Importing Long Videos With Final Cut Express

Problems with MP4 Importing

In a previous post, I discussed difficulties I encountered while exporting MP4 files with Final Cut Express 4.0.  In this post, I will discuss difficulties I encountered while importing MP4 files with Final Cut Express. In particular, I noticed that FCE sometimes truncates mp4 clips during import.  I found that I could import 20 megabyte mp4 clips just fine.  But clips just over 30 megabytes in length were shortened.  They were truncated so that they terminated early.  I couldn’t find a setting in the user or system preferences that would allow me to import longer mp4 clips without truncation.

MPEG Streamclip to the Rescue

The solution I found is to split long mp4 clips into shorter clips, each of which can be imported into FCE successfully.  You can put the clips back together once they are inside FCE by dropping them into the same sequence.  The tool I used to split a clip is a very nice freeware conversion and editing utiliy called “MPEG Streamclip.”  You can download MPEG Streamclip at www.squared5.com.  It is available for either Macs or PCs.

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Exporting Videos With Final Cut Express

New to Final Cut Express

I’ve been teaching Photoshop to photography students for about 12 years.  When a recent student asked for training videos to supplement the instruction, I decided it was time to make some.  Not knowing what I was getting myself into, I went out and got a copy of Final Cut Express 4.0.  And so the fun begins.

Final Cut Blurries

After reading a few sections of the manual that comes with FCE, I was able to assemble a few mp4 video clips into a sequence.  However, when I tried to export the sequence to get a final video result (also an mp4), I hit a roadblock.  The resulting video was quite blurry and in a dynamic way.   That is, text in the video would sometimes be crisp and sometimes become a blur.  It was as if someone was pouring water over freshly painted watercolor. The blurriness would flow around the image.   I assumed that this was some kind of compression artifact, so I tried using different parameter settings during the export to fix the problem. No luck.  I finally concluded that there must be a bug in FCE’s processing of mp4 files.  So, I tried a different output format.  When I chose the Quicktime Movie format (an mov file), things started to work much better.  With the right settings, I was able to get clean, crisp output.  In this post, I’ll take you through the settings that I found to work, so you can get high quality exports without a fuss.

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