MURL Guide: Final Cut Pro and Web Video

Getting Started

Your first step when launching Final Cut Pro will be to set your scratch disks. You should have your own external hard drive and designated folders to set the scratch disks.

It is very important to organize your folders right from the beginning. Create a folder for each project and point your scratch disks to that folder (e.g.: “Final Project”).

If you do not properly organize and save your files you will most likely end up with “media offline” errors.

Media offline
This is what you don’t want to see. Avoid it by simply keeping your files in the right folder.

To set your scratch disks, follow these steps:

1.    In the Final Cut menu, select System Settings

2.    Click the Set button at the very top and select your external hard drive.

3.    Click the Set buttons for Waveform Cache, Thumbnail Cache and  Autosave Vault and select the same location for all of them.

4.    Hit OK.

Setting the scratch disk.


Transferring HD Video from Your Camera/Memory Card to Final Cut Pro

To edit footage shot on an HD camera and saved to a memory card, you will use the Log and Transfer feature of Final Cut Pro. Before transferring any footage, make sure you have properly set your scratch disks. After you have done that, select Log and Transfer from the File menu.



This will bring up a dialog box, which should prompt the computer to automatically detect your memory card. Make sure you have the card connected to the computer either via a card reader (the preferable option), or via the USB connection on the camera. On this screen, you can drag clips individually to the Queue, located in the bottom left region of the box. You also have the option now to name your clips, using the Clip Name tool in the bottom right area of the box. In the top right area, you can choose in an out points for the clips if you’d like to more specifically control how much of your clips you are transferring to the hard drive.


This process can take a while if you have shot very high resolution video, so please be patient. Once the transfer process is complete. Your clips will appear in the Browser window in Final Cut Pro, and are ready to be edited. Below is an example.


Troubleshooting: My Clips Won’t Show Up!!

The most common “problem” during the log and transfer process is that your folder with the video files (most likely AVCHD files) is “greyed out” and not available to select for transferring. It will look like the example in the screenshot below.

Screen Shot 2014-10-01 at 2.43.44 PM


No sweat- Just highlight the “parent folder” containing the video files (AVCHD files noted in examples) and click “Open.”

Screen Shot 2014-10-01 at 2.43.58 PM

Screen Shot 2014-10-01 at 3.09.39 PM


Your video files are now available for you to  “Add to Que” and continue the transfer process.


Screen Shot 2014-10-01 at 2.44.11 PM


Troubleshooting: My files are offline!!

Nobody is perfect. Your files will be offline if you either didn’t save them in the right folder as instructed in the very beginning of this tutorial or if your hard drive is unplugged.

Media offline


Find the “offline” files in your hard drive (clips that were logged and transferred will be somewhere in a “capture scratch” folder). If you put them in the wrong folder, move them where they belong (in the capture scratch folder for the actual project you are working on).

You can also right click the offline file in FCP and select “reconnect media” to let FCP know where it is.


Reconnect Media

Troubleshooting: There are Lines in my Video!!

Sometimes you will see blurry lines while your video is playing. No sweat. You just need to de-interlace the video and the sequence in order to get rid of this. It only takes a few seconds for a quick fix.

Simply go to the affected video in your bin, scroll over to “field dominance,” right click and apply “none.” Repeat this for your sequence in the bin & you’ll be all set.

Get Rid of Lines in FCP

Changing your Sequence Settings:

Final Cut Pro requires that you use the appropriate Sequence settings before you begin editing. If you attempt to drag your clip from the browser to the timeline and the sequence settings do not match, you will see this dialog box:

By selecting yes, the sequence will be altered to the appropriate settings for your clips. However, this process must be performed for every new sequence you create.

Do: Select Yes if the first clip was shot with one of our HD cameras or with another HD camera.

Do Not: Select Yes if the first clip was shot with a standard def format, particularly if it was shot in a 4:3 aspect ratio, as opposed to 16:9. You want your sequence to be HD quality with a 16:9 aspect ratio. You could end up with the dreaded black bars on top and below video.


You don't want these black bars on the video.
You don’t want these black bars on the video.

Editing Your Clips:

Three Point Editing- See complete guide to Three Point Editing with screenshots here.

Get in the habit of not using drag and drop. It is good discipline to use the keyboard shortcuts to either overwrite to the timeline or insert to the timeline. This ensures that the editing process is done with absolute precision. It is also in line with the editing methods used by pretty much every major media organization.

Customize the keyboard so that you don’t have to move the mouse around as much.

Important: Some Mac OS X keyboard shortcuts may conflict with your Final Cut Pro keyboard shortcuts. For more information, see Customizing the Interface in the online FCP7 Manual.

Keyboard shortcuts to Playing Video:

“L” = Play (forward)

“K” = Pause

“J” = Play video in reverse.

By hitting the L or J key multiple times, you can increase the speed of the playback.

“Spacebar” can also be used for Play and Stop/Pause.

To be frame-accurate on where you want to stop your playhead, you can use the Arrow keys to move one-frame at a time, back or forward.

Arrow left, will move one-frame back

Arrow right, will move one-frame ahead.

Keyboard shortcuts for Editing:

During the editing process, you should be able to toggle back and forth between your “Source” in the Viewer window, and your “Sequence” that you are creating in the Timeline. You can toggle around all the four windows in FCP by using:

Command 1 = Viewer (Source)

Command 2 = Canvas

Command 3 = Timeline (Sequence)

Command 4 = Browser

(Press the “command” key and the number key together. The numbers at the top of the keyboard, not to the right)

3-Point Editing

There are variations to this technique, but the most common version is to select the IN and OUT points of your source video in the Viewer Window, then place the playhead to the IN point in your Timeline/Sequence, (meaning where you want this new clip to begin.) Those are your 3-points. Then you will either perform an Insert Edit or an Overwrite edit. The most important aspect to three-point editing is to only lay in what you need right from the start.

Step-by-step process on how to do a 3-point edit with only using the keyboard:

• Hit Command 4 to go to Browser.

• Use Arrow keys to go up and down the list of source clips.

• Hit “Return” to open source video in Viewer Window

• Hit Spacebar or “L” to play video in Viewer.

• Hit the letter “i” to set your IN POINT (where you want the clip to begin)

• Play video (L) to find the end of your shot/soundbite.

• Hit letter “o” to set your OUT POINT (where you want the clip to end)

• Hit Command 3 to go to TIMELINE.

• Use a combination of spacebar, L and/or arrow keys to move the Playhead to the specific frame you want this source clip to begin.

• Then hit either:

• Function F9 for an INSERT Edit

• Function F10 for an OVERWRITE Edit.

An INSERT Edit will insert your source clip from the Viewer into the timeline wherever your playhead is located. It will not erase any clip that may already be there, but it will split a clip in two, to insert that new clip at the point of the playhead in the timeline. Practice this method, and you will understand.

An OVERWRITE Edit will erase whatever clip may be at the point of your playhead in the timeline. You are overwriting the old clip, with the new clip from the Viewer. Practice this method and you will understand.

All your A-Roll should be laid out on V1 and A1 on the timeline. This includes all your interviews, narration, sign-offs, etc. Your B-Roll footage will be placed on V2 and A2 on the timeline. This includes footage that will help drive the narrative and visually illustrate your VO and interviews, etc.


When out in the field with your camera, it is standard to use Audio Channel 1 for Interviews and Narration. This will be recorded by the reporter using the handheld mic. Audio Channel 2 is usually ambient nat sounds. This is picked-up by the cameraʼs mic. By default, both channels of audio are set to pan left or right. They will only play on left or right sides. You will fix this by using the PAN control during the editing.

When you lay down your A-Roll first, only lay down the video and one channel of audio of the audio. Your “good audio” channel, is A1, or channel one, or left channel. Deselect A2 from the timeline during this process so as not to drop in both channels of audio at once.

Screen Shot 2014-10-01 at 3.17.46 PM
Deselect A2 when placing in A-Roll.


After A-Roll layer is down, go through all of the channel 1 audio on the timeline, double click each audio edit segment in the timeline and in the Viewer set the Pan to zero (center). This will play the “good sound” on both left and right channels.

Screen Shot 2014-10-01 at 3.18.06 PM
Set the Pan to zero (center)

When laying in B-Roll, it is best to place the video on V1, to give you flexibility on adjusting itʼs final placement. And the B-Roll audio will go on A2. It accomplish this you must set the Target Track to V1, and Deselect A1. (as seen on the next image)

Screen Shot 2014-10-01 at 3.47.03 PM
Set the Target Track to V1, and Deselect A1



Adjust your levels and pan for each b-roll clip accordingly.

Use the OVERLAYS to adjust the audio levels. Try to average out audio at -12db but make sure the audio-level balance between the A-Roll and B-Roll is correct.

To change the volume of a clip, double-click its audio track in the timeline, then raise or lower the pink bar in the Viewer to raise or lower the volume. Make sure all your clips play at the same volume when you listen to it, which does not necessarily mean the pink bar will always be at the same place for all your clips.

Fades and Effects:

To add a fade or other effect, click the Effects tab in the Browser. Drag the effect you want down to the clip in the timeline. The most commonly used video effect is a Cross Dissolve, and the most commonly used audio effect is a Cross Fade.

Lower Thirds:

Adding lower thirds is an easy process. The first step to add our banner to your sequence. The second step is to add text while layering it with your banner. Make sure to adjust the size and placement of your banner and text layers.


We have a lower thirds banner image which you can download here.

Import this banner into your bin.

Import Banner
Import Banner into Bin


Next you’ll want to place the banner where you’d like it to appear in your timeline. You can simply drag and drop it to the Video 2 channel.

Place Banner in Timeline
Place Banner in Timeline

Move and resize your banner. Make sure to click “image + wireframe” in your canvas in order to do this.

Choose "Image + Wireframe" in your canvas to move/resize the Banner
Choose “Image + Wireframe” in your canvas to move/resize the Banner


Move and Resize Banner
Move and Resize Banner

We also recommend that you change the opacity level of the banner to around 88 by clicking “Motion” and “Opacity” in the viewer window.

Change Banner Opacity
Change Banner Opacity Level to 88


To add text to your project, click the little “A in a film” icon at the bottom of the Viewer window, go to the Text menu, and select Lower Third. To edit the text, click the Controls tab in the Viewer window. You can also change the font, size, color and many other things in this window.

Location of the Text button, which will allow you to create lower thirds.

Create Lower Third Text
Create Lower Third Text

Now place this on the Video 3 channel layered directly above the banner on your sequence.

Layer Text
Layer Text

Change and resize the text using the same method mentioned above for adjusting the banner. You can access the text controls by double clicking the “Lower Third” clip on the sequence and clicking Controls in the viewer window. You’ll see the changes when you click anything off this lower dialogue box. Change the color of the text to black or grey.

Change Text, Resize and place at a good spot on top of the banner
Change Text, Resize and place at a good spot on top of the banner

 Tip for Next Lower Thirds-

Do a multiple select of the banner and text when you are done. Copy both at once, paste it elsewhere for other lower thirds as needed and simply change the text to make things easy after this. Save a copy of both layers somewhere for future projects & you’ll be all set.

Other Keyboard Shortcuts:

Command U– Creates a sub-clip. You can choose and save soundbites using this.

P – Pen Tool – Used to create keyframes on the overlay to manipulate small sections of audio.

A – Arrow Tool – Used to select.

B – Razor blade Tool – Used to edit footage already in the timeline.

General Tips for Producing a great broadcast video package

The story should be written out.

It should NOT be pieced together on the fly during editing.

You should be scripting out your stories, writing to the video that you have and then assembling it using the a-roll/b-roll timeline method. Remember to take control of your video presentation by scripting it out before you start editing.

A good video piece should be able to stand on its own as a great audio piece. You should be able to close your eyes and picture the story being aired on NPR. The piece should be filled with narration, interviews and lots of nat sound breaks and nat sound “beds” that lead from one portion of the story to another.

– Tell the story like you’re telling your friend what happened at the end of the day.

– What are the three most important points?

– What has the best video – use that at the top of the story to capture the viewer.

– Use most compelling soundbites — other than that, you can probably make the points more succinctly in voiceover.

– Look for nat/sot breaks that make sense.

– Use a standup for facts that aren’t illustrated by video

Rendering Your Project:

When you are finished editing, render the entire project by going to Sequence > Render All. Make sure the Timeline is selected before you do this). Final Cut will render your project. Depending on how complex and long the project is, rendering can take quite a while.

Exporting Videos from Final Cut Pro for Web Uploading and Saving:

If your video is under two minutes long, you shouldn’t need to compress. Vimeo now automatically compresses your videos when you upload. Exporting your videos for the web is a snap.

First highlight the sequence in your bin. This will determine what gets exported.

Sequence Screen Shot



Now select File- Export- Quicktime Movie.

Screen Shot 2014-06-02 at 2.34.10 PM


Now name your file, select the destination and leave “current settings” selected.

Screen Shot 2014-06-02 at 2.34.59 PM



You are now done. Log on to Vimeo, upload your files and you can call it a day.

Compression for Web:

If your video file is large or seems to be taking forever to upload to Vimeo, you may want to compress it. Below are instructions for using Compressor with a MURL computer containing our special preset. You can have this preset emailed to you upon request.

Export your sequence using the instructions noted above.

Drag the Quicktime movie file to Compressor.


Compressor will open. On the window in the lower left (make sure the Setting tab is selected), click the arrow next to custom folder to expand the folder. You’ll see two settings: Vimeo SD and Vimeo HD. If your video was shot in SD (Standard Definition) select Vimeo SD and if you’re video was shot in HD (High Definition) select Vimeo HD. If these custom settings are not available, they have simply not been installed on the computer on which you are working. You can download and install the custom settings by following this tutorial.

Drag the compression setting you have selected to the area labeled “Drag Setting and Destination Here.”

Your window should now look like this:

The next step is selecting a destination for your compressed file. Click the destinations tab in the lower left window. Select “Desktop” and drag the setting to “Source” (as appears in the image below.)

Make sure to drag the destination to the “Source” section, otherwise the compression job will not be completed. Below are examples of incorrect operations.

Now your compression settings and destination are set. Compressor should look like this:

Finally, click the “Submit…” button to begin the compression process. A new window will pop up which asks you to name your file and choose a priority setting. Priority should be set to “High” and your file must be named using the Philadelphia Neighborhoods naming convention. Hit submit, and your file will be compressed and exported to the desktop. Make sure at this point that you move your file from the desktop to your external hard drive if you are using one, as Compressor has been directed to save to the Desktop.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.