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Final Cut Pro X 10.1 Media Storage Options

FinalCutProX.net Video tutorial

Hey what’s up everybody. My name is Jasper Thayer, Apple Certified Trainer for Final Cut Pro and developer of FinalCutProX.net In this lesson we will be going over media storage options in Final Cut Pro version 10.1

Before you can begin organizing and editing your project, the first step is to import footage from you camera or hard drive into a designated library containing one or more events. You’ll be introduced to Final Cut Pro’s Import Window in this lesson, but I really just want to show you how (and where) media files are managed (and stored) so you can make the best choices on how to manage media in your own workflow.

First let’s close Final Cut Pro for a minute and take a look at a Finder Window so you can see a little bit of my setup…

From the Finder window you can see I have a device named “FCPX Media”. This is a SSD hard drive that has all the media I’ll be using for this tutorial series. I chose to place the media on this hard drive because it’s one of the fastest drives I have since it’s an Solid State Drive and it’s connected on a fast PCI bus on the Mac Pro.

I also have another SSD named “OSX” that is setup for my operating system and applications. This hard drive is also connected to the PCI bus, which is a faster connection than just using regular SATA.

Finally, there’s a third device named “RAID” which is actually three, 7200 RPM SATA hard drives striped together in a RAID for faster performance and higher capacity. I changed the location of my user account’s home folder in Mavericks to point to the RAID device so that I can store 6 terabytes of data on the RAID for iTunes movies and other large data files while using the small space available on the SSD for the operating system.

You can see that when I add a folder to the “movies” folder in the sidebar that same folder is now available in the RAID… and when I go to the RAID and delete the folder then that folder is no longer available in the Movies folder in the sidebar.

The point of having so many different devices in my hardware configuration is to separate my media in order to maximize performance. By separating my media from my operating system I am spreading the load on the hard drives, which allows me to process data faster.

You may be using a system that only has one hard drive dedicated for both media storage and your operating system. Perhaps you have a laptop or an iMac that you’re editing on. You’ll just have to make due with what you got, but you might want to look into setting up a method that allows you to separate your data from your system.

Now let’s go back to Final Cut Pro

To import media, click the Import media button at the left end of the toolbar. The import window appears with a list of all your import targets along the left side. There’s sections labeled Cameras, Devices and Favorites. We’ll select the “FCPX Media” device from the left hand column, and a folder I have in there named “Hollywood” will appear in the browse list. Click the disclosure triangle next to the Hollywood folder. Selecting any clip will load it into the Viewer directly above. You can play a clip by pressing your spacebar. For this lesson, I’m only going to import a single clip just so that I can make some key points about media storage.

With any clip selected, click the Import Selected button.

A pop-up window appears with a list of options. The first decision to make is what Event you are going to import your footage into. You can only import media into Events. and Events are stored within Libraries. You can choose to import the media into an existing event or you can create a new event. We’ll add the clip to an existing event for now. This determines where your media will be placed in Final Cut Pro.

There’s an area labeled “Media Storage” that determines where your media will be placed in the Mac’s Finder – it’s where your media files are physically stored on your hard drive.

Let’s start with where we want the media to appear within Final Cut Pro. You have two options for this. You can either have your media added to an existing Event, or you can add your media to a new Event that you create. If you click the Add to Existing Event popup menu, you’ll see a list of available Events you can import your media into. Just above the Event are the names of the Libraries the Events belong to.

In the previous lesson on working with Libraries, we created a Library called “LA Locations” then proceeded to create 3 events based on three locations in the LA area.

Choose the Library you want the Event to reside in from this pop up menu. We’ll choose to save this clip in the “Hollywood” event.

Before we go any further, I want to talk really quick about the types of media devices you will be importing from. In most cases you’ll be importing video, audio or still images directly from a camera’s memory card, or a duplicate of the camera’s card called a Camera Archive.

In other cases you’ll be importing directly from an attached storage device such as an external hard drive where the media files already exist in a predetermined directory structure.

I’m going to be importing clips that I’ve already named and setup in a folder named “Hollywood” on my external hard drive. Basically I imported these clips from a GoPro camera and brought them into Compressor to transcode the footage to pro res 422. Then I renamed each clip and copied them to my external SSD drive. Later on, I’ll talk a little more about transcoding footage to pro res, and why you might want to do it for your clips.

I’ll also go over Camera Archives in more detail in the next lesson.

Let’s looks at where the media will actually reside on your hard drive using the options listed next to Media Storage.

You have two choices for media coming directly from camera cards when you import it into FCP – 1) you can either Copy the media directly into the Library bundle or 2) you can choose to copy the media to any location outside the library.

So if you chose the default option, “Copy Files Into,” Final Cut Pro will do just that….

It will copy all the media files from your camera card or camera archive into the Library you select from this menu.

If you click the pop up menu and select “Choose”, you select the drive or folder where the media gets copied to. Final Cut Pro would then reference these externally copied files. The important thing to understand here is that Copy Files Into lets you choose a Library OR an external folder on a hard drive.

Either way, Final Cut will be making copies of your media in the targeted location. If you are importing from a camera, media card or camera archive, these are your only 2 options.

You could also Leave Files in Place if you media already exists on a hard drive you want to import from. Since I already have my clips in a folder on an external hard drive I’ll choose this option.

In future lessons I’ll be talking more about the other import options listed below but for now I really just want to drill in the concept of how media is managed in FCP. The core concept you should get out of this lesson is that there’s different options on how your media is copied to your hard drive when you import your clips into Final Cut Pro.

Some times you’ll be importing clips from your camera and other times you’ll be importing clips that already exist on your hard drive. You’ll want to know how these clips get imported into final cut pro during the import process and whether or not copies of the files are made during the import process.

If you already have your media available on an external hard drive then you probably don’t want to make copies of the files during import. In my case I already have all of my media copied on an external hard drive so I’ll choose the option to Leave files in place.

You should understand the differences between Copying files to your Library vs. leaving the files in place.

If I did choose to copy the files to my Library then I could take the whole library file and give it to someone else and they wouldn’t have any trouble opening up the project because all of the files I imported into the library would be included in the library bundle.

The library bundle file would also become very large. I have almost 100 gigs of clips I’ll be working on.

If I copied these clips into my library then the library bundle file would be 100 gigs large!!!

If I already have all of my clips on an external hard drive then it doesn’t make sense to copy them into my Library. But I need to remember to give someone the files I have on the external hard drive if I need to pass my Final Cut Pro project on to anyone else…

The way I currently have my library setup, if I were to import any new clips from a camera then I could choose to copy the files in Final Cut Pro.

Then from the drop down menu I would “Choose” to copy newly imported files from my camera into the folder I already setup with my existing clips on my external hard drive.

When the import is complete, the media will reside on the drive I targeted but NOT in the library bundle. This way, my Library stays manageable in size because no real media is actually copied into it.

The library would manage these external media files using tiny reference files stored within the library called “Sym links”. Sym links are basically aliases, and they will keep track of where you external media lives, so long as you do not move the media or unmount the drive.

I want to remind you that the downside to keeping your media on an external location is that when it comes time to hand off the library to another editor, there is a chance that they may have some offline clips appear in the project because the media does not actually reside inside the library.

Also remember that these choices aren’t set in stone!

If you chose to import the media and leave the files in place on an external hard drive, you can move it all into the library bundle later, or vice-versa.

It’s really important you understand the 2 storage options that are available in Final Cut Pro.

If you’re importing media from cameras, card readers, tape, or a camera archive, and copying the media directly into the library so that it’s all in one bundle. Then you have a Managed library. Copying the media to a drive or folder outside the library is referred to as External media.

Let’s import some media using both internally and externally managed media so you can see what happens. Let’s copy the media directly to the library, We’ll add a clip to the Hollywood event and Choose the option to Copy files into the “LA Locations”

Click Import.

The Hollywood event appears in the Libraries pane with the clip we just imported.

Right click on it and and choose > Reveal in Finder. Final Cut Pro takes you to where the actual media file lives inside the library bundle. If I scroll back to see the path of the file, you can see the entire path starting from the “LA Locations” Library bundle, then a bread crumb trail taking you to the Hollywood folder, and finally to the Original media folder where you can see your imported clip. This clip was copied directly into the library bundle.

You can see that the clip I originally imported still exists on my external drive in this location…

If I right click on the .fcpbundle file and “get info” the size of the file is 1.73 GB which is also the size of the original media file that I copied into this library.

I can go back to Final Cut Pro and right-click on the clip in the Browser then choose to “Move the file to the trash”.

Now if I close Final Cut Pro, empty the trash, and look at the package contents for the library bundle file I can see that the clip no longer exists in the Original Media folder. The clip I originally imported still exists on my external drive though…

So for my situation I like to setup my system to Leave the files in their original location instead of making copies, because all of my project files are already organized in a folder on my external hard drive.

I just always remember that if I were to import any new clips from a camera then I could choose to copy the files in Final Cut Pro.

Then, like I said before, from the drop down menu I would “Choose” to copy newly imported files from my camera into the folder I already setup with my existing clips on my external hard drive.

I’ll choose to import the bike ride yellow lambo clip again but this time I’ll choose to leave the files in place.

You’ll see that when I right-click on the file in Final Cut Pro and “Reveal In Finder” then a finder window displays the location of the file on my external drive, and not inside the Library bundle file.

If I right-click the Library bundle file here and “Show Package Contents” then you will see that there’s a small alias file that references the location of the media. I can right-click this alias file and choose to show original to see where the location of the true original file is for this alias.

If I go back to final cut pro and right -click this clip and choose “Move To Trash” then FCP will let me know that I’ll be moving the reference file to the trash and the original file will remain in it’s original location. I’ll press OK and then look at the finder window and see that the alias file is no longer in the library bundle.

I’ll check to make sure the original file for the “bike ride yellow lambo” is still in the original location…. and it is.

Bottom line is that there will always be a “quote/unquote” FILE in the Original Media folder for the Library bundle’s contents.

Whether there’s actually a copy of the originally imported media or there’s an alias reference file depends on what choices you made for managing your media.

OK so now that you know all of this then what option should you choose – internal media storage with everything saved in the library bundle file or external media storage where you have a library file and your media files are stored in a separate location?

It all boils down to your workflow. If you’re working on a small project – it might make more sense to have Final Cut copy the media files directly into the library, as this option will make moving, copying and archiving your events and projects easy, because everything is self-contained in one transportable library bundle.

Now let’s say you are working on a large project like a tv series or a documentary, where editors often need to share media across libraries when they’re collaborating.

Copying all the media into the library would not be practical sense you’d have a lot of media to import and if all the media were copied into YOUR one library bundle, it would make it difficult for other editors to share the same media on a network.

As with importing from a camera, you are not stuck with your decision. if you choose “Leave !les in place” then you can always copy the files to your library later using the Consolidate Library command in the File menu.

I’m gonna delete all the clips I imported earlier in this exercise and empty my trash so that I’ll start out with a clean slate on the next exercise with just the Library, Events, and Projects we created, but no imported clips.

In the next lesson I’ll show you different ways of importing your media from a camera.

Jasper Thayer is the developer of FinalCutProX.net

He has over 15 Apple Pro Certifications for video editing and special effects including Apple Certified Trainer for Final Cut Pro X and Apple Certified Trainer for Motion 5. Jasper is also an AWS Certified Developer and AWS Certified Solutions Architect.

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