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Some thought on Events and Keyword Collections in Final Cut Pro X

Like many people I questioned the metaphor of “Events” in Final Cut Pro X, but ultimately decided it wasn’t that crucial an issue and just let it be. Now that Greg and I are working on our metadata logging app for Solar Odyssey, we have had to solve the same naming question. It turns out that Event isn’t such a bad name after all.

The question we faced was “What do we call a discrete section of a larger project? Is it a ‘story’?” It could be but not everything is story related. For example, currently we’re shooting footage every day as the Solar Odyssey boat Ra approaches completion. The larger story is the boat approaching completion (and possibly a “Road to Ra” piece being edited in the future) but each day’s shoot is not really a story in itself. Ultimately we decided that Event is as accurate as anything else.

Now that I’m managing much larger amounts of media in FCP X I’ve also found the way I use Events and Keyword Collections is evolving. I started with a “Solar Odyssey Pre-launch” Event but it becomes somewhat unwieldy as more media is added. I’m also trying to find the balance between enough Keywords instead of too many, or too few.

What I’m currently experimenting with is using an Event for each day’s shoot, with Keywords that group the shots from that day. For example, the May 30th Event has these keywords:

  • Cabin Gelcoat covering going on
  • Rant about Jim
  • Today (the basis of the video blog)
  • Walmart
  • Welding aluminum brackets.

Over time I’ve found I’m adding fewer Keyword Ranges per clip.

Within those collections I’m renaming clips with a shot description from the default of date and time, with additional details (not often) in the notes.

My original thought was to use one bigger Event – analogous to a FCP 7 Project, because I was under the misunderstanding that I couldn’t filter (search) across Events. As I just said that was a misunderstanding. By selecting multiple Events in the Event Browser, the filter (Command F) will filter across all the selected Events.

So, I’m heading toward using an Event more as a “Super Bin” and appreciating the details in the design even more.

One final thought about “persistent In and Out points”. Those of you who want that limited feature are insane! We have some long GoPro pieces in the car. In FCP 7 I would have to make the 13 sound bites of interest into subclips. In FCP X I favorite the pieces that are interesting and name the favorite. With the old paradigm I only have one persistent selection without making a subclip. In FCP X I can have as many ranges favorited and named. It simply confirmed to me that there is a better way than I’ve been used to.

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  • Ben Balser · May 31, 2012 at 7:43 am

    Very interesting. Great to know we can search multiple Events. Thanks for sharing this, Philip.

  • Snow · May 31, 2012 at 10:52 am

    Hi Philip,
    We are about to start a multi day project with many many cameras, expecting hours of footage each day. We will probably shoot for almost 2 weeks on location.
    Your use of events and fltering multiple events at once sounds quite useful, and another huge time saver. Great “little” observation. We currently use one Event for each film.
    Saving I/O points is not important for multi shot clips, since we do not need sub clipping no more, but it can be useful for scene oriented dramatic editing.
    Having said that, I have grown much less dependent on it.

  • Joel Godin · May 31, 2012 at 11:08 am

    Yep, interesting stuff. Thanks

  • Carey Dismore · May 31, 2012 at 11:28 am

    Hi Philip,

    I’ve been a little quiet around here because I’ve been very very busy working. However I’m very excited for the start of your trip. The kind of “as-it-happens in the course of working on a real project” observations, challenges, workarounds, solutions, etc. are VERY HIGH VALUE content. At least for this old salty dog editor.

    Thanks for the shout-out the other day too!

    Cheers and looking forward to more…

  • Brian Klein · May 31, 2012 at 11:45 am

    After fiddling around with FCPX for the past year, using it to edit minor, uncomplicated projects, I’m starting to really study it, and have run into a lot of the conclusions that you are talking about here.

    1: “Favoriting” or key wording small sections of a large clip… Perfect! It used to be sub clips or markers in FCP7. It worked, but the organization was clumsy. I always ended up having to manually sort my sub clips… lots of clicking and dragging and renaming and more sorting. FCPX’s way is much cleaner and makes a lot more sense. Put a keyword on the bits you want, and FCPX makes the “bins” for you. I would like the ability to change the name of the favorite or keyword while in the filmstrip view. It’d be nice if a dialog box came up and let you type in a bit more data. But alas, there is the list view.

    2: It might be nice if FCPX remembered the in and outs… if for some reason you clicked off a clip to check a different clip for similar content with the intention of coming back if that clip’s content didn’t pan out…(sorry if that was confusing) but wouldn’t that then reinforce bad habits. If you like a clip and have marked an in and out, favorite it, and you are good to go. Delete it if you no longer like it.

    • Author comment by Philip · May 31, 2012 at 4:03 pm

      I honestly cannot see any benefit to having a persistent In/Out other than re-enforcing bad habits.

      • Ben Balser · June 4, 2012 at 4:53 am

        I agree with Philip here. If you set In/Outs, hit F, be done with it.

  • Hegedus Gyula · May 31, 2012 at 2:02 pm

    Great article – as always.
    I think FCP X offers almost too many media management options.
    Different genres meets different recording techniques meets different post environments meets different client needs… in the NLE.

    We need first RED, ARRI and BM Cinema…. RAW support ASAP, than finally complete worklflow models from news through commercial, music video, docu… to feature film.

    In and out points… who cares?!

    BUT: loosing playhead position all the time in the Event browser is maybe the biggest weakness of the program from an editor’s POV. A really bad (silly) concept.
    C’mon! A simple Option-Click on an Event clip should bring the playhead to his last position.
    Thats it.

    • Author comment by Philip · May 31, 2012 at 6:37 pm

      There is an existing SDK so that any of those companies – RED, ARRI, BMD – can write support for their cameras for FCP X. it’s not up to Apple, it’s up to those who keep pushing more and more new codecs on us to write the support for their complexity.

      Keeping playhead position, and skimmer may not be compatible. But, to be truthful, I’ve never even noticed that it lost the position.

  • er-nay · June 1, 2012 at 7:39 am

    I’m glad that you’re happy with the Events and Keyword Collections.
    Now start editing. Impossible!

    • Author comment by Philip · June 1, 2012 at 8:36 am

      Really?Impossible? What a pity I haven’t been doing what I’ve enjoyed doing: editing with FCP X.

    • Chris Wilby · June 2, 2012 at 7:44 am

      grow up!

  • Steve Speed · June 2, 2012 at 10:10 am

    I thought I needed in and outpoint persistence but the more I use the programme the more I realise you don’t need it.

    Favourites do the job in a much more powerful way.

    The problem some people have with FCPX are all the conventions that have been broken. In most cases, if not all, they have been for the better, but some people need to feel comfortable with the old way and resist change. Trying to explain what an Event is can be impossible because an Event can be anything you want it to be. A hugely powerful and open ended way of thinking but some people need the confines of Bin to feel safe.

    I see you’ve been lambasted by the ignorati on Twitter, they need to feel comfortable with an old way and a less powerful way of working, then, and only then FCPX will be Pro to these people. The power of Favourites is either ignored or not understood by the “Pros.”

    Could someone please explain why in out marker persistence is such a must have feature? A must have feature for the indecisive? How would FCPX know which in outs to keep in a clip with multiple favourite selections? It would almost certainly be the wrong in outs preserved.

    You can lead ’em to water but you can’t make ’em drink.

    Why haven’t these people cleared off into the Avid legacy and Adobe bloatware utopias they profess to enjoy so much? The simple answer, it ain’t a utopia by any stretch of the imagination and they know it.

    • Author comment by Philip · June 2, 2012 at 5:33 pm

      Exactly. And I shall steal “ignorati” 🙂

    • Chris Wilby · June 3, 2012 at 4:51 am

      • Steve Speed · June 3, 2012 at 3:57 pm

        Nice find Chris.


        “Tape Names” How quaint!

        Looks like the bearded “Pro” didn’t do his due diligence. Never mind, he and his cadre will be patting themselves on their backs convincing themselves that the move to the past and bloatware is the “Pro” thing to do.

        Reading the comments is where the real action is, seems the issue that befell the bearded one have been hanging around like a bad smell for some time. So much for all the listening. If Avid and Adobe actually did much listening their products wouldn’t look anything like they do now.

        You can run through those comments highlighting all the workflow issues the users encounter in the real world and bulldoze any argument that leaving FCP7 for Adobe was a rational thing to do.

        In FCPX-Land, I have never finished work quicker and to a much higher quality, all that dead time due to round-tripping and rendering with Color is now put into creative work and making the product even better. Which is nice…

      • Ben Balser · June 4, 2012 at 4:57 am

        Yes, Walter jumped ship when his well known FCP 7 workflow was just fine. Why didn’t he stay with FCP 7 longer? He’d have saved tons of time and money. Besides, X roundtrips to Resolve way better than what he claims of PPro and MC. But, if a great artist cuts off his ear, should the rest of us cut off our ear to be great artist, too?

  • Ryan · June 3, 2012 at 3:32 am

    Once again…a great write from Phil. I have been using FCPX for some time now and I really love the workflow. I takes a little getting used to but once you give up your initial residence it really opens up.
    However I have great difficulties convincing my fellow editors the powers of FCPX. They still insist that it is a scaled down version of the old FCP and they keep insisting that “collaborative workflow” was easier in FCP. nothing could be further from the truth. We are currently two editors working on the same tv show from material stored on a central server. We are using the disc image workflow as described by Steve Martin oven on rippletraining, and this really works great. But still other editors insist that FCP was better with more editors. It just got me thinking that the only reason these people think this way is because they have come to accept that FCP really WAS the way to work with multiple editors. They just forget that the constant “handing over” of project files was just another work around. But they have used it so much they really accept it as true collaborative workflow.
    I really think you all should give FCPX a chance, learn it and enjoy the freedom this software gives.

    • Author comment by Philip · June 3, 2012 at 5:49 am

      The workarounds that are familiar are just called “workflow”.

      • Chris Wilby · June 4, 2012 at 7:08 am

        “workflows” just about sums it for me. A lot of the ‘pro’ editors seem to be totally fixated on this point; a bit like an old dog with an old bone they don’t want anyone to touch.

    • Author comment by Philip · June 3, 2012 at 5:58 am

      Collaborative workflow is definitely not FCP X’s strongest point, but frankly FCP 7 wasn’t strong there anyway. Truthfully, the only NLE with a great collaborative workflow right now is Media Composer.

      • Chris Wilby · June 4, 2012 at 7:14 am

        Is it – in your opinion Phil – not beyond the Apple engineers to ‘make this so’?

        • Author comment by Philip · June 4, 2012 at 1:28 pm

          I have reason to believe that it is something the FCP X product designers have on their radar, but that doesn’t mean it will be in the next release or even the one after, but it’s fairly obvious that it would be desirable to be there.

  • Chris Wilby · June 4, 2012 at 7:04 am

    I wonder how many of the “ship-jumpers” are now starting to regret their ‘leap of fath’. Perhaps Rich Harrington could enlighten us… then, perhaps not! 🙂

  • Chris WIlby · June 12, 2012 at 12:00 am

    Well its fair to say that the Mac Tower is now officially DOA…

    • Author comment by Philip · June 12, 2012 at 5:05 am

      Although Pogue reports that new models “are coming” I suspect it’s not the tower we’ve been used to.

      • Chris Wilby · June 12, 2012 at 5:31 am

        If I was a cruel person (and I’m not) I would say Apple are being rather ‘half-arsed’ about this. Sometimes, smart people make very dumb moves. I do hope there is method in their madness.



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