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Old October 3rd, 2011, 10:53 PM   #1
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My thoughts and experiences with the FCP Import function

I'm someone who really, really needs to import long and complex FCP sequences into PPro.

In the days before FCP X, I'd often be requested by clients to open up old projects (especially training videos) and update sections due to change of procedures or personnel. Some of these projects are from 90 minutes to four hours long. No sweat. Just open up FCP and it would read it, I'd film the new footage and graphics, edit it in and re-issue. Then FCP X came out and "old" FCP was discontinued (as well as the FCS suite). The message from Apple was that FCP X would NOT open old FCP projects and that they weren't looking to fix it so that it could.

Now, I didn't want to be shackled to old Operating Systems by trying to maintain my old FCP (which will likely "break" at some point in the future if I keep updating the OS), so I decided to find an NLE that will:
a) keep up with the times (and be promptly fixed if OS updates break it)
b) open my old FCP projects, and
c) give me a suite of tools (similar to my old FCS).

I read the PR statements from Adobe: "PPro can open your FCP sequences." "Adobe gets you." Plus their videos online where their execs talk about how they want to make PPro the best NLE on the market. And the final clincher for me was reading posts on DV Info saying things like, "PPro was really way too buggy back in CS4, but now it's very stable and works really well." So I made a strategic move to Production Premium CS5.5. I bought a Lynda.com subscription and started doing the PPro tutorials and also studied the 2 existing FCP Import tutorials on Adobe TV. I did note however that the Adobe TV tutorials only showed FCP sequences of less than a minute or so (and pretty simple stuff).

So, I decided to port my current FCP project over to PPro (in early August), before I commenced a very intensive amount of work to finish it off. At that stage, it was "only" about 110 minutes long and the graphics/animations were only about 15% done. I also set aside THREE FULL DAYS to fix things like color correction, keyframes, transitions, etc. which might not survive the import very well. I was prepared for all of that. What I wasn't prepared for was the fact that PPro wouldn't import the sequence at all.

Here's an excerpt from the bug report which I sent to Adobe:
"BUG:
FCP Import doesn't import FCP sequences (unless they are only about 2 minutes long).

1. I exported the XML from FCP.
2. I tried to import the XML into PPro using File>Import and then selecting the XML. I get the File Import progress bar, but then it gives a window "File Import Failure" and an Error Message which says "The importer reported a generic error."

3. The sequence was about 110 minutes long. I went back into FCP and stripped off all of the animation tracks, music tracks and sound effects tracks, leaving only the base video track and the 2 base audio tracks and then exported that XML. On importing to PPro, it gave the same Import Failure messages. I then started trimming the length of the sequence in FCP and exporting those as XMLs. Down to 100 minutes, 90 minutes, 60 minutes, 50 minutes, etc. All failed to import. At 5 minutes long, I started trimming 10 seconds at a time. When it got to 2 minutes and 50 seconds, voila! The sequence then imported! It was all there in the timeline of PPro (all 2 minutes and 50 seconds of it). The clips were there and the dissolves. It was "Proof of Concept", I guess. But 100% useless, because my actual sequence, the 110 minute one, wouldn't import. The sequence was XDCAM EX 1080p25.

4. I then tried to import an old HDV 720p25 sequence (the XML from FCP) of about 90 minutes duration. This time, the import was a “success”. All of the various tracks and clips and transitions appeared on the timeline. I was momentarily thrilled. But then I noticed that none of the clips were actually connected! And when I tried to reconnect to a clip, PPro gave the message that there were “no video or audio tracks” in the QuickTime movie. Yet these are the very same QuickTimes that play perfectly in FCP or the QuickTime Player!"

Anyway, when my efforts to port my current FCP project to PPro in early August didn't work, I had to kick PPro to the kerb and spend the next 7 weeks finishing and delivering with FCP. Now I'm getting ready to shoot the next project and wondering which NLE I should use. My goal was to use just one NLE from now on. One that will open the old FCP projects plus keep up with the times. If PPro won't import the old projects, there's no particular advantage to use it going forward. (May as well use the newly updated FCP X. It can't import old FCP projects either.) If Avid is able to import longer FCP sequences, then I'd even be prepared to look at that.

I'd hoped that the new update to PPro 5.5.1 would address this FCP Import problem (I'd filed quite a number of Crash Reports to Adobe concerning this problem back in early August). But I made a new XML of that sequence this morning and PPro again failed to import it. I then opened the same XML in Color (just to check if the XML was okay) and Color opened it just fine and it played just fine too.

I found a newer tutorial this morning on Adobe TV concerning FCP Import (posted in late August) which begins with,
“I’ve put together a pretty simple sequence and that’s actually a really big point. We’ve found that this process of handing off a project from FCP to PPro generally works best at the beginning or initial stages of an edit."

Peachpit TV for Video - Importing a Final Cut Pro Project | Adobe TV

So they only recommend importing "a pretty simple sequence"?

I don't particularly mind if it can't import filters and so forth. But, for longer sequences, I would expect it to at least be able to assemble the basic cuts on all of the tracks.
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Old October 3rd, 2011, 11:32 PM   #2
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Re: My thoughts and experiences with the FCP Import function

I was just searching the net to see if there's a plug-in I could buy to import my FCP sequences into PPro (and thus bypass the currently unsatisfactory FCP Import function within PPro) and noticed that the Automatic Duck people have just been hired (September 2011) by Adobe:

"... to offer the same best-in-class quality translation interface for Premiere Pro as we have offered in the past for other video editing products, enabling customers to seamlessly move in and out of Premiere Pro in their editing/processing workflows ..."

Automatic Duck

Well, I guess that settles it. I'll start this new project in Premiere Pro!
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Old October 4th, 2011, 02:20 AM   #3
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Re: My thoughts and experiences with the FCP Import function

The reason your HDV didn't work in Premiere is because FCP wraps HDV files into a format only FCP can read.

Also, did you read about Adobe acquiring IRIDAS SpeedGrade and other assets? This is an even bigger move than partnering with the Duck. From what I have read so far, it appears that Adobe will include a new grading app with the Creative Suite within the next year or two. So, Adobe will fill the gap that Apple left when it killed Color.
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Old October 4th, 2011, 03:54 AM   #4
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Re: My thoughts and experiences with the FCP Import function

We've had routinely imported 60-90 min. projects from FCP from another editor, and had only minor problems with XML translation:

- motion files are translated well, they are treated as titles in PPro, and sometimes don't want to render by themselves
- most speed modifications were translated, but some were not
- additive dissolve was converted to cross dissolve

The sequences were mostly A/B cuts, but I also translated a few more complex ones, and they also did well.

The problem you describe then is not in the length of the sequence, but more likely with one of the effects or plugins used. See what you deleted the last time and look for such things, if you want to locate the problem.
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Old October 4th, 2011, 02:28 PM   #5
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Re: My thoughts and experiences with the FCP Import function

I've tried some 20 to 30 minute sequences and they seem fine. The one "gotcha" I did notice is that certain filters (such as adding grain) used in Motion projects can cause Premiere to output garbage for that clip. The solution is to pre-render the clip in Motion. I suspect the reason is that FCP has access to the filter whereas Premiere does not. Obviously in a straight import Premiere would just drop it, but within a Motion project it can't ignore it.

Other than that things seem to work fine. Obviously you lose your filters but in the main I was very surprised how well it did.
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Old October 4th, 2011, 07:19 PM   #6
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Re: My thoughts and experiences with the FCP Import function

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bart Walczak View Post
The problem you describe then is not in the length of the sequence, but more likely with one of the effects or plugins used. See what you deleted the last time and look for such things, if you want to locate the problem.
Thanks very much for your thoughts, Bart. I've got a little bit of time now to play now with PPro and further isolate this import bug. So here's what happened when I tried your suggestion:

I resurrected that 110 minute long sequence, stripped off all excess animation and audio tracks (leaving just the one video and two audio tracks) and then went through each transition. I found a few "Spin 3D" transitions (Spin 3D comes standard with FCP - it's not an outside plug-in) and removed each of those, leaving only cuts and cross dissolves.

I exported the XML from FCP, but PPro gave the "File Import Failure" - "generic error" message.

I only had the 3 way color corrector and Broadcast Safe filters on the clips, but removed all filters anyway (using Remove Attributes) in FCP and exported the XML. PPro gave "File Import Failure" - "generic error".

Then I decided to remove all of the keyframing (pretty extensive) and all of the other remaining attributes and exported that XML. Surely it would import now! I still got, "File Import Failure" - "generic error".

Note that I kept the length at 110 minutes and hadn't trimmed anything off.

I decided to try a totally different tack. I started an entirely new sequence in FCP and simply placed a number of clips one after the other until it was about 110 minutes long. Then I exported the XML and imported it into PPro.

Voila! All of the clips imported, plus the timeline. It all plays just fine. So that's another "proof of concept". PPro can successfully import a 110 minute long sequence (simple clips and cuts).

But, at this point, not any of the sequences I actually need it to.

I'll keep hunting and punching around and see if I can better isolate what causes this "generic error".
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Old October 4th, 2011, 07:55 PM   #7
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Re: My thoughts and experiences with the FCP Import function

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Kalle View Post
Also, did you read about Adobe acquiring IRIDAS SpeedGrade and other assets? This is an even bigger move than partnering with the Duck.
Hi Steve. No, I hadn't read that, but it's brilliant news! I purchased Adobe CS for longer-term, strategic reasons and these recent additions by Adobe give me 100% confidence that it's the right long-term move.

However, the shorter-term "tactical" side is giving me problems, such as FCP Import!

It reminds me a bit of when Mike Woodworth first released ClipWrap. It worked really well for most people right off the bat, but I had some HDV footage which broke it straight away. I sent the footage to Mike, he fixed it and updated ClipWrap. I still managed to break ClipWrap twice more (sending the footage to Mike and him fixing each time). After the third update I couldn't break it any more and found it to be 100% robust thereafter.

That's why the Automatic Duck partnership (with Harry and Wes Plate) is such a big deal to me. I've got a heap of earlier corporate projects to port over to PPro and having the Plates on board means that this process will be far less painful.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Kalle View Post
The reason your HDV didn't work in Premiere is because FCP wraps HDV files into a format only FCP can read.
Oh. Any idea if there's a fix for that? I think I might have used ClipWrap to make the QuickTimes for that particular HDV project. (The unreliable FCP capture was the main reason for ClipWrap coming into existence in the first place!) Thanks, Steve.
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Old October 4th, 2011, 11:26 PM   #8
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Re: My thoughts and experiences with the FCP Import function

There is a 3rd party codec that permits Final cut hdv files in qt wrapper to be read on Windows -
www.calibratedsoftware.com/QXD.asp

works real well for me...it is decode only, so it's a one-way trip....
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Old October 5th, 2011, 01:40 PM   #9
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Re: My thoughts and experiences with the FCP Import function

The fact that the clips worked in a new sequence of the same length points to a potential problem. Your FCP sequence may be corrupt. If this happens in the future, you might try copy/pasting your clips into a new sequence before exporting the XML.
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