Preparing to Capture

Detailed information about capturing clips is provided in the Final Cut Pro documentation. Before you capture, you need to pay attention to a few factors that can affect your project:

A Caution About Using OffineRT Media with Cinema Tools

When you capture media with the OfflineRT Easy Setup in Final Cut Pro, your captured media is highly compressed, allowing you to capture more source clips to your hard disk—approximately 2 hours of video per gigabyte (GB) of hard disk space. However, it can be very difficult, if not impossible, to read the key number and timecode information in the window burn after capturing with OfflineRT compression. You typically need to see the window burn in order to verify and correct the key number and timecode values and to use the Cinema Tools Reverse Telecine feature. For this reason, OfflineRT may not be ideal for Cinema Tools users.

For more information about OfflineRT, see the Final Cut Pro documentation.

Avoiding Dropped Frames

If computer performance is impeded or if your scratch disk is not fast enough, frames may be dropped during the capture process, meaning one or more individual frames are not captured at all. When a frame is dropped during capture, the frame before it is repeated. As a result, a frame you see while editing may not be the frame you see when the film is cut. Dropped frames can cause timecode errors, which can result in an incorrect cut list and interfere with the reverse telecine process. You can prevent this problem in Final Cut Pro by setting the program to stop capturing and to notify you when a frame is dropped.

To set Final Cut Pro to stop capturing when frames are dropped
  1. In Final Cut Pro, choose Final Cut Pro > User Preferences.

  2. In the General tab, make sure “Abort capture on dropped frames” is selected.

When this option is selected, a message appears when frames are dropped during capture and the capture is stopped.

If dropped frames occur, first make sure that other programs are not open, so that performance is not slowed. Then, recapture the source clip.

If you attempt to use the Reverse Telecine feature for a source clip that contains dropped frames, a warning appears.

Setting Up Your Hardware to Capture Accurate Timecode

The ability of Final Cut Pro to capture frame-accurate timecode for each clip is also dependent upon the proper setup of your capture hardware. When using DV decks, this is easy. In Final Cut Pro 3 and later, capturing video with a DV deck using FireWire for both device control and video and audio input results in 100 percent accurate timecode. If you are instead capturing from a deck using serial device control—for example, a Digital Betacam or Beta SP deck—there are a couple of important steps you need to take during setup to ensure timecode accuracy.

What Is Device Control?

Device control makes it possible for Final Cut Pro to control your video camera or video deck. If your video camera or deck uses a protocol supported by Final Cut Pro, Final Cut Pro can exchange timecode and device control data with the camera or deck. If you have device control, you can cue and capture several source clips at once (called batch capturing). If you do not have device control, you need to capture source clips individually. See the Final Cut Pro documentation for supported device control protocols.

Before you capture from a deck using serial device control, you need to take these steps to ensure all-important timecode accuracy:

  • Genlock your deck with your video capture interface.

  • Calibrate the timecode offset.

Genlocking the Deck and Video Capture Interface

In addition to connecting the serial device control cable from your deck to your computer (using a recommended serial interface adapter) and connecting the necessary video and audio connectors, you must also make sure that your deck is genlocked with your video capture interface. Genlocking refers to locking two video devices together using a blackburst generator.

If your deck and video capture device support genlock (also called external sync), connect them to a common signal generator (usually a blackburst generator, which outputs a continuous black video signal). This is done using the genlock connectors found on your video deck and video capture interface (these may also be labeled reference video). Genlocking your deck with your video capture interface synchronizes these devices, ensuring timecode accuracy.

Important: If you are capturing from a deck using serial device control and your video capture interface cannot be genlocked with the deck, the accuracy of the timecode captured with your clips cannot be guaranteed.

Calibrating the Timecode Offset

Even when your deck and video capture interface are genlocked together, if you are going to use serial device control instead of FireWire device control to capture, it is still essential to calibrate the capture offset (found in the Final Cut Pro Device Control Presets tab) prior to capture. To use serial device control, you need to make this setting once per deck, per computer. For more information, see the section about calibrating the timecode signal in the Final Cut Pro documentation.

Considerations Before Capturing Audio

Before you capture your audio with Final Cut Pro, you need to take into account the following:

  • If you have an audio deck that can adjust the audio speed to sync to your editing frame rate when necessary: Use the audio deck to do this before you capture the audio into your computer. See Determining How to Prepare Source Clips for Editing to find out how you might need to adjust your audio speed.

    Note: If you don’t have an audio deck, there are other ways you can adjust the audio speed after capturing. See Making Adjustments to Audio Speed for more information.

  • If you will be editing at 24 fps (the same frame rate at which the film was recorded): Capture the audio at the speed at which it was recorded.
  • Before capturing an audio clip that you plan to sync to a video clip: Make sure your device-controllable audio deck is genlocked to a video capture interface installed in your computer. (See the Final Cut Pro documentation for more information about genlocking your audio deck to a video capture interface.) Also, in Final Cut Pro, select the “Sync audio capture to video source if present” option in the General tab of the User Preferences window.

Considerations Before Capturing Clips Individually

Clips can also be captured individually with Final Cut Pro, without using device control. (See the Final Cut Pro documentation for details about capturing clips individually.)

When you capture your clips, remember these points:

  • If you don’t use device control, Final Cut Pro cannot receive the correct timecode for the clips during capture. This means you need to correct the timecode for each and every source clip in Final Cut Pro. To do this, open each clip in the Viewer and note the timecode value that appears in the window burn of the first frame of the clip. Then choose Modify > Timecode and enter the value from the window burn in the Source field, selecting the Drop Frame checkbox if appropriate. Finally, make sure to update the key number information for the clip in the Cinema Tools database by using the Identify feature. See Verifying and Correcting Edge Code and Timecode Numbers for more information.

  • You don’t want to drop any frames while capturing because that can result in an incorrect cut list and will interfere with the reverse telecine process.

  • If your video has non-drop frame timecode, make sure that Non-Drop Frame is chosen from the Default Timecode pop-up menu in the Final Cut Pro Device Control Presets tab. A quick way to do this is to choose DV-NDF in the Easy Setup dialog in Final Cut Pro. (Refer to the Final Cut Pro documentation for more details about using Easy Setups.)

  • The naming of the source clips is important because you will need to connect clips to database records. To make the connection process as smooth as possible, use an easy naming scheme with the scene and take identifiers. For example, the clip for scene 33, take 1 could be named “33-1.” Hyphens are fine in a clip name, but do not use a slash (/) or colon (:).