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Chapter Four. Preparing to Edit > Logging Outside of Final Cut Pro

Logging Outside of Final Cut Pro

Logging doesn't require having the hard disk space to capture the logged footage. A logging station can be a minimally configured iMac or laptop. As long as you can run Final Cut Pro and connect to your source deck, you can record all of the logging information you need. Then, you can transfer your information to a computer with big hard drives and capture away.

Log From a Window Dub

Because timecode is not program specific, you can actually log your tapes using any software program, on any system, and transfer that data to Final Cut Pro for capturing. Sometimes tapes will even be logged by hand, perhaps by watching a window dub. In that case, all you'll have will be a handwritten list of In points, Out points, clip names, and comments.

WINDOW DUB Some video decks can display timecode numbers in a window right on top of the video image, so you can see the exact timecode number for any given frame on the TV monitor. This is known as BITC—short for burned-in timecode, and pronounced “bit-see.” A dub made with that window visible is called a window dub. This makes it possible to record timecode values even from a nonprofessional tape format like VHS (Figure 4.24).

Figure 4.24. When timecode is printed on top of a video image, it's called BITC.

Import Batch Lists

Final Cut Pro can import and process batch lists of logging information from any program as long as it's stored as Tab-delimited text. You can even type the details from a hand-written list into a spreadsheet if you know what you're doing. You can use as many or as few of the Browser columns as you choose.

To enable Final Cut Pro to read the file, you must take one additional step. Before importing the file, you must modify it in a text editor, or a spreadsheet program like Excel, and add one new record at the beginning of the file with the exact Browser column headers that correspond with the fields in the data file (Figure 4.25).

Figure 4.25. Add one record at the head of the list identifying the Browser columns you want the corresponding data to go into. You can use as many or as few columns as you like. Final Cut Pro will use that first record to identify which data goes into what column.

You can also work the other way around. If you prefer to log your footage in Final Cut Pro and edit on some other system, go wild. Final Cut Pro exports batch lists that you can import into an Avid or another system and use to capture and edit on that system. Beware, though: You are probably limited to essential information: reel number, In point, Out point, clip name, and possibly one comment.

Incidentally, making a batch list is also a great way to create a fail-safe backup of your Final Cut Pro project file. Even if those files are corrupted somehow, or it's ten years from now, Apple is out of business, and Final Cut Pro is so antiquated you've moved on to some new editing program, you will still have a reliable way to access the data gained during that long, painful logging process. Add an EDL of your finished show, and you can rebuild it on any system at all.

EDL An edit decision list (EDL) is a text file containing the bare minimum of pertinent information to allow you to re-create your sequence. These files are commonly used to transfer projects from one editing system to another, such as from Avid to Final Cut Pro (or vice versa).

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