Adding Chapter and Compression Markers to Your Sequence

Once you have finished editing your sequence or program, you can add markers to the sequence for use on DVD. Markers are reference points you can place within clips or sequences that identify specific frames. There are three kinds of markers that relate to authoring a DVD:

When you export a QuickTime movie, you have an option to export various kinds of markers, including compression and chapter markers. When you choose the DVD Studio Pro markers option, Final Cut Pro exports chapter markers, manual compression markers, and edit/cut markers.

For details on adding and deleting markers, see Using Markers. For more details about exporting markers, see Exporting QuickTime Movies with Markers.

More About Chapter Markers

You can add chapter markers so that DVD authoring applications can create a navigable chapter list for your exported QuickTime movie. Chapter markers also appear in QuickTime Player as a chapter list for jumping to specific parts of the movie using a pop-up menu.

A chapter marker is distinguished by the text <CHAPTER> appearing in the Comment field of its Edit Marker window. For details on adding and deleting markers, see Using Markers.

When you export a movie or sequence containing at least one chapter marker, the resulting QuickTime movie contains a text track automatically set up as a QuickTime chapter track. Different applications use this QuickTime track in different ways:

  • In QuickTime Player: A chapter track is visible from QuickTime Player as a pop-up menu in the movie window. Choosing a chapter from this menu automatically moves the playhead to that frame of the movie.
  • In DVD authoring applications: Chapter markers are used by DVD authoring applications, such as DVD Studio Pro and iDVD, to provide chapter navigation on a DVD.

When you add chapter markers for use by a DVD authoring application, they are subject to the following limitations:

  • No chapter marker should appear closer than 1 second to the beginning or end of your edited sequence.

  • A chapter marker should be at least 1 second away from any other chapter marker.

  • A maximum of 99 chapter markers can be placed within a single program.

  • When you export from a sequence, only sequence markers are exported; markers in clips are ignored.

  • When you export a clip from the Browser, the clip’s markers are exported.

More About Compression and Edit/Cut Markers

Compression markers identify areas of abrupt visual changes in video, such as a cut from a dark room to a bright, grassy plain. There are two kinds of compression markers:

  • Compression markers: Also known as manual compression markers. These are markers you can manually add to a sequence to ensure a particular section of video is encoded using I-frames where you think they are necessary.
  • Edit/cut markers: Also known as automatic compression markers. These markers are automatically inserted by Final Cut Pro at all edit and transition points.

When you export a clip or sequence containing compression markers to a QuickTime movie file, the resulting file contains a hidden text track used to store the compression marker information.

Some video compression applications, including Compressor, are capable of using the compression text track of your movie to optimize the placement of I-frames during the process of MPEG-2 compression to achieve maximum playback quality.

In most cases, the edit/cut markers placed automatically by Final Cut Pro will suffice. However, an abrupt visual change that occurs within a clip (as opposed to an abrupt visual change caused by an intentional edit) may require a manual compression marker for optimal compression. For example, suppose that in the middle of a long shot there is a quick 180-degree pan from a dark jungle scene to a bright beach. The visual changes from dark to light are dramatic, but there is no cut point in the shot for Final Cut Pro to detect automatically. In this case, you can manually place compression markers at the frames occurring immediately before and after the pan. Applications such as Compressor will see these manual compression markers and place I-frames at those points in the compressed video to minimize any compression artifacts.

A compression marker is distinguished by the text <COMPRESSION> appearing in the Comment field of its Edit Marker window. For details on adding and deleting markers, see Using Markers.

Compression markers are exported differently depending on whether you’re exporting a sequence or a clip.

  • If you’re exporting a clip in the Browser: You must place manual compression markers in the clip for a compression track to be created. No automatic compression markers are exported in this case.
  • If you’re exporting a sequence: Final Cut Pro exports edit/cut markers for each cut, transition, and gap that appears in your sequence. Manual compression markers are also exported. Compression markers added to individual sequence clips are ignored.