sequences and use those lists as a guide for balancing the two reels. Note that shots deleted from one reel should be exactly the same length as the shots added to the other reel.

Settings in the Export Change List Dialog

The Export Change List dialog that you access from within Final Cut Pro contains the same settings as the Export Film Lists dialog (described in Settings the Export Dialogs Have in Common) and, if you chose PDF from the List Format pop-up menu, the same PDF column options (described in PDF Configuration Settings in the Export Film Lists Dialog), with the exceptions and additions described below.

Figure. Export Change List dialog accessed from within Final Cut Pro.

The Export Change List dialog contains these settings that are either not available in the Export Film Lists dialog or are used differently:

  • Change List Options: The following options control what is included in change lists:
    • Pull List: Select to include a change pull list, which lists any film that needs to be newly added to the workprint.
    • Discard List: Select to include a discard list, which lists only clips that need to be removed from the workprint.
    • Show only changes: If this option is selected, the change list displays entries for new edits only. Unchanged footage is not listed. (However, if the Cut List checkbox is selected, a cut list is included in the change list file, listing all the footage in the sequence, including the unchanged footage.)
    • Combine deletions: If this option is selected, footage deletions that are contiguous are listed as one deletion rather than individual deletions. This instructs the film assistant to cut them as a lift, a series of pieces removed as one piece and stored intact, rather than as individual pieces. Film assistants tend to prefer seeing and performing the series as one deletion because it saves time and effort.

About the PDF Items and Change Lists

Unlike cut lists, for the most part change lists cannot be customized. Change lists provide specific information and must have the columns to support that information. However, the items you drag to the right column in the Export Change List dialog can affect the type of data that appears in those columns. You need to add one item from each of these four categories:

  • Time measurement: “Feet & frames,” Time, or Count
  • Name identifier: “Scene & take” or “Clip name”
  • Roll number: “Camera roll,” “Lab roll,” or “Daily roll”
  • Edge code: “Key numbers” or “Ink numbers”

Important: If you add multiple items of one type (for example, if you add both “Key numbers” and “Ink numbers” to the right column in the Export Change List dialog), the one that appears first in the right column is used by the change list.

If you choose to include a cut list with your change list, you can add additional items to the right column and arrange them in the order in which they should appear in the cut list.

Note: Although XML output contains all change list information, the style sheet you choose for the Style Sheet output format determines which information appears in the output. If you use the supplied Plain Text style sheet, the information included in the output depends on how the last PDF-format style sheet was output. In other words, what you choose for the above four categories when you output a PDF-format change list also affects the Style Sheet output when you choose the Plain Text style sheet.

Exporting Change Lists from Within Cinema Tools

If the most recent version of a sequence is not available or conveniently accessible, or if it is damaged, you can still create a change list as long as you have the exported program (.pgm) files or XML (.xml) files for the two sequences you need to compare. You can export the change list from Cinema Tools using the program or XML files instead of exporting the change list from Final Cut Pro (where you need to select a sequence).

When you export a change list from within Cinema Tools, you cannot include a cut list or any of the other film lists that you can export using the Export Film Lists dialog; you can only export lists and information specific to change lists. See About Exporting Change Lists for information about how the change list export process differs between Final Cut Pro and Cinema Tools.

To open the Export Change List dialog in Cinema Tools
  1. Choose File > Export > Change List.

    Figure. Export Change List dialog for choosing the files for the original and new versions of the sequence and for choosing the list format.
  2. In the dialog that appears, choose the original and new program or XML files to be compared.

    You can use a mix of program and XML files if necessary.

  3. Choose the output format of the change list from the List Format pop-up menu.

    The choices include PDF, XML, and With Style Sheet. See About PDF-Format Film Lists, About XML-Format Film Lists, and About Style Sheet–Based Film Lists for information about these formats.

  4. If you chose With Style Sheet from the List Format pop-up menu, choose a style sheet from the Style Sheet pop-up menu.

  5. Click Continue.

  6. Configure the settings in the Export Change List dialog that appears, then click Export.

    Note: The settings in the dialog change based on the output format you chose from the List Format pop-up menu. See Settings in the Cinema Tools Export Change List Dialog for details about the settings you see in this dialog.

Settings in the Cinema Tools Export Change List Dialog

The settings available in the Export Change List dialog when exporting from Cinema Tools change based on the output format you chose from the List Format pop-up menu.

Settings Common to All Output Formats

Following are the settings that appear in all versions of the Export Change List dialog when exporting a change list from Cinema Tools.

Figure. Export XML Change List dialog in Cinema Tools showing the settings available for all change list formats.
  • Pull List: Select to include a change pull list, which lists any film that needs to be newly added to the workprint.
  • Discard List: Select to include a discard list, which lists only clips that need to be removed from the workprint.
  • Show only changes: If this option is selected, the change list displays entries for new edits only. Unchanged footage is not listed.
  • Combine deletions: If this option is selected, footage deletions that are contiguous are listed as one deletion rather than individual deletions. This instructs the film assistant to cut them as a lift, a series of pieces removed as one piece and stored intact, rather than as individual pieces. Film assistants tend to prefer seeing and performing the series as one deletion because it saves time and effort.
Settings Only in the PDF Output Format

The following settings appear only if you chose PDF from the List Format pop-up menu.

Figure. Export Change List dialog in Cinema Tools, showing additional settings available only for PDF-format change lists.

Note: Although XML output contains all change list information, the style sheet you choose for the Style Sheet output format determines which information appears in the output. If you use the supplied Plain Text style sheet, the information included in the output depends on how the last PDF-format style sheet was output. In other words, the settings for the two Show pop-up menus that appear when you output a PDF-format change list also affect the Style Sheet output when you choose the Plain Text style sheet.