Marrying iPhone, Flip, and 5D Footage in Final Cut Pro X Multicam

Marrying iPhone, Flip, and 5D Footage in Final Cut Pro X Multicam

Last December I got a call at the last minute to come in and shoot the fantastic PowerHouse Boogie Band. Having played trumpet with the band on occasion I knew that the Don Steins puts on an unbelievable show.

Don is not just a great pianist but also a woodwind player, composer, arranger, band leader, and a great addition to the faculty at University of Kentucky. His band is HOT!

Don told me about a club he was playing at in Cincinnati that has a good light show and environment suitable for filming. Jag’s Steak & Seafood in West Chester has great food and when Don is there, great music. With the short notice I had I called my friends to see if I could get some help, but everyone was booked. I didn’t want to pass on the opportunity as you can see by this video it is a blast. So I packed up my gear and decided to see if I could get some footage that I could use.

Adjusting Audio in Final Cut Pro X

Adjusting Audio in Final Cut Pro X

When I got up there the band set up in a hurry and the sound man had a few issues with feedback which he finally straightened out. I took feed out of his board then used three effects in FCPX to enhance the dry sound, Limiter, Compressor, and PlatinumVerb (in that order). By clicking on the little slider icons FCPX brings up the control panels. I like doing all of this in FCPX and not having to make the sacred “round trip” pilgrimage to SoundTrack Pro. Believe me, a few adjustments in FCPX can work miracles in audio.

My primary camera was the 5D. I knew I would have to move around to be able to tell the story, and without additional cameramen I would either have to cancel the engagement or find alternatives. So for 2nd and 3rd cameras I used my iPhone 4 and a Flip camera on tripods. The Flip (now defunct as a commercial enterprise) is not that great in low light, nor is my iPhone 4 (time to upgrade!). Plus they both only shoot in 720p. However, the quality of the shots from those two cameras beats by a long margin what I still see some commercial videographers using. I have seen commercial firms still shooting live events with standard def equipment.

When I put the 5D footage into Final Cut Pro X multicam with the Flip and iPhone footage, FCPX automatically resizes the 5D footage to match. As I said in a previous post, you MUST make use of the ANGLE meta data field to be able to properly synchronize clips in FCPX multicam. As I said before, think of the camera ANGLE meta field as a TRACK in old school parlance. Be careful how you spell too, I had FCPX separate ANGLES because of capitalization issues, I found FCPX to be case sensitive.

Keyword selections with Final Cut Pro X Multicam Clips

Make a backup of your multicam clip

A couple of additional caveats when doing multicam in FCPX. I like creating keywords that group your clips by camera ANGLE, that way you can find them easily. Also I make a smart keyword collection that automatically adds all multicam clips upon creation. If you don’t, when you make the multicam clip it sometimes can be hard to find it in the event browser.

I found in this case that the auto sync based on audio got the clips close, but I needed to do some tweaking using the comma and period keys to get individual shots lined up in the Angle Viewer. Remember, any changes you make in color balance, audio, transform, scaling, etc. in any clip within the multicam clip automatically flows through to any project using that multicam clip. So once you have the basic sync edited you may want to use the File–>Duplicate Clip (⌘-D) command on your multicam clip to save it as a backup.

Taking advantage of this opportunity to film these great musicians, even with limited resources, created something of value. The use of iPhone and Flip footage illustrate that it is the STORY that is most important, NOT the equipment you use.

This video documents a great night and tells the story so much better than words or audio recordings. I always learn from every project, and I try to make the next one better than the last. Now when I go back with a crew to film this great band I will be that much better prepared.

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  1. Lulu Gargiulo
    April 3, 2012 at 5:11 pm

    Looks great.
    I wanted to shoot something similar, using a 5D/ 7D and a few iphones and wondered if you knew what codec to use to import the footage into FCP6, not FCPX and if you had any suggestions to
    setting it up the best way to work efficiently. I have done muli-cam edits in FCP already, but not mixing the two formats.

    • Swainhart
      April 4, 2012 at 8:19 am

      When using FCP I first use MPEG Streamclip to convert the files to Apple ProRes 422 LT then import into FCP. If your version of FCP doesn’t support ProRes 422 LT then pick a format that does. If you are unfamiliar with MPEG Streamclip it is a free program. Download and open program, use batch list, convert to Quicktime, select destination, then you will see the dialog to pick what type of ProRes format you want.

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