Recording Live with Final Cut Pro

Posted on by Larry

[ This article was first published in the February, 2010, issue of
Larry’s Final Cut Pro Newsletter. Click here to subscribe. ]

Nathan Ansell writes:

My name is Nathan Ansell and I am the Media Producer/Director at First Family Church. I was searching for the best way to record live using FCP.


We record Sunday Services in SD 24 fps and other services and projects in HD 24 fps. In order to speed up the process I want to start capturing live on our Mac Pro. I’ve tried running fire wire cable, but that failed to capture.


I would like to capture live from our Edirol V-8 video board by Roland. This board only has BNC connection OUT. I would like to get a board that has VGA out since all our cables to our projectors are VGA and we lose quality from the Computer Outputs. Any suggestions for a solution on that?

Larry replies: Nathan, thanks for writing.

Capturing live video requires:

* A fast hard disk
* A way to connect the video cable to the computer
* Reasonably current version of Final Cut Pro and the Operating system.

Some HDV cameras don’t support output from the camera while the camera is shooting using FireWire. But they DO support it using the video output.

Also, Mac Pros and G-5 Towers are much better for this than laptops.

Assuming you just want to capture, look into AJA Kona 3 or Blackmagic Design Decklink capture cards. Send the video feed from your switcher (via BNC) or your camera to the card and you can capture live.

An even BETTER alternative is to be able to capture and start editing before the capture is complete. That requires a Telestream Pipeline box. This allows you to capture live video, and edit it while the service is still going on.

The best output from your switcher is SDI, or HD-SDI if you are shooting and switching in HD. In descending order of quality, the other SD options are: Component, S-Video, and Composite. The problem isn’t the BNC connector but the video signal it is carrying.

Also, check into a brand new product called Tools on Air that just launched in Europe. That could put an entire production studio on your Mac.

UPDATE – FEB. 28, 2010

Ben Balser writes:

In the recent newsletter, RECORDING LIVE WITH FINAL CUT PRO with Nathan Ansell, you recommend the AJA Kona 3 card. I’d like to point out that there are actually three different cards in the Kona line, and the “3” is not always the card folks should get. I have a fairly nice sized studio as a client who put in Kona 3 cards (before I became involved with them) in their edit bays. Problem is, they also got Yamaha sound mixers that require audio XLR inputs. The Kona 3 only has digital outputs. Thus, they now have to purchase a third piece of hardware, an audio digital to analog converter. If they had gone with the Kona LHi or LHe card, they would have the audio analog In/Out’s they need, without having to purchase extra hardware. So, I wanted to share this, in hopes that someone doesn’t dive into the Kona 3 when they need audio analog In/Out’s, and invest in one of the other two cards in the Kona series.


Another draw back is that the Kona 3 card causes some audio delay when going out to an audio Firewire device. I’m hoping AJA addresses this soon.


In fact, this Tuseday (3/2/10) is the S. LA. FCPUG’s 3rd anniversary, and our corporate sponsor (AJA) has given us a Kona LHi card as a raffle prize. I use one in my own studio (because I need the audio analog In/Out’s) and love it.

Larry replies: Thanks, Ben.

Also, another thought that just occurred to me is Telestream Pipeline. This allows you to record up to four simultaneous feeds and, even better, start editing them before the feeds are complete. This can be a real time-saver when deadlines are really tight.


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2 Responses to Recording Live with Final Cut Pro

  1. Andres azuero says:

    How do i record ln live capture in final cut x? The little problem is that
    If my camera is not recording on tape (generating a time based
    Code) final cut will no store any kind of video information on my laptop.
    That means that if i have or wantt to record and live capture an event
    I will need a lot of mini dvs.
    When the tape is over, final cut automaticly stops the live capture
    How can i live capture without using mini dvs and Preventing that
    Automatic stop? It is possible?
    I will really apreciate information about this.

    Andres Azuero

    • george b says:

      Hey Andres, that’s the same problem I’m having right now. Please let me know if you ever found a solution and how.

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