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Types of media

Final Cut Pro can support a variety of different media formats. Some of the common formats you may be working with are:


This is the native format for video on the Mac and is what Final Cut Pro is based upon. Quicktime itself supports dozens of image and video formats and FCP can use any format that Quicktime supports. A Quicktime movie may contain both video and audio, or just one or the other.


Standard uncompressed format for audio on the Mac, CD quality or better.
Standard uncompressed format for the PC. No difference in quality between AIFF or WAV.
The most popular compressed audio format on computers. The quality is less than CD quality but may be acceptable depending on the original source. For working in FCP it's often better to convert it to an uncompressed format as it take less processing power to play back uncompressed audio.
A newer audio compression format which is better quality than MP3 and gaining popularity due to it's use in iTunes and the iTunes music store. Better than MP3 but still less desirable than an uncompressed format.

Still Images

This is the standard uncompressed 24bit (millions of colors) still image format for mac
Another uncompressed 32bit (millions of colors + alpha channel for transparency) format which is cross platform and popular for print work. When used for print it's often in the CMYK color space - you should check it in photoshop and change it to RGB for video work.
Photoshop (.PSD)
This is the native format of photoshop and can contain multiple layers which are preserved when importing into FCP
This is the most common compressed image format, it's what you will usually have when you download an image from the web
This format is still popular on the web but has reduced color information and is generally not good for video work
Photoshop (.PSD)
This is the native format of photoshop and can contain multiple layers which are preserved when importing into FCP

Getting media into your project

As with most processes in Final Cut there are several different ways to import media into your project:
Menu Command
File>Import>Files... This will bring up a standard open dialogue where you can select the file or files you'd like to import. Shift-click to select more than one file to import. Files>Import>Folder... will allow you to select an entire folder of media to bring in in one step.
Keyboard Shortcut
Apple-i will bring up the same import window as the File>Import>Files... command.
Contextual Menu
Control-Click or Right click (if you have a two or more button mouse) in your browser window and a menu will pop up under your mouse. Chose the first item in the menu, Import>Files... or Import>Folder...
Drag and Drop
If you have your FCP project open in the background you can drag one or more files or folders into your browser window. Once the window frame highlights drop the files and they will be imported into your project.
All of these methods work equally well; which one you use is up to you and your project - use the one you are most comfortable with or which works best for your particular project.

The other way to get media in is to capture it from a tape - see the capture notes for that process.