How to get Final Cut Pro Clips & Bins to Avid MC

Here are step-by-step instructions on how to transfer FCP bin info into an Avid NLE:

a. With the method below you can transfer clip information. You cannot transfer edited sequences. To do that you need to use Automatic Duck (more info).
b. The basic premise of this method is to use a tab-delimited text file to export the info from FCP then edit the file and create a slightly different tab-deliminated text file. So make sure any editor you use on these files is saving them as true text files – do not use Worperfect or Word to edit these files.

Step 1 – Log Clips into FCP.
There are a few caveats to be aware of when logging clips in FCP for export into an AVID. Most important is to be sure that you understand the difference, in FCP, between the Name field and the Log Note field. In FCP, the Name field will also become the file name of the associated media file – so, even though you have 256 characters, it is best to keep this entry short & avoid using punctuation other than periods, dashes, or commas. Use a short descriptor: for interviews use the person’s name; for broll or other stuff use a short word (or three) location name & then a unique number at the end of each clip. The Log Note field is where you can go crazy and type away to your heart’s content – well 256 characters worth anyway. In FCP, There is also a Description field that you can use for more info, as well as 6 Comment fields. You’ll just need to accomodate these additional fields when exporting and importing later on.

Cheaters Helper: Click me to download a sample FCP-HD project (it was used to make all these screen grabs & files below)

Step 2 – Make sure to reveal the following Columns in FCP: Reel, Tracks, Media Start, Media End, Length, Log Note, Description. Here’s what it should look like:

Cheaters Helper: Click me to download an FCP Custom Layout that does this for you.

Most importantly you do not want to see the Length Column in FCP. The way FCP calculates duration is actually one frame longer than the way AVID does, so when you try to import Length/Duration info into AVID it will not work on each & every clip. Better to leave out the Length Column all together and avoid the problem. I’m not completely sure of why this is or if it impacts anything, but if you’re just logging in FCP for use in Avid, it’s probably OK – for some strange reason the Start and End times are the same in FCP & AVID, just the calculated duration is different. Wierd.

Step 3 – Click in the FCP Browser Window, then select File>Export>Batch List from the menu bar. This will create a tab-delimited file of your clips. Note that it will be relative to where you are in the Browser Window. For instance, if you were sitting at the top level of the Browser (even with all bins closed) and you exported, you would get a listing like this:

Notice that all the clips appear in the Batch List export. They are broken into the original bins by just a line with an asterix and the name of the bin. If you open a separate Browser window for just the Test Bin (double-click it to do this) and then export that as a Batch List, it will export only the clips in the bin. Presently there is no way to automatically get your original FCP bin structure to import into the Avid the exact same way. You can get everything into the same bin structure, however, but you have to do it one bin at a time, and create individual batch lists for each FCP bin. Then you would import it into the Avid one bin at a time after you go through Steps 4 through 11.

Cheaters Helper: Here are several FCP Batch List Exports:
MexicoBatchList.txt – All the clips, as exported from FCP
TestBinBatchList.txt – just the clips in the Test Bin, as exported from FCP

Step 4 – Find and Open the Batch List in a Text Editor (or Excel).
You need to edit the FCP Batch list to find & replace some text in the file. Make sure you are using a true text editor and not Microsoft Word or Wordperfect! You can use Microsoft Excel to do this, but make sure you save the final files out as tab-delimited and not as a Workbook. The other important thing is that Avid expects to see MS-DOS type line feeds (as oppsed to Macintosh or Unix style), you’ll need to make sure you have this capbility in your editing application. On OSX, TextWrangler or SubEthaEdit allow you to do this, as well as the Terminal-based editor, pico. On a PC, you can do this with TexPad or Notepad++. Using Microsoft Excel does not solve this problem, particularly if you use Excel on a Mac. The only way I’ve found to do this is to use a text editor that can change linefeed types after you’ve used Excel to get everything else taken care of. Here’s where you’d do that in TextWrangler:

Step 5 – Download and open this Sample Avid Log Exchange file (known from now on as ALE – don’t you love all the silly letters?). I have created this file to give you exactly what the Avid needs to see at the head of the file. If you don’t have the top of the file laid out like this one it will not work. Also, don’t forget to change any of the standards entries if you are dealing with PAL.

Step 6 – Tack the FCP Batch List onto the end of the ALE file. The easiest way to do this is to Select All in the FCP Batch List window then copy and paste it into the ALE file just below the Headings line. Go ahead and kill the “test clip” line in the Sample file. When you have it right, here’s how it should look (if you used Excel):

Check out what’s going on with these two files now. Look at Column A, Row 7. This row represents the Avid Headings that correspond to the FCP Columns. Again at Column A, Row 10, just below the word “Data”, you see the FCP Column names. I had you do it like this because with these two rows, you can easily see that they match up. Avid calls it a Tape and FCP calls it a Reel. Avid calls it Start and End, FCP calls it Media Start and Media End. And so on.

Step 7- Once they match, delete the line that has the FCP Column names in it. The one benefit of doing this in Excel is that you can easily move chunks of the log data around to get it to line if you didn’t have the columns in the same order as the Sample file.
Step 8 – Make sure that the Avid Heading reads as “Lognote” with no space. Even though Avid will allow you to create custom heading names, it won’t import the data if they are in the import file. Use that file I referred to earlier and you shouldn’t have that problem.

Step 9 – Delete any FCP bin names (if you have any – Column A, Row 17 above). If you don’t delete them, they could cause your import to abort when bringing things into the Avid. You will most likely lose the clip immediately following the FCP bin name.

Step 10 – Find and Replace the Tracks Data. This can get a little confusing, but FCP represents which tracks it will capture on each clip differently than Avid. FCP uses “1V, 2A” to mean Video and 2 channels of audio. Avid uses “VA1A2” to mean the same thing. You need to use a find and replace tool to search out all the “1V, 2A” and replace them with “VA1A2”. If you have logged only the audio for a clip you can drop the “1V” & “V” from the above examples. If you don’t do this, you’ll get an error stating “no tracks are defined” on each clip that comes into the Avid.

Step 11 – Save this new file with a new name & get it over to the system where the Avid is.
Cheaters Helper: Click me to the edited log file ready for import into Avid.

Step 12 – Create a new project (or bin in existing project). Import the new clips into the new bin or bins depending on how you logged things. Here’s a comparison of the original FCP clips and how they got imported into Avid (well, MediaLogger v11 on my Mac):

Step 13 – Start loading your footage in the Avid…

Cheaters Helper: Click me to download the Avid Project, just to see that it worked (Zip Archive)