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.

Click by Click Solution

Here’s how to split a long clip into two shorter clips with MPEG Streamclip.

  • Step 1.  Open your clip in MPEG Streamclip by going to ‘File –> Open Files…‘ and opening the video file you’d like to split into smaller pieces.

    Step 1. Open the video file you wish to split.

    Step 1. Open the video file you wish to split.

  • Step 2. Set the starting point (the IN point) of the first subclip by placing the playback cursor at the beginning of the clip in the timeline.  The timeline is the playback position indicator at the bottom of the viewer window in MPEG Streamclip.  Now press the ‘i’ key. Alternatively click on ‘Edit –> Select In‘.

    Streamclip-SelectIn

    Step 2. Set IN point of first subclip.

  • Step 3. Set the end (the OUT point) of the first subclip by placing the playback cursor somewhere in the middle of the timeline.  Now press the ‘o‘ key. Alternatively, you can click on ‘Edit –> Select Out‘.  The subclip you have marked should now appear RED in the timeline.

    Step 3. Select OUT point of first subclip.

    Step 3. Select OUT point of first subclip.

  • Step 4. Save the first subclip by clicking on ‘File –> Save As‘.   In the save dialog, fill in the filename and directory where you’d like the subclip to go.  In this example, I named the subclip ‘ExampleSubClip1’.  There’s a menu for the file type at the bottom of the save dialog.  Make sure you set it to MP4, or whatever file type you’d like.  Now click the ‘Save’ button to write the subclip to disk.  This save is very quick, suggesting that it
    doesn’t recompress, but just truncates the data structure.

    Step 4. Save the first subclip.

    Step 4. Save the first subclip.

  • Step 5. Leaving the cursor EXACTLY where it is on the timeline, clear the in and out points for the first clip.  You can do this by typing the ‘x’ key.  Alternatively, you can click on ‘Edit –> Cancel Selection’.
  • Step 6. Set the starting point of the second subclip to the current location of the cursor.  Simply type the ‘i’ key to do this.  This will automatically select the end of the video as the out point of the subclip.
  • Step 7. Save the second subclip by clicking on ‘File –> Save As‘.   In the save dialog, fill in the new filename.  In this example, I named the subclip ‘ExampleSubClip2’.  You may want to double check the little file type menu at the bottom of the save window, to make sure subclips 1 and 2 are the same type.  Finally, click the ‘Save’ button.

That’s it!  You now have two clips that you can import into Final Cut Express without truncation.

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