Replacing Footage With Pixel Accuracy in After Effects or FCP

Say you need to replace low-res footage with a new, high-res version while maintaining pixel accuracy. First, create a new layer. Stack the new footage of top of the old.

In Final Cut, right-click on the top layer and choose Composite Mode>Difference. In After Effects, use the layer's drop-down Mode menu.

Your footage will take on an inverted and somewhat psychedelic appearance. But here's the great part: when the two versions are perfectly aligned, they will cancel each other out and your Viewer will become black.

Credit to Chad Perkin's and his excellent After Effects CS4 Beyond the Basics on

Multiclip Workflow on MediaStorm Blog

Multiclips are an efficient way to sync two or more video clips when using Final Cut Pro. They provide an easy to switch between camera angles using a simple point-and-click or pop-up menu. Setting up a multiclip though can sometimes be painful, particularly if you want to use audio from one camera throughout while switching back-and-forth between video angles.

So when in doubt, document; I've written a brief tutorial on creating and using multiclips that's now available on the MediaStorm blog, available here.

Also, check out Steve Martin's longer essay, The Essentials of Multicam Editing in Final Cut Pro, on for further information.

Final Cut Pro Keystrokes on Twitter

In a previous post I detailed an easy way to export a master list of all FCP shortcut keys. The list is a tad overwhelming.

So in my quixotic effort to learn every Final Cut shortcut key, I've begun FCPKeystrokes on Twitter: one shortcut per tweet, one tweet a day. The feed will continue until I make my way through the list or until forever, whichever comes first.*

Honestly, I'm not sure if this experiment is helpful to anyone else, but for me, it offers an opportunity to at least try 'em all out. Hopefully, the useful ones will stick. (Option-clicking on a bin will open the bin in a new tab within your Browser window.)

Feedback is welcome at @FCPKeystrokes.

* I'm using the tweet scheduler so that I can write the week's keystrokes in advance.

Final Cut Pro Internal Tools

This tip comes from Jon Chappell's Guide to Final Cut Pro Internal Tools published on Final Cut contains a set of developer tools that by default are hidden from us mortals. To see them hold down Cmd+Option+Shift and click the Tools menu. The Tools menu now contains an option for Internal Tools.

Most of these options are rather cryptic but the App/Perf Info dumps system and FCP information in to a text file. Perhaps most relevant, is the File Data section that reveals the number and types of files used in your project as well as the number of sequences you've created. Keep in mind that these statistics are based on all open projects.

In the Editing Information section of the file, you'll find the most revealing statistic; how many edits you've performed since the application launched. Facebook users might want to look away.

For more information on the entire internal tool set, see Jon Chappell's article.

copy-and-paste vs. drag-and-drop

Sometimes when Final Cut crashes, I need to retrieve a sequence from the auto save vault that's more up to date than the crashed version. I've found it quicker to copy-and-paste the backup sequence in to my project than it is to drag-and-drop. The latter method involves a spinning beach ball that is perilously long for comfort.

XML to the Rescue

I'm currently editing Danny Wilcox Frazier's multimedia version of Driftless. The project includes lots of beautiful video, shot by a professional DP in 24p anamorphic format with a DV codec. We've blown the the 4:3 standard footage up to 16:9 1080 high-definition, while retaining the 24 frames-per-second frame rate. The footage is now being edited with Apple's ProRes 422 codec for faster renders and to compensate for the unusual frame size. We've also desaturated the video so that it matches Danny's gorgeous black-and-white photography. Needless to say, there's a lot going on with the Final Cut timeline.

So it wasn't a total surprise when my Final Cut suddenly suddenly refused to play through an entire sequence. The playhead continued to stop at the exact timecode and a pop-up window informed me that I had a "general error." I searched the internets for an explanation, trashed preferences, replaced clips, all to no avail. The timeline continued to stop in the same location each time.

Finally, I exported the timeline as XML, then reimported. After that, the timeline worked just fine, playing all the way through without issue.

I'm not exactly sure what the lesson is here other than whatever your problem might be, don't hesitate to try everything.

View Unredered Video in Final Cut Pro

I'm making my way through Larry Jordan's amazing new book, Edit Well: Final Cut Studio Techniques from the Pros and came across a real gem.

In FCP a red across the top of the timeline indicates that files must be rendered in order to see them during playback. Using the keystroke option-p, however, allows you to plow right through. This is a great way to see if effects are timed correctly before actually committing to rendering.