No, you can’t do that now…not without third party plugins. But I wanted to mention two situations of me needing to do this recently, and two of the third party options I used.
I am working on a show business talk show that airs weekly on cable. This show is shot in a small studio to three HPX-300 cameras, recorded onto P2 cards. AVCIntra-100…1920×1080 at 23.98fps. Now, we have a VERY fast turnaround time. The show needs to be edited in three days. But the biggest rush is getting the footage back from the set and ready to start cutting in the same day. Because a producer comes in and pulls out all the selected bits he wants in the show…and we don’t want him to be here until 3:00AM!
Typically we backup the cards to small drives, then import the footage into FCP via Log and Transfer. Well, the cards are all 64GB cards and each one has about 75-80 mins of footage total (4 cameras, multicamera shoot). There are eight cards…four usually fill up, and the other four go about 1/4 full. Offloading these takes a while. We don’t have that Panasonic AJ-PCD35 PCIe card reader that makes this VERY fast. Nope, we have to rely on my Powerbook G4 and ShotPut Pro. It takes a while. Offload the cards…then ingest into FCP. Even coming in native AVCIntra took time. And the first show did have the producer waiting forever. So this wouldn’t do.
So I suggested an alternative. Offload the cards immediately to G-Raid drives that we use for editing…then use CALIBRATED MXF Import to access the footage and allow editing to begin right away. Then backup the cards again for archive. This way we can start editing right away, after only 3-4 hours of offloading. And we need this solution on multiple machines, as the main editor uses one machine, I, the online editor, use another, and the assistant yet another. So we needed an economical solution we could all use. I already had Calibrated on my MacPro, so it was an easy choice.
All we do is find the video files and drag them right into the FCP Browser. They link to the audio right away and we can start multiclipping and cutting…well, after we do a bit of labeling of the bins as for what card they came from so we can group things properly. It works rather well. The only drawback is that the individual P2 files come in their original 4GB chunks. So if you run the camera for a long time, you will have one shot broken into multiple clips. Log and Transfer will stitch these together as one long clip. That’s handy. We had to work around this by Multiclipping the smaller 4GB clips, and then just stringing them out on the timeline. It works fine. And you do need to work in a ProRes timeline, as there is no setting for AVCIntra. But that is fine, it renders quickly…well, quickishly…on my end.
I am tasked to edit a promo for a product. I am asked to do this on Friday. It is due Monday. The footage is all RAW P2 file backups on three 2TB USB drives. I do have notes as for selects, but I have literally hundreds of hours of footage to look at. There is no way that I have time to load all of that into FCP’s Log and Transfer interface and click through the footage. Then choose my selects, and wait for them to import. Nope…I need a faster solution.
For this I was on my laptop, that has MXF4Mac and P2 Flow. MXF4Mac, like Calibrated and Raylight, offers you the ability to open the MXF files directly from the VIDEO folder. And with the ability of the MacOS to allow you to preview footage without opening the application simply by clicking it and pressing the space bar is a big big bonus. This allowed me to scan through all the MXF files by having that preview option open, and simply pressing the DOWN ARROW to select the next clip. I was able to scan the footage VERY quickly.
When I found a shot I was looking for, I’d use MXF4Mac to send that shot to FCP…or P2 Flow to access and send the entire card to FCP (takes a matter of seconds). After only a day, I was able to locate and import all the footage I needed, and work with the footage off of the USB drives. I then cut the promo, output a QT of the rough cut for notes, addressed the notes, then exported the final. All without converting one frame.
MXF4Mac is a bit more expensive than Calibrated, but it offers a few more features. Like the ability to stitch the footage so that one take is not broken into several small chuncks, but actually imports as one chunk. And you can view and edit metadata, and even MAP metadata so that you can then send a batch capture list to FCP, or just send the MXF native, and have that metadata appear in existing FCP columns.
Yes, I do primarily advocate converting your footage to QT when working with P2. Why? Because more often than not I am working in situations with 4-6 editors, and multiple seats of third party MXF readers can get expensive. And organizing that amount of footage in that format is easier for assistants and editors to manage. But, if you are a sole editor, and want access to all that metadata, and want to edit quickly, I do recommend these third party options.