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Tutorial: Introducing Libraries in Apple Final Cut Pro 10.1

In our first tutorial on the recently released FCP 10.1, we look at the new Libraries feature, which enhances project and media organization and eases the adjustment for editors transitioning from FCP 7.

Final Cut Pro 10.1 is finally here. It’s brought with it a bevy of new features--a lot of cool new stuff. Most notable is the inclusion of the Library model. The Library model has done a great deal to simplify the process of consolidating the folder structure, organizing it, and even making it easier to collaborate with other editors. It even makes it easier for Final Cut Pro 7 to transition to FCP X than it was in previous versions--but more on that later.

Hierarchical Media Management

Since its inception, Final Cut Pro X has relied on two separate yet symbiotic folders, the Final Cut Pro Events folder and the Final Cut Pro Projects folder. They were linked in the functionality of the program, but were completely separate on your hard drive. When you created a new project in FCP X, it asked you what event you wanted it to be associated with. However, that project could house media from other events, which could get a little bit complicated when you were moving projects around and collaborating with other editors.

With Libraries, Apple has created a hierarchy. They’ve put the Final Cut Pro Projects folder inside the Final Cut Pro Events folder, and the Events folder inside the Library. Figure 1 (below) illustrates the hierarchy. Libraries contain events, events contain projects. It’s extremely simple. The new hierarchy takes the events and projects, combines them hierarchically inside the Library, and one top level of organization. Everything is now contained inside the Library, in a single unified file that will house everything required for your productions. This makes it easy to collaborate with other editors, and easy to back up. It simplifies everything related to media management and Final Cut Pro.

Figure 1. Final Cut Pro 10.1’s new Library hierarchy.

Easing the Transition from FCP 7

As I mentioned earlier, the Library introduces some analogous elements that may help Final Cut Pro 7 editors get into the groove of Final Cut Pro 10. In previous versions of FCP X, having an Events folder and a Projects folder that are completely separate on the hard drive but linked in the application was kind of confusing, especially for editors still working in the Final Cut Pro 7 editing paradigm. With the introduction of the Library, everything is unified inside of a project file, which means you can think about your Library like a project file in FCP 7 (Figure 2, below).

Figure 2. How the FCP 10.1 Library file compares to the FCP 7 Project file.

It isn’t the same, but it does function similarly. When you double-click a project file in FCP 7, your project opens up, and everything you’ve brought into that project is there. With FCP 10.1, if you go to your Finder and double-click on a Library file, it won’t open the library file; it will load the project. It will load Final Cut Pro X with whatever event or events are inside that particular library.

Events, likewise, could be confusing for Final Cut Pro 7 editors because they’ve never dealt with the concept of an event. But an event is really nothing more than a folder, a container for media--or a bin in Final Cut Pro 7 terms.

Finally, “projects” in FCP X are essentially what we called “sequences” in FCP 7. There’s really no difference. An FCP X project is a timeline, an area where you assemble your edit. Just as in Final Cut Pro 7, when you double-click a sequence it will load the timeline, the same thing happens in FCP X when you double-click a project. FCP X will load the timeline, as in FCP 7, although there are no tabbed timelines in FCP X. Scooting around between timelines or projects works a little differently in Final Cut Pro X.

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