You can use various techniques to manage large projects. The tools supplied by Final Cut Pro include a way to capture smaller media files and a way to capture more media than you would otherwise (with the OfflineRT mode, for example). FCP also has tools to delete media you no longer need (such as the Media Manager, the Make Offline command, and the Render Manager). But there is more to keeping you as lean as possible when working with large and complex projects. You need to be well-organized in the first place. Refer to Appendix A, "Capturing Footage," for tips on becoming organized. Logging clips properly and sorting them into bins keeps searching through a large number of files at a minimum, and it allows you to more quickly find media that needs managing in the first place. One thing to keep in mind is that that the clips in your sequences and Browser are not the media files; they are references to them. If you simply delete a clip from your Browser, you don't delete its media. It's best to do that with the Make Offline command, or the Use Existing command in the Media Manager, discussed later in this chapter.
This chapter gives you a foundation to work with when the job gets big and complex and you need to keep yourself together and as lean as possible. The discussion starts with the DV to OfflineRT mode of working (although the discussion also applies to any lower-resolution editing). This mode exists so that you can capture much more footage per gigabyte of storage space, losing resolution for editorial decision-making, and then allowing for a recapture only of the source footage actually used in your sequence in full resolution.
Using the OfflineRT Mode
It's best to use the OfflineRT mode of saving storage space when you have a lot of media to work with and when you know you don't have enough storage space for media files to work in high resolution. See the storage space requirements for various video formats discussed in Chapter 2, "Specifying Setups, Settings, Presets, and Preferences." The idea is to capture footage in a lower resolution, make your edit decisions in this lower resolution, and then recapture only the footage required to re-create your sequence in full resolution. This method requires that all your source tapes have timecode. However, if your source material was generated by a computer, such as video and audio files created in any other application, FCP knows that you can't recapture this footage from tape. It brings the footage forward into the high-resolution sequence you create with the Media Manager and doesn't take it offline.
For example, suppose you've added a graphics file from LiveType to your OfflineRT sequence. When you use the Media Manager to create a new sequence in higher resolution, Final Cut Pro automatically puts this LiveType file into the sequence and keeps it connected to the original file you created. All other items with a tape name assigned to them need to be recaptured, but it can be a very fast recapture if you logged things correctly in the first place.
Planning to use this "offline-to-online" method of working also requires that all your source videotape and audiotape footage have timecode. Otherwise, you won't be able to recapture all the footage and have it all edited properly in your sequence automatically. You wouldn't have to remake edit decisions without timecode, but you would have to manually reconform the higher-resolution material clip by clip, which is not an inviting prospect.
If you have material that doesn't have timecode associated with it, such as files from other computer programs, graphics, and the like, it's not a problem. These files can be used in higher resolutions. They should be created in higher resolutions from the beginning, because they edit into an OfflineRT project without problems. If you have source footage on videotape that does not have timecode associated with it, you have to dub this footage as cleanly as possible to DV or to the final videotape format you will finish your edit master in, such as DVCPRO50. In any event, you need to dub it to the same videotape format that your camera masters use when creating a timecode track, and then use these dubs as your source tapes instead of the originals before you start logging and capturing in OfflineRT.
The OfflineRT mode allows you to capture and store your material in about one-eighth the resolution of DV, taking up about one- eighth the storage space of full-resolution DV. Any Macintosh will play this resolution. Slower disk drives might play back this lower resolution when they cannot deal with full-resolution video. This is the same resolution you have been working in with this book, in fact. Its picture quality is certainly good enough to use for edit decisions. And instead of about 4.7 minutes of video and audio per gigabyte of drive space, you can store 40 minutes of footage per gigabyte. This means that instead of 470 minutes (about 7.8 hours) you could have over 66 hours! This sounds like more than you would ever need, but when you're working on a long documentary or a feature film, it's not unheard of to have that much footage. I once did a 4-minute short that was edited from more than 30 hours of footage, and the only way to edit it effectively was to have it all online in my computer. Using this mode becomes more crucial the less storage space you have available.
Offline editing is the process of editing your material just to make edit decisions with. The idea is to either save money by editing in a less-expensive system for an EDL export to be used in an online or finishing edit system, or to simply capture and be able to store more footage in the media storage space you have available. After finishing your edit with this lower-resolution footage, you can recapture only the footage used in your sequence in high resolution. Thus, it becomes your finished program or online edit .
There are other not-so-apparent benefits of using the DV-to-OfflineRT mode. Renders are much faster, and the video plays back more reliably, because the data rate needed to play the movies is so much lower than full-resolution DV or uncompressed video. Final Cut Pro comes with presets to capture in either NTSC or PAL in this lower-resolution mode with source material shot on DV. If you have a capture card such as those from Aurora, Pinnacle's Cinewave, or AJA, you will be supplied with a different method of doing basically the same thingcapturing offline resolutions. The techniques described here also are relevant to these other lower-quality resolutions.
You are all set to use OfflineRT if you are capturing from a DV deck or camera via FireWire. All DV formats contain timecode information. If your source material is on Betacam, you might consider using this format and capturing with a DV A/D ( analog-to-digital ) converter. This lets you convert the video and its associated timecode (with an appropriate serial port, USB serial adapter, or PCI card with serial ports installed). In this case, you would convert your Betacam source tapes to DV with the converter. Then, in real time (as you capture and transcode this signal to DV OfflineRT), you would create the lower-resolution files for your offline edit.
It's highly recommended that you use this resolution on portable computers such as a PowerBook. You can play back these files on its internal hard drive. This might work in many circumstances where portability is required and the addition of an external FireWire hard drive is not desired, or even possible, because most of them require an A/C power outlet, which might be unavailable where your edit is taking place. However, the Pocket Drives from LaCie work quite well. At any rate, this format's lower data rate can help anyone 's situation.
After you've captured or converted your footage to this codec, you simply edit your program as you normally would. When you are finished, you use the Media Manager (discussed later) to create a copy of your sequence. The difference is that it contains clips whose referenced media contains only the footage that you actually used in the sequence, plus any handles (extra footage on either end of the actual used media you might want for minor adjustments). You then can highlight this new sequence and batch-capture it in full resolution for completion of your online edit (see Appendix A).