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Quicktips 2011 Day 30 follow-up for the Day 27 Speed up FCP’s XDCAM export

Further tests from this Reader Quicktip shows there might be more to this than originally posted.

This original Reader Quicktip about speeding up the FCP XDCAM export that came to us from James Stuckey Weber really showed he was having some very dramatic speed increases just by closing the FCP Canvas and Timeline. It seems after a bit more of James testing and discussing this with some fellow editors there’s a bit more to tell. It’s more about collapsing multiclips that closing the windows. Read on for James’ new testing numbers.

Here is the follow-up:

After submitting my Quicktip on Exporting to XDCAM, I started having doubts about it. After all, it’s a pretty impressive claim – simply close your timeline, and export at speeds up to 60x quicker. But since I had seen it happen myself, I knew it was true.

Then, after it was published, I started to hear that people couldn’t replicate the speed increase. I decided I’d have to figure out why I was seeing behavior others weren’t. I ran some more tests, and finally figured out my process is flawed, causing the long exports when the sequence is open in the timeline.

As background, here’s my general workflow to layoff to XDCAM. I layoff on average 2 or 3 a day, and I’ve found this works best with my setup. First, I export my timeline to a Final Cut Server watch folder that converts it to XDCAM. I work in a variety of formats, so this moves the conversion into the background so I can continue working. Then, I import it into Final Cut on a different computer that is set up to export to XDCAM. Because Compressor makes the audio channels into stereo, instead of the dual mono required to export to XDCAM, I make a multiclip sequence. This makes a sequence with the dual mono audio channels. (For a more in-depth look at why I do this, and how, check out this article – http://jamessw.com/blog/2010/01/making-xdcam-duplicates-with-correct-timecode/ ).

It turns out that my long export times are due to having a multiclip in the sequence that I was exporting. By simply collapsing the multiclip, I was able to almost get the same speedup as closing the sequence in the timeline.

Here are some results from tests I ran, listed slowest to fastest. All times are h:mm:ss. Tests were done on FCP 6.0.6 running on a MBP with a 2.4GHz Intel Core Duo Processor and 4 GB of RAM.

12 minute sequence
Timeline open, with regular Multiclip- 2:12:32 (yes, actual time exporting was over 2 hours)
Timeline open, with Multiclip collapsed 0:01:50
Timeline closed, with regular Multiclip- 0:01:01
Timeline closed, with Multiclip collapsed: 0:00:45

2.5 minute sequence
Timeline open, with regular Multiclip- 0:17:40
Timeline closed, with regular Multiclip- 0:00:12
Timeline open, with Multiclip collapsed 0:00:09
Timeline closed, with Multiclip collapsed: 0:00:08

To sum up, the biggest time hog by far is having an open sequence with a multiclip in it. Closing a sequence when exporting to XDCAM also seems to speed it up, but the change is not nearly as drastic.

It goes to show that things may not always be what they seem at first glance when working in post-production. Test, test and retest is often the proper course of action. Thanks to James for following up with that testing.


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PVC Staff
Scott Simmons was born in rural West Tennessee and didn't really realize that movies and tv had to be made by actual people until he went to college. After getting degrees in both Television Production…

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