Camera Card Conjuring, Part 3

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

Logging Workflow?

Recently I had a back-and-forth with someone on Facebook who was handed a couple hundred gigabytes of camera-cards backed up to one or more hard drives. He wanted to use FinalCutProX to log and keyword the footage.

If he would ingest the material into FinalCutProX his storage needs would have beed doubled. Remember: when ingesting from cards FinalCutProX copies the footage off the cards, and Leave media in place can not be ticked in the import window.

He was not sure if the material would ever be edited, but he wanted to get an idea of what he’d got.

I put some thought to the problem and came up with a neat workflow to accomplish something like that and came up with this: Press command+I to open the import window. Select a folder containing a backed-up copy of a camera-card.

Select the clips you want to import, Or select import all to start the import process. Close the ingest-window (if you don’t have the option Close window after starting import ticked), head over to the Background Tasks window by pressing command+9, look for Importing Media and click the little “x” next to it to stop the import. Rinse and repeat until you have imported all your media in that way.

Because the way FinalCutProX works it has created aliases linking to the media on the card in it’s storage location. By interrupting the copy process FinalCutProX still refers to the video in its original location. Now you can organise the media inside FinalCutProX using all it’s tools.

Because no media is inside FinalCutProX’s storage location or Library it will be extremely small and can later be easily be backed up alongside the footage for editing at a later date.

NOTE: You can’t however transcode footage to Proxy or Optimised Media while its still on camera cards.

If you want to do that you need to physically import the footage into FinalCutProX first, then let it transcode to Proxy and/or Optimised Media. Now close FinalCutProX, right- or control-click the library file and select Show package contents. You can now peek inside the library-bundle. You will see a folder for every event in your FinalCutProX library. Navigate to the one containing the media you are after and look for a Original Media folder inside it. You can delete this folder. (Thus deleting all the media FinalCutProX copied off the cards.) When you open up the library you can still work in Proxy mode, if you have transcoded Proxies before or even in normal-mode, if you have transcoded to Optimised Media.

NOTE: Opening a library-bundle with the finder and playing around inside may damage it and render it unusable! Try at your own risk!

Later, when you want to re-link the missing media, open the Library inside FinalCutProX. Connect the HDD containing the camera-card-folders to the computer and choose File > Import > Reimport from Camera/Archive.

In my experience I had to select the clips I wanted to reimport in the browser first, before selecting the function in the menu.

And I also had to open the Import Media window and open the disclosure triangle of the folder I wanted to import from first, to make FinalCutProX “see” the camera card structure. But that might be different depending the video format you are using and wether you originally imported from a physical card, or a Camera Archive.

The media will now be copied/rewrapped to the Libraries’ storage location.

Not only does this solve the user’s problem with wanting a way to organise and keyword footage without permanently doubling the storage needs, but one could also take a version of the library with just Proxy files in it on their MacBookPro and later re-import and “conform” to the original camera media.

Final Thoughts

As you can see there are many ways to work with camera cards inside FinalCutProX.

It might surprise you however when I tell you that I usually do not archive copies of the original camera cards. On location or at the end of the day in the hotel or at my studio I ingest all the footage into a FinalCutProX Library on a Thunderbolt RAID5 and back it up to two additional HDDs for safety, before I start editing.

If it’s a multi-day-shoot away from home, I tend to back up the camera cards with ShotPutPro to a mobile RAID and ingest all the cards from that mobile drive to the Thunderbolt RAID5 and the pair of HDDs on return to the studio.

I like to have FinalCutProX manage my media inside the Library bundle as opposed to the lean library-approach some FinalCutProX editors prefer. It’s much more convenient to have everything neatly in one file, especially since FinalCutProX also bundles used effects inside the library since the 10.3.0 update.

As I have described before there is no quality loss in having FinalCutProX rewrap the media from it’s original container format to .mov files. Even in the event that you change your editing system in the future you can still easily extract the footage from the bundle and work in other NLEs.

TIPP: Some people are afraid to “put all eggs in one basket” with a Managed Library file. They think that if that file gets corrupted they might loose everything. But because a MacOS bundle is only a special folder that is displayed differently by the OS it’s no more dangerous than putting files into any other folder on your Mac. Even when FCPX somehow damages the XML files inside the bundle and won’t open the Library stating it’s “corrupted”—do not despair! You can always get to your original media, by right- or control-clicking the library file and selecting Show package contents.
Screen Shot 2017-04-22 at 10.35
You can now peek inside the library-bundle. You will see a folder for every event in your FinalCutProX library. Navigate to the one containing the media you are looking for and look for a Original Media folder—inside it you will find your original media files. A working backup of the corrupted library-file (without the media) can be found at the default backup location or the one you specified.

I tried to compile all the information I could find regarding working with Camera Cards in FinalCutProX in this three-part article. Some of the stuff I found was a real nugget of information that made me faster and more efficient, when working in FinalCutProX. I hope that you can also find a thing or two that you did not know.

If you yourself have found something useful or interesting, please put it in the comments below and I will add it to a possible part 4 in the future.

Until then, happy editing!

— Florian