Charting a course to balanced cameras (with a DSC color chart)

August has been a very busy and exciting month for me. I’ve had the opportunity to cut numerous promos for Discovery Networks. Unfortunately, amid all the hubbub, I was unable to attend the latest FCP X Round Table. Taking their rightful places at the table were FCPWORKS‘ Noah Kadner, editors Mike Matzdorff and Chris Fenwick, as well as trainers Mark Spencer, Steve Martin, and Alex Lindsay.

Last month, Noah Kadner asked if I’d be interested in writing up a guest blog for their site. I was happy to oblige and wrote up the following article about color matching my GH2, GH3, and GH4. It quickly became apparent that I’d also need to include a video tutorial to support the article. And so I did just that!

The article can be found here:

Michael Garber on the GH4 and FCP X

The video is here:

My FCP X road show continues… Motion Picture Editors Guild on 6/24 & LACPUG on 6/25


Next week, I will be rounding out my “FCP X Road Show.” On Tuesday, June 24th at 7:30 PM I’ll be teaching a class on Prepping, Editing and Delivering with FCP X at the Motion Picture Editors Guild in Hollywood. Topics to be covered are:

  • Broadcast commercial prep and delivery inside of FCP X and with the use of 3rd party apps
  • Advanced logging methods to make FCP X work for you
  • Editing & color correction tips and tricks
  • Deliver your sound mixer the most detailed AAF of any NLE


Then, on Wednesday, June 25th, I’ll be presenting a demonstration of Arctic Whiteness Final Cut Library Manager at the LACPUG. I might even try to squeak in another product I’m working with right now if time permits. Info and directions can be found here: http://www.lafcpug.org/user_schedule.html

And last, thanks so much to everyone for watching the FCP X virtual user group round table last week. I’d like to give a huge thanks to Alex Lindsay, Steve Martin, and Mark Spencer for having me on the first one of these live user groups. If you missed it, you can watch the replay of it here:


Alex Lindsay and his team have created a really cool app that logs the questions that people ask. You can quickly select that question that you want to watch and go right to it. What a great idea.

An EXPLOSIVE, once in a lifetime Final Cut Pro X tutorial!

*Special thanks to FCP.co for posting the tutorial on their site!

This tutorial marks the beginning of kind of a crazy, exciting, and fun month for me. I’ll be on a bit of a homespun FCP X roadshow. I promise to make announcements as they occur.

In this video, you’ll learn about some of my logging techniques that I’ve employed on commercials and corporate documentaries. From building radio cuts to making sure scenes and takes are properly logged for an edit session, much of what you’ll see can also be applied to other types of projects. My hope is that you’ll learn a few tips and tricks and integrate these methods into your own work.

I look forward to the next few weeks and letting you all know what’s going on here at the hallowed halls of Garbershop. In the meantime, sit back, relax, and enjoy the FCP X tutorial goodness.

A broadcast commercial workflow that will make you go “Snausages!”

S’nerd (super nerd) that I am, I find this workflow to be really exciting. This method allows you to merge jam-synced second-source audio metadata (logged on-set by the sound recordist) with your video footage. If timecode is properly synchronized between sources, you can sync the sound to the picture AND merge the metadata in under 15 minutes. In this tutorial, I’m also making multiclips from the day’s shoot.

3rd party apps used in this vid, which I highly recommend for use with FCP X:

Intelligent Assistance Sync-N-Link X

X2Pro Audio Convert

Sound Devices Wave Agent (free)

One app I didn’t use in this workflow that I also recommend is Shot Notes X. It’s a really smart new utility that allows you to merge script notes with your shot footage. We tested using Shot Notes in conjunction with Sync N Link at NAB and, I’m happy to say, they all works brilliantly together.

FCP X Quick Tip: Clearing Splits

This is a pretty basic command and not exactly earth-shattering, but I had no idea that it existed until today. I found it when I was reading through some of the commands in the command editor. This could be helpful after a long day of editing a radio cut and dealing with expanded audio and b-roll.

Role Playing Just Ain’t What It Used to Be

**Before reading this post, please note that there should be a fix coming out in a few days from Intelligent Assistance which will render most of these steps unnecessary. This is great news. I’m keeping this up in the event that you are in need of a fix for this issue today.


In the last post, I mentioned some of the issues that I experienced using FCP X 10.0.8 and 10.0.9 on my most recent jobs. Here, I’ll expand on those issues and I will show you how I would deal with them when starting a new project (until a sufficient update in the software is made).

The good:

Using Roles in FCP X is an incredibly powerful way to tag different components of clips (audio or video, including separate channels) with a designation. Roles are the bridge between a trackless environment and a track(ful!) environment.

Working with Roles allows you to keep your timeline simple, while providing you with powerful flexibility for outputting different kinds of masters.

For example, if you want to export a Textless Master, then you simply need to tag those clips with the Titles Role. When you export a master file, you can choose which roles (video or audio) you wish to turn off (or leave on). In this paradigm, you no longer need multiple timelines for your Texted and Textless Masters. This is amazing!

The same can be said for audio. You now have the power to export the best and most detailed AAFs of any NLE. And in doing so, the timeline never stops looking like the magnetic timeline. It’s all “under the hood.”

As FCP X continues to develop, I hope that we’ll continue to see Roles (or something like them) become a more developed and integrated part of its workflow.

The part that means “more work for you”:

After this last job, I feel that it’s necessary that you add the proper role to every clip upon import. If you import a PSD file with text, make sure it has a “title” role. Another PSD file that doesn’t have text and could end up in the Texted Master could get a “Graphics” role. If you import SFX from the Finder, make sure it has an SFX role. If you import video with attached audio, make sure to designate whether the audio is NAT-SOT or Interview (Dialogue). If you get multi-channel audio, then I recommend each channel get its own Subrole.

The possibilities are immense and this now also requires determining in advance how you wish to tackle your role-tagging strategy. This is much the same way as how you would establish your system for keywording clips before you start to edit.

Here’s a good analogy to explain it. If keywords are to organized editing, then roles are to organized deliverables.

It’s very important that this be worked out in advance of editing since role-tagging is a one-way street. Make the changes in the event browser and they will not show up in your project timeline. Make the changes in the timeline and they will not show up in the event browser. This is probably a good thing as you might have a clip that can be delivered in a multitude of ways in different timelines.

The end-game here is that you put a little prep time in and then you won’t need to do as much work when exporting your project for delivery.

This is part that makes “The Good” quite a bit more difficult to achieve and adds “way more work for you”:

These are the bugs and lacking features that currently make working with subroles and multi-channel audio clips difficult.

  1. FCP X does not always properly express multi-channel audio as multi-mono channels. It assumes the files are interleaved stereo… even if you change it in the inspector to multi-mono.
  2. There is no way to tag subroles in the event browser, only in a project.
  3. Editing with lots of multi-channel clips in the timeline can cause excruciating slowdowns and stalls.

The ultimate goal…

Is to turn this disorganized AAF for your sound mixer: Unorganized Audio Into this (the most awesome AAF ever):Organized AudioUnfortunately, you are going to need to edit FCPXML to do it.

Preflight Checklist:

  • I recommend using TextMate or Coda for editing the FCPXML. You can also use TextEdit.

  • If your files are timecoded, I recommend Sync-N-Link X  to sync up timecoded WAV files and picture.

  • You will need X2Pro to export an AAF. I’ve had no luck importing FCPXML into Logic at this time. The good news is that X2Pro works very, very well.

Ready to get your hands dirty?

1. Create a new event and import your multitrack audio and the video that you will be using to sync together. Since this is a shared project, I have chosen to leave Copy Files to Final Cut Events folder unchecked.New EventNEW - VID AND AUDIO - DON'T COPY2. In this scenario, I have imported 8-channel audio. Notice that FCP sees it as 4 Stereo.

4 Stereo not 8 Mono

2b. Please note that the clip is actually 8 Mono Channels, as seen here in Wave Agent. Also note that the sound recordist diligently and correctly logged the channels in the bottom right.Wave Agent

3. Change the channel designation of all the clips to 8 Mono (or 2, 4, or 16, based on your WAV files).


4. You don’t have to do this step. But just to show you that there is a bug here, right click on the audio clip and select “Open in Timeline.” Note that there are 4 stereo channels, not 8 Mono.
Open in TimelineNote Stereo Tracks

4. Export an FCPXML. Since I’ve been doing so much with XML lately, I set up CMD-OPT-E to export XML and CMD-OPT-I to import XML in the keyboard editor.Export XML

5. Open the file in your code/text editor of choice.

6. Find the lines of code that refer to your audio clips. They start with “</clip name=…”Original Code

Even though you set the file to 8 Mono channels in FCP X, the code here continues to show them as 4 Stereo, but with 8 channels in some sort of strange 5.1 + 2X audio configuration. We are going to fix that now.

8. You will need to edit the code manually. This can be dangerous, so proceed with caution. I must stress that I have not taken a job from import through final mix using this procedure. All my tests show that this works, but I cannot be held responsible for any unforeseen issues. Last, if you want to add subroles to the clip’s channels, read step 9 before proceeding with step 8.

Here’s my edited code for this particular clip. You will need to make yours reflect your clips. THIS DOES NOT INVOLVE JUST COPYING AND PASTING. Although that can be part of it. It takes about 15-20 seconds per clip once you get going. Just remember, any mistakes in formatting or, well, anythingwill cause the XML to not import into FCP X:

<clip name=”FR8802== 307 t 1==PN” duration=”10020830/48000s” start=”1887517632/48000s” format=”r1″ tcFormat=”NDF”>

<audio offset=”1887517632/48000s” ref=”r16″ duration=”10020830/48000s” start=”1887517632/48000s” role=”dialogue” srcCh=”1″>

<audio lane=”-2″ offset=”1887517632/48000s” ref=”r16″ duration=”10020830/48000s” start=”1887517632/48000s” role=”dialogue” srcCh=”2″/>

<audio lane=”-3″ offset=”1887517632/48000s” ref=”r16″ duration=”10020830/48000s” start=”1887517632/48000s” role=”dialogue” srcCh=”3″/>

<audio lane=”-4″ offset=”1887517632/48000s” ref=”r16″ duration=”10020830/48000s” start=”1887517632/48000s” role=”dialogue” srcCh=”4″/>

<audio lane=”-5″ offset=”1887517632/48000s” ref=”r16″ duration=”10020830/48000s” start=”1887517632/48000s” role=”dialogue” srcCh=”5″/>

<audio lane=”-6″ offset=”1887517632/48000s” ref=”r16″ duration=”10020830/48000s” start=”1887517632/48000s” role=”dialogue” srcCh=”6″/>

<audio lane=”-7″ offset=”1887517632/48000s” ref=”r16″ duration=”10020830/48000s” start=”1887517632/48000s” role=”dialogue” srcCh=”7″/>

<audio lane=”-8″ offset=”1887517632/48000s” ref=”r16″ duration=”10020830/48000s” start=”1887517632/48000s” role=”dialogue” srcCh=”8″/>


Now rinse and repeat. You must do this for every clip. For the sake of this article, I’ll only be doing this for Scene 307, Takes 1-5.

10. If you want to add a subrole tag based on a type of mic (lav, boom) or a character name because your sound files don’t have the channel metadata embedded, you can change the role name in the XML at this stage. I recommend making the subroles based on the primary Dialogue role. To do this, add a period between the word “dialogue” and “your_subrole.” For example, you would change the role heading to “dialogue.lav” or “dialogue.john” etc…

I will not be doing this since my clips were logged by the sound recordist. Sync-N-Link can read this data.Explaining Subroles

11. Save the file. Go back to FCP X. For this step, you should definitely uncheck “Copy Files to Final Cut Events Folder.”

12. Import the FCPXML. This is ONLY to check the file. Do not re-export an FCPXML from this event. You are going to delete this. Import XML ONLY TO CHECK INTEGRITY

12a. Go through all your clips to make sure they are seen as 8 Mono and that they have the proper channel names. If you open the clips up in their own timeline, you should see 8 channels. If everything checks out, then DELETE the event. You don’t need it. RE-IMPORT ONLY TO CHECK - DO NOT RE-EXPORT XMLCorrectly displaying 8 channels

13. Open Sync-N-Link. Assuming your WAV file has the proper channel designation, I highly recommend turning on “Use Track Names from audio for Subrole Names” and “Use Subrole Names for audio component names” to set the track names and subrole names. Note that S&L sees the file with the proper 8 channels. If you had imported the original FCPXML, then it would only see 4 channels because that’s how the code designated the file. This is why we edited the FCPXML earlier.SYNC-N-LINK X with Audio Dailies 052113

14. Click “Sync Clips…” Let Sync-N-Link do it’s thang. It should now “automagically” import the new synced event back in to FCPX. Your clips are now properly synced.

15. Create a new project and open the timeline.

Create new project to test roles

16. Add one of the synced clips to the timeline. Now expand the clip components (cmd-opt-s). In the inspector, go to the info tab and make sure you are in the General View. For every clip component you select, the role will change to reflect the subrole. In this case, “Landon” is selected.Checking Landon Role17. Another way to double-check that this worked is to open the Timeline Index (cmd-f or cmd-shift-2). Click on the Roles tab. Expand the Dialogue role by double clicking on it or hovering until the word “show” appears. The channels that have the subrole tagged on them will highlight when you click on them in the Timeline Index.Another Way to check roles in Timeline Index18. You have the choice to add scene metadata and rename your synced clips. Since I’m creating multiclips, It’s imperative that I do this, now. For this job, I renamed them based on JobName_CameraAngle_Scene_Take.Adding scene and take metadataRenaming clipsRenamed Clips

19. Select the clips, right click and create a new multiclip. If the timecode all matches, you could probably turn off “Use audio for synchronization.” Again, it’s up to you. Trial and error.Create MulticlipFinished multiclip

20. While the clips inside the multiclip have the correct channel names and subrole tags, sometimes the multiclip, itself, loses that info. Thankfully, it’s easy to get back.Sometimes channels are not correct in multiclip

21. Select the multiclip. In the audio tab in the inspector, select the channel configuration info and then select “reset.” That should bring it back.Select Reset on Multiclip AudioCorrect Multiclip Audio Channels

Great! We’re done! Let’s start logging and editing!

Oh wait, there’s still the issue of that other bug — remember Issue C from the top of the post? 

Unfortunately, there’s no way to squash that one, but you can put on some bug spray to avoid it. It’s simple, but annoying.

1. DO NOT DO THE FOLLOWING.  Do not expand components and turn off unused channels with the V key. This could cause your timeline to come to a screeching halt. DO NOT EDIT AUDIO THIS WAY

2. Only use the inspector to turn off/on audio components. While editing in the timeline, make sure that every time you add a clip you turn off all irrelevant channels using the inspector. The more and more channels you place into a timeline, the slower it will get. Keeping 2 channels-per-clip active is a good start.Correct way to choose channelsCorrect timeline audio component editing

3. On my last job, I was editing with a ton of multiclips with a mix of 5D and Alexa footage. I also believe the 5D footage was also causing major slowdowns and stalls, so I had to remove them from the multiclips. Another unfortunate bug.

Ok! That’s all for this insanely long post. Have a happy edit. Hope this works for you (and me!)