Creating EDL-Based and XML-Based Film Lists

The same considerations you have to take into account when creating film lists from within Final Cut Pro apply to other video editing applications. You must:

All of the considerations related to the telecine transfer, including whether the scene-and-take or camera-roll method was used, apply as well. The telecine log from a scene-and-take transfer is still the best way to build your Cinema Tools database. See Creating a Cinema Tools Database for information about building a Cinema Tools database.

Important: When you export film lists from an EDL or XML file, Cinema Tools has to use the timecode-based method of film list creation. For this reason, you must be careful to have accurate video timecode values in the database, because they alone, and not the actual clips, provide the edit information for generating the lists.

There are two ways you can generate film lists from an EDL:

Before You Use the Cinema Tools Export Commands

In addition to the Cinema Tools database, a suitable EDL or XML file is required to create film lists from within Cinema Tools.

EDL Requirements

Cinema Tools supports EDLs that comply with the CMX 3600 and GVG formats. As a general rule, any options to include “pre-read” or “B-reels” should be disabled, because these apply directly to tape-based editing. If necessary, Cinema Tools can work with pre-read events, but the name of the pre-read reel must be PREREAD. Make sure that comments are included, because these can display the clip, transition, and effects names. They will be recognized by Cinema Tools and included in the cut list comments.

The reel names that appear in the EDL must match those used in the Cinema Tools database. Even a slight difference, such as an added space or an extra leading “0” (“001” instead of “0001”) can cause problems.

Be aware that some editing systems modify the reel names when exporting an EDL. The CMX 3600 format allows a maximum of eight characters with only numbers and uppercase letters (no spaces). Often a reel conversion list is appended to the end of the EDL to make it easier to resolve any naming issues that occur.

You can use the Cinema Tools Change Reel command to change all occurrences of a particular reel name in the database to match the EDL (for example, you can change all instances of reel Tape 004 to TAPE004). See Changing All Reel or Roll Identifiers for more information.

Note: To reduce the chance of issues with the EDL file, select Generic Edits in the Reel Conflicts section of the EDL Export Options dialog.

EDL Video Standards

EDLs are built on references to video timecode points. This means that EDLs have a frame rate, typically either 29.97 fps (NTSC), 25 fps (PAL), or 24 fps or 23.98 fps (based on either the film rate or the 24p video rate). Additionally, NTSC EDLs must contain a line near the beginning that starts with “FCM.” This comment specifies whether the timecode is drop frame or non-drop frame. PAL and 24 fps timecode are always non-drop frame and do not require the FCM line (although it may appear as non-drop frame).

When you use an EDL file to generate a film list, you must identify the EDL’s frame rate in the selection dialog. See Exporting Film Lists from Cinema Tools for more information.

XML Requirements

Cinema Tools supports Final Cut Pro XML files. Because XML files contain a lot more information about an edited sequence than an EDL file, XML is the preferred format to use when exporting film lists using Cinema Tools.

Exporting Film Lists from Cinema Tools

In Cinema Tools, the processes for exporting film lists based on EDL files and film lists based on Final Cut Pro XML files are nearly the same. In both cases you can choose to export a PDF-format, XML-format, or style sheet–based film list.

To generate film lists using the Cinema Tools Export command
  1. Open the Cinema Tools database corresponding to the EDL or XML file you will use to create the film lists.

    This ensures that the frame rate of the list and the database match.

  2. Do one of the following:

    • To export a film list based on an EDL file: Choose File > Export > Film Lists from EDL.
    • To export a film list based on an XML file: Choose File > Export > Film Lists from XML.
  3. Select the EDL or XML file in the dialog that appears.

  4. If you are using an EDL file, choose the list’s frame rate from the EDL Frame Rate pop-up menu.

    XML files contain a parameter that defines their frame rate.

  5. Choose the output format of the film list from the List Format pop-up menu.

    The choices are PDF, XML, and With Style Sheet. See Choosing the List Format for more information about these formats.

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

  7. Click Continue.

    A dialog appears in which you can configure the information in the output file. The settings in the dialog vary depending on the output format you chose from the List Format pop-up menu. See Settings the Export Dialogs Have in Common and PDF Configuration Settings in the Export Film Lists Dialog for details about the settings.

    Figure. Export Film Lists dialog showing the PDF options.
  8. Click Export.

  9. Choose a location and name for the film list file to be created, then click Save.

  10. If you chose to have a Cinema Tools program file created in the Export Film Lists dialog, choose a location and name for the file, then click OK.

The film list is generated.

Note: If Cinema Tools has any problems processing the EDL file, a “parsing error” message appears that includes the line number that caused the problem. See What Actually Happens to the EDL for more information.

What Actually Happens to the EDL

Once you start the film list export, Cinema Tools first processes the EDL file and creates a version for its own internal use. During this processing, Cinema Tools looks for errors that would make the EDL unsuitable to use for creating a film list. If it encounters nonstandard or unexpected text, the export is halted and an error message appears listing the line number where the processing failed. This is referred to as a parsing error.

Problems in an EDL can often be repaired by manually editing its contents. Because EDLs are actually plain text files, they can be opened in TextEdit. Be careful: often the line number listed is not the actual problem; the real issue may be with the line before. Experiment with deleting lines and comparing them to similar ones that occur previously in the EDL to help determine the problem. See Using TextEdit to Make Changes to an EDL for more information.

Cinema Tools also looks for conflicts within the EDL, such as when two edits overlap (known as a dirty list). Cinema Tools cleans these edits, removing any portions that would be recorded over by any edits that follow. Any transitions or supers that are completely overlapped by a following edit are removed. If the transition or super is only partly overlapped by a following edit, it is flagged as a conflict, the later edit is removed, and an entry is added to the cut list indicating that this was done.

When Cinema Tools successfully processes an EDL, it places an entry in the messages section of the film list showing a summary of events that it processed. This entry lists how many of each type of event occurred (cut, dissolve, wipe, and key). The number of events in the list should match the number of events in the EDL.

About Using EDLs with DPX Image Sequence Media

A common DI workflow involves editing your program using offline media files, exporting an EDL of the program, and then using that EDL to export a film list based on a Cinema Tools database connected to the original DPX image sequence media. In this case, Cinema Tools tries alternative methods to match edits to database records if the preferred methods don’t work.

Important: Although these alternative methods may help you export a film list in cases where there is incomplete information, they also increase the chances of matching an edit to an incorrect record. Be sure to carefully review the resulting film list to ensure its accuracy.

Following are the differences in how Cinema Tools matches edits to database records if the records are connected to DPX image sequence media:

  • If Cinema Tools fails to find a match based on the timecode extracted from a DPX image sequence: It attempts to interpret the image sequence filenames as timecode values and use those values instead.
  • If Cinema Tools fails to find a match based on using the name of the folder that contains the DPX image sequence files as the reel name: It tries to match edits to records based on the timecode alone.

    Important: To prevent issues with DPX image sequence reel names, you should never rename the folder that contains the image sequence files, and you should never move the files from the folder or change their names.

Using TextEdit to Make Changes to an EDL

By default, TextEdit saves files in the Rich Text Format (RTF), but the EDL needs to be a plain text file. Follow these steps to edit an EDL in TextEdit and save it in a plain text format.

Warning: Use great care when editing an EDL file—some items that appear meaningless can be very important. Make sure you have a backup copy available in case you alter your working copy beyond usability.

To edit an EDL file in TextEdit
  1. Open TextEdit.

  2. Choose File > Open, then locate the EDL file and click Open.

  3. Choose Format > Make Plain Text, then click OK in the dialog that appears.

    The font changes to Monaco, a fixed-width font that ensures the text columns line up properly. The name changes to Untitled.

  4. Make your text edits, then choose File > Save.

    By default, the name is Untitled, and a .txt extension is appended to it.

  5. Enter a name for the file and replace the .txt extension with .edl (or whatever was used in the original file), then click Save.

    A dialog appears asking if you want to have .txt appended to the end of your filename.

  6. Click “Don’t append.”

If you often find yourself editing plain text files, you may want to configure TextEdit preferences to make it easier.

Note: Double-clicking a filename with an .edl extension opens it in a read-only window in Final Cut Pro.