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Editing mp4 files with Final Cut Pro or other Mac based applications

filmbilly's Photo
Posted Nov 12 2009 09:05 PM

Does anyone know of a plugin for Final Cut Pro or a stand alone editing application (Mac based) for mp4 - h.264 files? It seems that the standard and most recommended method for working with mp4 HD camera footage (Flip or other consumer HD-camera files) in Final Cut is converting the lossy format to Apple Pro-Res 422 or DVCProHD or other lossless codecs for stable performance and editing.

In many instances video editors are given mp4's with the idea that they are convenient for quick turn-around post-production but in fact the conversion and render times tend to make the workflow much more labor intensive than standard HD or HDV production. It seems that Flip and consumer based HD mp4 style workflows are meant to be titled and edited with the applications that are included with the cameras. These tools do not offer the flexibility and ease of a professional editing application.

15 Replies

+ 2
  msilver's Photo
Posted Nov 18 2009 11:42 AM

I have an h.264 mp4 which I'm able to open in Quicktime 7 Pro. I then have a copy of the Play Him Off Keyboard Cat original as an mp4; I can cut and paste the keyboard cat mp4 right into the h.264 mp4. The keyboard cat video in my test isn't h.264, and the video's dimensions are a little bit smaller. I'm sure with two h.264 source files you could cut and paste in Quicktime 7 Pro to do some basic editing on the fly. I don't have the Flip HD camera myself, so I can't test with that, but I've just edited two videos off of the Flip Ultra using Quicktime 7 Pro. It looks like I can do the same thing with Quicktime Player in Snow Leopard as well... using the "Trim" command from the Edit menu.

You obviously don't get nearly the control you might get in Final Cut Pro however. You have just the one timeline, and I can't layer audio tracks, etc.
+ 3
  m_reese's Photo
Posted Nov 19 2009 11:21 AM

You wouldn't want to edit a mp4 video directly in FCP. That is a final delivery file type, and is heavily compressed. You'll want to edit in a codec that FCP can read more easily (without rendering basically.) If you have the FCP Suite, use Compressor to transcode to ProRes or DVCPRO HD.

You'll get a near perfect copy of your source video and be able to work with it in FCP without rendering. I prefer Apple's ProRes HQ, but be warned, file sizes can become very large very quickly.

Once you've got your video edited, you can export to any codec/container that you'd like.
Mark Reese
 : Jan 26 2010 09:00 PM
Pardon the thread necropsy but since this falls very close to my question, I thought I'd chime in. I am using an older version of FCP (5.0.4) and I do not have the ProRes codec available to me. Also the versions of DVCPRO HD I have support both flavors of 1080 but only 720p60. I got a cheap Sanyo G10 for Christmas that captures in 720p30. I have had some success transcoding with Compressor to HDTV 720p30 (.MOV) but the export times back to AVCHD were unreal. Rendering wasn't too bad but there never seemed to be an easy way to export back just as it came in. I was able to spit out a fairly decent one but the bitrate was severely limited by the slider range in Compressor's MP4 converter settings (2048Kb/s, where the original was 1.1MB/s or 9011.2Kb/s). My main question is, is the HDTV 720p30 format also an acceptable intermediate codec for editing or is it mainly a final type ala AVCHD?

I recently read about QTP 7's native editing support and am eager to try it. Since I am really only needing to cut songs out of one long take I suppose it will work fine. I was hoping to be able to add titles and fade ins/outs but I'll take what I can get. filmbilly, you're totally right that these new cams are pretty much obsolete for use in a pro NLE workflow. Mine didn't even come with editing software. There are some very basic options available within the camera's menu but I'd much rather use the more accurate tools already available to me.
+ 1
  filmbilly's Photo
Posted Jan 27 2010 02:30 PM

leicaphile, yes as long as it's an uncompressed .mov (make sure that you set your 'easy setup' in FCP to match). The DVCPRO HD codec has a 720p30 setting (you may want to use it if it's available in FCP 5.0.4 - I'm using 6.0.4 and it is an option with my version). After you're done editing be sure to export an uncompressed file for your archives. Use the uncompressed file for encoding all of your deliverables. QTPRO 7 does a great job of encoding for quick one-offs if you don't want to mess around in Compressor.

As long as we're revisiting this post I will say that msilver has a great suggestion of using QT7 to edit this type of footage. My scenario is usually Flipcam (MP4 cam) on a tradeshow floor with a short window of time to post an edited interview to the web. There is no time for converting MP4 files to ApplePro Res and then re-encoding for web delivery (I need a hack!). These cams are supposed to be made for instant upload to the web but there's no way to edit and title the lossy files (the Flip editing app is a meager solution). You can pre-build titles in FCP and export lossy files to match the MP4 flavor of the day and then add those in with the Flip footage that is being assembled in QTPRO 7 - then export without re-encoding (unfortunately there are no fades or dissolves with this method).

BTW - Final Cut Express 4 has native support for AVCHD and it's cheap.
  voide's Photo
Posted Feb 24 2010 12:13 AM

it's on my lap now, a big hairy pile of mp4 footage (720). first off i'm running fcp v5.?. here's how i skinned it. dv ntsc proj, seq, etc. imported all the mp4 clips, dont bother trying to play them, batch export the clips - i went out to .mov / dv ntsc.

in the finder the exported clips continued to have the .mp4 extension even though i exported them as .mov - i just changed the extension to .mov - went back into fcp, same project, and imported the .mov clips. cut away. surprisingly the process did not degrade the footage to an unacceptable degree. resize to get rid of the squeeze.

word of warning, let the batch cook overnight. try it you'll like it.
  lilyeejames's Photo
Posted Sep 05 2011 05:32 PM

As we know, Final Cut Pro is a non-linear and non-destructive editing software application, it can only import non-destructive video format including DV, HDV, P2 MXF (DVCProHD), XDCAM, and 2K film formats. Nevertheless, the widely used MP4 is lossy format, which is a final delivery file type and is heavily compressed. In order to successfully import MP4 to Final Cut Pro, we have to convert the lossy MP4 to non-destructive format like DV which is compatible with FCP.

just google search Step by Step Guide on How to Convert MP4 to DV so as to Import MP4 into FCP/FCE

you will find a Detailed Guide on How to Convert and Import MP4 to FCP/FCE

hope it helps more or less
  kelly056's Photo
Posted Feb 01 2013 07:25 PM

It is dead easy to import MP4 into Final Cut Pro for editing once you have Pavtube HD Video Converter for Mac. It applies to MP4 recorded from various camcorders like Samsung HMX-H100 camcorder, Sanyo XACTO HD1000 Full HD camera, Flip camcorder, JVC GY-HM100, JVC GY-HM700 and more. It applies to MP4 from media players, mobile phones, portable devices and YouTube etc. It also applies to import MP4 to Final Cut Pro, FCE and iMovie.

It applies to import MP4 to Final Cut Pro X or import MP4 to Final Cut Pro 7 or import MP4 to any other version of Final Cut Pro by transcoding 720P MP4 to Apple ProRes 422 codec.
  gallagherrobby's Photo
Posted Aug 15 2013 10:01 PM

MP4 is a final delivery lossy video format which is not suitable for editing in non-destructive video editing software like Final Cut Pro. Though Final Cut Pro 7 and Final Cut Pro X update to import MP4 video, it only support MP4 encoded with H.264. If the MP4 is encoded with other video codec, Final Cut Pro X/7 will still fail to import MP4.

In order to solve can't import MP4 to Final Cut Pro issue and successfully import various MP4 files to FCP or FCP X, a recommended solution is to convert MP4 to Final Cut Pro more compatible video format like Apple ProRes or DV.

iDealshare VideoGo is just the ideal MP4 to Final Cut Pro Converter! It can easily convert all kinds of MP4 videos whatever recorded from cameras/camcorders or downloaded from website like YouTube, or from other sources to FCP, FCP X, FCE supported Apple ProRes or DV.

Step by step guide at http://www.idealshar...al-cut-pro.html
  kayla123's Photo
Posted Aug 19 2013 10:15 PM

To convert MP4 to Final Cut Pro, Aunsoft video converter for Mac is the choice. It easily converts mp4 to Apple ProRes 422 for Final Cut Pro. Video converter for Mac can convert almost all common video formats including MXF, AVCHD, TiVo, mov, MOD, VRO, MXF, VP6,etc. It is in back to school big sale and is 5% till Sep. 30.
  Jimluck's Photo
Posted Aug 20 2013 12:57 AM

As a professional non-linear editing software application, Final Cut Pro is the first choice of professional editors. Whether you're working solo or collaborating with a team, Final Cut Pro gives you more creative options and technical control.

Though Final Cut Pro is able to import and edit any QuickTime compatible video format, camera-native formats, even Apple ProRes, there is still limitation in importing AVI, WMV, MP4, YouTube video to Final Cut Express/Pro, let alone to edit those kind of video formats.

I recommend you a guide which will introduce a step by step guide on how to successfully import video to Final Cut Pro (including Final Cut Pro X and Final Cut Pro 7) or Final Cut Express no matter what format the video is.

Hope it can help u!
  peterandluona's Photo
Posted Sep 22 2013 12:53 AM

You can convert MP4 to FCP with iGooSoft video converter...
  James Edward Smith's Photo
Posted Nov 27 2013 09:08 PM

Tell you a brand new free download software, when used in some formats can use this software to convert the format, this software functions very comprehensive and convenient, hope you like it.

For more useful information, please visit the official website:
  AbleZhang's Photo
Posted Dec 18 2013 06:32 PM

I am using Pavtube Video Converter whic can not only can tranfer kinds of videos, but also can edit videos in the way of trim, crop, add text,image, and video watermark.
  dancywang's Photo
Posted Dec 19 2013 06:10 PM

I am a faithful fan of Pavtube and the software is really good. I have a lot of MXF files with multitracks, and I want to edit it on FCP. We know that the FCP do not support to play and edit MXF directly. So I often use Pavtube MXF MultiMixer to fo the conversion.
  vivian58's Photo
Posted Dec 27 2013 08:03 PM

Here is a way for converting mp4 files to Apple ProRes for FCP 7, refer to the guide here.