Preparing to Log

During the logging stage, you find out just how organized you really were during the production phase. No matter how careful you were, a few things may not have been labeled properly, or some information may be missing. Take time before you begin post-production to get your tapes as organized as possible.

Remember that the list below is really a production checklist. However, any inconsistencies during production should be straightened out before you start logging and capturing.

Keeping Track of Footage with Reel Names and Timecode

Clips represent media files on your hard disk, but they also represent sections of your original tapes between In and Out points. If you accidentally delete a clip’s media file on disk, you can always recapture it from the original tape. Being able to recapture your media from the original tapes is critical for most post-production workflows.

Final Cut Pro can identify which portion of a tape to recapture using the following clip properties:

  • Reel name: This is usually the name written on the tape label during production or just prior to post-production.
  • Media Start and End timecode: A clip’s Media Start and End timecode numbers identify the start and end frames of the clip on your tape. Timecode is the critical link between clips in your project, media files on disk, and the footage on your tapes.

A reel name identifies which tape a clip comes from, and timecode identifies where on the reel a particular clip is located.

Important: If your original tapes don’t have timecode, it is impossible to accurately recapture your tapes because Final Cut Pro has no way of ensuring that you are capturing the exact same frames each time. For suggestions about logging and capturing footage without timecode, see Advanced Topics in Capturing Tape-Based Media.

Choosing Reel Names

Older editing systems accepted three-digit reel numbers, starting at 000 and ending at 999. For maximum compatibility, this is a good naming convention to start with. Unless you have over a thousand tapes in your project, this reel-naming convention should be sufficient.

You can use the digits of your reel name to mean different things. For example, the first digit can be used to represent a particular location, with space for 100 tapes per location. 100–199 could be used for tapes shot in Washington, D.C., while 200–299 could be used for tapes shot in Los Angeles, and so on. Pick a consistent method, and if you have to break your convention, have some numbers reserved just for this. For instance, you could reserve 900–999 for miscellaneous tapes that don’t fit your naming convention.

Note: Tapes recorded using professional video equipment allow the user to define the timecode with custom hour numbers, so you can use those for your reel names. For example, tape 001 would begin at timecode 01:00:00:00, and tape 022 would start at timecode 22:00:00:00, and so on. Of course, this method only works if you have fewer than 24 tapes.

Most mini-DV devices don’t allow you to set custom hour numbers, so with these devices the best policy is to write reel names onto the tapes themselves, and to use these to identify your tapes.

Note: If you plan on exporting an EDL, there are restrictions on the reel names you can use. The restrictions depend on what EDL format you’re using. For more information, see Importing and Exporting EDLs.

When logging, always make sure that you:

  • Label your tapes with simple, unique names. If the reel names you used during production are too long and complicated, you may want to relabel your tapes when you start post-production, using a simpler, more consistent naming convention.

  • Assign the proper reel name to each clip before you log and capture it. If a clip is assigned the wrong reel name, Final Cut Pro asks for the wrong tape whenever you recapture. You can change a clip’s reel name in the Browser, or by selecting the clip and choosing Modify > Timecode. For more information, see Working with Timecode.

Choosing Names and Logging Information for Clips

Before you start logging clips, think about the filenaming scheme you want to use for your project. It’s easier to edit when you have an organized naming system, especially if there are several people working on a project at one time. This will help you avoid duplicate clip names.

Important: Captured media files are named after the clips that are used to capture them. You should avoid certain characters in your filenames. For more information, see Filenaming Considerations.

Logging Suggestions for Projects That Are Tightly Scripted

These types of projects include narrative and educational projects or projects with scripts that actors adhere to. Projects like this can benefit from:

  • Using the Description field to name each separate shot.

  • Using auto-incrementing numbers in the logging fields. Each time you log a clip, the number at the end of a logging field is automatically incremented so you can focus on logging the content of your footage. Use this feature to keep track of where your clips fit into the overall script.

  • Using the Good checkbox to identify the takes you want to use while editing. Your first impression is important, and you might forget what it was later on. When you’re ready to start capturing your clips, you can use the Find command (or sort by the Good column in the Browser), to select only the clips you’ve marked as good, and then capture them, if you like.

Logging Suggestions for Documentary-Style Projects

These types of projects include not only documentaries, but any kind of project where the majority of your material is unscripted interviews, found footage, or previously recorded or stock material.

  • Use the Prompt checkbox to enter clip names as you think of them. It’s a good idea to identify clips by their content, as well as by where you might use them in your project.

  • You can use the Notes field in the Prompt window (where you enter the name of a logged clip) to enter the scene number where you think that clip might be placed. Later, you can sort your clips in the Browser by the Notes column and all of your clips will be grouped by scene number.

  • Use markers, especially if you’re logging long takes. Markers can remind you, later on when you’re editing, of sections of video that you liked.

  • Feel free to log more clips than you intend to capture. Especially when editing an unscripted piece, you never know when you’re going to need an alternate take or a B-roll shot that you didn’t initially think you’d use. If you log all of the shots on a given reel for reference, you can use the Good checkbox to mark the shots that you know you want to capture right away. You can then store the other offline shots in a separate bin for reference. If you need these shots later, it’s easy to select and batch capture them.