Thursday, April 14, 2011

Find Footage Faster with Final Cut Pro's Find Window

I'm continually surprised by what some editors I talk to don't know or know about but for some reason don't do or use.

When a deadline permits or there's just a vast amount of footage that was shot while I wasn't around I go through all the clips and even before pulling "selects" I label, color label and comment on bunches of it.


Because when you're sitting down with the script or director or both and are looking for footage you can now search for clips very quickly. Let's run though the ways:

1) In FCP, in a bin you know you can rename a clip. You can also second-click on it and rename the file to match the clips name and vice-versa. I have some naming conventions I have become attached to over the years when people forget slates: INT-S02-Bob-Single for Interior, scene 02, Bob's Single Shot or something like EXT-Building-Pan Left-Wide.

So go through and name all your clips to something helpful and descriptive. If you don't know what something is or who someone is give 'em a nickname: Yellow Building, Ball Cap Hammerer, Short Pants, whatever, just as long as you know what you're talking about.

2) Highlight a clip and hit Command + 9 for the Item Properties window. You'll see four tabs: Format, Timing, Logging and Film.

Format has a lot of helpful info about the clip.

Timing is what you'd expect. Length, In point, Out point, Duration and some other stuff which is also shown in other tabs.

Logging is the most helpful for organizing. We'll get into this in a little more detail in a little bit.

Film is again, similar to the others but a lot of these should be filled in when you ingest.

Now, go to the Logging tab and see all the blank space? You can fill that up with helpful and searchable info. Take Description for example. Click on the gray area where text should be to the right of the word Description. You'll see a text box magically appear with a happily blinking cursor. Type your description into here.

Be aware that since the OK button is the default, if you type then hit return you'll save your change and close this window. Try and get into the habit -if you're going to modify more than one field- of hitting the Tab key until you've filled in everything you want to.

Bizarrely enough unlike most other places in Mac OS X, hitting Shift + Tab does not go back to the previous text entry box. I have no idea what it doesn't.

3) Close the Item Properties window and then add some info for other clips. Any field that you want to. Close the Item Properties window. Now, with the Bin as the active window tap Command + F for the Find window.

Search: Set this to whatever suits your needs. Usually the default is enough though.
For: All Media. Again change this if you need to. This is actually a quite powerful setting as you can search for All, Used or Unused Media.
Results: Replace Find Results starts your results out anew upon each search. I find this one most helpful.

Below those you'll see "Any Column" and "Contains". This is just like Find in the Finder. But, take a look at all the things listed under Any Column. Anything you change in the Item Properties Window you can search for here even if it's not listed. If it's not listed just use "Any Column."

4) Hit Find All. Why not Find Next even though it's the default? It's a personal preference for me; I like the little window of everything found in that search to pop up. I wish Find All was the default button actually.

So you can see that once you fill in some basic info into the Item Properties window or at the very least name all your clips something helpful, you can search and find them all at once quickly and easily.

I've found this to speed up editing overall tremendously. At the bare minimum I'll name all the clips, green label all the stuff I think is best, red label everything I think is useless then with a quick Command + F and a search term I have all the EXT or INT or CU or ECU or Wide or Tilt or Pans listed. Or "Bob INT" or "Building Pan" or whatever.

The search is a handy way to exploit your own organizational styles. I've been startled by some client's reaction to how quickly I can find a very specific clip seconds after they ask for it while we're editing together.

Explore around the Item Properties window in conjunction with the Find window and see what suits your organizational method best.

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