Multicam: the promised feature. Just as Apple said when FCP X was released, multicam was released in a free update in early 2012. Grab 10.0.3 now if you don’t have it already. There are many other improved features besides this one, but it’s the headliner for most of us. If you’ve got a camera, an iPhone, and an iPad 2 handy, that’s three cameras ready to go. So, go shoot something then come back and read on.
First, gather your shots together in an Event. The great joy of FCP X’s Multicam when compared to FCP 7’s is that you can mix frame rates and frame sizes at will. I’ve specifically shot at two different frame sizes, two different aspect ratios and three frame rates here. (For the curious: the iPad was using its front camera and thought it was being held vertically.)
Yes, this is going to work.
Wait a second! Did any of your cameras stop and start during recording? That’s OK. (For a simpler job where all shots are continuous, feel free to skip to the next section.)
If you have multiple shots from a single camera that you’d like to view as a single angle (with gaps between shots) then FCP might need some help identifying them. There’s a new Camera Name field which many cameras support, and that will help. However, my Canon 550D DSLR doesn’t show a name here, nor a Camera ID in the metadata, so I would need to give it some help.
You could simply enter a Camera Name for these clips. However, a more explicit way to work is to manually assign the angles. Using List view, find the Camera Angle column in the Event Library. Give each of the clips from the same camera the same angle name (A, B, C, or 1, 2, 3, etc.), then give different angle names to the other clips you plan to sync up.
Finally, select all three clips, then right-click and choose New Multicam Clip.
While there are many options here, you’ll probably be able to skate by on automatic. If all cameras have audio, and they were all recorded in the same environment at the same time (or in multiple takes with the same music playing) then you should be good.
Standard multicam job? Just press OK.
For more control, you can customize the:
The checkbox “Use audio for synchronization” is ticked in the middle of the dialog, and unless your cameras are all silent, leave it on. In a multicam or dual-system audio shoot, every camera should be recording audio. It’s good for sync even if it’s not perfect — any mic will do.
Looking at the lower part of this dialog, you have a similar set of options to creating a project. A suggested format and frame rate is offered, but you can override it if needed. In this screenshot, FCP X has suggested a 1080p24 standard, and I’ve chosen instead to set the frame rate to 25.
Press OK, then wait (It shouldn’t take long).
All the options.
To take a good look at your multicam clip, double-click it. The Angle Editor will open, where you can see all your angles and how they sync. Video and Audio buttons on the top left of each track allow you to choose the video angle that’s active (the monitoring angle) and the audio angles you want to hear. Turn the audio on in all angles and press play to verify the sync. If anything’s out of sync, drag it sideways to slip it back into place.
The Angle Editor.
To the top right of each track are three short dark lines which indicate a draggable zone. Click and drag up or down to rearrange angles. Alternatively, you could drag individual clips from angle to angle — but if you do this, hold Shift to keep sync. You can also tweak clips as required, for example:
Next to the name of each angle is a small drop-down menu which allows you to:
All this is handy for complex workflows. It’s worth noting that anything you do in the Angle Editor affects the source clip, so if you plan to make extensive changes, you might want to duplicate your Multicam clip before you start.
Create a new Project, then select your Multicam clip into it by pressing E (append).
Choose Window > Show Angle Viewer, or press Command-Shift-7.
The Settings menu to the top right of the Angle Viewer let you choose how many angles you can see at once: 2, 4, 9, or 16. Excess angles can be shown by clicking on the small icons underneath the currently visible angles. Depending on how many angles you have and your current screen configuration, you might see a traditional grid of angles, but it’s possible in the 2- and 4- angle configurations to see a vertical stack of angles.
Here’s a stack of 3 angles in the 4-up view.
There are two basic ways to cut multicam: slow and fast. You can also mix and match as required. Fast means to play the video, and choose angles as it plays. Slow means to play the video, pause where you want to make an edit, and then carefully choose the best angle. A mix of the two, whereby you cut quickly then revise slowly, is usually the best.
First, you should reset your keyboard layout to access the new multicam editing shortcuts. Choose Final Cut Pro > Commands > Customize, then choose Default from the menu in the top left corner of the Command Editor window.
Here's a suggested Multicam workflow, at least to get started:
After a few angle changes.
Once you’ve got your cut nearly there, some tricks will help you edit more effectively:
Keyboard junkies will want to explore all the new keyboard shortcuts by searching in the Command Editor for “multicam”. You’ll see keys for selecting the next or previous angle, next or previous bank of angles in the Angle Viewer, and open spots for angles 10-16 if you’d like to add shortcuts for them. Note the subtle difference between “Cut and Switch to Viewer Angle #” vs. “Switch to Viewer Angle #”.
When you’re done, you’re done. Hide the Angle Viewer if you wish. Multicam in FCP X is more powerful and easier to use than it ever was in FCP 7, and cameras are cheaper than ever before. So have fun shooting and editing your footage!
Iain Anderson is an editor, animator, designer, developer and Apple Certified Trainer based in Brisbane, Australia. He has taught privately and in tertiary institutions, and has freelanced for Microsoft and the Queensland Government. Comfortable with anything from Quartz Composer to Second Life and Final Cut Pro to Adobe Creative Suite, he has laid out books, booklets, brochures and business cards; retouched magazine covers and product packaging, shot and edited short films and animated for HD broadcast TV, film festivals and for the web.