Worx4 X Brings Media Manager to FCPX

Media Manager. Two words that have a special meaning for legacy FCP users, a feature that was a boon and often a frustration. There is no Media Manager of course in FCPX, something that has been lamented for some time. Finally a third party, Chris Steele and Marquis Broadcast, the makers of X2Pro, have stepped up with a solution, Worx4 X (not to be confused with Worx4 Pro which does something entirely different for Premiere users). Worx4 X is the media manager for FCPX. It's efficient and really quite easy to use. 

Media management is primarily used for archival purposes or for when sharing your projects with another user. You may only want to store or share the media used in the project, plus some overlap called handles. You don't really want to store that whole, boring, hour long, one shot interview when you only used a pithy seven second soundbite. In the Worx4 X preferences you can set the handle size. 


Worx4 X Preferences

The default handles are two seconds, two seconds of media before and after each clip in your project. Two seconds seems like a fine number, but you can set whatever you want, from no handles up to 100 seconds. If clips overlap you do not get separate clips with separate handles. Also if clips are within four seconds of each other (assuming the default two second handles) you get single clips that span the media. 

Notice also in preferences two things, audio handling and sync clips. You have the option to copying audio files without losing metadata or to trim them. Because audio files usually don’t take that much space relative to video file sizes, it may be better to preserve the entire audio file along with the metadata.

And, Worx4 X processes sync clips. With so many people shooting double-system whether with DSLRs, RED cameras, or even iPhones, this is a huge win for users. Being able to trim sync shots is a great plus. 

In legacy FCP Media Manager’s handling of speed changes in clips, slomo, ramped speed, and conformed frame rates were always a problem through multiple versions. In my testing I found that Worx4 X handled this well. Freeze frames would occasionally grab an extra bit of handles, but we’re talking about really small differences in media here, so really not an issue. It even handles properly slo-mo media that has a high frame rate such as 96, while it has a shooting rate like 24fps, and of course also media with high shooting frame rates. 

Let’s look at how the application works. To create your project with managed media you select the project you want to manage (what legacy FCP called consolidate, though in FCPX consolidate means something else entirely so we won't use that term). With the project selected you use File>Export XML… Make sure you have version 1.6 selected. Worx4 X only works with the 10.3 version of FCP and it’s new 1.6 version of XML.

With the XML exported you can right-click on the exported file and select Worx4 X to open it. A window like this will open. This is the media for a very short project.


Worx4 X Window

You can of course also open the application and use the Browse button to navigate to the XML you want to process, or you can can drag and drop the file to to the top line. At the top you have the file name of the XML you’re processing. Based on the name of the project in the XML Worx4 X will assign a project name for the output, which you can of course change to whatever you want. This is the name of the project FCP will use when the processed XML and its media is reimported into FCP.

The application will also assign a folder to be created on the Desktop with the name of the exported XML. You probably will want to assign a different location, a different drive perhaps, and folder to store the managed media. The application will create a folder based on the original exported XML and a new XML linked to the exported media also based on that name. 

The interface displays really useful information about exactly what it’s going to do based on your preferences and what the result will be in terms of expended drive space. When it’s set up simply click the Start button at the bottom of the window. How long the process takes of course depends on the amount of media and the speed of your system. During the process you get a detailed running commentary on what’s being processed. 


Worx4 X during processing

I found the application really quite quick. The report is a detailed list of what was done and when, so you can look it over to see if there are any anomalies. It will indicate wherever an asset was used in its entirety. The report will be saved in the same location as the media folder as a text document for your convenience. 

Inside the assigned folder, in addition to all the trimmed media, will be an XML file with same name as the original. You can right-click on the XML and select Open With>Final Cut Pro. This will come up with a dialogue asking you which library you want to open it with. You could open with an existing library, but more than likely you will want to click New… and assign a name for the library. Your exported project will appear in the library, with the clips pointing to the media in the folder with the trimmed files. 

One thing you should do is fix the library properties. Chances are the media storage location is not the folder with the trimmed media, even though the media in the projects is linked to that folder. You should first set the library properties’ media location to that new trimmed media folder. You might also want to set the Cache to that location as well. This way anything that you might add to these projects or any rendering you do will be saved in the trimmed media folder. If you want to work with library with external media you’re ready to go. If, however, you want save your archive library with managed media, media inside the library bundle, then you should set the library as the media and cache location and use FCP’s consolidate function to copy the media into the library. Using hard links this will not waste real hard drive space, and once the library has been consolidated you can trash the trimmed media folder Worx4 X generated.

That’s it. It’s as simple and efficient as that.

At this time there are still some limitations on the application, which hopefully will be fixed in the future. MXF and mp3 files cannot be trimmed at this time. It’s a pity about MXF, but really you should never be using mp3 in FCP production work. Really you should be converting this media to AIFF or WAV. Likewise QuickTime references file will not trim, but again, cm’on man, you shouldn’t be using reference files in FCP anyway.

Compound clips and multicam are a problem. Compounds and their content will not trim unless you break them apart. Many people working with other platforms, going to ProTools or Resolve or elsewhere need to break apart compounds for best results anyway, so this may not be a problem for you. If you can break apart the compounds do so. I found that some compound clips, assembled for use with blend modes, worked correctly without breaking apart. A simple test in a test project might be worthwhile. 

Unfortunately multicam clips will not trim, except of course for the extent of the multicam used in the project. The full clips used within the multicam get copied. This isn’t something Marquis Broadcast can fix I don’t think. This is something that Apple has to fix, and should have fixed years ago. Use feedback from the FCP menu or http://www.apple.com/feedback/finalcutpro.html to ask the FCP engineering team to allow the user to collapse and uncollapse multicam clips, a feature that was long available in legacy FCP. Sync clips can also have limitations on the way they are trimmed so it best, if possible, to break them apart. 

All in all Worx4 X is an excellent utility and well worth having for anyone, everyone really, who needs to backup trimmed, managed media in projects fort sharing or archiving. 

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