Sneaky Workaround for Importing Partial Files into Final Cut Pro
First, it’s important to understand that when you import a file into Final Cut Pro, you need to make a choice in the Media Import window:
- If you select “Copy to Library,” you are copying the entire file into the Library. This protects against losing links to a file, but doubles the storage space required.
- If you select “Leave files in place,” you are only importing the path and file name of the media clip. This is VERY tiny and requires essentially no extra file space.
The reason I mention this is that many editors are concerned that if they import a very large file from which they want only a very short section, they are wasting storage space. The easiest way to avoid this is to always select “Leave files in place.”
However, sometimes we shoot very long sessions knowing that we only need to use a very short section. Here, it would be nice to extract just the section we want, then trash the much larger file.
There are two ways to do this, both of which require copying the source media.
- Open the file in Apple Compressor, or any other media compression program, set an In and Out for the section you want, apply the codec you want, then extract just that section.
- Apply a sneaky workaround developed by Jon Gay.
Compressor can be used to create extracts of just about anything. It’s a great tool. However, if you don’t own Compressor, Jon’s workaround is a great Plan B. Jon writes:
“For long clips. I have been able to create a ‘fake’ camera card folder. Here’s how.”
- On external storage, create a folder to hold these extra long clips. In my example, I stored this on external media and named it “Extra Long Media.”
- Then, inside it, create a DCIM folder.
- Inside the DCIM folder create a 100media folder.
- Put all the extra long clips from which you want to extract a short excerpt into the 100media folder.
- Open Final Cut then open the Media Import window (shortcut: Cmd + I).
- Navigate to the file you just stored in the 100media folder. Set an In and Out (upper red arrow).
NOTE: When folders are constructed this way, they emulate a typical camera card. FCP won’t display the DCIM or 100media folders, rather, it just shows the clips in the master folder (lower red arrow).
- When creating excerpts, FCP requires copying the excerpt into the Library. (If you want it stored in a different location, you’ll need to create the excerpt before importing it into Final Cut.)
- Click Done and FCP copies just the selected portion of the file into the library. Once you verify this is the clip you want, you can delete the larger master file.
This is a very cool technique – emulating a camera card to allow FCP to create excerpts. All excerpts created this way use ProRes 422 as the codec. If you need a different codec, create the excerpt before importing it into Final Cut.
Thanks, Jon, for sharing this tip.
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