Final Cut Pro X Cookbook

By Jason Cox
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  1. Importing Your Media

About this book

As technology becomes more and more accessible and easier to use, we are expected to do more in less time than ever before. Video editors are now expected to be able not only to edit, but create motion graphics, fix sound issues, enhance image quality and color and more. Also, many workers in the PR and marketing world are finding they need to know how to get viral videos made from start to finish as quickly as possible. Final Cut Pro X was built as a one-stop shop with all the tools needed to produce a professional video from beginning to end.

The "Final Cut Pro X Cookbook" contains recipes that will take you from the importing process and basic mechanics of editing up through many of FCPX’s advanced tools needed by top-tier editors on a daily basis. Edit quickly and efficiently, fix image and sound problems with ease, and get your video out to your client or the world easily.

No program gets you from application launch to the actual editing process faster than FCPX. After covering the basics, the book hits the ground running showing readers how to produce professional quality videos even if video editing isn’t your day job.

The recipes inside are packed with more than 300 images helping illustrate time-saving editing tools, problem-solving techniques and how to spice up your video with beautiful effects and titles. We also dive into audio editing, color correction and dabble in FCPX’s sister programs Motion and Compressor!

With more than 100 recipes, the Final Cut Pro X Cookbook is a great aid for the avid enthusiast up to the 40-hour-a-week professional. This book contains everything you need to make videos that captivate your audiences.

Publication date:
October 2012


Chapter 1. Importing Your Media

In this chapter, we will cover:

  • Importing from a tapeless video camera

  • Importing MTS, M2TS, and M2T files

  • Importing DSLR video

  • Importing music from iTunes and GarageBand

  • Importing still images

  • Importing from a tape-based camera

  • Importing and working with layered Photoshop files

  • Importing iMovie projects

  • Importing Final Cut Pro 7 projects

  • Working with your already organized media

  • Relinking media files



Most artists have it easy—a painter grabs a brush, some paint and goes straight for the canvas. A writer grabs a pen and paper (or keyboard) and starts writing. A graphic artist grabs a tablet and starts drawing. If only it were that easy for video editors!

Well before an editor can start doing any actual work, we've got to spend a good amount of time getting organized and importing our media. The act of importing is simply the process of bringing our media inside FCPX and making the program aware of its existence. It's very similar to dragging a song file into iTunes—the song file already existed in some capacity, but by dropping it into iTunes, we're making iTunes aware that it exists. The same goes for FCPX in most cases.

Unlike the digital music world, however, which only has a small handful of file formats, the digital video world has dozens, and the process for importing these different media types can vary greatly. And, to top it all off, we have many options to consider as to how we want FCPX to process and handle that media as it is imported!

FCPX can import many kinds of media, but there are many factors that must be considered before doing so to determine the best workflow for a project, and where there's a will there's a way—even if FCPX can't immediately import certain file types or projects from other programs, this chapter will help explain workarounds to do the impossible!


Importing from a tapeless video camera

Chances are, if you've bought a video camera in the last few years, it doesn't record to tape; it records to some form of tapeless media. In most consumer and prosumer cameras, this is typically an SD card, but could also be an internal drive, other various solid-state memory cards, or the thankfully short-lived trend of recordable mini DVDs. In the professional world, examples include Compact Flash, P2 cards (usually found in Panasonic models), SxS cards (many Sony and JVC models, Arri Alexa), or some other form of internal flash storage.

How to do it...

  1. 1. Plug your camera in to your Mac's USB port, or if you're using a higher-end setup with a capture box, plug the box into likely your FireWire or Thunderbolt box. If your camera uses an SD card as its storage medium, you can also simply stick the SD card into your Mac's card reader or external reader. If you are plugging the camera directly in, turn it on, and set it to the device's playback mode. If FCPX is running, it should automatically launch the Import from Camera window. If it does not, click on the Import from Camera icon in the left of the toolbar. You will see thumbnails of all of your camera's clips. You can easily scrub through them simply by passing your mouse over each one.

  2. 2. You can import clips one at a time by selecting a range and then clicking on Import Selected... or you can simply highlight them all and click on Import All... . To select a range, simply move your mouse over a clip until you find the point where you want to start and hit I on your keyboard. Then scrub ahead until you reach where you want the clip to end and hit O.

  3. 3. Whether you chose to select one, a few, or all your clips, once you click on the Import button you will arrive at the Import options screen. Choose what event you want your clips to live in, choose if you want to transcode the clips, and select any analyses you want FCPX to perform on the clips as it imports them. Click on Import. FCPX begins the import process. You can close the window and begin editing immediately!

How it works...

The reason you can edit so quickly, even if you're importing a massive amount of footage, is thanks to some clever programming on Apple's part. While it might take a few minutes or even longer to import all the media off of your camera or memory card, FCPX will access the media directly on the original storage device, until it has finished its import process, and then switch over to the newly imported versions.

There's more...

Creating a camera archive

Creating a camera archive is the simplest and best way to make a backup of your raw footage. Tapeless cameras often store their media in really weird-looking ways with complex folder structures. In many cases, FCPX needs that exact folder structure in order to easily import the media.

A camera archive essentially takes a snapshot or image of your camera's currently stored media and saves it to one simple file that you can access in FCPX over and over again. This of course also frees you to delete the contents of the memory card or media drive and reuse it for another shoot.

In the Camera Import window, make sure your camera is selected in the left column and click on the Create Archive button in the bottom left corner. The resulting window will let you name the archive and pick a destination drive. Obviously, store your archive on an external drive if it's for backup purposes. If you were to keep it on the same drive as your FCPX system and the drive fails, you'd lose your backup as well!

The process creates a proprietary disk image with the original file structure of the memory card. FCPX needs the original file structure (not just the video files) in order to properly capture from the card. By default, it stores the archive in a folder called Final Cut Camera Archives on whatever drive you selected.

Later when you need to reimport from a camera archive, simply open the Camera Import window again, and if you don't see your needed archive under Camera Archives on the left, click on Open Archive... and find it in the resulting window.

To import all or not to import all

If you've got the time, there's nothing to stop you from looking at each and every clip one at a time in the Import from Camera window, selecting a range, and then importing that one clip. However, that's going to take you a while as you'll have to deal with the settings window every time you click on the Import button. If you've got the storage space (and most of us do today), just import everything and worry about weeding out the trash later.

But what about XYZ format?

There are two web pages you should bookmark to keep up to date.

One is This web page lists most of the formats FCPX can work with. Expect this list to grow with future versions.

The second site is This web site lets you search camera models for compatibility with FCPX.

Just because a format isn't listed on Apple's specs page, doesn't mean it's impossible to work with. Many camera manufacturers release plugins which enhance a program's capabilities. One great example is Canon (, who released a plugin for FCPX allowing users to import MXF files from a wide variety of their cameras.


Importing MTS, M2TS, and M2T files

If you've ever browsed the file structure of a memory card pulled from an AVCHD camera, you'll have seen a somewhat complex system of files and folders and almost nothing resembling a normal video file. Deep inside you're likely to find files with the extension .mts, .m2ts, or .m2t (on some HDV cameras). By themselves, these files are sitting ducks, unable to be read by most basic video playback software or imported directly by FCPX. But somehow, once you open up the Import from Camera window in FCPX, FCPX is able to translate all that apparent gobbledygook from the memory card into movie files. FCPX needs that gobbledygook to import the footage. But what if someone has given you a hard drive full of nothing but these standalone files? You'll need to convert or rewrap (explained in the following section) the clips before heading in to FCPX.

Getting ready

There are a number of programs out there that can tackle this task, but a highly recommended one is ClipWrap ( There is a trial, but you'll probably want to go ahead and buy the full version.

How to do it...

  1. 1. Open ClipWrap. Drag-and-drop your video files (ending in .mts, .m2ts, or .m2t) into the main interface.

  2. 2. Set a destination for your new files under Movie Destination.

  3. 3. Click on the drop-down menu titled Output Format. You can choose to convert the files to a number of formats including ProRes 422 (the same format that is created when you select the Create optimized media option in FCPX). A faster, space-saving option, however, is to leave the default setting, Rewrap (don't alter video samples):

  4. 4. Click on Convert. When the process is done, you will have new video files that end in .mov and can be directly imported into FCPX via File | Import | Files.

How it works...

In the previous exercise, we chose not to transcode/convert the video files into another format. What we did was take the video and audio stream out of one container (.mts, .m2ts, or .m2t) and put it into another (QuickTime, seen as .mov). It may sound crazy at first, but we basically took the birthday present (the video and audio) out of an ugly gift box that FCPX won't even open and put it into a prettier one that FCPX likes.

There's more...

Other alternatives

ClipWrap is far from the only solution out there, but it is definitely one of the best. The appendix of this book covers the basics of Compressor, Apple's compression software which can't convert raw AVCHD files in most cases, but can convert just about any file that QuickTime can play. The software company, iSkySoft, ( makes a large number of video conversion tools for a reasonable price. If you're looking for a fully featured video encoding software package, look no further than Telestream Episode ( or Sorenson Squeeze ( These two applications are expensive, but can take just about any video file format out there and transcode it to almost anything else, with a wide variety of customizable settings.

Rewrapping or transcoding

As mentioned in step 3 in the previous section, we could have chosen to transcode to ProRes 422 instead of rewrapping. This is a totally fine option, just know the differences: transcoding, takes much longer, it takes up much more file space, but on the plus side, it is Final Cut Pro X's favorite format (because it's native to FCPX, made by Apple for Apple) and you may save time in the actual editing process by working with a faster more efficient codec once inside FCPX. If you chose to rewrap, you still have the option to transcode when you import into FCPX.


Importing DSLR video

With each passing day, more and more advanced enthusiasts, prosumers, and even some professionals are turning toward digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) still cameras for their video-making needs. DSLRs offer a few unique features at a reasonable price range that typically cost thousands more in dedicated video cameras. Two of these most prominent features include interchangeable lenses, as well as much greater control over depth-of-field than most low-to-mid-range video cameras offer. DSLR video does come with its own set of drawbacks, however. Many models offer vastly inferior on-board microphones, limited non-stop recording time, and little to no stabilization options. If you go the DSLR route, FCPX is perfectly suited to work with your camera's media as the majority of DSLRs create ready-to-edit H.264 files. And as your DSLR is NOT an actual video camera, we bypass the Import from Camera window entirely!

How to do it...

  1. 1. Connect your DSLR to your Mac via USB or simply insert the camera's card into a memory card reader.

  2. 2. Select File | Import | Files... .

  3. 3. Locate your storage device for your camera's media, likely located in the DEVICES list in the left side column of the Import Files window.

  4. 4. Once selected, find the folder with the media. This is usually a folder labeled DCIM. Select your following import settings to your liking and click on Import:

How it works...

As you can see, the process is very straightforward, and even easier than importing from a regular video camera! The part that often confuses new FCPX users is why we don't go to the Import from Camera window. A DSLR is a camera, right? Well, the Import from Camera window is strictly used for dedicated video cameras. A DSLR is a still camera that happens to also be able to record video. The individual files it creates (H.264) are immediately ready for import into FCPX and do not require being processed/transcoded.

There's more...

Transcoding H.264

As always, when you import files into FCPX, you have the option of transcoding. If H.264 is readily accepted by FCPX, why transcode to ProRes? Well, while H.264 is a space-efficient video codec, it's not particularly edit-friendly. It takes a lot more processing power to modify and render H.264 files as they are heavily compressed. If you're creating a very simple or short project with H.264 files that is simply a series of cuts with maybe a few transitions and a title or two, you're probably fine to save time and skip the transcoding process. However, if your project is going to become more involved with lots of extras, including effects and color correction, take the time to transcode upfront. You'll save yourself a lot of time in the editing process and your computer will thank you for not stressing it out!

See also

To better understand transcoding options in FCPX, read the Creating optimized and proxy media recipe.


Importing music from iTunes and GarageBand

A movie is nothing without its soundtrack. Can you imagine the plastic bag scene in American Beauty without Thomas Newman's haunting piano in the background? Or Luke Skywalker's epic lightsaber battle with Darth Vader in Return of the Jedi without John Williams' score?

Many of us have hundreds or thousands of tunes in our iTunes libraries today and a few of us, with the gift to craft music, probably have a number of projects in progress in GarageBand. Final Cut Pro X makes it simple to import either into your videos.

How to do it...

  1. 1. Click on the Show/Hide Sound Browser button on the right of the tool bar. The Sound Browser appears split into two sections. The first lists what sources we have to select from. GarageBand and iTunes should be listed:

  2. 2. Click on iTunes. Your entire music library appears in the bottom half of the window. You can narrow down the list by either clicking on the disclosure triangle to the left of the iTunes label and selecting a playlist, or by typing in the search box at the bottom of the browser window:

  3. 3. When you have found the song you want, you can click on the song title and drag it into your open project, dropping it wherever you choose. If you drag it to the end of a project, it will add it to the primary storyline. If you drag it below any clips along your timeline, it will connect itself to that clip as a connected clip (read more about the connected clip in the Creating connected clips recipe).

  4. 4. Click on GarageBand in the Sound Browser. Just like clicking on iTunes, you will see a list of any GarageBand projects you have been working on. The only pre-requisite is that you have saved an iLife Preview of the file (you are prompted to do this when saving and closing a new GarageBand project for the first time). Just like with an iTunes track, click-and-drag the music file you want into your project.

How it works...

When you drag an audio file directly into a project, a duplicate of the file is added to the project's default event (set when you originally created the project). That means, even if you delete the song from iTunes or GarageBand, it will still work fine in your project. In addition, any compressed audio files you import from iTunes automatically get converted into uncompressed WAV files, which FCPX handles more smoothly than typically compressed MP3 and AAC files.

There's more...

Import now, use later

If your project hasn't really taken shape yet, but you know you want to import music from the Sound Browser to use later, you don't have to drag a song or sound effects directly into the timeline. Instead, simply click-and-drag them from the Sound Browser to the event of your choice in your Event Library. They will copy into the event and stay there until you are ready to use them. You can also apply keywords and make them favorites as well!

Tons of sound effects

If you haven't done so already, run your Mac's Software Update. A download titled Final Cut Pro X Supplemental Content should appear that will install more than 1,300 high-quality sound effects that can be accessed in the Sound Browser. Additionally, it will download extra presets for the Space Designer plugin, covered in the Creating a surround sound space recipe.

See also

Clicking and dragging is easy, but not always the fastest or most accurate way to add a file to a project's timeline. Read the Creating connected clips, Appending, inserting, and overwriting clips to a storyline recipes in Chapter 3, Basic Editing Mechanics to learn about the different types of edits in FCPX and how to use keyboard shortcuts to quickly add clips (both video and audio) to your timeline in different ways.


Importing still images

Making a movie isn't always about using moving images. There are plenty of instances where you need to use still images, whether for a slideshow, b-roll, documentary, or some other purpose.

How to do it...

  1. 1. With a project of your choosing open, click on the Show/hide the Photos Browser button in the toolbar, indicated by the camera icon:

  2. 2. The window, shown in the following screenshot, is broken down into two pieces. The top half shows what sources of photos you have to select from and the bottom half displays the photos in the source selection. Depending on what photo software you use, you may see iPhoto, Aperture, and/or Photo Booth listed in the source window. To easily dig deeper into the iPhoto or Aperture libraries (which are likely to have hundreds or even thousands of images), click on the disclosure triangle next to each to display a list of your albums, events, projects, and so on. You may also use the search box at the bottom of the window to narrow down your images:

  3. 3. Find the image you are seeking, and click-and-drag it into your project's timeline. If you drag it to the end of a project, it will add it to the primary storyline. If you drag it above any clips along your timeline, it will connect itself to that clip as a connected clip. In the following screenshot, the image was added as a connected clip over two other clips:

How it works...

When you drag an image file directly into a project, a duplicate of the file is added to the project's default event (set when you originally created the project). That means, even if you deleted the song from iPhoto, Aperture, or Photo Booth, it will still work fine in your project (assuming you have set FCPX to copy all imported media into Events).

There's more...

Import now, use later

If your project hasn't really taken shape yet, but you know you want to import photos from the Photos browser to use later, you don't have to drag a photo or photos directly into the timeline. Instead, simply click-and-drag them from the Photos browser to the event of your choosing. They will copy into the event in the Events browser and stay there until you are ready to use them. You can also apply keywords and make them favorites as well!

Selecting more than one image at once

If you were creating a slideshow, this would seem like a pretty painful process if you had to drag 117 images into your timeline! Luckily, you can easily drag two or more images into the project by one of two methods. Once you've selected an event or album in the Photos browser, you can do any of the following:

  • Use the command key to select multiple images at once and drag them into your project

  • If you simply want the entire event or album, click-and-drag the icon of the event/album itself into your project (or FCPX Event of your choosing) to add every item at once

Even if you're not going to use every image, sometimes this is a faster workflow so you can just easily delete the few images you don't want in your timeline as you go.

Importing images not in Apple photo software

Some Mac users don't use Apple's various photo offerings, which is fine. Perhaps your photos are simply residing in a series of folders somewhere on your computer. You can import images using the File | Import command and choose an event to place them in. You can even drag images directly from their folder in Finder into the FCPX interface and drop them on top of the event of your choice as well!

See also

So, what can you do with photos once you've got them imported? Try reading some of the recipes in the Chapter 8, Get Your Movie to Move such as Panning and zooming over a photo or clip with the Ken Burns effect, Creating a video wall, and Cropping or trimming a clip.

Clicking and dragging is easy, but not always the fastest or more accurate way to add a file to a project's timeline. Read the Creating connected clips, Appending, inserting, and overwriting clips to a storyline recipes in Chapter 3, Basic Editing Mechanics to learn about the different types of edits in FCPX and how to use keyboard shortcuts to quickly add clips (both video and audio) to your timeline in different ways.


Importing data from a tape-based camera

Today, it's hard to find a video camera in a store that still records to tape. The camera world has virtually completed its slow and painful transition from tape-based to tapeless media. However, for those of us who are clinging onto our old, yet trusted equipment, or who work in a professional environment that is forced to use their technology till the day it dies, we still need FCPX to be able to import from these cameras.

Luckily, FCPX can still import from most tape-based camera formats, including HDV, DV, DVCAM, DVCPRO, DVCPRO 50, and DVCPRO HD. However, support for the process has been severely deprecated. It's still an easy task, but there aren't nearly as many bells and whistles to import from tape as there used to be in FCP7.

How to do it...

  1. 1. Turn on your camera and set it to playback mode (this differs from camera to camera). Attach it via FireWire to your Mac or capture device.

  2. 2. If FCPX is open, it should automatically open the Import from Camera window. If not, click on the Import From Camera icon in the left of the toolbar:

  3. 3. Queue your tape to the point you want to import from either by using the camera's controls, or by using the J, K, and L keys on your keyboard to rewind, pause, or play, respectively. Click on Import:

  4. 4. In the next window, pick your settings such as what event you want the video saved to and if you want any analysis or transcoding done. When you're done, click on Import again.

  5. 5. FCPX begins importing right away. It will continue to do so until it either reaches the end of the tape, your disk fills up (don't let this happen!), or you click on Stop Import. Remember that tape-based capture happens in real time. If you have 57 minutes of footage, it will take 57 minutes to capture!

There's more...

If you're lucky...

Depending on your camera, FCPX may be able to detect starts and stops (when you click on Record and Pause) on your tape automatically. If it can, FCPX will split up your imported footage into individual clips!

If you run into problems, try a camera archive

Reports of tape capture problems in FCPX have been widely reported (such as dropped frames, missing video, and so on). As Apple pushes technology farther and faster, they tend to leave behind what they believe to be dying technologies (in this case, tape). Users who have run into various issues capturing from tape have also found better success by creating a camera archive of their footage first, then importing from that, rather than doing an immediate and direct import. Read the Creating a camera archive section for more info. When all else fails, try importing your footage into iMovie first, then import that project into FCPX!


Importing and working with layered Photoshop files

Importing a standard photograph or image file is a very straightforward process, covered in the Importing a still image recipe. But what about when you've created a complex Photoshop file with multiple layers? Luckily, it's just as easy to import .psd files into FCPX as any other media file, but FCPX has to handle such a file a bit differently in order to accommodate the multiple levels of a layered file.

Getting ready

Layering in Photoshop has been around for many, many years so you don't need any specific version of the program to create one of these files. In this exercise, we created a very simple layered file of a slightly overlapping red, green, and blue circle. You can create a similar file as well, or use your own creation. When you've created your layered image, simply save the file in the standard .psd format. Do not export it as a JPEG, TIFF, or any other image format or it will flatten your image!

You don't need to have Photoshop installed on your machine in order for FCPX to import and handle .psd files, so if a client sends you a .psd via email, you're still able to work with it in FCPX!

How to do it...

  1. 1. As always, highlight the Event you want to import the file into, and choose File | Import | Files.... Find your .psd file or files wherever they may be and choose Import.

  2. 2. The files appear in your event. In this case, we have imported two identical looking .psd files of a simple red, blue, and green circle. One file contains layers and the other was flattened. Note that the flattened .psd file appears with a standard image icon while the layered version has an icon indicating that the file has been turned into a compound clip:

  3. 3. Edit the layered file/compound clip into a timeline of your choosing. In this case we will place it in an empty timeline. It still looks like one clip, but that's the trick to get compound clips—it appears as one, but secretly houses numerous media clips inside:

  4. 4. Double-click on the clip. Voila! We have loaded the compound clip into its own timeline and now see all the layers as individual clips stacked on top of one another. We can treat each layer as a regular clip and tweak it however we like!

  5. 5. Let's make the red circle larger. Click on the red circle clip in the timeline. Then click on the Transform button under the Unified Viewer. Resizable corner handles appear on the red circle.

  6. 6. Click and hold on one of the blue corner handles and drag away from the circle. The circle will get larger:

  7. 7. Maybe we want to delete a layer entirely. Click on the green circle clip in the timeline and hit Delete. The green circle disappears. Click on the back arrow Timeline History button to return to your main timeline:

There's more...

Background layers

Unless you consciously deleted it or changed settings in Photoshop before saving, chances are your .psd file will have a white background. When you import it into FCPX, that white background will still be there, but luckily, it's just a layer and can be deleted easily.

See also

For more detail on the Transform tool mentioned in this recipe, read the Using the Transform tool recipe in the Chapter 8, Get Your Movie to Move. To learn more about compound clips, read the recipe Grouping clips together as a compound clip in Chapter 4, Enhance Your Editing.


Importing iMovie projects

We all have to get our feet wet somewhere when it comes to learning how to edit video, and rarely do people start right off the bat in something as grandiose as FCPX. Many of us get our hands dirty in a simpler program such as iMovie before making the leap into more professional editing. Even if you've got a bunch of projects sitting in iMovie, you can easily import them into FCPX to take advantage of its far wider range of features and capabilities. The process is incredibly easy, but there are a few things you should know about when going through the process.

Getting ready

All this requires is an active project in iMovie '11 or later:

How to do it...

  1. 1. In FCPX, select File | Import | iMovie Project.

  2. 2. Select your iMovie project file and select Import.

  3. 3. FCPX will take a few moments to copy over the necessary media, creating both a new event and a new project. Double-click on the project and begin editing!

How it works...

The transition from iMovie to FCPX is very smooth. Not only are the interfaces very similar, but FCPX has every title, effect, and transition that iMovie possesses (and obviously many more). One of the only caveats is with the Movie Trailers feature of iMovie. These will not import into FCPX properly unless you go to File | Convert to Project in iMovie before you try and import the project into FCPX.

There's more...

Importing just your iMovie events

If you didn't have an active project you wanted to import from iMovie into FCPX, but simply wanted to take all of the media from your iMovie events, you can do this as well. In FCPX, just go to File | Import | iMovie Event Library. This will import every event you have in iMovie. It's an all or nothing deal!

Analyzing iMovie footage

Even if you have your preferences set to analyze all imported footage for people, stabilization, and so on, FCPX skips over this when importing iMovie projects. If you want to override this, you can have FCPX review your footage after the fact by selecting your clips, right-clicking, and choosing Analyze and Fix....


Importing Final Cut Pro 7 projects

One of the biggest complaints about FCPX when it was released, was that it had zero capability to import projects that had been created in Final Cut Pro 7. This obviously irked many long time FCP users who had vast amount of archived projects that would never be able to be opened unless they kept FCP7 on their machine. Apple chose not to directly rectify this problem, but thanks to the release of version 10.0.3 and its stronger XML capabilities, a company called Intelligent Assistance released 7toX for Final Cut Pro. This program acts as a middleman to get your FCP7 project files converted for FCPX.

Getting ready

First off, you obviously must own Final Cut Pro 7 and have an active project to work with. Secondly, you must download 7toX for Final Cut Pro from the Mac App Store (Snow Leopard or above required). At the time of publishing, the application costs $9.99.

How to do it...

  1. 1. We start in Final Cut Pro 7. Make sure your browser window is active and nothing inside is currently selected:

  2. 2. Go to File | Export | XML.... In the XML export window, make sure Apple XML Interchange Format, version 5 is selected, and then click on OK:

  3. 3. If you are on the same Mac or partition as FCPX, quit FCP7. If not, copy the newly created XML file to a flash drive or hard drive and bring it to the Mac/partition with FCPX.

  4. 4. Open 7toX. It will immediately prompt you for a FCP7 XML file. Locate your XML file (not the original FCP7 project file) and click on Open:

  5. 5. 7toX will ask if you want to send it to FCPX or save an XML. Click on Send to Final Cut Pro X.

How it works...

The team behind 7toX has done an incredible job translating projects from FCP7 to FCPX. When you send a project to FCPX using 7toX, the first thing that happens is that a new event is created with the name of your original project. All clips that had been imported into that project in FCP7 are imported into the new event.


FCPX does not copy any of the media into the Final Cut Events folder, even if you normally have the option on by default! It merely references the original media from whatever original location FCP7 had referenced it from. This means you better have all your media in the exact same place as it was when you worked with it in FCP7.

Additionally, any bins (what FCP7 calls folders) you had in FCP7 are converted into keyword collections! And last, but certainly not least, any sequences are converted into compound clips. These compound clips can be placed as a whole entity into a new FCPX project's timeline OR you can double-click on them to reveal a near-perfectly translated version of your original sequence—clips, transitions, filters, and more! Read on for exceptions.

There's more...

What does and doesn't translate

While 7toX does a Herculean feat of translating from FCP7 to FCPX, it isn't perfect, although not necessarily from a lack of effort on the part of the programmers. There are simply some things that cannot translate between the two programs given their radically different interfaces and features. This happens often when translating between two major programs (such as FCP7 to Adobe Premiere or vice versa).

All basic mechanics of editing from a FCP7 timeline translate—your clips and timing, many transitions, audio levels, and even some titles. However, a few things do not translate such as Motion 4 project files, offline media, sequence markers, travel mattes, and a few more.

The list of what does and doesn't translate is quite long and the makers of 7toX are committed to updating the program, so the best thing to do is read about the program in greater detail at


Intelligent Assistance also makes Xto7, which, as you can probably infer from the name, does the exact opposite as 7toX and will take a FCPX project and convert it so it can be imported into FCP7. Perhaps you've done a rough cut of your project quickly in FCPX, but really want to send your project to Color, Soundtrack Pro, or DVD Studio Pro. This is the answer. Read more about it at

See also

As stated in the previous section, FCPX will import your old FCP7 sequences as compound clips. If you don't know what a compound clip is or does, read the Grouping clips together as a compound clip recipe in Chapter 4 , Enhancing Your Editing. Also, as stated before, when FCPX imports FCP7 projects via 7toX, all media is referenced from the original media location, it is not imported into the Final Cut Events folder. If you're unsure of how this process works, continue to the following, Working with your already organized media section.


Working with your already organized media

By default, when you import media into FCPX, it is set to actually copy the files into the Final Cut Pro Events folder (located either in your user's Movies folder or on the root of an external hard drive). This is often the safest way to work, but not always the most efficient. On one hand, it makes sure all your media is consolidated into one location and therefore, makes it less likely that you will accidentally move, delete, or rename your original media. This also makes it easy to move projects from one drive to another. But, on the other hand, it also means that you have now duplicated all of your clips and eaten up a lot of potentially valuable hard drive space. Additionally, if you plan on re-importing the same media into multiple events, FCPX will copy the file each and every time. So it's really a game of pros and cons and is ultimately up to you.

How to do it...

  1. 1. Right-click on an event and choose Import Files... (by pressing Command + Shift + I).

  2. 2. Find the files you want to import in the new window. Select multiple files by holding down the Command key. Also, select the event you want to add the media to.

  3. 3. Before hitting Import, deselect the checkmark next to Copy Files to Final Cut Events folder. It is your choice whether or not you want to create optimized or proxy media. Then click on Import. FCPX will go through the normal import process—or so it seems. It may seem to take less time than normal. This is because it didn't have to duplicate the files.

  4. 4. Minimize or hide (by pressing Command + H) FCPX. Go to the Final Cut Events folder where your event resides (either in your user's home folder or on the root level of your external drive). Open the folder, then open the folder named Original Media. Instead of seeing the full clips you imported, there are only alias files. Double-clicking on one will take you to the actual location of the file, where you originally imported it from.

There's more...

Be organized!

If you're the type of editor who knows in advance that they want to turn off auto-copy in FCPX upon import feature, then hopefully you're a pretty organized person. If not, be warned! Once you've imported media into FCPX manually without copying into the Final Cut Events folder, be careful not to move, rename, or delete any of your original media files or they will appear offline in FCPX!

Optimized and proxy media

If you choose to create optimized and/or proxy media upon import, FCPX does create and place the additional media files in the Final Cut Events folder even if you deselected Copy Files to Final Cut Events. That command only applies to the original media. Any transcoded clips must live in the Final Cut Events folder.

See also

If you were being very careful with your media organization, but still somehow managed to get your media offline and need to relink it, read the next Relinking media files recipe.


Relinking media files

Occasionally, Final Cut Pro X may lose track of files. We hate to say it, but most of the time it's due to user error (no offense!). It happens to the best of us. Perhaps you imported some media into FCPX and a few days later, you moved, deleted, or renamed the original files. This is most likely to happen if you chose not to have FCPX automatically copy files into the Final Cut Events folder upon import, but really, there are many other scenarios where this can occur. Here's how to fix it.

Getting ready

This isn't something you usually want to get ready for because you'd have to purposely mess things up! But, if you want to experiment, shut down FCPX, open your Final Cut Events folder, find an inconsequential event (we're going to fix the problem we're creating, but better safe than sorry) and remove a few files from the Original Media folder.

How to do it...

  1. 1. To identify if you need to relink media, look for this symbol in your Event Browser. It's hard to miss if most or all of your clips have been replaced by this big red icon! You will also see a little alert triangle over the event icon:

  2. 2. With the problematic event selected, choose File | Relink Event Files... (you can also right-click on the event to choose the same option).

  3. 3. The Relink Files window appears. You are given the option to relink only the missing files or all files. We're just going to relink the missing files, but read the following There's more... section for a more advanced use of this window.

  4. 4. Click the Locate All... button. A box appears that will allow you to browse your hard drives. From here, you're on your own! Where did you move your media? Or did you rename it? Somehow, you must track down the lost media. In the following screenshot, we found our lost media in a folder on our desktop:

  5. 5. Once you've found at least one of your files (hopefully, they're all together in one place), click on the one FCPX has chosen to search for first (listed after Example) and click on Choose. The Relink Files window shows the files successfully matched. Click on Relink Files and the files are successfully relinked.

How it works...

When an event clip is relinked, it is relinked in every instance of that clip in all projects as well. Meaning, if you used a piece of media four times across different projects, it is immediately relinked in all four of those projects.

There's more...

Relinking online clips

The previous exercise assumed you needed to relink media because of a mistake (losing track of your files). However, there are cases where you would purposely want to relink perfectly working, online clips to a different set of clips.

The simplest example is, if you happened to take your original media files into a different program for a task such as advanced color correction and you want to replace the modified files with the old, uncorrected ones you've been editing in FCPX. The process starts off the same as the exercise. Highlight the Event you want to relink and choose Relink Event Files.... This time, click on the All button, then click on Locate All..., and then find the folder with the new, modified media. This will allow you to relink all files in the Event, not just the ones that have gone missing.

Relinking in the timeline

As mentioned in step four in the previous section, relinking event files relinks every instance of an Event clip across all projects where that clip was referenced. If you only want to relink a clip (or clips) to one instance in one particular project, you can. Simply open the project of your choosing, highlight the clip(s) you want to relink, and finally, select File | Relink Project Clips. You will be brought to the same Relink Files window as in the exercise, only this time, when you relink media, it will only relink the specific instance(s) of media in this project and not across all projects.

See also

You are more likely to experience files going missing or offline, if you are manually managing your media as described in the Manually organizing your media outside of FCPX recipe. Read this recipe to make sure you understand the pros and cons of ignoring the default setting in FCPX to copy all your media into one location.

About the Author

  • Jason Cox

    Jason Cox has enjoyed capturing images since receiving his first Mickey-Matic film camera when he was four years old. Growing up in the Washington, D.C. area, he spent much of his youth wandering around with some form of a camera, still or video, in hand. Jason graduated from Penn State with degrees in film production and English. After spending a couple of years as an entertainment journalist for a newspaper, Jason returned to D.C. to strike out on his own, eventually starting up his own L.L.C., Some Might Say Media. He currently juggles a mixed workload of freelance video production and editing, as well as teaching courses as a certified trainer for both Apple and Adobe software. Outside of his working life, Jason enjoys traveling (he met his Scottish wife in New Zealand—long story!), playing old school Nintendo games, going to music and cultural events, and drinking chocolate milk.

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