Importing and Organizing Your Media


For more information watch these short video tutorials which show more in-depth information about creating libraries and events, importing media, and creating and using keyword and smart collections in Final Cut Pro.

FCP Libraries

In Final Cut Pro 10.2 media and projects are always stored in a Final Cut Library.  This is like a Project Folder and it should contain all project information and media files for your project.  In the Cinema Studies Lab your Library must be saved on your External Hard Drive.  I recommend creating a folder on your external hard drive for all of your FCP Libraries.

Within Libraries, Media and Projects can be furthered stored and organized into Events. Events are like folders or bins that allow you to organize media. These can be organized by date, location, SD card or some other broad category. Events can be further subdivided into collections (see below) for more detailed organization.

Before importing your media and starting your edit you will need to know where you are saving your media to. You can choose this by first creating a library and an event within that library. Make sure these are on the drive that you will be working off of (this should always be your External Hard Drive).

Before you open FCP make sure that your External Hard Drive is connected.  Once you open FCP for the first time you will likely get a Library in the top left window (the Event Library) that is called Untitled, this Library is in the Movies Folder on the Mac Computer Internal Drive and you DO NOT want to use it as it will be deleted after you logout.  To make sure you don’t use this initial Library you can select the Untitled Library and close it from the File Menu > Close Library command.  After that in the File Menu you should then create a New Library using that command (pictured below) and make sure that it is saved on your External Hard Drive.  Give your Library a name that encompasses your entire project as you will be storing everything related to this project in that Library.                                               screen-shot-2016-10-05-at-2-46-06-pmscreen-shot-2016-10-05-at-2-46-46-pm

*Note: You can see larger images by clicking on them.

You can check the physical location of the Library (the drive) by selecting the library and viewing its properties in the Inspector.  Again it must be saved on your External Hard Drive or you will lose all of your work when you logout.screen-shot-2016-10-05-at-2-50-02-pm

Importing from a SD Card, Private Folder or Camera Archive

All media is imported through the Media Import window (which combines all import and log and transfer features).

If your media files are still on your card or camera we recommend that you copy over the entire contents of the card to your hard drive or create a camera archive from within FCP.  This will serve as a backup of all your card media.  See this page for more details on that process.

If you don’t already have a Library created for this project do that now (see above). If it is a project you have already been working on select your current working Library.  If you don’t see your Library you should be able to locate it by using Open Library in the File Menu.

After creating or finding your Library you are now ready to import your media.  In FCP you can open the Import Window by typing “⌘ I”, clicking the Import Button on the Toolbar, or selecting Import from the File Menu.

In the bottom left corner of this image from left to right are the Import button, Favorite, Unmark, and Reject buttons, and the Keyword Collection button.  We’ll talk about these buttons below, but for now click the Import Button, the large down arrow.

Event LIbrary

After hitting the Import button FCP will index your card and drives. Your media will show up in the Import Window.  If you have an SD card or camera connected it will show up in the top left corner.  If your files are already on the computer you will have to navigate to them by clicking on the Mac HD.  Once you’ve found your media you can select single clips, multiple clips, or all clips to import from your SD Card or Hard Drive.  You can also Create a Card Archive, or backup of your card media.


On the right side bar you have many options including Transcoding, Video, and Audio options that will effect the file size of your imported clips along with many metadata options.  These options may also change how long it takes to import and/or transcode your media.

For transcoding you can choose to create optimized media or proxy media. Optimized media will transcode your media to Apple Prores 422, which is what Final Cut Pro X edits natively in. Proxy media will allow you to make a proxy copy or low bitrate version of your video to decrease editing and rendering time. This will use low quality video while you are editing, but when you finish your video it will export it using the full quality version.

Selecting your event, or creating a new event for your media, copying the media to your hard drive and choosing to transcode it are the most important options to do at this stage.

screen-shot-2016-10-05-at-3-04-15-pmThe other video and audio options can all be done in the program to specific clips later if you would like. In brief the video options will allow you to analyze and later correct the color balance or to sort your video by people or other tags forming smart collections in your events. The audio options will scan for problems and attempt to fix them, separate mono tracks or remove silent tracks. Whatever options you choose once you have started the import you can close the Import Window and the files will continue importing and transcoding.  Depending on the amount of media and the options you selected this may take some time.


 Event Library and Collections

The event library is divided into two sections the events and the event viewer. The events can be organized in many different ways grouping them by date, location, metadata, favorites, and in subjective groups called keyword collections. The event viewer shows the events as thumbnails, but can also be changed to show them in a list view.

We strongly recommend organizing your clips using favorites, smart collections, and keyword collections. Review your media before you begin editing on the timeline is a very important part of the editing process and will save you time later.  The green star will favorite certain clips, the red X will reject them or hide them from view, and the key button will open the keyword collection tool.

Keyword Collections can be a very flexible way to organize all of your media within an event.  Keyword Collections are created by you and can organize media by location, quality, date, shot, or any parameter that is useful for you in your editing.  Most importantly you can sort whole clips, multiple clips, or parts of clips into Keyword Collections.  You can also sort a clip or any part of a clip into multiple keyword collections allowing you versatility in how you view your media while your editing.

Keyword Collection

Smart Collections can be accessed by clicking on the Filter Button just above the Event Viewer.  Smart Collections, after you create them, organize all of your media in an event based around metadata variables such as Media Type or any other file parameter. Creating Still Image and Audio Smart Collections can help you stay organized if you have a large amount of media.

Smart Collection 0

Smart Collection


After your media is organized in the Event Library you can then begin editing down media from the Event Library to the Project Timeline.  The next page will outline effective tools in creating an initial rough cut.

This page was written by Kevin May for the University of Oregon Cinema Studies Program and is published under Creative Commons license (CC BY NC SA 3.0)

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