Using Digital Cinema Desktop Preview

The Digital Cinema Desktop Preview feature allows you to preview your video using any available computer display. If you have two computer displays, one can be used to view the Final Cut Pro interface and the Finder while the other can be used as a dedicated video monitor. For Final Cut Pro portable systems and other single-display systems, you can switch between the user interface and the Digital Cinema Desktop Preview display.

Figure. Diagram showing two displays connected to a computer, which is connected to an audio interface and amplified speakers.

Important: If you are doing critical online editing or color correction, you should use an external CRT broadcast monitor that supports the format you are editing (NTSC, PAL, HD, and so on), especially when your final output is interlaced video.

About Digital Cinema Desktop Preview Options

You choose the Digital Cinema Desktop Preview options in one of several locations:

  • The Video Playback submenu of the View menu

  • The Playback Output Video pop-up menu in the A/V Devices tab of the Audio/Video Settings window

  • The Video Playback pop-up menu in the Summary tab of the Audio/Video settings window

There are several settings you can choose:

  • Digital Cinema Desktop Preview - Main

  • Digital Cinema Desktop Preview

  • Digital Cinema Desktop Preview - Full-Screen

  • Digital Cinema Desktop Preview - Raw

Note: The Main option is available on single-display systems, but the remaining options are available only if you have two or more displays.

Digital Cinema Desktop Preview - Main

Video is shown on the main computer display (that normally shows the menu bar for applications). This option is available at all times, regardless of how many displays you have connected. Video presented on the main display is always shown in full-screen mode and scaled to fit the display in at least one dimension. If the aspect ratio of the video signal and the computer display do not match, the video on the display is letterboxed (black on top and bottom) or pillarboxed (black on sides) as necessary. This is identical to full-screen mode on a second display.

  • Pro: You can use this format on single-display systems, such as a portable computer editing system.
  • Con: The normal computer interface is covered by the Digital Cinema Desktop Preview display, so you can’t see Final Cut Pro when you choose to view full-screen video this way.

Digital Cinema Desktop Preview

The video is shown at its normal scale (there is a 1:1 relationship between pixels in your video and pixels on the display). However, if the video pixel dimensions are larger than the dimensions of the display, the video is scaled to fit the display.

  • Pro: The video always maintains proper aspect ratio and does not exhibit scaling artifacts due to magnification.
  • Con: Some formats, especially SD formats, may look very small when displayed on large computer displays.

Digital Cinema Desktop Preview - Full-Screen

The video is scaled to maximize its size on the display. If the aspect ratio of the video signal and the computer display do not match, the video on the display is letterboxed (black on top and bottom) or pillarboxed (black on sides) as necessary. For example, 16:9 video shown on a 4:3 display is scaled until the width of the video matches the width of the display, and the top and bottom are letterboxed.

  • Pro: This format gives you the biggest picture possible and maintains the proper aspect ratio.
  • Con: Scaling artifacts may be noticeable when viewed up close.

Digital Cinema Desktop Preview - Raw

This mode shows your video data with as little processing as possible—there is no scaling or pixel aspect ratio correction. For example, a 720p frame (1280 x 720) shown in RAW mode on an 800 x 600 display only shows 800 x 600 pixels of the image. This can be useful for engineering evaluations of the image.

  • Pro: More accurate assessments of video quality can be made.
  • Con: This mode is not useful for general viewing. No scaling or pixel aspect ratio adjustments are made, even when the video is larger than the display.

Using Digital Cinema Desktop Preview to Monitor Your Video

Unlike using a third-party video interface (or DV via FireWire), directly monitoring video on a computer display does not introduce video latency (inherent processing delays). Therefore, Final Cut Pro ignores the frame delay offset setting when you preview your video on a computer display connected to a graphics card.

Tip: Regular editing commands still work when full-screen video is presented on the main display. This means you can still set In and Out points, use the J, K, and L keys for playback, and so on. For a list of shortcut keys, choose Tools > Keyboard Layout > Customize.

To turn on Digital Cinema Desktop Preview
  1. Choose View > Video Playback, then choose one of the available Digital Cinema Desktop Preview options.

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

  3. To listen to audio in sync with video output on a computer display, make sure the audio frame offset value is set to 0.

For information about how to set the frame offset for audio/video latency compensation, see Compensating for Video Latency by Specifying a Frame Offset.

Important: Command-F12 is the default keyboard shortcut for turning external video monitoring on and off. When full-screen video is presented on the main display, the menu bar cannot be seen, so you need to use this keyboard shortcut.

It’s important to know how to turn off the Digital Cinema Desktop Preview option, especially when you are using full-screen mode on the main display.

To turn off Digital Cinema Desktop Preview
Do one of the following:
  • Press Command-F12.

  • Press the Escape key.

Troubleshooting Digital Cinema Desktop Preview

If you experience trouble when using Digital Cinema Desktop Preview, review the following:

  • In Mac OS X System Preferences, the screen saver should be turned off (choose Apple menu > System Preferences, click Desktop & Screen Saver, click Screen Saver, and set the “Start screen saver” slider to Never).

  • Because of the refresh rate of LCD computer displays, 1080i60 and 720p60 material may exhibit temporal artifacts during playback.

  • Interlaced media is scanned progressively at the frame rate instead of the field rate. Therefore, when viewing formats such as 1080i60 or SD NTSC or PAL video, both fields are scanned simultaneously, which may result in interlacing artifacts.

  • If you need to change your display resolution, do so prior to opening Final Cut Pro.

  • LCD Cinema Displays have a longer decay period between each frame when compared to lines being scanned on a CRT. At times, the same video image may be visible onscreen for a period of up to four to seven frames.

  • Turning on Digital Cinema Desktop Preview playback can reduce the number of real-time effects available in your sequence. However, the real-time status of these effects is not updated in the Effects menu or the Effects tab of the Browser.

  • Refrain from pressing the mouse button upon initially enabling Digital Cinema Desktop Preview (especially in Single User mode).

  • Exposé is not supported with Digital Cinema Desktop Preview.

  • Graphics files with a resolution of 1920 x 1200 and larger may not be displayed properly.

  • Digital Cinema Desktop Preview must be turned off when performing a Print to Video operation.

  • If you do not have a second display connected to your computer, only the Digital Cinema Desktop Preview - Main option is available.