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Final Cut Pro/Post-Production Workflow

Final Cut Pro can handle the entire post-production workflow, although there are situations where you may want to go to another program for certain steps (audio or special effects, for example). The following is an overview of the steps you will go through when using Final Cut Pro for most projects:

Log footage

  1. Review all footage
  2. mark in and out for each shot
  3. decide which shots to digitize


Rough Cut

  1. trim individual clips to approximate in and out points
  2. place on timeline in order


  1. Watch rough cut, adjusting timing and in/out points for each clip.
  2. repeat step one until picture flows as desired

Lock Picture

This is just the point at which you decide the picture is edited - you can go on tweaking cuts forever, but at some point only you will notice the refinements. If you have time, try to take a break from the project for 2-3 days or a week and then review/refine it one last time before locking the picture. It'll usually look better than you remember it when you come back, and minor things have a way of disappearing when you haven't seen it 100 times over the last few days.

Locking the picture allows your music, audio, and effects people to finish their parts without doing more work than necessary. If they know the picture is locked they can do their parts confident that things like timing or the length of an FX shot won't change down the line. If you are doing all of this yourself you don't have to lock picture, but it can often help you keep the project rolling and on schedule.

Mix audio

  1. "normalize" dialogue, etc for consistency
  2. add ambient sound/room tone
  3. add music
  4. add sound effects
  5. adjust all levels for final mix

Color Correct

Add Titles, graphics, and/or effects

  1. Export reference movies for FX to be completed in other software (Such as After Effects).
  2. add overlays or titles
  3. filters, motion fx, etc

Final Cut

  1. Replace raw footage with rendered FX clips from external programs
  2. Review entire video and make any final tweaks to timing, audio, fx/color, etc
  3. Render all effects as necessary

Master to tape or file

Your finished video can be output to tape or compressed to a file for DVD, CD-ROM or the web. In most cases you will probably do both, making a high-quality master tape for backup and then exporting several compressed versions for different delivery platforms. While you can do the compression directly in Final Cut it now comes with an additional application called Compressor which gives you more control over the compression process.