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

I’ve never spent much time with Apple’s Automator technology. Which is a little strange, considering how interested I am in automation and workflow technologies. I think some of it is a sense that it seems inaccessible, it doesn’t seem clear how to make things generalizable enough to be useful, and at least part of it is my aversion to Applescript as a scripting language That said, it’s clear that there is a lot of power available with Automator and I’ve started to dip my toe in the water and seeing If I can learn a few things and maybe create something useful.

This is the first fruit of my experimentation. I often need to make a tape log of a sequence in Final Cut Pro, and a quick way to get the sequence details into a text file could be useful. The most approachable way to address the problem seems to be with markers. You can store all of the values I need for a tape log in a marker – item number, name, description, length and the starting timecode. So, that’s how we’ll approach it.

1. First, we’ll need to add a marker at the time in the sequence we’d like to add an item. A quick way to add a marker is to hit the m key twice, or go to the menu item Mark:Markers:Add . When we do that we’ll get something that looks like

Editing an FCP Marker

2. We’ll want to rinse and repeat for each item we want in the log.

3. Export an FCP-XML file of just the single sequence of interest. A possible upgrade for this action would be to do a version where we pick the sequence, but for now the Action is just set to work with a single sequence. Any version of the Final Cut XML spec should work just fine

4. Launch the workflow, markerToLogWorkflow.workflow which should look like this.

Marker To Log Workflow

5. Run the workflow by pressing the run button. You can set options by selecting or deselecting the checkbox for items. When I run the workflow I get a text file looking something like…

Tape Log Screenshot

That’s about it. Next up will probably be digging into Indesign Automator Actions so that we could flow our log into a nicely formatted document. Another interesting Action might be to do this in reverse adding Markers from a producers Excel, Word Doc, or XML File, but I’m happy with this as a start.

So, what do I think about Automator? It definitely takes a little getting used to, but if Apple continues to improve features, I’ve heard rumors of cool Leopard upgrades, then I think it will be a good application to add to the mix.

Zip Archive of Action and Workflow

You’ll need to move the markerToLog.action file to your Library/Automator folder for the Workflow to work.


  1. Very nice.

    You’re idea “Another interesting Action might be to do this in reverse adding Markers from a producers Excel, Word Doc, or XML File” is very intriguing.

    I’m working on a documentary with lots of interviews. I’m transcribing them using InqScribe. It would be amazingly useful to take the InqScribe exports (XML or other) and import them into FCP to add markers to a clip using the timecode. Then I could convert the markers to subclips based on the interview questions and answers…

    I wonder if this is possible…

    -Aaron Dennis

  2. Dale said

    Hey Aaron,

    I’m not familiar with InqScribe, but if it has a data format it’s likely to be transferable and mungable. If you send an example I can maybe give you some pointers on how to address the problem.



  3. Mark said


    This is a great little tool. I’m no expert on Automator, but I wanted to have a crack at editing this so I can remove the preceding 01: and the frames from all the timcodes to get it into a format I need. Is there source of your Automator action available?



  4. Dale said

    Hey Mark,

    Sure, I can make the source available. Just shoot me an email and I’ll bundle it up for you. Also, if you uncheck “Line Numbers” in the markerToLog section of the Action it should eliminate line numbers. You can also add or subtract other items in the text file at this stage of the workflow.



  5. Robert Smith said

    Did you ever happen to try making the reverse import into FCP?

  6. Dale said

    Hey Robert,

    I haven’t followed up with this project. It was more of an experiment and the demand was fairly low compared to some of my other projects.


  7. Robert Smith said

    Are you in the freelance market? Perhaps we could pay for some further experimentation?

  8. Dale

    You’re my hero of the day bro! I can’t tell you how long we’ve been looking for a solution to export our sequence markers to a sequential text file. We tried xml2text
    which is a Swedish application that only accepts Paypal in the Dutch language. I just tried out XML Reader, it didn’t do what we wanted. I found your great post, downloaded the action and workflow, fired up automator and it works better than we hoped.

    We use mostly Avids (blah) and this function is built into those systems, but strangely enough, FCP still has no function like this built in.

    Thanks again for this post. My life is easier as a result of your work!!

    Andrew Hamilton
    DVD Editor
    Ultimate Fighting Championship

  9. Dustin said

    Hi, this is a great workflow hack.

    Just thought you might be interested that the cool new feature in Leopard you talked about in the end of the article have come to fruition.

    I’ve got a post on the application of the new “watch me do” function. Just thought you’d be interested if you’re into automation.

  10. adam mann said


    i am trying to use this action but it quits everytime i run my XML file but it doesnt when i run the one which was part of the ZIP file

    heres what im doing

    captured my tape
    used DV start stop function
    exported the XML file from the browser window
    imported the XML file to the workflow
    pressed run
    BANG it quits

    any advice

    im running latest FCS 2 with leopard all updated

    kind regards

    adam mann

  11. Dale said

    Hey Adam,

    Can you try exporting from a sequence and not just the browser? The action expects a sequence in the XML.


  12. maxplanar said

    Great stuff. Hey has anyone ever thought of, or built, a workflow to convert markers to text generators? As in, place markers over a sequence, export XML, then text process that to generate a new sequence, which would only contain a video layer composing of text generator clips, each of which would have the text from the marker name field displayed? That would be super handy…..

  13. Jason Brown said

    I’m an AVID guy, very new to FCP…I’m looking for some small app I can give some sales reps who are clipping out time code dubs with clips they want. They are typing the numbers into a word doc and I have to transcribe it into FCP log tool…is there some small app (PC and mac) I could give them to create XML which would make clips based on their TC input? I appreciate any help you guys could offer.

  14. […] Automator Action: Final Cut Pro XML to Tape Log via Markers […]

  15. Do you know if it is possible to use Automator for placing multiple clips into a sequence in FCP. I am attempting to figure out if I can automate matching the timecode of my clips to the timecode of my sequence. Since I will be having a ton of this kind of work coming in I was hoping to automate the process to speed things up.

  16. Jeffrey said


    I have spent all day looking for something very, very close to your automator action. You offered elsewhere in this comments section that you would be happy to give the source code out as a bundle, but I can’t find your email on this page. If you’d be kind enough to share it at the email I’ve provided here, I would be most obliged.

    Either way, thank you and best wishes.

  17. […] Automator Action: Final Cut Pro XML to Tape Log via Markers […]

  18. […] Automator Action: Final Cut Pro XML to Tape Log via Markers […]

  19. Duich said

    Hi, your Automator Action seems it might help me export markers. But it doesn’t seem to work on an Intel iMac. Is there a way I can get it to work?
    Thanks in advance

  20. admin said

    Hey Dulch,

    Yeah, I noticed this Action was out of date recently. I need to dig into it and see what’s up, but of course I have deadlines like everybody else so it’s hard to commit to a timeframe. If you’re technically inclined I’d be happy to send the source so you can dig into it.


  21. Duich said

    Hi Dale,
    yes, I can imagine that you pre-occupied with work, etc. And I don’t expect you to pull the ol’ rabbit out of the hat. But I appreciate that you have taken the time to reply. I am technically inclined, or rather if I need something done I get on with it. If you can send me the source I’ll have a tinkle.

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