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Tips for Organzing Large Projects in Final Cut Pro

written by: Shane Burley•edited by: Michael Dougherty•updated: 1/27/2011

Here is a tutorial on using Final Cut Pro for organizing large projects.

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    Keeping It Together

    Though many users only employ it for smaller projects, Final Cut Pro is a professional non-linear video editing program capable of very large projects such as feature films. The main thrust of the non-linear video editing system is that it turned video editing into a media management system, where files are references, arranged, and affected. When it comes to using Final Cut Pro for organizing large projects you will find that you have to pay special attention to this media management and the use of the Browser. Here are some tips for working in Final Cut Pro and organizing large projects.

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    Outside Your Project File

    The most important principle for organizing large Final Cut Pro projects is to actually keep the project organized outside of your Final Cut Pro project file. Final Cut Pro only references all of your base media files that you either import, transfer, or capture. Once it has been ingested or inputted into your Final Cut Pro project the software remembers where that file is so that it can reference it. If that file is moved or lost it will then disconnect the file, which means that the file in the Final Cut Pro project cannot find its source file in your storage space.

    To avoid this, as well as avoiding the delete of any important files, you should be properly labeling all files and keeping the files in the correct locations. This means that each time you capture or transfer video using Final Cut Pro, either through a digital storage medium like a P2 card or from a mini DV deck, you should set the capture scratch to a precise location on your project hard drive. This way you can ensure that your capture scratch will always be in a known location. If you are using existing .mov files, music files, stock footage, photos, or anything else they should also be labeled and put in folders set by file type or use in the project.

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    Final Cut Pro Browser

    Bring the same principles that you used in organizing your hard drive for the project into your project file. The Final Cut Pro Browser is where your media is listed in your project and you want to make sure that you label all clips correctly, put them in Bins, and then label the bins in the same way that you did with the folders on the hard drive. It is good to separate clips by scenes, shoot days, file types, or contents Screen shot 2011-01-27 at 5.05.29 PM depending on how your project works.

    Your Sequences should also be organized in appropriate folders, maybe even labeling them specifically and then placed into a Bin of their own in the Final Cut Pro Browser. The same principle should go for nested Sequences that include segments from larger Sequences, but these may go into a Bin specific to a scene. In general, you have to apply your own editing organizational plan to your project ahead of time and then utilize the Screen shot 2011-01-27 at 5.14.14 PM available tools in the Browser to achieve these.

    The Browser also give you the tools to label your clips even further, and there are a lot of informational blocks in the right hand columns. Here there will be a lot of different pieces of information about your clip or Sequence, such as audio, frame size, vid rate, data rate, compressor, and so on. You can also include your own information in columns such as description, scene, shot, take, angle, and various comment columns. These will allow you to quickly identify clips, and may be a good place to transfer some of the information from your assistant camera log.