Wednesday, May 13, 2015

FCP X to Premiere (via Resolve)

I explore multiple solutions, and remind you not to believe everything you read on the internet.


THE CONTEXT

You've got an edit in FCP X and want to bring that into Adobe Premiere. Or, what actually happened, you (hypothetically, you may not have actually done this but someone I work with did) synchronized some video and audio from a Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera and a H4N in FCP X, created a stringout timeline, and want to bring that into Premiere.

THE PROBLEM

Premiere can't import fcpxml's, and FCP X can't really export anything else (*cough*seriouslynotevenEDL's?*cough*).  I'm not going to go into why this is, or discuss my feelings about it here. Let's keep this simple.

THE SOLUTION

First off, don't listen to these people unless you want to needlessly waste lots of time and storage space by making AAF's of everything. This is not good advice. There may be specific scenario(s) where this is necessary/helpful but by no means should it be your first inclination and it definitely overlooks much simpler and versatile options. Transcoding workflows have their place but that's not our goal in this situation.

If you've got $10 you can take the advice of Adobe or Larry Jordan and use Xto7. It'll take the fcpxml from FCP X and convert it to an XML that Premiere can read. As an added bonus it works the other way round as well. Pretty straightforward stuff.

Step 1: Spend $10 on Xto7.
Step 2: Export fcpxml of your timeline from FCP X
Step 3: Import fcpxml into xto7 and export a regular XML.
Step 4: Import regular XML into Premiere.

Or you can save that $10 and Resolve* the situation for free.  I've said it before and I'll say it again... Blackmagic's DaVinci Resolve is an amazing piece of software. It's robust, well designed, and extraordinary versatile. The free version is surprisingly full featured and should be in everyone's post toolbox.  No I do not get paid by them or anything like that. I simply use it a lot, and really appreciate what it can do.

In this case Resolve understands both "standard" XML and FCP X's flavor, so it's essentially performing the same translation role as Xto7.


Step 1: Export fcpxml of your timeline from FCP X
Step 2. Export fcpxml into Resolve and export a regular XML.

Step 3: Import regular XML into Premiere.
Step 4: Spend the $10 you saved on beer, feel smug.

FURTHER THOUGHTS

With any translation of a sequence from one program to another certain things are likely to be lost in translation. I'm not going to talk about what happens if your footage doesn't work in one program, or time remapping, or any of that right now. Suffice to say, a lot can go wrong. Simply for titles, transitions, and clips/edits (what I was dealing with in the situation that prompted this post), Resolve works fine.  The editor had actually tried using the Resolve to translate the fcpxml but ran into an issue with synchronized clips created by FCP X's PluralEyes-esque auto syncing.

The clips were coming into Resolve fine...

After bringing the FCPXML into Resolve you can see Resolve gets the synced clip, and the source video and audio media. Note: Timecode of camera and recorder were not synced as H4n wouldn't know timecode if you jammed it down it's throat so ignore that.
but not to Premiere.

? indeed my friend. 
Trying to reconnect in Premiere. Problem 1: You can't link one clip to two files (video and audio) Problem 2: It has no idea what either of those files might be.


This seems like a situation where Xto7 seemingly provides an advantage as it's user guide metions it can handle synchronized clips.  The problem here isn't synchronized clips though, it's that the editor had only done a stringout and therefore hadn't set any in and out points for any of the clips. So since audio was rolling before picture and stopped after, the source audio clips were all longer than the source video clips. Therefore the synchronized "compound" clips were as long as the audio files, with black at the head and tail where video wasn't rolling. If this wasn't a stringout, but rather an actual edit, you wouldn't even have this problem as you wouldn't have any of that pre/post roll in the edit. As it was, the issue was that Premiere was expecting video for the duration of the synchronized clip, and wasn't getting it. Resolve was fine because it understands FCPXML and could react accordingly. We can prove this.

In Resolve if you try to conform the audio of the synchronized clip to the source file it works fine, but if you try to conform the video of the synchronized clip (what Premiere tries to do importing the regular XML) it fails, complaining the original video file doesn't have enough content. Now that that's settled you have two choices. If you want to maintain the synchronized clips in the bin to Premiere, all you need to do is trim the synced clips down so they are the same duration as the shorter of the two source clips (in our case the video). To put it another way, just cut off the black head and tail of the synced clips in FCP X before you output the FCPXML and everything works fine (this is what I had the editor actually do).

It drops "synchronized" from the name but I assure you it's the synced clip. If you're having trouble wrapping your brain around my explanation look carefully at the duration of all the clips in these screenshots. Hopefully your lightbulb will go off then.
If you don't care about maintaining the synchronized clips in your bin, and just want the timeline, you can simply select all the clips on the timeline in Resolve and choose "Decompose in Place" from the right click menu, which will break the synchronized clips into their source video and audio parts in place on the timeline, which will go over to Premiere as such just fine.

In Premiere after Decompose in Place was selected in Resolve. You trade your synchronized clip for the source media, but will maintain any edits on your timeline. This might actually be what you want, how am I supposed to know what the heck you're trying to do? I'm trying to educate by example.

Again, in this situation titles and transitions came over fine. As for crazy stuff like multicam and alternate takes from FCP X some of that is talked about in the user guide for Xto7 and maybe then it earns it's keep. But the free solution is so easy why not try it first to see if it works.


*I like using resolve as a verb like people use Photoshop as a verb. It makes me giggle because it's already a verb that basically means the same thing anyways.

"How were you able to view those clips from the card? Premiere said they couldn't be played."
"Oh the metadata got corrupted when the card got dumped but I Resolved them and it's all  good now."

:P

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