"High Quality" Export from FCP

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Hey HitRECorders -- Here's how to export a "high quality" file from FCP:

First, whatever format you are editing in is the highest quality it can be. So... if you captured video from your Mini-DV camera and are editing in a DV sequence, then that is your max quality. So, first rule is don't edit in a format that is "worse quality" than your source.

Now, what if you have some clips that came from your DV camera, some that came from a Flip Cam, some came from an iPhone and some came from the cool people here at HR? Well, now you need to decide which format to use and then convert (or render) everything else that's not that format. (note -- this might be different for FCP 7 -- I'm not sure how it handles multiple formats in a sequence.) OK, so let's look at the above example. Let's say we have these clips we want to edit:
1 - 720 x 480 .mov (DV codec)
1 - 1920 x 1080 .264
1 - 320x180 .m4v
1 - 640x480 .mp1
Ok, so that's 2 SD files, an HD file, and a web file -- all different sizes and codecs. Now we have to weigh the pros and cons... If we want our final output to be in HD then the 320x180 file is gonna look awful since it will be enlarged so much. But maybe that's ok, because it is just video of static. Or maybe that's ok because there's a creative reason to keep it small compared with the rest of the video. Or maybe it's not ok because that video needs to be as sharp as possible...

OK, so let's say we decide to compromise and we pick 720x480 for our resolution and ProRes for our codec. We can create a sequence with those settings and throw everything in there and render it. But depending on your computing power that might be too much rendering. So instead, you could use QTPro (or another program) to convert all those files to match your sequence, then you won't have to render. It all depends on you and your computer and what kind of other elements you might be adding. This is all important because your overall quality is only as high as the format you edit in. If you decide to edit in 320x240 then it's never going to look any better saved as uncompressed HD file, etc.

OK -- finally you are done editing. Now here's how you get the highest quality:
1. Click on your sequence.
2. In the menu bar, select "File/Export/QuickTime Movie."
3. Setting = Current Settings, Include = Audio & Video, Checkmark "Make Movie Self Contained." Don't worry about Markers (it can be "none." And you shouldn't need to checkmark Recompress All Frames."
4. Name it and save it.

So now you have a "Master" file that is as good quality as it can be, since it matches exactly the format you edited in. A really good general choice is ProRes for both SD and HD. You can use this master file to create compressed versions for HR and the web and email etc. You can also Zip this file up and upload it for editing purposes as suggested by Dr. Gory: http://www.hitrecord.org/records/92059/forum

That's it! Have fun and remember "Sometimes the rest of the world wears bi-focals, but YOU have vision!"

Created: Jun 30, 2010

Tags: export, help, high quality, tutorial, edit, final cut, fcp, video

JonMac Document Media