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Lazy Guide to (Everything but) Editing in FCP7
#1
This will be a quick and dirty guide of the most basic things to get you ready to edit in Final Cut Pro 7 from a BluRay source, and what to do once you're done. (Final Cut X shouldn't be drastically different, nor should starting with a different source.)


Big thanks to user Seciors, who was invaluably helpful in teaching me how to do this.


Step 1) Ripping the BluRay disc
You'll need the appropriate hardware to let your Mac interface with a BluRay disc, of course. The software I used to rip it was MakeMKV, which at the time allowed for a limited period of use for beta testing. It may or may not still be free to use in the future. Even if it isn't free, it's worth it. Site: http://www.makemkv.com/
The application is pretty easy to use. Mount the disc you want to rip, and select it as the source. You'll have the opportunity to select which title you want to rip, as well as which audio and subtitle streams. It doesn't hurt to rip more than you need. Mash 'go,' and you'll eventually end up with a .mkv file of the source.


If MakeMKV isn't a viable option for whatever reason, Pavtube's BluRay Ripper should be fine, though will cost money. It's also pretty easy to figure out.


Step 2) Convert to ProRes.
Now we need to convert the source file into something Final Cut can work with. While there's more than one way to skin a cat, I've used Pavtube's HD Video Converter. http://www.pavtube.com/hd-video-converter-mac/
It's simple. Select your source, being the mkv you just created. For the format, I'd recommend selecting Apple ProRes 422(LT). Any Apple intermediary codec would be fine, but that's a good one to stick to unless something else compels you. If you select 'settings' next to the format, you'll want to put things at the highest quality and bit rate it allows. For size, it's best to leave it at "original," unless you're upscaling or downscaling to match another source. Bitrate should be "high quality," and frame rate for a BluRay source should be 23.976.
On the audio side, for some reason it doesn't allow you a great bit rate. Select the highest bit rate it presents you with. If you prefer, you could use any other utility you have to rip the mkv's audio to something lossless (AIFF) and lay it down in Final Cut alongside your new video source.
Select your destination directory and mash 'go.'


Step 3) Editing
Now you're ready to begin working in Final Cut Pro 7 or Final Cut X. I can't do much to help you here, though it'd be good if you're new to study up on how to use the program. (I may come back and update this post with a few tips and tricks, but it'll be no substitute for independent study and practice to master the editing suite.)


Step 4) Exporting
Exporting the final product can be tricky, and no one seems to be able to give advice properly. So don't listen to them; listen to me!


Your best friend is going to be the "Share" feature. Especially if you've done any effects work on your project, do NOT export a Quicktime master file and then compress it later. Instead, use the Share feature in order to allow the encoder access to the raw pieces of your edit, saving a generational loss.


Before we export, let's open up the Compressor app and set up the settings we'd like to export to.
(I'm using Compressor 3, so hopefully more recent versions operate similarly to this.) In the bottom left window, you'll find presets for Compressor to encode to. You'll probably want to design your own, to specify what you want your end result to be. This can be anything from a BluRay-compatible mkv to a DVD5 to a YouTube video. I'll show you how to setup a BluRay-compatible mkv of rather low quality loss from the source. When Compressor launches, it should present you with a few options. Select "Create BluRay disc." You'll see the main window has two output formats, one BluRay video and one DVD audio. To the left there is a place to drop in a file for it to convert to these formats. Ignore that for now. Drag the H.264 for Blu-ray strip down to the 'Settings' window below, creating a new custom template. Select it, and you can edit it on the right. Configure it to suit your needs, and you can find the meanings of all the settings online. Just make sure to select "Multi-pass" for best quality, and select an appropriate bit rate. The "frame controls" tab is only important if your edit contains footage of differing resolutions or framerates. If so, I'd consult someone to decide what settings are best for you. For what it's worth, here's what I use:
Frame Controls: Off; Output Fields: Same as source; Deinterlace: Fast; (Checkmark next to Adaptive Details); Anti-alias: 0; Details Level: 0; Rate Conversion: Fast.


You should also save the audio preset, configuring it for what is appropriate for you.


So, once your edit is laid out in a Final Cut sequence and is ready to go, navigate to File -> Share. This window will allow you to tap into the Compressor presets you've just created. Click the plus icon to add formats to encode to. Here you can select any of your custom Compressor presets. If you select the BluRay video and audio presets, you can allow Final Cut to encode them in one batch so you won't have to return just to start the encode of the next one. The end result of this step should be a video and audio file that together will form the finished product.


Step 5) Muxing
This step will vary depending on what type of file you want your end product to be. I'll explain how to proceed if you are creating a BluRay-compatible mkv. If not, mux and distribute your edit how you see fit. Compressor has presets for many things, and some may not even need any further work once FCP is finished exporting.


The app I use for mkv muxing is Mkvtoolnix. http://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/16837/mkvtoolnix
It's very easy to figure out. You select your input files, and a destination. It muxes them together for you, creating an mkv file of your finished edit. You can also mux in chapter or subtitle files. (For chapters, create an xml file and attach it under the Global tab -> Chapter File. Hit browse, and you can attach it.


That's a very barebones guide, and the hardest part is totally skipped over! But hopefully this will be of some help to get up and running.
I know I've made some very poor decisions recently.
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