Exporting to XML

Posted on by Larry

[ This article was first published in the July, 2006, issue of
Larry’s Final Cut Pro Newsletter. Click here to subscribe.
Updated 8/19/2006. ]


Christian Janson writes:

I took your class about 1 year ago. I recently took on a project where I had to out source the video editing. This worked great in freeing my time to handle other tasks but became a headache when I found that the editor was using a newer version of FCP. 5.0 or higher. My system is FCP 4.5.


We tried the XML feature but it resulted in frustration and failure. Surely the pro’s have thought of this issue, yet I could not find any documentation dealing with any issue in saving to XML from 5.0. It was simply stated as fact. Did I do something wrong… or am I a victim of theory?

Larry replies: You don’t SAVE to XML, you EXPORT to XML. (File > Export > XML…) I’ve only done this twice, moving from a later to an earlier version of FCP, but it worked well both times.

Here is an outline of the steps:

  1. Open your sequence in the Timeline
  2. File > Export > XML
  3. Accept the defaults in the XML dialog box
  4. Save the file
  5. Move the file to the other FCP system
  6. Select File > Import > XML
  7. Import your file

You may need to recapture the media, depending upon which versions of FCP are involved. You will definitely need to reconnect it. But all your project data will move across fine.

This process does NOT work if two people need to work on the same project at, essentially, the same time. XML export/import is designed as a one-time-only conversion, not a day-to-day working basis.


Andres Kiel, the resident XML expert at Spherico.com, wrote in with some additional info:

Here is the outline of the steps as you, Larry, wrote them:

  • Open your sequence in the Timeline
  • Select File > Export > XML
  • Accept the defaults in the XML dialog box
  • Save the file
  • Move the XML file to the other FCP system
  • Select File > Import > XML
  • Import your file

Since Christian wants to go back one version in FCP, your point 3 is not correct. He has to choose XML Version 1 and not the default in FCP 5.x which is XML Version 2.


There are other issues as well when creating an XML project or sequence from 5.x as well. There is some stuff which can’t be translated and other things which won’t be translated:

  • For example multiclips don’t exist in 4.x so he might get into trouble there
  • Speed changes
  • Scrolling text in a sequence may not convert in many cases.

The bad thing during export/import is that FCP will report some minor errors, but those errors are more related to the problems it gets while parsing the XML than to the actual errors which may occur when building the sequence or project.


He also should make sure that all plug-ins used in the sequence are available on the other system. In case not, FCP just ignores everything which follows the missing plug-in without any error message; this can screw up a lot of things, which had been in the XML before the missing plug-in.


Those errors in many cases are very obvious, in other cases they are not.

Larry replies: Andreas, thanks for sharing these comments.


Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Larry Recommends:

FCPX Complete

NEW & Updated!

Edit smarter with Larry’s latest training, all available in our store.

Access over 1,900 on-demand video editing courses. Become a member of our Video Training Library today!


Subscribe to Larry's FREE weekly newsletter and save 10%
on your first purchase.