Setting Up Your Editing System to Output to Tape

Before you output to tape, you need to set up your video devices and Final Cut Pro settings and preferences. Some steps are only relevant to particular methods.

Stage 1: Connecting Your Video Equipment

Make sure your VTR or camcorder is connected to your computer and turned on. For more information, see Connecting DV Video Equipment.

Make sure your camcorder or deck is set to VTR (sometimes labeled VCR) mode. Final Cut Pro cannot record to video equipment that is in Camera mode. If your video device has multiple inputs (for example TV, Line 1, and Line 2), make sure the input that’s connected to your computer is the one that is selected.

Stage 2: Choosing Video and Audio Outputs

Make sure that the A/V devices settings of your Easy Setup match the configuration of your external video and audio equipment.

To view a summary of your Easy Setup
  • Choose Edit > Easy Setup.

Figure. Easy Setup dialog showing the external video and audio settings that should match the way the video equipment is configured.

If none of your Easy Setups matches your video and audio configuration, you can choose the correct settings in the A/V Devices tab of the Audio/Video Settings window. For example, if you are outputting via FireWire, choose an available FireWire output such as Apple FireWire NTSC or PAL in the Video pop-up menu in the Playback Output section of the A/V Devices tab.

This setting sends video out from the appropriate video output, whether it’s the FireWire port or a third-party video interface. You can also choose an audio interface for output. For more information on configuring custom external video settings, see External Video Monitoring. For information on external audio settings, see Connecting Professional Video and Audio Equipment.

Stage 3: Selecting Playback Settings

When you want to output your program to video, you can choose whether to render the effects that won’t output at full quality in real time, or output them at the reduced quality you’ve selected in order to avoid rendering.

Playback settings can be adjusted in the Playback Control tab of System Settings, or in the RT pop-up menu in the Timeline. For output to tape, you can choose from the following options in the Record pop-up menu:

  • Full Quality: When this option is selected, video is always output to tape at the highest quality. Areas of your sequence that won’t play back at full resolution in real time will need to be rendered prior to output.
  • Use Playback Settings: Final Cut Pro uses the selected real-time effects playback settings when outputting your sequence to tape. If, as a result, your sequence will output at less than full quality, you are warned of this prior to output. Outputting to tape at low quality is useful for quickly creating sample tapes of your program when you don’t have the time to render all necessary effects first.

Note: Final Cut Pro always warns you before outputting video to tape at reduced quality when you use the Edit to Tape command.

Stage 4: Selecting Render Settings

The currently selected render quality is used to render any transitions, filters, or motion parameters in your edited sequence, as well as any added leader or trailer elements. For more information on render quality settings, see Rendering and Video Processing Settings.

Note: Render settings can be adjusted in the Render Control tab of the current sequence.

Stage 5: Selecting Edit to Tape and Print to Video Preferences

If you like, turn on two preferences relating to tape and playback operations.

  • Abort ETT/PTV on dropped frames: If you select this option, a message appears when any frames are dropped during playback when outputting, and Final Cut Pro immediately stops the operation. You can choose to redo the entire output, or you can attempt a match frame edit to output the remaining video from where the dropped frame occurred.

    Playback drops are almost always caused by a hardware setup problem. When properly configured, Final Cut Pro should not drop frames. For information on what you can do if Final Cut Pro reports dropped frames, see Problems During Playback.

  • Report dropped frames during playback: If you select this option, a message appears when any frames are dropped when outputting so you can correct the problem. Playback drops are almost always caused by a hardware setup problem. When properly configured, Final Cut Pro should not drop frames. For information on what you can do if Final Cut Pro reports dropped frames, see Problems During Playback.

Stage 6: Preparing Your Videotape with Black and Timecode

If you plan to do insert editing and your tape is blank, your tape needs to have a signal already recorded on it. You can prepare a tape for insert editing by blacking the tape, which means recording control track, timecode, and a black video signal. You can also perform insert edits on any tape with an existing control track. Having timecode on the tape is also necessary to set In and Out points for the edit.

Most blacked tapes start at 00:58:00:00 to allow two minutes of header elements before your program. The movie itself usually starts at 01:00:00:00. This is set in the Initialize Tape dialog. You will see it only if your deck has a settable timecode generator. You may want to black several tapes in advance so they are available when needed.

Note: Most consumer DV camcorders are limited to start recording at 00:00:00:00.

If you plan to do a series of insert edits to output your whole program onto tape, you must use a tape that’s blacked from beginning to end. If you’re assemble-editing a long program to a new tape, you don’t have to black the entire tape, but it’s a good idea to black at least 30 seconds of the tape so there is enough timecode so you can set an In point as well as allow for pre-roll before the In point.

To prepare a tape with black and timecode
  1. Insert a videotape into your camcorder or deck.

  2. Choose File > Edit to Tape.

  3. In the Edit to Tape window, click the Black and Code button.

    Figure. Black and Code button in the Edit to Tape window.
  4. If your video equipment supports timecode generation, make sure your deck is set to accept an external timecode signal.

    Note: Timecode is sent via an RS-422 serial port. This is not supported for DV FireWire.

  5. Enter the starting timecode in the dialog, then click OK.

    This defines the starting timecode number that appears on your tape.

  6. In the Black and Code dialog, choose an option from the Settings pop-up menu, then click OK.

    Current settings are based on the sequence preset in your current Easy Setup. If you select Custom, the Sequence Preset Editor appears and you can choose custom settings. For more information, see About Sequence Settings and Presets.

  7. When a message appears saying your tape will be erased and rewritten with black frames and timecode, click OK.

    The tape rewinds to the beginning and the entire tape is blacked. If your video equipment supports timecode generation, timecode is also recorded, starting from the timecode specified. To cancel the black and code process, press the Esc key.

    Figure. Black and Code Tape message.

Stage 7: Cueing the Videotape

When you use the Print to Video command, or when you output directly from the Timeline, make sure you cue the videotape to where you want to start recording.

To cue the tape
  1. Use the camcorder or deck controls to cue the videotape to the point where you want to start recording.

  2. If you’re outputting to a tape that has previously recorded material on it, make sure that the write-protection tab is in the write, or unlocked, position.

Note: If you’re using a consumer mini-DV device and you fast-forward past prerecorded material (so there’s some blank tape between it and what you’ll output), the DV timecode resets to 00:00:00:00.

Stage 8: Calibrating Your Timecode

You must calibrate the timecode signal of your device before editing. This is particularly important when you are using RS-422 device control, because video and timecode information are coming into Final Cut Pro via independent connections. For more information, see Calibrating Timecode Capture with Serial Device Control.

Stage 9: Choosing Device Control and Edit Preview Settings

If necessary, specify device control and input (“capture”) settings in the Device Settings tab of the Edit to Tape window. You can change both of these settings by choosing an Easy Setup that’s appropriate for your video equipment.

To choose device settings
  1. In the Edit to Tape window, click the Device Settings tab.

  2. Change your device control and edit preview settings.

    For more information, see Device Settings Tab.