The present and future of post production business and technology | Philip Hodgetts

Jan/12

31

7toX for Final Cut Pro

So, the cat is out of the bag. Assisted Editing – Greg and I – have announced the immediate availability of our newest tool to translate Final Cut Pro 7 XML into Final Cut Pro X XML.

Yes, it works. It does an amazingly good job of translating Final Cut Pro 7 Projects (Bins and Sequences) into a Final Cut Pro Event. Clips from a FCP 7 project become clips in FCP X, Bins become Keyword Collections and Sequences are translated to Compound Clips, which can be:

  • opened directly in a Timeline; a
  • added to a new Project as a Compound Clip;
  • broken apart to make a FCP X Project.

It is true to say that it’s the highest fidelity translation possible; it’s simple to use and it’s only $9.99 in the Mac App Store.

So what happened between September 22nd – when I wrote all the reasons why we weren’t making a 7 to X product – and now when we’re releasing one? As I wrote then, I always had the impression someone was working on it: either Automatic Duck or Apple. But it all went quiet. So, if no-one else was working on it, then we sure would like to. We knew from Xto7 for Final Cut Pro that translation was possible. (Turns out it’s harder going forward than back.)

So we approached Apple to find out if anyone else was working on it, expressing our interest in making it happen.Unlike almost any other Final Cut Pro X development, converting the XML seemed like a good third party opportunity. It turns out the opportunity was open, and Apple were very happy to work with us because of our understanding of XML. Of course it’s Greg Clarke who deeply, deeply understands the FCP 7 xmeml format and had already more experience than almost anyone else with the new FCP X fcpxml format. Apple graciously gave us both their blessing and early access to the 10.0.3 release, so we targeted that for the translation tool.

I’ve often said, in the last few months, that I would not want to be the person developing a Final Cut Pro 7 to X translation tool. I was telling the truth because I could hear the salty language that came from Greg’s work area: there’s no sugar coating it, this is the most complex piece of software we’ve ever written, and yet it’s the simplest to use. (Drop FCP 7 XML on app icon. Done.)

Along the way I learnt a whole lot more about Final Cut Pro 7 as I translated the video functionality from app to app. (Greg then translated that into computer code.) There are things in FCP 7 I never knew existed. There was at least one missed app opportunity! I also learnt that, indeed, these were two very different applications, with different data structures and two very different design mindsets. Translating from one to the other is difficult, in part because the new app was designed without thought for backward compatibility, which is entirely reasonable. Focusing on backward compatibility would bind the new app with legacy thinking.

I’m very proud of what Greg and I have achieved because the finished result is so much better than we ever thought it could be. I knew we could make a useful translation – definitely better than “cuts only” – but how high we could make the fidelity between the two versions, I just didn’t know. There are some things lost in translation, as a perfect translation isn’t possible between two very different languages. (Imagine translating Spanish into Mandarin, when you natively speak English and you’ll get an idea.)

You can find a full list of how the translation works at the Assisted Editing site, but some highlights for me are:

  • Automatically converting PICT files to high resolution TIFF files because FCP X does not support PICT files.
  • The idea of using the Timeline Index’s To-do markers to report any substitution from the original FCP 7 Project.
  • Using Compound Clips for Sequences creates an Event structure that is very similar to FCP 7′s Project. Each “Sequence” becomes a Compound Clip in the FCP X Event, grouped in a Keyword collection “FCP 7 Sequences”.
  • Using Roles to report the original track numbers: this is metadata and I would not allow it to be lost.
  • Translating, as best as possible, the intention of the track usage in FCP 7 into the Magnetic Timeline required some intelligent interpretation of the original track structure into a FCP X context.
  • That we do not lose any log notes, even though they don’t map well to Final Cut Pro X’s data structures. They’re all there in the Notes field and searchable in FCP X.
  • We fully support translation of multi-cam projects from FCP 7 to FCP X.

There’s a lot of other great stuff that it does: audio and video filter substitutions; transition substitutions; all Motion Tab settings are translated, and so on. About the only caveat is that the media must be online throughout the export, translation and import to Final Cut Pro X process.

If you’re moving from Final Cut Pro 7 to Final Cut Pro X then 7toX for Final Cut Pro is going to be your new best friend. Even if you’re just feeling your way, 7toX for Final Cut Pro will also work with the free trial version of Final Cut Pro X so you can check out how closely translated your Project will be before upgrading.

Oh, and why is it so much cheaper than Xto7 for Final Cut Pro? Because we wanted to make buying it an easy decision while balancing out the enormous amount of effort that went into it (seriously, it’s dominated the last 6 months of our lives).

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77 comments

  • Graeme Herwig · January 31, 2012 at 6:04 am

    Purchased!
    this is great work – Thanks Phil & Greg!

    now just waiting for the 10.0.3 update to appear in the uk app store

  • Harry Creemers · January 31, 2012 at 6:23 am

    A milestone and you guys made it happen!
    THX!

  • Andreas Schmidt · January 31, 2012 at 6:31 am

    Hooray! Thanks for making it happen and thanks for keeping the price at this very attractive level. Simply a must buy. I already bought it. One doesn’t need to think about it.

  • Adam OIas · January 31, 2012 at 6:35 am

    Great news Phillip & Greg! It couldn’t have come from a nicer couple of guys!

  • David Roth Weiss · January 31, 2012 at 6:38 am

    Looks good Phil. Congrats!!!

  • Dave Bittner · January 31, 2012 at 6:48 am

    Congratulations, gents! This is good news, indeed. Now excuse me while I go help spread the word about this important development.

  • Snow R. Shai · January 31, 2012 at 6:53 am

    Phil & Greg,
    Thank you for your great effort in bringing this forward.
    It is truly, highly appreciated.
    It does make you wonder, if it is in fact, possible to make a good translation, why didn’t Apple do it in the first place, skipping quite a big fiasco…
    I’ll keep wondering… in the meantime, I have some software to buy.
    Thank you.
    Snow

    • Author comment by Philip · January 31, 2012 at 6:58 am

      As to why didn’t Apple do it “in the first place”? It would have had to wait until 1.1 of the XML for a quality translation, and by working with us, they could devote those resources to more features in FCP X. Like I’ve said repeatedly, software development takes time and resources and no-one has unlimited resources.

      And immodestly, Greg Clarke here at Intelligent Assistance probably knows both versions of the XML better than anyone else in the world, including people at Apple.

      • Rick Dupea D Cre8tv · January 31, 2012 at 9:55 am

        Ha! Well Apple is as close to unlimited resources as anything we know of. They could have literally given you a billion dollars of stock to do this and not felt a pinch. Come to think of it, that’s not a bad idea!

        I don’t even use X yet and I’m buying this just to have on hand. It seems too powerful to pass up. Thanks for the impressive functionality and more impressive price. There is no reason for anyone with FCP to not own this.

        • Author comment by Philip · January 31, 2012 at 9:59 am

          I’m all in favor of a billion dollars worth of stock! :) Reality is, even unlimited resources can’t make code writing happen any faster.

  • Gary Adcock · January 31, 2012 at 7:07 am

    Thanks to both of you, but Greg remind me to HUG you next time I see you!

    Thanks!

  • Gerry Fraiberg · January 31, 2012 at 7:18 am

    Congratulations on this achievement, and thank you for providing this important link in the post production chain.

    Cheers,

    Gerry

  • Dawar · January 31, 2012 at 7:28 am

    This seems to be a very clever job :
    Tracks into Roles, Sequences into Compound clips in Event…
    Thanks and Bravo

  • Brian Klein · January 31, 2012 at 7:58 am

    I can’t wait to try it out. Thank you for your efforts! You guys are rockstars!

  • Wayne Avanson · January 31, 2012 at 8:02 am

    Thanks
    I just tried it but got an error message I don’t understand.
    The Document “Sequence Crumplepop Event.fcpxml” could not be opened. Value for attribute version of fcpxml is different from default “1.0″

    Could you point me to where I went wrong? please? pretty please. I sent the xml from tcp 7 using the default setting

    Thanks guys

  • Wayne Avanson · January 31, 2012 at 8:17 am

    On its way.

  • AndrewK · January 31, 2012 at 8:57 am

    Congrats on stepping up and doing what no one else wanted to do, Philip and Greg! I’m sure it will pay off in spades as there are a lot of people that want the ability to take their 7 project and open it up in X.

    Even if it’s not perfect, which no one should expect it to be, it’s a lot better than recutting it from scratch.

    • Author comment by Philip · January 31, 2012 at 8:58 am

      It’s way better than I thought was possible. And a lot more effort than we first thought.

  • Jeff Handy · January 31, 2012 at 9:45 am

    You guys continue to impress. We might finally jump on FCPX with this arrow in the quiver.

  • Markus · January 31, 2012 at 10:10 am

    WOW!!! And best of all – $9.99!!!!! You guys are amazing!

  • Chris Wilby · January 31, 2012 at 10:17 am

    Well done; and I’ll buy it just for the hell of it!

  • Andreas Schmidt · January 31, 2012 at 11:47 am

    Fantastic Job! I just brought over my first project from FCP 6 ( I know – not officially supported ) and it worked great.

  • ROBERT MCCLELLAN · January 31, 2012 at 11:48 am

    Still chugging along on FCP 6.0.6, any chance 7toX will work for me?

    • David Hodge · February 2, 2012 at 1:43 am

      My problem exactly. Apple told me I could not purchase an upgrade to 7 from 6 at this point. Only purchase X and that’s it. Buying the X version I’ve been put off of solely for the fact that I cannot use my existing projects on X from version 6. I hope this will be put out soon with a high level of efficiency and accuracy.

      • Author comment by Philip · February 2, 2012 at 9:23 am

        We expect XML from FCP 6 to work. If it doesn’t send us the problem XML to info @ intelligentassistance.com (without the spaces) and we’ll update the app to work. We’re committed to making it work with FCP 6 but don’t have it available to test.

  • Marcus R. Moore · January 31, 2012 at 11:48 am

    Some might complain that this functionality is parsed out, and who knows, maybe Apple will buy IA out and fold 7toX into 10.1. But I think keeping FCPX itself relatively lean and nimble might be part of Apple’s plan to keep updates more frequent, and focus more on core functionality improvements.

    So many tasks are project specific, that it makes sense to leave them to 3rd parties who can work in building them out for those who need them. But if you don’t need them, you’re not paying for them- and as Philip suggests, Apple can stay focused on the bigger picture.

    • Author comment by Philip · January 31, 2012 at 12:49 pm

      It’s untested with V6 FCP but it should work. Speed changes may be an issue, but otherwise, no problem.

      • David Hodge · February 2, 2012 at 1:44 am

        Would you please test it before I do something I cannot undo? It would be most appreciated. Thanks.

        • Author comment by Philip · February 2, 2012 at 9:25 am

          We have no way to test FCP 6 XML. The only way that support will be fine tuned is if people test their FCP 6 XML and send in any problematic XML files. Nothing would ever be done that you could not undo. If FCP 6 does not work the original XML file will still be OK and the original project will not be touched. It would simply be a matter of doing the conversion again with the updated app.

  • Lindebrings Laurent · January 31, 2012 at 12:30 pm

    Bravo, Guys it’s amazing.

    And now,
    what do you think about a
    X2OMF now ?

    • Author comment by Philip · January 31, 2012 at 2:04 pm

      There’s a new FCP X to OMF tool also released today, but darned if I can find the link I followed a few hours ago. I was barely awake. X2Pro http://www.marquisbroadcast.com/news/210.html There it is, just had to persist!

    • Author comment by Philip · January 31, 2012 at 3:26 pm

      There’s a new FCPXML to OMF tool released today but shipping at the end of Feb. http://www.marquisbroadcast.com/news/210.html

      • Dawar · February 1, 2012 at 1:26 am

        That’s also a really important news, since apparently 10.0.3 finished to break Automatic Duck plugin.
        Anyone know this company, Marquis Broadcast ?

    • Brian202020 · January 31, 2012 at 8:22 pm

      Automatic Duck has something that’ll work, and it’s free.

      Pro Export FCP 5.0
      http://www.automaticduck.com/products/

      • Author comment by Philip · January 31, 2012 at 8:24 pm

        Has anyone checked this against 10.0.3. I am under the impression it stopped working with this release.

        • Brian202020 · January 31, 2012 at 8:36 pm

          I have not tested it with FCPX 10.0.3. I have a project coming up where it would be helpful. I would like to know this as well. Where did you hear this wouldn’t work anymore?

          • Author comment by Philip · January 31, 2012 at 8:56 pm

            Just a rumor and I don’t have it to test, so I’m wondering if anyone has tried it?

          • Brian202020 · January 31, 2012 at 9:15 pm

            Just tested and it doesn’t seem to work anymore. I feel bad for the people that spent $500 for the program before it went free. I’d be mad.

          • Author comment by Philip · January 31, 2012 at 9:19 pm

            Yeh, I would too. Thanks for testing.

  • Michael Petros · January 31, 2012 at 12:35 pm

    Bravo! Great work, Philip and Greg!

  • Charlie · January 31, 2012 at 2:22 pm

    Every time I try it I get a “There was a Problem converting this XML” error. Unfortunately, this is a highly NDA’d project so I can’t send the xml file. Any idea what this could be?

    • Author comment by Philip · January 31, 2012 at 2:44 pm

      I’m really sorry about that Charlie, but without the XML file we can’t hazard a guess, but I understand the issue with the NDA. We have identified some issues in the last two days, and more today as it gets exposed to even more example projects (on top of the many dozens it was tested against). Check the known issues in the Help doc. Other than that all I can advise is that we’re working through all the reported bugs or XML that won’t import for an update ASAP (within 2 weeks max). LIkely that will fix it. One issue we just discovered (surprisingly I know) is that 44.1KHz audio in a project will cause a failure. That’s fixed now but in our internal build.

      We have been able to convert a couple of XML files for people on our internal build that were failing in the release, so there is that option. We treat NDAs very seriously as you can imagine with Apple as a partner if you felt you could trust us.

      • Charlie · January 31, 2012 at 3:50 pm

        Thanks Philip. I did get it to convert an older sequence, so i can mess around with it now which is awesome. I’ll see what i can do about getting you an xml file, till then I patiently await the next version! Thanks again… Great app!

    • Peter · February 1, 2012 at 2:14 am

      Same here,
      I tried with over 6 XML files now. Every time the same popup window.
      Even the most simple sequences with only two clips want work.

      • Author comment by Philip · February 1, 2012 at 9:42 am

        Please send the problem XML exports (from FCP 7) to info @ intelligentassistance.com (remove the spaces) so we can work on fixing the problem.

  • John A. Mozzer · January 31, 2012 at 9:40 pm

    Philip, how about offering another app for $10.00, a plug in for Final Cut Express, so that Final Cut Express projects can be saved as XML, and then those projects can be converted with 7toX for FCP X?

    • Author comment by Philip · January 31, 2012 at 9:53 pm

      I’d love to. But the sad reality is that the FC Express project format (like the FCP 7 Project format) has never been published by Apple. Given that it’s a binary format, it’s almost impossible to reverse engineer.

      And believe me I’d love to. I’ve heard from so many FC Express users today who want to upgrade their projects that I know the demand is there.

      maybe we need to set up some folk around the country who can upgrade FC Express projects and export the relevant FCP 7 XML. (The media needs to be online for that export.)

      Philip

  • Pete · February 1, 2012 at 4:38 am

    I cannot convert just the most simply timelines to FCPX!!!
    Every time I want to translate I get this error “There was a problem converting this XML”. I’ve tried exporting from FCP7 to XML version 1-5 but no luck. My timeline contains no Motion projects or freeze frames.

    What’s going on there?

    P.S.: I can run the translation from Premiere Pro CS5.5 sequences exported to XML and then exported through FCP7 again in version 4.

    • Pete · February 1, 2012 at 5:08 am

      I figured it out!

      Obviously the app has a problem with CCIR aspect ratios and DV or something. changed my simple timeline from 16:9 DV to 1080p DSLR footage. And it works now. BUT, what to do with my DV-timelines

      • Author comment by Philip · February 1, 2012 at 9:44 am

        Great work Pete, really appreciate that extra hint. If you haven’t sent it over, we’d love to see both versions of the exported XML files.

    • Author comment by Philip · February 1, 2012 at 9:44 am

      As soon as we get the XML files we can work out what is going wrong. We already have fixed several bugs yesterday and problem files being submitted are OK on the internal build, but we want as many problem files as we can find.

  • Gregory Ikens · February 1, 2012 at 5:03 am

    Buy this now. Why are you still reading this? Seriously, buy this now…

    Exceeds all expectations. Easy and intuitive to use. Many thanks.

  • Leo Hans · February 1, 2012 at 7:04 am

    Philip,

    Amazing job!

    I have a little test done at my blog (in spanish).

    http://finalcutargentina.blogspot.com/2012/02/abrir-secuencias-del-fcp7-en-el-fcpx.html

    • Author comment by Philip · February 1, 2012 at 9:46 am

      Thank you.

  • Francois · February 1, 2012 at 8:49 am

    Thanks a lot for the tool.
    However I was not able too make it work with projects including DV (Pal) footage.
    Is it supported ?
    Thanks again,
    François

    • Author comment by Philip · February 1, 2012 at 9:47 am

      It seems PAL DV footage is problematic right now, so we can focus on testing, but if you have XML files that are failing we’d love to see them and test as we fix the bug. info @ Intelligentassistance.com (remove the spaces).

  • aldocotugno · February 1, 2012 at 10:26 am

    I also get the message:The document “…….. Event.fcpxml” could not be opened. Value for attribute version of fcpxml is different from default “1.0″
    maybe I need the new version 10.0.3 ?

    • Author comment by Philip · February 1, 2012 at 10:38 am

      Correct. You must have 10.0.3 for the import to work. The earlier versions do not support enough features in the XML for the import to work.

  • Andy · February 2, 2012 at 4:09 am

    Philip,
    I have a problematic XML file I believe.
    I have emailed to the address you provided above.
    Hopefully you can help.
    Cheers

    • Author comment by Philip · February 2, 2012 at 9:27 am

      Yes, we received it Andy. Will be looked at today but if you have PAL material in there, we have that issue fixed and an update ready to submit to the App store today that fixes four issues we found.

      • Andy · February 2, 2012 at 3:44 pm

        Thanks for getting back to me Philip.

        I’m in Australia, so the PAL bug would make sense.

        I will keep an eye out for an update in the App Store.

        Thanks again

  • Gary McFeat · February 3, 2012 at 5:42 am

    Well done guys – you rock!

    Keep up the great work!

  • Fritz Kohle · February 4, 2012 at 8:23 am

    Hi there
    first of all great job with this release. Am testing it on a documentary we are editing in FCP7. 7toX does a good job in exporting the xml for video but some audio files get lost. Well – they show up on the time line, and when opened in the finder a short cut points to the original file, yet the files won’t play in the FCPX timeline.
    We tried exporting and importing all video and audio tracks separately, time consuming as you can imagine. Its a 60 minute project. Many of the audio files are not linked to the video – they were recorded separately.

    What are your recommendations?

    Best

    Fritz

    • Fritz Kohle · February 4, 2012 at 8:25 am

      I should add that the project was shot in HD, H.264 codec using a Canon at 25fps.

    • Author comment by Philip · February 4, 2012 at 10:39 am

      Would the audio possibly 44.1KHz? We identified a problem after the app was submitted to the app store, but before release, that is fixed in the version currently waiting to get through the app store process. Otherwise could you please send the problem XML to info @ intelligentassistance.com (without the spaces) so we can work out what’s going wrong.

  • Fritz Kohle · February 4, 2012 at 2:53 pm

    Dear Philip
    thanks for responding so quickly. Here is some more info:
    some audio is 44.1 khz, some 48 khz.
    video is 1920 X 1080 H.264
    I’ve emailed the xml accordingly.
    Best
    Fritz

  • Andy Prendergast · February 6, 2012 at 7:01 am

    Hello,
    I am UK based and so use PAL. As a result, I think, I had no luck using 7toX but quickly googled enough to find that you had listened to feedback, discovered a problem with PAL, and 44khz sound and had already uploaded a mend to i apps. That this is not yet available is very poor on Apple’s behalf. you are supporting their product; they are not supporting you. I have complained about other i-apps and the problems remain unresolved months later with Apple continuing to take its cut from a faulty product in the interim.
    Any was my gist is- Good for you; Shame on them!
    Of course I was disappointed when 7toX did not work straight off, but your product is cheap, you are keen for it to work and I have some hope that some of the misery of the apple side of 7toX will eventually be reduced by your tool.
    Best

    • Author comment by Philip · February 6, 2012 at 9:15 am

      There are issues with the App Store right now that we hadn’t expected to run into, and that’s delaying us. It’s our primary focus until we work out why there are problems when there haven’t been before.

      • Andy Prendergast · February 7, 2012 at 5:45 am

        I think it should be Apple’s Primary Focus too! But I bet it’s not! thanks for persevering,
        Andy

  • Bruce Wittman - Eagle Video Productions - Raleigh NC · February 7, 2012 at 8:58 am

    Thanks so much for all your hard work. The price is incredible compared to the need that it fills! Apple should get down on their knees and thank you for saving a huge crowd of potential FCP X customers who did not want to cross over without conversion ability from FCP 7. Keep up the great work!

  • Mike Schrengohst · February 9, 2012 at 2:01 pm

    OK,

    I am playing with the Trial Ver of FCP X…..
    I bought this App to try out the FCP 7 to FCP X

    I did a test edit in FCP 7 -exported an XML

    It did open in FCP X but with problems….

    The original project was a 720 24p DVCPRO project.

    In FCP X the clips in the sequence looked zoomed in….
    I have to resize them 67% – almost like FCP X is reading them as 1080p?

    What is weird – I have the raw clips before the edit….
    and those are the proper size???

    The clips in the sequence will not accept transitions.
    I see that the clips were copied and I looked at those
    and it is the full clip.

    At present using this App to bring a FCP 7 project to FCP X – just does not work.
    It would be faster to re-edit. FCP X needs to add some basics back in.
    Like just adding feather to crop??? Drop Shadows? Hello???
    I did find some 3rd party effects to accomplish this – but jeesh??

    • Author comment by Philip · February 9, 2012 at 2:12 pm

      Please send us the XML file to info @ Intelligentassistance.com so we can work out what is going wrong. Size and position are incredibly complex to translate and the current version is the fourth rewrite of that code. Apparently we have still not got it perfect. You can select all the clips and then in the Inspector set them to “fit” in the meantime. Without the XML file I can’t comment on any of the other problems.

      We can’t translate to what is not there in FCP X.

  • Vincent · March 1, 2012 at 7:43 am

    Good afternoon,

    I’m a FCP X user and teacher and I’d like to thank you for both of your application : 7toX and Xto7.
    I’m just wondering if you plan to make others applications like XtoEDL or XtoCutList for exporting and EDL or a Cut List for cinema purpose ?
    Well, we never know…

    Regards,

    Vincent Coste

    • Author comment by Philip · March 1, 2012 at 10:12 am

      We don’t have plans for XtoEDL or a cut list tool. We’re encouraging our friend Rainer at Xmil Tools to do an EDL tool. Right now you can go FCP X to FCP 7 with Xto7 then to an EDL but it’s clumsy.

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