The Final Cut Pro X Export Guide (Part Two): External Workflows

In Part One we looked at how Final Cut Pro X handles exporting or sharing. We covered the basic ways in which you can directly export to a master file or a deliverable from within FCP-X.

In this part we’ll cover the more complicated workflows, namely:

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Apple Compressor

Transcoding with FCP-X

You cannot transcode entire timelines or edited clips within timelines. You can only transcode full or logged clips from within the Event Library. Follow these steps:

  • Select the clip(s) you want to transcode.
  • Go to File > Transcode Media… or right-click and select Transcode Media…
  • You’ll get two options:

FCPX Transcoding Options

You can create a proxy or an optimized media. What exactly are these?

  • Optimized media – Prores 422
  • Proxy media – Prores 422 (Proxy) for video, and JPEG or PNG for still images (depending on whether the image has an alpha channel or not). MP3 files are automatically converted to WAV.

Once you’ve created optimized or proxy media, you will be able to check that in the Info Inspector:

FCPX Info Inspector Proxy

If the icon is red, the file doesn’t have a proxy or optimized version. Otherwise it will be green. You can also generate a Proxy from within the Info Inspector.

To use proxies or optimized media, you need to go to Final Cut Pro > Preferences > Playback:

FCPX Playback Settings

You can choose to use only proxy media or optimized media on your timeline. The original media is untouched. Once you’re done editing, you can go back to your originals or optimized versions from the proxy versions. Very elegant and simple solution.

Compressor workflows

Apple recommends that you purchase and use Compressor for professional video. To put it simply, it is a professional-grade transcoding application.

To send your timeline or project to Compressor, select File > Send to Compressor…

The project appears as a job, with no settings applied. You can select a preset or make your own, and click ‘Submit‘. From within Compressor, you have greater freedom as far as settings are concerned to transcode or render your projects.

FCP-X does not close while Compressor works. You can reimport your compressed video when you’re done, and finish and share your project from within FCP-X.

You can also use a Compressor setting from within the Share system:

FCPX Compressor Settings

You can use Compressor to create multiple output files in one go with customized settings.

All Compressor settings can be accessed and selected within FCP-X. Even if you don’t have Compressor installed, you can get a setting from a friend and put it in the Compressor settings folder: /Users/username/Library/Application Support/Compressor/Settings/ (Create it using Finder if it doesn’t exist).

XML workflows

When you’re done editing, you can use FCP-X XML (file extension *.fcpxml) to export your project, without transcoding your footage, to another application. Similarly, you can import a project from another application, as long as that application can export an FCP-X XML file.

To create an XML file:

  • Select an event in the Event Library.
  • Go to File > Export XML…:


You can reconfirm which timeline is being exported, under ‘Source’. In your Metadata View, you can choose which metadata needs to be exported via XML. Not all applications need or can use all this metadata.

If all goes well, you can round-trip between various applications to your heart’s content.

That’s it! I hope this quick guide has given you enough information to decide for yourself whether Final Cut Pro X is the right tool for your workflow or not. If you like what you have seen, I strongly recommend you read the FCP-X manual to continue your study.

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