Over the weekend I got a call from a client who was having trouble capturing the P2-based media he’d shot at HD Expo last Thursday. Now direct digital ingest of DVCPRO HD off P2 media (or copies) through Log and Transfer into Final Cut Pro has been one of the simplest and straightforward workflows since Apple introduced it with FCP 4.5. Basically “it just works”, except it didn’t.
My client followed Shane Ross’ article on importing P2 media to FCP 6 over at creativecow.net and all was good up until the point where the media should show up in Log and Transfer, when nothing happened.
P2 workflow isn’t my strongest suit, so I referred my guy to Shane. Independently the client contacted his associate at Panasonic about the problem. Both concluded that FCP needed to be re-installed, which I dutifully did, uninstalling FCP 6 first, then re-installing.
There was no change! Troubleshooting is a logical process, something that seems to elude most people. As Sherlock Holmes said:
“Eliminate all other factors, and the one which remains must be the truth.”
We had a P2 card reader so to determine whether or not it was the media or the copies, we tried with direct-from-card import; disk images of the cards; and folder copies of the cards. (Both disk images and folder copies had carefully maintained the file structure from the P2 cards, something that is crucially important.)
To try and eliminate FCP from the equation we tested with the demo versions of P2 Log from Imagine Products and Raylight for Mac from DV Film. Both applications crashed upon any attempt to convert and neither would show a preview. Not looking good for the media’s integrity, however the client had played back the media after shooting so there was a good reason to believe that it was fine.
Finally, the MXF4QT demo from Hamburg Pro Audio showed us that the media was fine, so what was the problem?
Now comes the two most important tools for troubleshooting: Google.com and CreativeCow.net. While Creative COW has a fairly good search engine, I generally prefer to search via Google so that other sites are included. However, this time a search for “Can’t import P2 media Final Cut Pro” turned up a single thread that suggested there was a conflict between Noise Industry’s “FX Factory” product and the DVCPRO HD codec.
Search terms are important. I usually start with the important words of the problem and application or platform. Too few words and you’ll never find the solution in the results; too many and there will be no match. I like to think about how the answer might be structured and search for words I expect to find in the answer.
What I didn’t know until later was that the FX Factory application has an uninstall option, which would have been much cleaner than searching and deleting applications or components that don’t show up in a Spotlight search but do show up in a Find in the Finder. (Apparently Spotlight won’t show results from the Library or System folders “to protect you from yourself”!)
Once FX Factory was completely uninstalled, the P2 media appeared in the Log and Transfer window as expected, and presumably would also work in the P2 Log and Raylight demos, which appear to draw on the Apple DVCPRO HD codec. MXF4QT doesn’t call that codec so it was able to show the media.
I didn’t check versions of FX Factory and there could well be an update that resolves this problem. My client was more interested in getting to work editing at that point.