Connecting Remote Device Control

Device control enables communication between your VTR or camcorder and Final Cut Pro, allowing you to remotely control your video deck for capturing and output. A VTR can tell Final Cut Pro where a tape is currently positioned, and Final Cut Pro can tell the VTR to cue the tape to a new position, pause, rewind, fast-forward, and even record during output. Positional information is conveyed via timecode recorded on the tape. Also, timecode information is sent via a device control connection. This is critical for logging, batch capturing, and frame-accurate output to tape.

DV FireWire for Device Control

In addition to video and audio data, DV devices can transfer timecode and device control via FireWire. This makes connecting DV devices to your computer as simple as connecting a single FireWire cable. For more information, see Confirming Remote Device Control Between Final Cut Pro and Your DV Device.

Figure. Diagram showing FireWire connectors.

Using RS-422 Serial Remote Device Control

For professional equipment, device control data is transferred between a serial port on your computer and a 9-pin D-subminiature (D-sub) connector on a professional video or audio device. Mac computers have two types of serial ports: USB ports and internal modem ports. With the appropriate adapters, either of these ports can be used to send and receive device control information via serial RS-422 or RS-232 protocols.

Figure. Diagram showing a USB and an RS-422 serial connector.
To connect a USB-to-serial adapter for remote device control between your computer and a VTR
  1. Connect a USB-to-serial adapter to a USB port on your computer.

    Important: For best results, always connect a USB-to-serial adapter directly to your computer, not to a USB hub connected to your computer.

  2. Connect the 9-pin connector to your device-controllable camcorder or deck, and connect the other end to the USB-to-serial adapter.

To connect an internal modem serial port adapter for remote device control between your computer and a VTR
  1. Install an internal modem serial port adapter in your computer’s internal modem port.

  2. Connect the 9-pin connector to your device-controllable camcorder or deck, and connect the other end to the modem serial port adapter.

Confirming Remote Device Control Between Final Cut Pro and Your Video Device

If you are using a DV device and Final Cut Pro has communication problems with the device, see Confirming Remote Device Control Between Final Cut Pro and Your DV Device.

If Final Cut Pro has communication problems with your professional video device, try the following:

  • Make sure your 9-pin cable is properly connected and plugged in all the way.

  • If you are using a USB-to-serial adapter, make sure it is properly connected and that any necessary software drivers are installed.

  • If your deck has a Local/Remote switch, make sure it’s set to Remote.

  • Make sure the appropriate protocol for your device is selected in the device control preset. (See Device Control Settings and Presets.)

  • Quit Final Cut Pro, shut down your computer, turn your camcorder or deck off and on, then restart your computer.

Choosing a Device Control Preset

A device control preset contains settings that define how Final Cut Pro communicates with a particular camcorder or VTR. Before Final Cut Pro can remotely control your camera or VTR during video capture and output, you need to choose a device control preset that matches the device.

For example, if you are using a DV device connected via FireWire, you should choose a FireWire NTSC or FireWire PAL device control preset. Final Cut Pro has only one device control preset in effect at a time, but you can change it in several ways:

  • Choose an Easy Setup. (Easy Setups contain device control presets.)

  • Choose a device control preset in the Log and Capture window.

  • Choose a device control preset in the Audio/Video Settings window.

To choose a device control preset in the Log and Capture window
  1. Choose File > Log and Capture, then click the Capture Settings tab.

  2. From the Device Control pop-up menu, choose a device control preset that corresponds to your connected device.

For an explanation of each device control preset, see Device Control Settings and Presets.

To choose a device control preset in the Audio/Video Settings window
  1. Choose Final Cut Pro > Audio/Video Settings.

  2. Do one of the following:

    • In the Summary tab, choose a device control preset from the Device Control Preset pop-up menu.

    • In the Device Control Presets tab, click in the column to the left of the device control preset you want to select.

  3. Click OK.

Because an Easy Setup contains a device control preset, you can also change the device control preset by changing the Easy Setup. However, this may also change the capture and sequence presets.

Understanding Device Control Status Messages

At the bottom of the Log and Capture window, the device status area shows the readiness of camcorders and decks being controlled by Final Cut Pro.

Figure. Device status message in the Log and Capture window.

The device status area can display any of these messages:

  • VTR OK: This indicates your equipment is connected and working properly.
  • No Communication: This indicates one of the following:
    • Final Cut Pro has not established communication with your deck or camcorder.

    • Your VTR or camcorder is a non-controllable device, so it has no ability to be remotely controlled.

    If you have a device-controllable camcorder or deck and you see this status, check to make sure that you’re using the right FireWire or serial control cables and that they’re connected properly. Also make sure your device is turned on.

  • VTR in Local: Your device is set to work only with its built-in playback buttons. Set the switch on your camcorder or deck from Local to Remote and you’ll be able to remotely control the device from Final Cut Pro.

    Note: Decks with serial device control have a switch that lets you choose Local or Remote control.

    • To control your deck with Final Cut Pro: Set the switch to Remote.
    • To use the transport buttons on your deck to control the deck: Set the switch to Local.
  • Not Threaded: This indicates that you have a camcorder or deck connected to your computer, but there’s no tape in the deck or the tape is still loading.
  • Tape Trouble: This indicates that your tape may be jamming. It’s important to immediately stop playback and remove your tape from the deck, if possible. If you can’t eject your tape, take your camcorder or deck to a qualified technician. For more information, see the documentation that came with your video equipment.

Switching Device Control Presets When Changing Decks

If you have multiple video decks that you regularly capture from or output to, and each one is a different format, you can use device control presets to easily change your device control settings each time you use a different deck. For example, the timecode offset may be different from one deck to another, or one deck may require more pre-roll time before its motor stabilizes to provide a stable video signal for capture.

You can create a different device control preset for every deck you use. When you switch decks, you can simply change the device control preset to set up quickly. For more information, see Device Control Settings and Presets.