Using an External Video Monitor While You Edit

If you’re producing for television broadcast or any other professional delivery format, it’s a good idea to preview your video on an NTSC, PAL, or HD video monitor while you edit. Color is represented differently on computer and video monitors, and computer displays always show your video progressively scanned, even though NTSC and PAL video are interlaced.

You need to match your video interface (analog, SDI, or HDMI) or DV device output format to your monitor’s input format. Some combinations are not possible without purchasing additional equipment. For example, if your video interface only has an SDI video output, and your video monitor only has an NTSC composite input, you cannot connect the two directly. In this case, you could:

Consumer Video Monitors Versus Broadcast Monitors

Throughout the Final Cut Pro User Manual, a distinction is made between “video monitors” and “broadcast monitors.” This is to differentiate between cases when any video monitor will do and cases when only a high-quality broadcast monitor is appropriate for a given task.

In most cases, when you want to simply monitor your video signal as it will look to the audience, any standard NTSC or PAL video monitor is appropriate, and there are many inexpensive models to choose from. When performing critical tasks such as color correction, however, you should use a high-resolution broadcast monitor that can be properly calibrated to display your signal consistently and accurately.

Broadcast monitors offer manual control over every aspect of the video signal being displayed, including brightness, chroma, phase, and contrast. Additionally, broadcast monitors can often display different parts of the signal using modes such as blue only (only the blue gun traces the screen; the green and red guns are turned off), underscan, and H/V delay. Without these controls to accurately calibrate your broadcast monitor’s display with the signal being output from your computer, you run the risk of making bad color correction decisions based on an inaccurate view of your program’s picture.

For more information on how to use the controls on a broadcast monitor to calibrate your video signal, see Measuring and Setting Video Levels.

Connecting Final Cut Pro to an External Video Monitor

For optimal real-time performance, your sequence or clip format should match the format of your output device exactly, including video codec, image dimensions, and frame rate. However, Final Cut Pro can output any video format to any video output device as long as the frame rates of both match (the codec and image dimensions of your clip or sequence do not have to match the format of your output device).

For example, you can preview a 720p30 HDV sequence via an NTSC DV FireWire device connected to an external monitor. The output signal is letterboxed and downconverted to NTSC video. You can also use a third-party interface to view any format supported by Final Cut Pro—as long as the frame rate of your clip or sequence matches the frame rate of your current output device.

Note: Output via HDV FireWire (native MPEG-2) is not supported for any format.

Connecting a DV FireWire Device to an External Monitor

A DV FireWire setup is a common Final Cut Pro configuration. A DV device (either a camcorder, VTR, or FireWire-to-analog converter box) converts DV signals to analog video and audio signals that are then sent to a video monitor (and to self-powered speakers for audio monitoring). If you have a home stereo system, you can also connect the audio output of the DV device to any available channels on the home stereo system.

Figure. Diagram showing a computer connected to a DV camcorder connected to a standard definition monitor and to amplified speakers.
To connect an external NTSC or PAL monitor to your editing system
  1. Connect a FireWire cable between a FireWire port on your computer and the FireWire port on your DV device.

  2. Connect the analog video outputs of the DV device to an external video monitor.

Depending on the device, the video output may be a composite or S-Video signal, using either an RCA, a BNC, or an S-Video connector.

To preview DVCPRO HD video on an HD or SD monitor while you edit
  1. Connect a FireWire cable between the FireWire port on your computer and the FireWire port on your DVCPRO HD VTR.

  2. Do one of the following.

    • For downconversion and display on an SD monitor: Connect the SDI or composite video output of your VTR to an SD monitor.
    • For display on an HD monitor: Connect the HD-SDI video output of your DVCPRO HD deck to the HD-SDI input of an HD monitor.
  3. Choose View > Video Playback > DVCPRO HD.

    If the DVCPRO HD device does not appear in the menu, make sure the device is connected and turned on, then choose View > Refresh A/V Devices.

  4. Choose View > External Video > All Frames (or press Command-F12).

Connecting a Third-Party Video Interface to an External Monitor

You can use third-party video interfaces to connect a Final Cut Pro system to an external monitor. A third-party interface may be able to transcode your sequence to one or more of the following output formats: SDI, HD-SDI, analog component (YUV), S-Video (Y/C), composite, HDMI, and even DV. For more information about these signal formats, see Connecting Professional Video and Audio Equipment.

Some interfaces and decks can also downconvert an HD sequence to SD video output. For example, while editing an HD sequence, you can use an appropriate third-party interface to downconvert your HD video to a letterboxed standard definition SDI signal. The SDI signal can be connected to an SD broadcast monitor.

Note: Make sure that the output format of your video interface and the input format of your video monitor match. If you have a consumer monitor, it probably has only composite analog video input, even though your video interface may support a higher-quality output format (such as SDI or component analog).

Choosing Playback and Edit to Tape Output Settings

The settings in the A/V Devices tab of the Audio/Video Settings window determine which video interface you use to externally monitor your video. You can choose to view external video via FireWire (DV), a computer display (using Digital Cinema Desktop Preview), or a third-party video interface. You can also specify a different output interface for editing to tape versus playback while editing.

Although these settings reside in the A/V Devices tab of the Audio/Video Settings window, you can choose a video interface from several other locations in Final Cut Pro.

  • Summary tab in the Audio/Video Settings window: In this tab, you can choose video and audio output interfaces from the corresponding pop-up menus.
  • View menu: Instead of going to the Audio/Video Settings window, you can select video and audio interfaces for external monitoring by choosing:
    • View > Video Playback, and then choosing the name of the video interface

    • View > Audio Playback, and then choosing the name of the audio interface

Note: When you choose an Easy Setup, the external video and audio playback settings are automatically set for you because audio/video device settings are stored in an Easy Setup. For more information about Easy Setups, see Audio/Video Settings and Easy Setups.

To choose a video interface for external monitoring
  1. Choose Final Cut Pro > Audio/Video Settings, then click the A/V Devices tab.

  2. Choose the settings you want, then click OK.

For more information about the A/V Devices tab, see About the A/V Devices Tab.

About the A/V Devices Tab

This section describes the features of the A/V Devices tab.

Figure.  Audio/Video Settings dialog showing A/V device options.
Playback Output Area
  • Rendered Frames: This option may only appear when certain output devices are selected. If you choose this option, rendered frames will be displayed on your external monitor, as well as video that doesn’t require rendering.
Separate Output Options for Edit to Tape and Print to Video
  • Different Output for Edit to Tape/Print to Video: Selecting this checkbox allows you to redirect your program’s output to the specified video and audio interfaces whenever the Edit to Tape or Print to Video command is used. For example, if you’re using a video interface, you may want to preview your video using the interface’s analog outputs during editing but output your final movie to tape using the digital SDI output.

    When this option is selected, all the controls in this section become available. All controls in this section are identical to, but independent of, those appearing in the Playback Output area, above.

    Note: If this option is not selected, your sequence video and audio are always sent to the video and audio interfaces specified in the Playback Output area—even when the Edit to Tape and Print to Video commands are used.

Disabling Warning Controls
  • Do not show External A/V Device Warning when device not found on launch: When selected, this option disables the “Unable to locate the external video device” dialog that appears when Final Cut Pro is opened without a camcorder, deck, or video interface connected or installed. Instead, Final Cut Pro finishes opening, and External Video is automatically set to Off in the View menu. When this checkbox is selected, Final Cut Pro continues to attempt to locate an installed video device each time it is opened, but does not display a warning requiring user input if a video device is not found.

    If the Don’t Show Again checkbox is selected in the “Unable to locate the external video device” dialog, it is also selected in the A/V Devices tab of the Audio/Video Settings window.

    If no video device is connected when Final Cut Pro opens, but you connect one while Final Cut Pro is open, you will not be able to use it immediately. If the video device does not appear in the Video Playback submenu of the View menu, make sure the device is connected and turned on, then choose View > Refresh A/V Devices.

  • Do not show warning when audio outputs are greater than audio device channels: This option affects the Audio Outputs tab of the Sequence Settings window. If this option is not selected, you will see a warning every time you choose more audio outputs than are available from the currently selected audio device.

    For example, if your audio device has only two audio outputs, and you configure your sequence to have six audio outputs, a warning dialog appears when you click OK to close the Sequence Settings window. To prevent this warning from appearing, select this option.

Controlling When External Video Output Is Updated

Updating the external video output requires processing power. You can control how often the external video output is updated.

To set the external display option
  1. Choose View > External Video.

  2. Choose an option from the submenu:

    • Off: Turns off external video and audio output so nothing plays on your video monitor. This allows you to play more real-time effects.
    • All Frames: Updates every frame to the external video output. This includes scrubbing, jogging, and playback.
    • Single Frames: Updates external video output when you manually choose to display a frame. This frees your computer’s processor to calculate more real-time effects but still allows you to preview single frames on your external video output device. When this option is selected, you can update the video output device by choosing View > External Video > Show Current.