Join Larry Jordan for an in-depth discussion in this video User preferences, part of Final Cut Pro 6 Essential Editing.
The last of the three preference dialogs that we need to pay attention to, also under Final Cut Pro, is User Preferences. This configures Final Cut to work the way that you want to work. Now there's lots and lots of choices here and there's six tabs across the top, and frankly none of us is interested in having to go through all of these choices. But let me show you how I have my system configured and explain what some of the key features mean, so you can configure it as well, and we're only going to work at this point with just three of the tabs.
Final Cut allows you to have up to 99 levels of undo. The default is 10. However undo takes memory so I never select 99. I'll set it to 25, and when you save a project, the way that you would save a word processing file for instance, your undo is emptied. You cannot undo across a save. Saving tells Final Cut that you're happy with everything up to that point and all of your undo options go away. Don't panic when you see Audio Playback Quality is equal to Low. What this means is that Final Cut is reserving more of the CPU for the creation of real-time effects. Your output and your exports will always be at the highest possible quality.
Low during playback while you're editing means that you're not going to hear the absolute pristine best audio, but that's okay. You're not interested. You just want to hear it well enough. Low is plenty well enough. Your output, your final export will always be perfect. If you have a FireWire 400 drive attached, turn this on and set this to 22. If you have a FireWire 800 drive attached, turn this on and set this to 42. If you have a SATA drive, or if you have a raid, or if you're accessing your files over a network, leave this off, unless you've been told by tech support to set it to a particular number. I like all these the way they are so we'll just leave those alone. By the way, Open last project on application launch, what that means is if you're always working on the same project day after day after day, when you open Final Cut it's automatically going to open the last project you worked on.
If on the other hand you're always working on different projects, one in the morning, one in the afternoon and something totally different the next day, turn this off and when you open Final Cut only Final Cut opens, not the individual projects. On my system, I'm generally working on the same project for several days in a row so I have this turned on. I'll talk about Autosave Vault a little bit later, but I'll show you what the numbers are. On my system I set it to 15, 20, and 15. If you're always working with the same video format, then you want to leave these off.
If on the other hand, sometimes you're doing HDV, sometimes you're doing HD, sometimes you're doing NTSC, sometimes PAL, and your video settings are changing, then you'll want Final Cut to ask you for new settings either when you create a new project or for a new sequence. For me, I leave these off because otherwise they get in my way and mainly because I'm always working with the same format for several days in a row. These are all related to capture, and I like all of them on because it guarantees that we're capturing our video accurately. We'll talk more about them as we get into the capturing process, but for right now, let's leave all these top four on.
This drew a standing ovation when it was introduced with Final Cut 5. As our monitors get bigger, the text that we see in the Browser and in the Canvas get smaller and smaller, and harder and harder to read. Changing the text size from small to medium, or medium to large simply makes the text in the Browser and the Timeline bigger. Now I don't know about you, but seeing small text is getting increasingly difficult, at least for me. I like setting it to medium. On my 20-inch and 23-inch monitors, I have a running chance of actually reading what the text says.
Auto Render. This just drove me nuts when I first saw it, because Final Cut does not render in the background. You're either editing or your rendering, but you're not doing both. Well it would be nice to have Final Cut do both. Currently with Final Cut 6, we can't. So Apple came up with this really cool workaround which naturally I didn't understand when I first saw it. What Auto Render says is when the mouse is not moving and the keyboard is not being typed, after, in this case, 15 minutes, the default is 45, I've changed it to 15. After 15 minutes Final Cut's going to start rendering the sequence. So I was yelling at the Apple engineers. I said, So what I'm supposed to do is to sit here with my arms crossed waiting for Final Cut to count off 15 minutes so it can render? And they patted me on the head and they said, Larry, Larry.
Here's the way this works. You leave Final Cut run and you start a different application. Maybe it's a web browser, maybe it's Photoshop, maybe it's your accounting software, maybe it's e-mail, but whenever you've got a foreground application say e-mail, which intercepts the keystrokes from the keyboard? I said, Well the e-mail program does. And they said, And which one intercepts the mouse movement? I said, Well the foreground, the e-mail program does. They said, Right. And then I got it. If I leave for Final Cut run, but put some other application in the foreground, after 15 minutes while I'm busy Photoshopping and e-mailing and accounting and word processing, Final Cut is in the background humming away rendering all of my files. I don't have to wait for it; it's just going to happen automatically. Now that's very cool and so I set this to 15 minutes and now I have a lot of stuff that needs to be rendered. I'll just leave Final Cut turned on, go fire up another application and get other work done, whether it's designing some graphics or answering e-mail or whatever else needs to be done.
It's not quite as good as rendering at the same time as editing, but this feature alone can save you a chunk of time where you're not sitting there with your arms crossed, waiting for it to render. The Autosave Vault is a backup program. You control your projects, you control when they're created, you control what they're named, you control where they're saved, you control when they're deleted. You are in complete and total control of all of your projects. The Autosave Vault does nothing with your project. It is a separate system, a backup system that stores different files on a different hard drive, totally separate from your project folder. What I'm asking it to do is every 15 minutes take a snapshot of whatever sequence I'm working on.
Keep 20 snapshots, the 20 most recent. When the 21st snapshot comes in, delete the oldest one. Now remember this is a backup, so deleting the oldest backup is not a problem because I still have my project folder and because I personally don't work with that many projects, I set it to 15 projects. That reduces the amount of disk space this is going to store. When the 16th project comes in, the first, the oldest, all those backup files get erased. Now remember the Autosave Vault has nothing to do with your project. Your project is under your control. The Autosave Vault is a backup system in the event that complete catastrophe occurs and you foolishly erase all of your project files. You can pull them back from the Autosave Vault. I'll show you how in just a minute.
Under the Editing tab, this is where things start to get really technical. Just a couple of small notes here. The first is all these defaults are pretty good. I would leave them alone. The second, if you're doing a lot of Still/Freeze Duration, you're creating still frames or you're importing still graphics, this top dialogue controls how long that graphic is going to be. When you create a freeze frame, it's going to be 10 seconds long, or when you can import a still graphic like a Photoshop file, it's going to have a duration assigned to it. That duration is 10 seconds long. Well here's what actually is happening.
When that graphic comes in, or that freeze is created, it's given a length, a total length of one minute, and it's given a duration from the In to the Out of 10 seconds. If you need the total length of that graphic, say you're doing some PowerPoint slides, and you want to have them last for 2, 3, 4, 5 minutes, you need to change this to the longest length that you think you're going to need. You can always, always make it shorter, but you can't make it longer. So if I'm pulling in a graphic and I want it to run for a full 20 minutes then I need to set this to 20 minutes. If you don't understand timecode, I'll explain timecode as we get into the interface a little bit later on.
We have the ability to label our clips. When you go to the Labels tab this is where you can change the text for the label. We're stuck with the pastel colors, but this, for instance Alternate Shots, I can type this to be Used shot. So I can flag it for a shot that I've used, for instance. Timeline Options. I like all these defaults just the way they are. Timeline Options allows me to change the starting timecode of my sequence one hour straight up, that's what this number represents, is perfectly okay, but if you need it to be something different then you would change that inside User Preferences. Drop Frame. There are two types of timecode inside NTSC.
Drop Frame and non-Drop Frame. Again we'll talk about that more later. For right now, it defaults to Drop Frame for DV. DV uses Drop Frame. That's the best choice, and you're able to specify how many tracks you have. I leave all this alone just as it is, except on my system I set this to two video tracks, just so you know. The General settings. That's how I have it configured. You can match my numbers to yours. Editing. I leave this all alone except if I need to change the length of my imported graphics. Labels. I'll rename the labels. Timeline Options. Basically I just add one more video track.
Now some of this stuff I have never changed in all the years I've been working with Final Cut. Other stuff I will change and we'll show that to you as we go farther along. I don't want to bore you with all this stuff right now. When you're done, click OK. Now the way that Final Cut works is Final Cut does not, oh that's cause it's warning me, remember it says, Can't autosave your project. So I'm going to say no for right now. Final Cut does not instantly update your Preference files on your hard disk. Final Cut only updates the Preference files when you quit Final Cut.
So one of the things that I will do, is if I'm going to change my Preference files, I'll change it and then I go up to Final Cut and quit out. This automatically, and no we're not going to save this project, so we're going to say No. This automatically saves all of my Preference files. There's one Achilles' heel to Final Cut, has been for a long time, and that is Final Cut's Preference files, the files that we just set. Because the Preference files don't just control how Final Cut looks, it controls how Final Cut acts. So the last part of this getting ourselves started section, before we move into the application and start to learn it, I want to show you how to trash your Preference files.
Now that you know how to set them, trashing them is the opposite side of the coin. That'll be next.
Skill Level Beginner
Q: In Final Cut Pro, what distinguishes a sequence from a clip, and how does one edit sequences into a final project?
A sequence is a collection of clips. It's what the user creates to edit clips into in the timeline. To edit a sequence into another sequence simply drag it from the Browser into the timeline window.