This guide explores the export capabilities of Final Cut Pro X.
It is written for the beginner, so you can understand what is possible with Final Cut Pro X and what isn’t. Hopefully by the end, you should be able to decide whether FCP-X is the right tool for your workflow, or not. I highly recommend you read the Final Cut Pro Manual for a more detailed overview once you’re done with this guide. It really does a great job of explaining the concepts lucidly.
In this part we’ll look at the basics of exporting, and what Apple calls ‘Sharing’.
The concept of ‘Sharing’
Final Cut Pro X (FCP-X from here on) calls rendering ‘Sharing’. If you want to export your finished timeline you will need to use the ‘Share’ options. There are two ways to get there. The first way is File > Share:
The second way is by clicking the ‘Share‘ icon on your timeline:
This small list doesn’t give you the whole picture, which is a bit frustrating. To get more options, select ‘Add Destination…‘, and you’ll get this:
Now it makes more sense! In general, you could break down your share/export options as follows:
- Discs – DVD or Blu-ray
- Internet Video – Youtube, Vimeo, Facebook, etc.
- Image Sequence
- Master Video File
- Apple HLS Streaming
- Apple iDevices video
For greater control and flexibility, there are three more important options, without which it would have been difficult to call FCP-X a professional NLE:
- Apple Compressor (additional $49)
- XML support
We’ll look at these three in Part Two.
Codecs supported by FCP-X for export
FCP-X supports the following video codecs (all only in MOV wrappers):
- Prores (all versions)
- Uncompressed 8-bit 4:2:2
- Uncompressed 10-bit 4:2:2
FCP-X supports the following image sequences:
- Photoshop PSD
FCP-X supports the following audio options with video:
- LPCM – lossless
- AAC – lossy, used mostly for delivery files
FCP-X supports the following audio-only options for export:
Sharing your projects
Depending on how you use FCP-X, you might want to do several things, as explained above. Let’s look at them one by one:
Creating a Master
There are two ways you can do this. You can use the:
- Master File, or
- Export File.
Both these options are kept separate, though they do the same thing. The Master File option is unchangeable, while the Export File option can be customized. When you click either, you get this:
There are two tabs: Info and Settings. Info tells you about the timeline or sequence or clip that you have selected to export.
Once you click Settings, you can choose the following:
- Format – Video and Audio, Video only or Audio only
- Video codec
- Resolution – locked based on what your timeline or sequence settings are.
- Audio file format – locked based on what you select for video, otherwise you have the audio only options.
- Check box to include Chapter markers.
- Open with – You can select Quicktime to playback your file immediately after export, or ‘Do Nothing’, etc.
- Roles as – Export as either of the default roles, or you can create your own. A role is a stem. Read more about them here.
The resolution, frame rate and audio options of the exported clip is displayed at the bottom. You also get an estimate of the final file size at the bottom right.
Next to that is a small TV icon, which will show something like this upon hovering:
If you are creating a master file or exporting, you will only get the Mac option selected. MOV files that don’t get the green check mark against ‘PC’ might not play on PCs, so beware!
Creating a web video on Youtube, Vimeo, Facebook etc.
The settings for this are fairly simple. If you Sign in… you can directly start uploading to your desired video channel:
When possible you get the choice of resolution, but no control over the bit rate or audio.
For Compression you have two options:
- Faster encode
- Better quality
It should be obvious that Apple expects you to take their word on the matter. The other option is to test each setting one by one, systematically, until you can compare the output to other options, like Compressor, etc.
Sometimes you have the option to upload a ‘Private’ movie, if the video channel supports it. For Youtube you have the option to upload into a Category directly.
As with the Master File, you can see the resolution, frame rate, file size and audio options. You will get a yellow warning message if some of your settings are not supported by your video channel.
Creating a DVD or Blu-ray
The DVD settings are as follows:
You can select to create a Single-layer or Double-layer disc, or let FCP-X decide for you based on your media type and file size.
As far as authoring options go, you only have the following choices:
- White or Black template
- Show Menu or Play Movie once disc loads
- Use Chapter Markers
- Add a Background image
- NTSC or PAL decided by timeline settings – E.g., if you have a 30p timeline and want to create a PAL DVD, you’ll need to use Compressor, or redo your project to a 25p timeline.
Blu-ray options are pretty much the same, except you also get:
- Option to add a logo image
- Option to add a title image
The authoring options are very limited, and not suitable for professional use at all. This is probably keeping with Apple’s policy of eliminating optical discs from all its hardware. I only recommend using FCP-X for authoring for home movie projects or whatever.
Creating a video for iDevices
You get two choices here – 720p and 1080p, though both of them have settings for the other – they are the same thing, essentially.
You can choose resolutions based on what Apple things is right for all iDevices, since you cannot choose which iDevice you’re focused on. As far as bit rate is concerned, you have Better Quality or Faster Encode. Files are stored as H.264 MOV files (called an Apple MPEG-4 movie) with AAC audio.
You can add them to iTunes and that’s about it.
Exporting Audio only
To export audio only, you can choose ‘Audio Only’ in Format:
You can choose what kind of audio format you want to export to, but not the bit rates, channels, bit depths or sampling frequencies. These are carried forward from your timeline.
You can export Chapter markers if you’re planning to import them into another software for further work. You can also assign roles to them to divide the audio into audio stems for sub-mixing.
Exporting to Email and HLS options are limited like everything else and needs to be tested for ‘project-worthiness’.
These are the basic exporting or sharing features of Final Cut Pro X.
In Part Two we’ll go to the more professional set of workflows, which includes transcoding, Compressor and XML.