Final Cut Pro Proxy Workflow

Apple’s Final Cut Pro has a new proxy workflow. It’s even easier than before. Make proxies on import, or transcode afterwards. Create a new proxy library or copy events with only proxies, so many options to fit the workflow you need. It’s quick to upload smaller proxies to the cloud and work remotely with your team. Re-connect to the original footage for outputs, colour grading and archiving your project when you’re done.

Final Cut Pro and the Proxy Workflow

“Take your creativity anywhere. Maximize portability and performance by creating proxy copies of your media — as low as 1/8 size — in ProRes Proxy or H.264. The latest proxy engine allows you to create a proxy-only copy of your library to share locally or via the cloud and displays original media if proxies aren’t available. Third party tools such as review and approval app frame.io can also generate and deliver proxies to a Final Cut Pro library.” (Apple.com)

I’ve written about another kind of proxy workflow before, but we will refer to that as the replace-originals-with-smaller-versions workflow and now we have the built-in easy proxy workflow. This new way is much easier. And it’s built-in.

I’ll go over the basic workflow for making proxies and getting your library ready for use with Postlab or other similar cloud collaboration tools…. Seriously, there are no other similar tools! But we’ll go over how to keep your library small and light.

Part One – Final Cut Pro

Final Cut Pro 10.5 is the newest version of Final Cut Pro (which drops the “X”). Ready for Apple Silicon Macs and backwards compatible with macOS 10.15.6 (Catalina).

This new proxy workflow is compatible with Final Cut Pro X v10.4.9 and 10.4.10 as well the newest version 10.5. There were extra bug fixes (LUT for proxies) and new methods (copy new library with proxies) in 10.5 but the addition of the automatic proxy creation on import started with 10.4.9.

Final Cut Pro version 10.5

Import Preferences

First step. Check your import preferences. Final Cut will refer to these when importing. The most important thing to check is that “leave files in place” is selected. This helps us keep the library light and portable. Especially important for editing with Final Cut Pro and Postlab. Keep all media and cache files outside of the library. The second this to check is to choose your proxy format (Pro Res Proxy or H264) at the size you want.

Final Cut Pro Import preferences window.

Choose how small or how large you want your proxies to be. Smaller proxies are faster to transfer and take up less storage but may not be ideal for editing your specific camera footage. Try to find a format that works best for your edit workflow.

Final Cut Pro – Proxy Frame sizes

You also have the option of creating proxies form footage that exists already in the library. Choose “Transcode Media” and select your options.

Final Cut Pro – Transcode Media (menu option)

Part Deux – Editing in the Cloud with Postlab

Once you launch Postlab and login you’ll want to create a production and a library to edit. You have the option of importing an existing library or create a new one. Remember, only import your library if it is super light weight and the media is stored outside (not inside) the library.

Importing a lightweight Final Cut Pro library involves creating a name, writing a description and choosing the media location. If editing off centrally shared storage (on premise) or in the cloud (i.e. Postlab drive) then use “Shared” option. If everyone is using their own storage (external hard drives, NAS, SAN, etc) then choose “Individual”.

If you are creating a new empty library in Postlab then be sure to check the Postlab preferences – Templates tab to select what version of Final Cut Pro for the default empty library and if you want to use a Final Cut Pro template you’ve created already. This is a powerful option for keeping a team working with standard set of tools.

Postlab Template Preferences

Now we start editing. Click “Start Editing” in Postlab. Final Cut Pro will open with your new library.

When you’ve made changes and want to check your Final Cut Pro project back into Postlab switch applications back to Postlab from Final Cut Pro and add a comment.

Postlab check-in (write a comment and upload your work)

Once you’ve checked your project in a few times you’ll notice the list of comments you or your team have made with each check in. These will help you decide what project to revert to, if you need to. The icons (on the right) will allow you to revert, open a copy or export out the version you select.

Postlab – List of comments

Lastly, there is the status menu which you can use to mark the progress of the project.

I hope this helps you get started with the Final Cut Proxy workflow and ready to use Postlab too.

Automatic Archive in Archiware P5

Let’s say you work in the media and entertainment industry, perhaps in Post production, and maybe, just maybe, you shoot a lot of digital film (R3D, Arri RAW, XDCAM, etc), and just maybe you have a SAN. And maybe you’re lucky and you set up a nice backup system using Archiware P5, for example. What about archive? What about finished projects, what do you do about that? Even more importantly, what do you do about the camera archives? That’s the digital film footage that comes in and gets copied to the SAN before creative work begins… it seems like important stuff. Very important to backup, and even better, to archive! How can we set up an automatic archive in Archiware P5?

DEFINITION: What is the difference between backup and archive? In the media and entertainment industry I would define backup as a continuous data protection of live data on a production volume, while archive is a copy of a finished project or original media that will be removed from the production volume and must kept safe for future retrieval. Backups will roll over (a new full backup every week, or month) and if that is all we had, then footage or projects that are done and gone off the SAN would be then lost. Archive separates out the finished projects or source material as needing an independent safekeeping. P5 Archive also has the option of creating a mini-MAM type database of proxy files that can be easily viewed in a web browser for quick identification of files to be restored.

So, how do we set up an automatic archive in Archiware P5? We want it to be automatic so we don’t have to think about it, since manually archiving like backups can be forgotten. If we set up a watch folder on the SAN then we just have to instruct everyone to drop their camera masters and other source files into the folder when they copy to the SAN and P5 will automatically archive them to an incremental tape archive. Wow. That’s awesome.

Tips and Tricks: If you edit with Final Cut Pro X then I recommend using it to make Camera Archives (a verified copy of the footage from the original card or drive) then placing this in the watch folder. If you’re using Adobe’s Premiere workflow, then Prelude can make a verified copy as well, but not in the same way exactly. This will be the subject of another post. Stay tuned.

What does an automatic archive look like?

P5 Archive watch folder

P5 Archive watch folder

Requirements:

  1. Pool (designated tapes, or a disk, for archive)
  2. Index (could be the archive default index, or a unique new index)
  3. Plan (an archive plan specifies the pool and index used as well as the what and how)

P5 Archive General Setup Screen Shot 2014-05-13 at 1.46.50 PM

Tips and Tricks: If you’re generating QT previews then you’ll want to move your index off of the default, or else you might fill up your system hard drive with movie files and then your backup server won’t boot. No, I never done this. OK, trust me it will happen 🙂

Tips and Tricks: Make sure to set up a backup job of the Archive index. This is a safety measure. The archive index is not saved to the tape in the same way backup jobs information. You need to create a backup job specifically to save your archive index. But you’re already running a backup job to backup your Archiware main index, right? Uh huh, thought so.

Tips and Tricks: When creating the archive pool set it at 512KB media block size for faster archiving of big video files.

Archive Index:

Use the advanced options to create a new Archive Index, select its location and optionally create new additional fields to help searching for archived projects.

P5 Archive Db config Screen Shot 2014-05-13 at 1.45.53 PM

Archive options:

Incremental or full? QT previews, yes or no? For an automatic archiving set up I suggest incremental archive and no QT previews. Using previews is up to you (and your disk space available), so plan accordingly.

P5 Archive Options Screen Shot 2014-05-13 at 1.46.59 PM

P5 Archive Preview Gen Screen Shot 2014-05-13 at 1.47.02 PM

If you have any questions or need help setting this up please do not hesitate to contact me. In the meantime, I’ll work on a nice PDF doc to summarize the setup. Download a demo of Archiware P5 and give it a whirl. You’ll see that it’s super easy to create an automatic archive location on your SAN and your editors will thank you when you can restore their files that they need (when they need it!).