Help me beta test a Sequencing Utility for Final Cut Pro

Have you ever had a bunch of Quicktime movies or Image files that you needed to lay out in Final Cut Pro? Maybe you’re making an element tape for delivery to a client, or prepping a bunch of lower thirds and titles for your program.

I find myself doing this kind of thing all of the time, and they all follow a certain set of rules. Something like, each element should be at 5 second intervals with a minimum of 5 seconds between each element, rinse and repeat. If you’re like me, you grab all of your elements throw them in a timeline and do the Carpal tunnel inducing dance of the up/down arrows. There has to be an easier way right?

Well, with Final Cut XML, there really is an easier way. Element Drop is a super simple drag and drop application that lays out a Final Cut timeline of Quicktime movies or Images. Drag and drop a bunch of elements on the application and Final Cut Pro is launched and each element is layed out in a timeline based on user preferences. Chapter Markers can be included for super easy approval DVD’s (Tutorial to come).

Element Drop Drag and Drop Interface
Element Drop Preferences
Final Cut Timeline

There are a lot features like Auto-filled Slates, Automated Log Generation and Timeline Database Integration that I can see adding, and I’d love to hear feedback on features as well as bugs. Element Drop only works in OS X 10.4 (Tiger) and above and should work with Final Cut 4.5 and above. The application uses Spotlight metadata to identify files, so in this version you will need to drop elements from indexed volumes, I’m considering using file extensions to identify files as a fail safe in future versions.

UPDATE 01.15.2007

Thanks for all the initial feedback it’s been very helpful. There turned out to be a couple of show stopper bugs related to sorting, drop frame calculations and file discovery that I am currently working out. I’ve updated the expired beta, but at this point it is more of a tech demo of the direction I’d like to see the utility follow than a useful tool. Feel free to download it and report bugs and features. I’m also working on a detailed bug list so you can see limitations.

UPDATE 01.22.2007

beta 3 Fixed file sorting problem, this makes the beta usable again. Still working on drop frame calculations and more robust file discovery.

UPDATE 02.06.2007

beta 4 Modernized interface with focus ring feedback. Need to fix: drop frame calculations and file discovery by extensions.

.zip archive of Element Drop

Please send beta feedback and bugs to dale(at)creative-workflow-hacks(dot)com.

The third beta of Element Drop will expire in 30 days

17 Comments »

  1. Kyle said

    You just blew my mind.

  2. alba said

    this looks great.

  3. [...] He’s created a handy little app for quick/rough editing of some elements when there isn’t any subjective editing required, like for a archive/layoff reel or an element reel. He needs help from people to bang on the betas before this thing is ready for prime-time consumption. Element Drop is a super simple drag and drop application that lays out a Final Cut timeline of Quicktime movies or Images. Drag and drop a bunch of elements on the application and Final Cut Pro is launched and each element is layed out in a timeline based on user preferences. Filed under: visual effects, work   |   Tags: after effects, fcp, software, visual effects, work, workflow, xml. [...]

  4. [...] Creative Workflow Hacks » Blog Archive » Help me beta test a Sequencing Utility for Final Cut Pro Element Drop is a super simple drag and drop application that lays out a Final Cut timeline of Quicktime movies or Images. Drag and drop a bunch of elements on the application and Final Cut Pro is launched and each element is layed out in a timeline based on user preferences. Filed under: misc   |   Tags: No Tags. [...]

  5. tinypalace said

    awesome. you just saved me hours of work. need to create reels of the slates from a short film for the director. looking fwd to putting this to work. thanks.

    do you know of anyway of getting fcp browser data into an excel file and vice versa? if so, please point me in the right direction. would love to be able to comment and organise my clips in excel (and would allow the director to do so away from my suite). would also allow me to print off hard copies of all my logging info, etc.

  6. Dale said

    Hey tinypalace,

    I don’t have anything specifically to go to Excel. I do have an Automator Action to write marker data to a text file, which could then be easily imported to Excel. I’d just need to add more data to the XML parse. I’ve thought about tackling this problem, but other projects have taken up a lot of time.

    You might want to check out Spherico Film Tools. He’s got a lot of utilities that do a bit of what you’re looking for. Good luck.

    Best,

    Dale

  7. deyson said

    Love the Future of this..

    Only thing I was wondering,
    Is there a way I could select and drop movies in the order I want them to appear and then hit send, to get them in the order I want?

    Also would be nice to have an option to lay watermarks or lower thirds..

    Huge Future in this..

    Keep up the good work

  8. AParma said

    hi, this is great! suggestion to have an option to put the elements’ filename in the chapter label.

    thanks!

  9. Jason said

    I was having trouble getting this to work. But I’m trying to build a library reel, and I need the spots to start at specific timecodes. Is that possible with this script? If not is there something else like that for Final Cut Pro.

    Thanks,
    Jason

  10. Hey Jason,

    What time-codes do things need to start on?

    The biggest limitation right now is that the app is designed for non-drop frame time-code, although it works as a workaround to set up the sequence non-drop and then convert it to drop-frame as necessary.

    If for example you wanted each element to start on the minute, you would adjust the preference for “Element Spacing” to 60. The “Minimum Space Between Elements” preference makes sure that elements are not shoved too close together although this can result in large gaps depending on how high it is set.

    What problems are you having in particular?

    Dale

  11. Hi Dale,
    i had emailed you some time ago… Today I am wondering if it would be possible/interesting for you to add a certain feature into “Element Drop”. Since you implemented the possibility of setting markers why not take the filenames of the dropped clips and putting them into the name-field ? This way one could export a cliplist via xml…. Or maybe you have a different idea for how to get a good “human-readable” list of clips and timecodes from the timeline. An EDL has too many useless information for my purposes….
    best regards

    Uwe Wiesemann

  12. Dale said

    Hey Uwe,

    Would something like this:

    Automator Action:: Final Cut Pro XML to Tape Log via Markers

    work if it had the clip list url included? You could drop elements and then use the Automator action to get what you need?

    Best,

    Dale

  13. Uwe Wiesemann said

    Hi Dale,
    yes that’s what I had thought about. Just how to get the filenames of the dropped clips into the markers?
    Best regards
    Uwe Wiesemann

  14. [...] needs help from people to bang on the betas before this thing is ready for prime-time consumption. Element Drop is a super simple drag and drop application that lays out a Final Cut timeline of Quicktime movies [...]

  15. Nate said

    how about transitions?

    I’m trying to figure out how to (in the xml) add a cross dissolve between 2 clips.

  16. Dale said

    Hey Nate,

    Take a look here…

    http://developer.apple.com/mac/library/samplecode/AlbumToSlideshow/index.html

    I also wrote a small utility to do the same thing with After Effects.

    http://www.creative-workflow-hacks.com/2006/04/25/iphoto-to-after-effects-slideshow/

    Dale

  17. Sven said

    Dale

    Interesting app. Per Uwe’s comment – it would be great to see a version that applies the name of the clip (xyz.mov) to the name field of the associated marker. Are you doing any additional development to this tool?

    Thanks

    Sven

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