Asset Management and Organization

No matter how you ingest the media you’ll be using for your program, consistent organization of your project and its assets is a vital part of the post-production process. The faster you can find the media you need at any given time, the faster you can work. Furthermore, good organization is critical if you’re working in a collaborative environment with multiple editors, motion graphics artists, colorists, and sound designers.

Ultimately, good organization will help you and your collaborators spend more time being creative. For more information, see:

Organizing Ingested Media, Project Files, and Other Assets

Asset organization begins when you first start ingesting or importing media for use in one of the Final Cut Studio applications. Ideally, the goal of any organizational strategy should be to centralize every media file used by your project within a clearly identified set of directories associated with that project, located on a reliable set of storage volumes. Here are a few tips to keep in mind.

Keep your files on a limited set of volumes

Keeping all of your project’s assets on one storage volume (or on a limited set of volumes) makes it easier to search for and relink media whenever the need arises. Typically, the storage volumes used are one or more hard disks or disk arrays that have been identified as scratch disks in the Final Cut Pro System Settings window.

Create a clear directory structure to sort the different types of media you’re using

When gathering your media together, create a carefully named set of directories with which to sort the different types of media you’ll be using. For example, you might create separate directories for audio files, still-image files, Motion projects, stock footage QuickTime files, and Final Cut Pro project files. This makes it far easier to locate specific items than if you simply copy everything into a single directory as a jumble of files.

Organize your media before you import it

It’s a good idea to organize all media files you copy onto your hard disks before importing them into one or more of the Final Cut Studio applications, to avoid having to fix broken links when you reorganize your media later.

Organizing Your Project Within Final Cut Pro

Because Final Cut Pro projects often serve as the hub of all post-production activity, you should make a point of keeping the Browser organized whenever you ingest media into a project. Features that are available for organizing clips in the Browser include bins, informational columns, markers, and logging information. This section presents a few organizational tips to keep in mind. For more information, consult the Final Cut Pro documentation.

Create a hierarchy of clearly named bins

It’s important to prevent the Browser from becoming difficult to navigate. You can use bins like folders, to help you organize large numbers of clips into manageable groups. You can create a simple structure for your project, with separate bins for audio clips, video clips, Motion projects, and sequences. You can also use bins to separate the clips you intend to use for individual scenes, or to subdivide audio clips into music, sound effects, and voiceover clips. Whatever bin structure you decide to use, the structure should make it easy to find individual pieces of media quickly.

Use log notes and labels in the Browser to help sort and find media

The Browser in Final Cut Pro is actually a powerful database that lets you add complex information to every clip in your project. When you display items in the Browser in list view (using the View as List command), a series of customizable columns appears to the right. Many of these columns contain data that’s intrinsic to each clip, such as frame size, duration, tracks, and compressor; however, there are many more columns of information that you can populate yourself, including, but not limited to:

  • Log note

  • Label and Label 2

  • Good

  • Master Comment 1–4

  • Comment A and B

  • Description

  • Scene

  • Shot/Take

You can enter text in these columns either directly within the Browser or using the Item Properties window. Once populated, these columns can be used to sort items in the Browser in either ascending or descending order. You can even create multiple-column sorts.

Add markers and notes to your clips to identify key sections

You can prepare your media for editing by playing through clips you’ve ingested and placing markers to identify key sections that you may want to use in the future. Each marker you place can have a name and comment attached to it, which will appear in the Viewer whenever the playhead is positioned over the marker. You can use the Name and Comment fields to identify cut points between shots and takes, call attention to key moments of action, or even create a partial transcription of important dialogue by placing markers at the beginning of each annotated line. Markers can be further identified using colors, to help you distinguish between markers that have different purposes.

Once placed within a shot, these markers can be used for navigation in the Viewer or Timeline. You can also access a menu of every marker within a clip by opening the clip in the Viewer and Control-clicking the Current Timecode field. Choosing a marker from the resulting shortcut menu instantly moves the playhead to that marker.

Markers can also be viewed within the Browser (in list view) by opening the disclosure triangle to the left of any clip that contains markers. All markers for that clip are revealed in a list below the clip. Opening a marker in the Viewer opens a partial section of that clip with a duration defined by the space between that marker and the next.

Use subclips to break longer clips into more manageable pieces

You can break long clips into smaller ones using the Make Subclip command in Final Cut Pro. This is especially useful when you’re capturing extremely long clips from tape that comprise many different shots all running together. It’s also useful when ingesting tapeless media in which many takes were recorded as one continuous shot. You can define individual subclips one by one with the placement of In and Out points, or you can define many subclips all at once using markers.

Tip: If you’ve already added markers to identify multiple shots in a clip, you can select all the markers in the Timeline and use the Create Subclips command to create subclips for all the markers at once.

Organizing and Sharing Assets Using Final Cut Server

You can use Final Cut Server to help manage the assets of larger projects. Final Cut Server includes features for project versioning, checkin, and checkout. It also offers advanced tools for asset organization, metadata management, and media conversion—all of which are especially useful in multiple-suite post-production facilities where multiple editors, compositing artists, colorists, and sound designers need to access the same collection of assets.

This scenario is most effective if your facility is set up with a storage area network (SAN), such as a Fibre Channel network, that provides fast performance. Although it’s not required, you can manage storage area networks using Apple’s Xsan software, to distribute access to a shared RAID storage volume among multiple workstations.

For more information, see the Final Cut Server and Xsan documentation.

When Is Cinema Tools Involved with Media Organization?

Cinema Tools is an essential organizational tool whenever you’re ingesting film that was telecined to video. Valuable notes from the set and other organizational information may be included in the telecine log file that accompanies the transferred material, and Final Cut Pro (in combination with Cinema Tools) lets you use that data to create a database that tracks the correspondence between the edge code of the source negative and the timecode of the transferred video, along with whatever additional data was added during the transfer.

When you import a telecine log file into Final Cut Pro, all of this information appears in the Browser, associated with each offline clip, ready for use as soon as you capture the media. There are additional columns in the Final Cut Pro Browser that are dedicated to film information coming from Cinema Tools. These columns include:

  • Aux timecode tracks and reel numbers

  • Film Slate

  • Camera Roll

  • Lab Roll

  • Film Standard

  • TK Speed

  • Key Number

  • Ink Number

  • Daily Roll

  • Take Note

  • Shot Note

  • Scene Note

  • Sound TC

  • Sound Roll

For more information, see the Cinema Tools and Final Cut Pro documentation.

Tip: When you have your camera negative transferred to video, you can request that notes from the set that were gathered by the script supervisor be entered in the telecine log file, which can then be imported directly into Final Cut Pro (or imported indirectly using Cinema Tools), ready for use by the editor.