Camera Card Conjuring, Part 1

This is the first part of my series about working with camera cards. Check out the second part and third part for some tipps and tricks you might not know yet.

Almost every editing project starts with ingesting original camera media from cards or SSDs.
One of the unwritten laws of media management states that one should always backup the original camera cards before doing anything else with the media.
I agree that you should always have at least three copies of your media—one of which is online in your NLE and two that sit on a shelf, not connected to a computer and preferably in two different physical locations.
Beyond that there are many questions:
Is it always necessary to have copies of your original cards? What are the best strategies to work with card based media inside FinalCutProX? You will have to decide for yourself how to work with media, but there are a couple of things worth knowing about.

Ingesting from Camera Cards

Cards, when inserted in a card reader, mount to the desktop of the Mac like any other external storage device. When FinalCutProX is running, it immediately shows the Import Media window and lets you choose the clips you want to import into you current library. Use the shortcut command+I to open the window manually.

import window

You may have noticed that FinalCutProX does not allow Leave files in place to be ticked. The feature is greyed-out in the GUI. FCPX will copy everything you import from a camera card to the current library’s storage location, wether that’s inside it’s library bundle or in a media storage folder you have defined in the library’s settings.

Not allowing you to reference (link) media into your FCPX library directly from a camera card is a safeguard, that makes perfect sense. Otherwise you could inadvertently use media that’s still on you card, edit something, eject the card, format it inside your camera and loose you media that way.

TIPP: If you are importing from a camera card, you can select ranges of clips and only those ranges will be imported into FinalCutProX. You can even command-drag more than one range per clip. That can be extremely useful if you have very long clips and only need to import certain sections from them. This only works with camera cards or images thereof—NOT with clips imported from normal volumes!

The ingest will start immediately after you click import. You can start editing whilst FCPX is copying the media in the background. Behind the scenes FinalCutProX crates Aliases for the media files at the storage location and gradually replaces those with the real files as it's done copying them.

Interrupted Imports

It's really important to make sure FinalCutProX has finished importing media. If for whatever reason the import process is interrupted, some of the files might not have been copied over to the storage location. If you fire up FinalCutProX while the camera card is still connected to the computer, everything will look fine and you can edit. But as soon as you disconnect the camera card all clips that have not yet been copied off it will go offline! To fix this, you can use File > Import > Reimport from Camera/Archive. This feature allows you to re-import one or more clips from an attached camera card.
Connect the card to the computer, select the offline clips in the browser and evoke the command.
Sometimes FinalCutProX will show this error message, when you try to re-import from a camera-card or archive:
archive missing
To solve this problem you might have to open the Import Media window command+I, navigate to the camera card, select it in the left pane of the window—so it’s contents appear in the lower pane—and close the Import Media window.
Now File > Import > Reimport from Camera/Archive should work. That was it for the first part of this series. Check back soon for the next part of this ongoing series.

Until then—happy editing!