I got an email a few days ago asking if there was a way for Final Cut Pro X to export a clip and retain the timecode of the source clip. At first, I said “No,” but, actually the answer is “Yes, but it isn’t obvious.”
With the new 10.0.6 update, we can now export a portion of our project by setting an In and an Out in the Timeline. (We need to set an In and Out, simply selecting clips in the Timeline is not sufficient.) Media exported from the Timeline contains the Project timecode.
However, with this same update, we also got the ability to export clips from the Event Browser, and media exported from the Browser always contains the timecode of the source clip.
EXPORTING A CLIP (OR CLIP RANGE)
Here’s a selected range (In and Out) of a clip where Dr. Vint Cerf is giving a speech. (Thanks, as always, to Dr. Cerf and Alcatel/Lucent for the use of this footage.)
The timecode at the In is 02:04:25:05. To get started with the export, select the range, or clip, that you want to export. (This procedure works equally well for exporting single whole clips. Simply select the clip you want to export.)
NOTE: We can only export a single clip, or a portion of a single clip. You can’t export a batch of clips.
With the 10.0.6 release, the Share menu is now integrated into the File menu. (It is also a button to the right of the redesigned Inspector button in the Toolbar.) Select File > Share > Master File. (This has a keyboard shortcut of Command+E.)
This opens the Master File window, where you can change the name or description of the clip. (I talk more about this window in this article on exporting still frames.)
Click the Settings button.
The Settings portion of the window provides all the export controls.
The key menu is Video Codec. I prefer to do all my editing using ProRes. If you elected to optimize your media during import, the file in the Event Browser is already ProRes. If you simply imported the file, and didn’t transcode it, selecting “Source” means it will export in the same format that you imported it.
My general recommendation is to optimize all media during import.
NOTE: If you use software other than Final Cut Pro X to transcode (convert) your media, make sure that software is set to pass-through clip timecode. Otherwise, the timecode will be reset to 00:00:00:00 during the transcode.
When these Settings are complete, click Next.
Give the soon-to-be-exported file a name and location and click Save.
Notice, when I open the file in QuickTime, the timecode seems to be reset to 00:00:00:00. However, this is deceptive, because the actual timecode is there, just not automatically displayed in QuickTime Player.
Here’s a secret way to see the source timecode of a clip using the QuickTime 7 player: Right-click the timecode numbers and switch from Standard (which means start at 0:00) to Timecode, which displays the source timecode of the clip.
To reassure yourself that the source timecode is there, reimport the exported file back into Final Cut Pro X (or any other video editing software). Position the playhead at the start of the clip and notice that the timecode is the same as the In of the exported segment: 02:04:25:05.
When we export clips from the Timeline, Final Cut exports Timeline timecode. When we export clips from the Event Browser, the source clip timecode is used.
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