Video Clips to the Web with Final Cut Pro 4
by Stacey Jenkins
Emailing and uploading video to the web is an exciting and effective way to get your message across to others. While there are many software programs and training manuals on the market these days that perform these functions, Final Cut Pro 4 has a built-in export setting that lets you compress and export your video sequence as QuickTime movie files that are internet-ready. Here's a quick overview of the steps to take to export a QuickTime movie using Final Cut Pro and additional factors to consider when compressing video.
Before you begin the export process, it's a good idea to optimize your Final Cut Pro 4 sequence for the web. A few factors that can vastly affect the outcome of your compressed video include length, effects, cuts, and audio. In all these cases the simpler the better. Keep your video sequence short in order to keep your file size down. Use simple cuts between clips in your sequence in favor of extensive dissolves to cut down on blurring and freezing when those with slower modems (56k) are playing your clips on the Internet. Try not to layer too many audio tracks and keep your audio clear and easy to understand. Once you've made some adjustments and are happy with your Final Cut Pro sequence, it's time to export it.
To export your sequence as a QuickTime movie in Final Cut Pro 1, 2, or 3 choose File>Export>QuickTime Movie. Choose where you want to save your QuickTime file and set your export settings according to your needs. You can choose to export video and audio separately or together. The Options button lets you adjust the quality of your compression (always choose Best), and choose a compressor. Always go with a custom setting and try and choose a compressor that may result in a slightly larger file size, but preserves the quality of your video, such as Animation or Sorenson. You can also apply a video filter and change the size and audio settings for your clip. The Final Cut Pro Manual gives detailed information on these various settings on page 381 (FCP 3 manual). To make the movie self-contained, check the box next to it. A self-contained movie contains every frame of video and audio in one file that can be stored on a CD or DVD without any problems. If the box is left unchecked the movie will simply act as a reference to all your media files stored on your hard drive and be useless for uploading to the web.
Final Cut Pro 4 varies slightly in that it has two QuickTime options. The Export>QuickTime Movie setting exports your sequence directly as a standard QuickTime movie with very limited options. If you need to customize your export settings your best bet is to choose the Export>QuickTime Conversion setting that offers the same settings and options as Final Cut 1,2 and 3. The Final Cut Pro 4 tutorial is a great resource that demonstrates many of these settings and functions.
The Prepare for Internet Streaming box further compresses your video clip to stream to the Internet. Only large file sizes that need to be further compressed or video that is going to be streamed live really need this option. If you do plan on using it, choose a high quality compressor to preserve your movie's video quality.
Once you've set your QuickTime movie settings click OK and Final Cut Pro will create your movie and place it in the area specified in your computer. Final Cut Pro 4 will allow you to control-click on your movie and choose different media players to play your clip. This option is helpful for those downloading your video that don't have QuickTime player on their computer.
Final Cut Pro software offers a wide selection of exporting options, including AVI files, still images, AIFF audio exporting and Batch Exporting. Final Cut Pro 4 even gives you the option of using its built-in software program Compressor to create highly compressed MPEGs and its QuickTime Conversion setting creates movies for different internet modem settings. Chances are, Final Cut Pro will have an export setting to suit your needs and with a little training and practice, you'll upload video to the web like a pro in no time.
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