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Chapter Four. Preparing to Edit > Auto scene Detection

Auto scene Detection

If you still hate the idea of spending hours and hours logging your tapes, you may be curious about a spiffy new feature in Final Cut Pro 2 called Auto Scene Detection. To use it, capture your entire tape as one single clip, then select the clip and choose Auto Scene Detection from the Tools menu.

Final Cut Pro then goes through the clip and adds a marker for every time you stopped and started the camera while recording. (This works on any tape shot with any DV camera. The memory chip included on the more expensive DV tapes is not required.) Each marker can be double-clicked in the Browser and opened as a subclip.

This feature will identify only moments when the camera stopped and started. This may or may not have much relation to where your clip boundaries should actually be. It certainly won't tell you when the director called “Action!” or “Cut!” And it's not going to name your clips in any useful way (unless Marker 31 makes your heart beat faster). For professionally shot footage, you will probably not find Auto Scene Detection terribly useful.

One additional disadvantage is that working this way assumes you are going to capture every second of footage on all your tapes, which will eat up huge amounts of unnecessary disk space.

That said, for certain applications it may be great. For instance, if you're logging footage shot by an amateur videographer on a safari in Africa, just knowing where the camera started and stopped may be useful. Provided he didn't let the camera roll endlessly on every animal he saw or accidentally record ten bouncy minutes of the jeep ride through a dirty window.

Working With Timecode

One of our goals when designing Final Cut Pro was to make migration from older tools as painless as possible. We wanted people familiar with Avid, Media 100, or even traditional linear editing systems to feel comfortable with Final Cut Pro right away. This had a major influence on our decisions about what to name various features and what keyboard shortcuts to implement.

One important example is the way we designed Final Cut Pro to work with timecode. Linear video editing systems were operated almost entirely from a numeric keypad. Editors got very handy at typing in timecode numbers and learning to add and subtract frames in base 30 (for NTSC) or 25 (for PAL).

Although it seems tricky at first, once you learn to think in timecode, you will be able to edit more quickly and more accurately. The more advanced you get, the more you will think only in terms of frames and timecode, and you will probably find yourself editing by typing numbers into your keyboard just as the editors on those older systems did—and less by dragging things around or clicking buttons.

To start you on the path toward timecode enlightenment, here are some of the basic rules and concepts about how to use timecode in Final Cut Pro. Don't panic—it may initially seem mind-boggling, but you'll get it eventually.

Timecode contains eight digits, separated by colons: 00:00:00:00 (hours:minutes:seconds:frames).

If you're going to enter all eight digits, you can forget the punctuation: 18102118 will be interpreted as 18:10:21:18.

OK, but this is real life, and most of the time you aren't interested in the hours column, or even the minutes column. Most of the edits you'll be making will involve a few seconds or a few frames. That's why we arranged for Final Cut Pro to accept less than eight digits. In fact, it will read right to left in two-digit increments.

For example, if you enter 01:23, Final Cut Pro will interpret it as 00:00:01:23.

A colon with no number after it is interpreted as a placeholder for 00. So...

If you enter 11:, Final Cut Pro will interpret it as 00:00:11:00.

If you enter 11::05, Final Cut Pro will interpret it as 00:11:00:05.

Similarly, you can enter math commands such as –5 or +10. These apply to the current timecode following the same conventions:

If the current timecode is 02:20:55:10...

-5 subtracts 5 frames, and the current timecode becomes 02:20:55:05.


+10: adds 10 seconds, and the current timecode becomes 02.21:05:10.

You can use a period or a comma instead of the colon, and you can also omit leading zeros.

So you might type +10.5. which would be read as 00:10:05:00 and bring our timecode from 02:20:55:10 to 02:31:00:10.

In case all that isn't enough, you can also enter simple frame values like +125, which means “add 125 frames.” In NTSC timebase, that would equal 4 seconds and 5 frames. This is an easier way for some editors to think. You can even combine these methods:

-2.50 would subtract 3 seconds and 20 frames. The -2. means subtract 2 seconds, and the 50 is interpreted as 50 frames, or 1 second, 20 frames.

At any point while working in Final Cut Pro, you can simply type in a timecode number, even without clicking a field. Final Cut Pro will recognize what it is and apply it to the most likely place based on the current context.

If the Viewer is active, timecode entry will move the playhead forward or backward. You do not need to actually click the Current Position field, although doing so accomplishes the same thing. Typing an absolute timecode number (01:21:10:15 or just 10:15) will move the playhead to that absolute position. Typing in a mathematical statement (+16,-200, and so on) will move the playhead forward or backward as requested (Figure 4.21). The Log and Capture window works the same way: Changing the value modifies the Current Position field to shuttle the tape and cue it up to the requested timecode frame.

Figure 4.21. Direct timecode entry in either the Viewer or Log and Capture window will apply the timecode to the Current Position field and move the playhead (in the Viewer) or the tape itself (in the Log and Capture window).

If you wish to change a clip's duration in either the Viewer or the Log and Capture window, hit before entering your timecode. This will highlight the Duration field in the upper left corner of the window. You can type in a new absolute value or use math in this field, too. For example, if the current clip duration is 00:10:00:05, entering –10. would highlight the Duration field and shave off 10 seconds by changing the Out point to make the new duration 00:09:50:05 (Figure 4.22).

Figure 4.22. You can modify a clip's duration by clicking the Duration field (also accessible by hitting ). Making changes there will modify the Out point to result in the desired duration.

Entering timecode numbers when the Timeline or Canvas is active initiates a wide variety of editing operations depending on the current state (see the sidebar “Just Type a Number” in Chapter 6, “Advanced Editing”).

If the timecode value you want is sitting in a nearby window, you can actually drag it from one timecode field to another by holding down as you drag (Figure 4.23). You might do this while logging to move the tape to the In point. By dragging the timecode from the In point into the Current Position field, you will make the tape shuttle to that timecode, lining your tape up on the current In point.

Figure 4.23. You can drag a timecode value from one field to another by holding down when you begin to drag.

Drop Frame Versus Non-Drop Frame

NTSC timecode comes in two flavors: drop frame (DF) and non-drop frame (NDF). Don't be fooled by the name. No frames are ever dropped. These are just different ways of counting the frames. Non-drop frame timecode counts every frame consecutively, and every 30th frame marks a new second. Because NTSC video actually plays at only 29.97 frames per second, this method of counting is not a very good way to tell how long a program will be.

For example, if you ran a stopwatch, a show measuring exactly 1 hour in NDF timecode would actually last 1 hour, 3 seconds, and 18 frames!

So who cares? Broadcasters. Problems arise when television stations are creating broadcast schedules that must be precise lengths. That's why they invented drop frame timecode.

With drop frame, every so often frame numbers are skipped so when the edit machine says the program is 01:00:00:00, it is actually 1 hour long on the clock. No frames are dropped, but some numbers are skipped so the count remains true to real time. It's exactly the same concept as leap year, only instead of skipping the 29th of February 3 out of every 4 years (except every 100 years), DF timecode skips frames 00 and 01 every minute (except every 10 minutes). That means if you want to look at frame 1800 (1 minute), the counter would read 00:01:00:02 even though in NDF, it would read 01:00:00:00. You can tell DF and NDF apart by the punctuation used. DF is always identified with a semicolon instead of a colon between the seconds and frames: 00:00:00;00.

NTSC DV is always recorded in drop frame timecode.

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