Multicam Editing in Final Cut Pro X

Multicam Editing in Final Cut Pro X

I have talked about multicam in Final Cut Pro X before. It actually worked OK with the first version of FCPX, but the 10.0.3 release has brought with it a new multicam feature that is simply amazing.

Kessler Crane Pocket Jib Editing with Multicam Final Cut Pro X

Kessler Crane Pocket Jib, K-pod, 5D, Ikan Monitor, photo by Jim Fausz

My first experience with multicam was last summer when I did a music video in Utah. The procedure I used to produce that video is antiquated compared to the new multicam editing tools in FCPX 10.0.3. A couple of weeks ago I shot the Kentucky Symphony Valentine Gala at the Northern Kentucky Convention Center and used the new multicam to produce a video of the event.

Originally I thought about doing a how-to video for you, but there are already plenty out there. I recommend first the introductions offered by Larry Jordan and Ripple Training. In addition to their course offerings (Ripple’s is most comprehensive) here are some free intros:

Phil Boyer on FS100 Multicam Editing in Final Cut Pro X

Phil Boyer on the FS100, photo by Jim Fausz

However, there are a couple of tricks to getting this right that you should know about. To illustrate I will use this job I did for the KSO. We set up 5 cameras for the event with 2 operators. Broadcast veteran Phil Boyer was on Camera A, the FS100. We had a Panasonic TM-900 on sticks off camera right, and we had 2 GoPros right in the middle of the orchestra. One was the new Hero2 and the other the older model. You can tell by the footage that the new Hero 2 is much better in low light.

I ran my 5DM2 on the Kessler Crane Pocket Jib balanced on the very substantial K-pod. There really isn’t anything “Pocket” about this massive piece of equipment, except you can carry it in it’s very nice carrying case. The K-pod has its own case, and will handle 500 pounds of equipment. Show me another tripod that compact, that well built, and one which will handle a 500 lb. capacity and I’ll eat my hat.

Now I hear on Twitter lots of talk about the new cameras and so forth, but in my opinion you need stabilization before you need expensive cameras. As you can see in the photo above I found that operating the jib with the tripod handle, keeping my eye on the Ikan external monitor is the only way for a one man operation to keep the video framed correctly at all times.

GoPro Hero2 In middle of orchestra

GoPro Hero2

Here is what you do to make sure everything syncs right with FCPX multicam:

  • Don’t worry about different cameras & formats, FCPX can handle it all
  • Get decent audio on every camera
  • Get a good sound track for an audio bed (we used sound off the sound board)
  • Once imported, name every shot ANGLE in FCPX. (Camera A, 5D, GoPro, whatever)
  • I found camera ANGLE names are case sensitive
  • You will need a fast drive, preferably RAID, the more cameras you use

The Panasonic and FS100 each ran for the entire half of the event (we had an intermission). But the GoPros stopped and started once on one half, and I had a lot of clips for the 5D. I stopped and started the 5D on every tune. I was wondering how to get it all synced up. Turns out it is easy in FCPX. The angle is a meta tag which you might think of as a track. I took all the 5D clips and set the ANGLE to “5D”. I called the FS100 ANGLE “FS100”, audio track “Audio Only”, etc. Then when I made the multicam clip I ended up with 6 ANGLES (think tracks), one for each camera and one audio. All the 5D clips were separated by gaps and were synced perfectly.

I used the audio for synchronization and it worked without any markers or jumping through hoops. Each half of the concert ran 55 minutes. For just one half of the concert I had 5 hours of audio/visual data and 1 hour of audio only. It took FCPX less than 2 minutes on my Mac Pro to sync up 6 hours of footage into a multicam clip. Of course you may have many more camera angles if you choose, up to 64. Does this still sound like FCPX is targeting the home video iMovie crowd?

I won’t go into all the editing techniques, you can learn it yourself with the resources I gave you, but I will share with you one tune out of the concert. Thanks to Phil Boyer for his excellent camera work that made this video possible and to Jim Fausz of Photographic Imaging Consultants for the BTS. We have added more tunes from this evening here.

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