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Editing HDV: Preferences

The following article helps you optimize Final Cut Pro 5 to work perfectly with HDV footage as well as Standard Definition footage. Many problems and frustrations come from improper preference settings. Make sure your preferences are dialed in correctly and Final Cut Pro will become a much friendlier program. For more detail on other HDV editing topics please refer to the articles listed below.

Editing HDV: An Introduction Editing HDV: Preferences Editing HDV: Capturing Editing HDV: Output

I. Easy Setup Before modifying Final Cut Pro preferences yourself, try using Easy Setup. Easy Setup is a shortcut in Final Cut Pro that automatically sets your preferences according to the video format you are shooting. For instance, as selected in the example below, if you are shooting NTSC HDV footage, simply select that format through the drop down menu and all of your settings will default to work with HDV footage.

1. Choose: Final Cut Pro > Easy Setup

2. Select your file format If your footage is HDV ' select HDV - 1080i/60 for NTSC format video. Select HDV - 1080i/50 for PAL format video. If working in get the idea.

Below are the default settings picked when you select the HDV 1080i/60 easy setup option.

HDV - 1080i/60 default settings as picked through the Easy Setup:
• Sequence preset - (HDV ' 1080i/60)
• Capture Preset - (HDV)
• Service Control Preset - (Sony HDV Firewire)
• Video Playback ' (None)
• Audio Playback ' (Built-in Audio)

II. Manually Modifying Preferences As you edit more video it will become apparent that some automatic presets do not work perfectly for you or your computer system. Sometimes it will be necessary to manually modify your preferences to better fit your needs.  There are three groups of preferences that you'll need to modify in Final Cut Pro. When configuring a system you should work in this order.

1) Audio/Video Settings 2) Systems Settings 3) User Preferences

A. Audio/Video Settings If you want to streamline how your computer communicates with your camera or tape deck, how your footage is captured, or how you view your video, use the Audio/Video settings window. Below are our suggestions on how to get the best results from Final Cut Pro. Once you have your Audio/Video preferences dialed in, you can then save them as an auto preset accessible through the Easy Setup window and never have to manually set them again for the same video format.

1. Choose: Final Cut Pro > Audio/Video settings > Summary Tab

These preferences will not work with Standard definition video. You will have to pick the correct preset for that format. In most cases you won't need to change the sequence preset, capture preset, and device control preset. If you do change them, you may lose control of your camera and you will not be able to capture your footage. The only time you should change these settings is when you change video format.

The two settings at the bottom, Video playback and Audio Playback, may need to be modified according to your computer's setup. If monitoring your video on a computer screen and listening to your audio through the computer's speakers, or speakers hooked up to your computer, select Built-in Audio in the Audio Playback field. If you are watching your video via FireWire on an external monitor, select HDV in the Audio Playback field.

The main rule to follow for setting Video Playback and Audio Playback is to be sure you are monitoring your audio and video from the same place. If you don't do this your audio will be out of sync to your video. This is due to delays caused by converting audio and video data to two different outputs.

B. System Settings The System Settings window streamlines how your computer's hardware and software performs while using Final Cut Pro. If these preferences are not configured properly, you'll never get the performance or reliability you need from Final Cut Pro.

Always work with 2 hard drives. The main hard drive runs the operating system and Final Cut Pro, and the second drive stores all of your media. This is because the drive running Final Cut Pro will be too busy running software to play your media files smoothly. Also, make sure your storage drive is fast. If you do not have a fast drive dropped frames will be a common if not constant issue. I've found that an internal 7200-rpm or faster SATA drive works best. If using a laptop, a 7200-rpm Firewire drive will work as well, but may drop frames.

1. Choose: Final Cut Pro > System Settings > Scratch Disk Tab

Here's what I suggest to get the best performance out of Final Cut Pro.

1. Create a folder on the storage drive. Name the folder Final Cut Pro Documents. Then, 'point' the scratch disk to this folder using the Set button at the top of this screen.

2. Set the scratch disk for Video Capture, Audio Capture, Video Render, and Audio Render all to this drive.

3. Set the Minimum Allowable Free Space On Scratch Disks to 10,000 MB. This makes sure your hard disks don't get so full that they slow down recording and playback.

System Settings 2. Choose: System Settings > Playback Control Tab

The preferences in the Playback Control tab affect how Final Cut Pro plays your movie while editing through the timeline. This includes real time previewing of elements that normally require rendering such as transitions and filters. Through these prefereneces Final Cut Pro will modify it's playback quality according to the processing power of your computer. If you don't have a lot of RAM or processing power some effects will still be too large to preview without rendering.

1. RT: Unlimited

2. Video Quality: Dynamic - allows Final Cut to vary playback quality during editing based on the complexity of your effect and the speed of your system.

3. Frame Rate: Dynamic ' similar to Video Quality, this allows Final Cut Pro to vary the frame rate of your sequence based on the complexity of your effect and the speed of your system.

4. The rest of the settings in this dialog are system defaults, we suggest you leave these alone.

3. User Preferences User preferences are directly related to how you want Final Cut Pro to work for you while you are editing with it. These suggestions may be modified according to your own computer's power and personal preferences.

Choose: Final Cut Pro > User Preferences > General Tab

1) Set Undo to 25 This take a lot of RAM, so if you have 1 GB of RAM or less, don't increase this.

2) Limit Real-time video to # MB/Second The key benefit of this preference is to limit the 'dropped frames' error message in playback when using a scratch disk with a limited data rate. For instance, if you create an effect with multiple clips playing at the same time Final Cut Pro will attempt to play your effect. If your hard disk isn't fast enough it will drop frames and stop playback. If you limit real-time video to the transfer rate of your hard disk, Final Cut Pro will know if your effect exceeds the ability of your hard disk. It will then put a red render bar over the effect and require you to render it to view it. Use a setting of 22 for an external FireWire drive on a G-4 laptop, and 36 for an external SATA drive on a G-5. If you have a RAID, you can leave this alone.

3) Open Last Project Leave this checked. It's just convenient. If you don't want your last project to open up automatically uncheck it. It's no big deal.

4) Change the defaults in the Auto-Save Vault so that it saves sooner and keeps fewer backups.

5) Browser Text Size Increase the size of text in the Browser and Timeline to Medium. So you can see it.

6) Leave all the default checkbox settings alone. This will get you started. There may be certain tweaks you'll need to make from system to system, but this will act as a certain baseline from which you can begin. Happy editing!

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