In Part One we learnt how to deal with simple frame rate mismatches in Final Cut Pro X and Blackmagic Design DaVinci Resolve.
That was just the beginning! In this part we’ll look at how FCP-X changes the duration of the clip to force it to conform, and how that is dealt with in Resolve.
The Retiming workflow
In my example I had neglected to mention one important feature in FCP-X (well, actually I did it on purpose!) – its ability to Retime footage based on your needs. Footage is sped up or slowed down all the time, for various effects. Whether FCP-X does it, or whether you’re doing it in-camera, the workflows are the same (but the ‘results’ will vary!). If you understand this workflow perfectly, you’ll have solved 99% of frame rate mismatch problems.
Let’s start with FCP-X again, and let’s recall our 25p clip that we’ll force on to a 29.97p timeline (what FCP-X calls a project).
As we saw in Part One, if you dump this into a 29.97p timeline, the clip will ‘become’ 26.21 (seconds.frames) or 800.22 frames long. If you don’t want FCP-X to treat the clip as a 29.97p clip, but only as 25p clip, then the result is a sped-up clip. To do this you:
- Select the clip
- Go to Modify > Retime > Conform Speed, or right click the Retime icon on the timeline and select Conform Speed.
- FCP-X treats the 25p clip as 25p:
How long is its duration now? Is it perfectly 26.19 or 669 frames (its original length)? No, it is now 22.08 or 667.34 frames long. It still doesn’t match! This is one reason I didn’t complicate matters by mentioning Retiming in Part One. It is a different kind of workflow.
You could try to play around with the speed to force it to match, but that would defeat the purpose. The lesson is that you can’t squeeze your frames to perfectly fit if the frame rates aren’t divisible. This is the case with 29.97p and similar frame rates that aren’t whole numbers.
Retiming and then some more
How can we further complicate this workflow? You could try reversing the clip while it is Retimed. How will Resolve deal with that? Simple, Resolve will not be able to deal with it. The clip is reversed when it is imported into Resolve, but it applies the Retiming after the reversal. What’s the difference? The clip becomes smaller in length, edited by Resolve!
Nothing else moves, mind you, so if it’s just a few clips you can ‘pull them out again’. However, if they are wedded to transitions like Cross Dissolve, you’ll never be able to fit it in perfectly without getting your hands dirty. The operation does not work the same way in both apps.
Similar problems apply for other time-based effects like Optical Flow or frame blending. These are not supported by Resolve. Keep this in mind. The simplest way to deal with these scenarios is render out only those sections that need special care, with the effects baked in. Relink them in FCP-X, then export your XML and go from there. Why complicate your life? There are no Oscars going to the best Conformist.
Before we move on, let’s step back and look at the different kinds of frame rate possibilities you have:
- You use clips with the same frame rate as the project.
- Locking the Duration: You use clips with different frame rates as the project but try to conform it to the project frame rate (default FCP-X behavior).
- Locking the number of Frames: You use clips with different frame rates and Retime them to act like they were shot – either to speed up or slow down footage.
- Applying more than one frame rate effect, like Retiming and Reversal – doesn’t work always as planned.
Except for the last workflow, the principles I’ve outlined in Part One works when you move these timelines (projects in FCP-X) to DaVinci Resolve. That’s a relief.
A typical workflow
Talking about one clip is one thing, but how does all this work with multiple clips on a project?
Let’s say you have project that needs to be delivered in 29.97p, and you begin a new project at this frame rate (time base). Let’s say you have shot 29.97 clips predominantly for this project, but due to some reason you are forced to use 25p stock footage or shots derived from other sources.
No big deal, you have the technical knowhow to deal with this. The first step is self-awareness:
- Should you deal with the 25p clips as 29.97p clips?
- Do you want to speed up the 25p material?
- Do you want to make the 25p or 29.97p clips to behave in any other way (duration-wise)?
In the first case you might want to try Optical Flow or another tool to smooth out the interpolation that FCP-X does. In the second case you will use the Retime feature as shown above. In the third case you might use a combination of effects, ramping, etc., to achieve your desired duration.
All you have do is follow the steps I’ve outlined in Part One and above. Interpolation is manageable, but not all effects are transferred over (more on this later). These clips can be edited, or placed on different tracks, no problem. All this doesn’t change a thing.
It doesn’t matter what you’re doing, as long as you’re happy with the way FCP-X handles the interpolation. Our focus here is to only know how to get it into Resolve.
Let me give you an example of what I mean.
Let’s go back to our 25p on a 29.97p timeline example. In Part One, when only one 25p clip was dumped on a 29.97p timeline, we saw that the clip changed duration to 26.21 (seconds.frames) and interpolated new frames (from 669 to 800.22).
Now, let’s say I load a 29.97 clip of length, 9.25. I then load the 26.19 25p clip next to it. How long is it now? Is it still 26.21? No! It’s 26.18 now. This is expected behavior when dealing with such frame rates, but you should be aware of this. This is what I mean when I say you must be happy first with how FCP-X deals with conforming and retiming. And, you won’t know exactly until you’ve tested it to your own satisfaction.
I hope this detailed overview has helped you understand how mixed and retimed frame rates works in FCP-X, and what you need to do in Resolve to continue working. Let’s now look at the second kind of mismatch.
File type mismatch
Final Cut Pro X (FCP-X from here on) can do three types of video:
- Your original footage, imported and sometimes rewrapped in MOV.
- Optimized media, transcoded to Prores 422.
- Proxies, transcoded to Prores 422 (Proxy).
When you optimize media or create proxies (or in short, transcode) within FCP-X, all your settings are retained. In the case of proxies, the file names will match so you can reconform later as shown in how to export link.
When you optimize, your original media is no longer necessary, and FCP-X replaces your media with the optimized version. The exported XML will reference the optimized media.
In either case, if the files referenced by the XML document aren’t in the same folder as the XML file, then you will most likely encounter this error:
It is not mandatory to have your XML files in the same folder. That’s entirely up to you. Sometimes you might be exporting multiple XMLs for different workflows, in the same project, so it might be a good idea to organize them in a separate folder or sub folder.
When you encounter the above error, all you have to do is click ‘Yes‘ and select the folder your files are stored in. You don’t have to go all the way down to the last folder, a few folders up is okay. But not the top-most folder, that might keep you waiting forever! Resolve reasonably does a good job of finding the file several folders down.
However, the error is avoidable. All you have to do is tell Resolve where to look at the beginning:
- Go to DaVinci Resolve > Preferences…
- Select the Media Storage tab and click ‘+‘
- Select the folder(s) your media resides in.
- You’ll need to restart Resolve for it to take effect.
- These folders (paths) will show up in the Library
- No more error!
What about proxies?
When you create proxies, FCP-X stores them in the /Movies/Final Cut Events/YourEventName/Transcoded Media/Proxy Media folder. You know you’re using a proxy when you have a green light next to the word Proxy in your Info Inspector.
When you export an XML, even though you’re still editing with the proxies, the XML will reference the original media. FCP-X knows nobody wants to grade a proxy file!
When you import your XML into Resolve, make sure the following boxes are ticked (checked by default):
That’s all, really! If you are dealing with a mix of proxy media some of which were created in another software (maybe in Resolve, on set), then you will need to remember which is your ‘original’ media, because that’s what FCP-X references.
If you’re stuck, you can always import the media into the Media Pool and switch it, unless of course, there are millions of them.
- Before you do anything, tell Resolve where to find your media.
- Ensure you know where your files are on your drives.
- Ensure the names match as shown on your FCP-X project timeline.
- Ensure the clips on your timeline are the clips you want Resolve to work on. Otherwise, rinse and repeat from step one.
- Export XML.
- Import XML.
- If you’re having trouble with a few clips, import them separately into your Media Pool and drop them into your timeline. No need to play fair.
Generally, when clips don’t match or can’t be imported or can’t be conformed, you will notice they are due to these two main reasons alone:
- Frame rate mismatch
- File name or type mismatch
However, that’s not always the case, as we saw in the case of Retiming effects.
In Part Three we’ll look at which effects are handled by Resolve, and what you should do if you need to re-edit in FCP-X while you’re already in Resolve!