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Moving Footage From Final Cut Pro to After Effects

Learn how to seamlessly move footage without wasting time or disk space.

By Richard Harrington | October 02, 2009


Getting your footage from Final Cut Pro to After Effects is a very common workflow. In fact, so many people choose to work this way that there are several free and for sale workflow tools on the market. While the task may seem as easy as a batch export, there is often precious metadata and organizational work that you'll want to take from Final Cut Pro into After Effects.

These techniques are excerpted from my new book - Video Made on a Mac: Production and Postproduction Using Apple Final Cut Studio and Adobe Creative Suite. In it, Robbie Carman and I explore several workflows and techniques for getting more done with software from Apple and Adobe. Let's take a look at a few workflows you might employ.

The Power of QuickTime and XML

What makes all of these exchange options are two shared technologies - QuickTime and XML. The first one is easy, Final Cut Pro captures QuickTime natively, After Effects can also read pretty much any file type using the QuickTime architecture. Just be sure to install any special codecs on the After Effects machine if using proprietary codecs like ProRes.

You can also export an XML file from Final Cut Pro, which can then be used in other applications to bring in clips and data. This allows you to easily import a sequence and its media into Premiere Pro or After Effects. This workflow avoids any duplication of media while preserving edits, footage handles, and sequence organization.

Creating an XML File

The first step in moving from a Final Cut Pro timeline to an After Effects composition is XML. This process is very straight-forward (but differs slightly depending upon which version of Final Cut Pro you are using). While making an XML file involves a couple of steps, it's pretty straightforward.

  1. Edit your clips into a sequence or select an existing sequence in Final Cut Pro.

  2. Mark an In and Out point for the range you'd like to export in a sequence. You can only send one sequence at a time.

  3. Choose File > Export > XML. In the dialog that opens, choose Apple XML Interchange Format, version 4 and click OK. Do not use the default version 5 that is in Final Cut Pro 7).

  4. image

  5. Specify a location for the XML file (such as your media drive) and click OK to write the file. The XML file is very small and references the original media on your drive.

That's it (and the process is so quick that you might think you missed it). Let's put that XML file to good use.

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ellathebella: | April, 08, 2010

I am trying to import an XML file into Adobe Premiere Pro. I have followed the instructions from this article. However, the error message that this file is unsupported keeps coming up. Please help! I’m working on a project and I’m stuck.

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jeetuxp: | August, 24, 2010

I know my following sentences might sound weird but I badly need a solution for this.
When I export tga/tiff seq from fcp for after effects, AE shows wrong gamma of the given source
while fcp shows the correct gamma on any of its other softwares like motion or livetype and fcp itself.

Basically I have to give shots ( TGA/TIFF) to my CG TEAM for graphics from Discreet smoke bcoz the gamma what smoke exports is truly correct for AE

I know I can shift my gamma before exorting from fcp using gamma correction filter which still doesn’t give me accurate gamma (as i type 1.2 in gamma correction filter) but

technically its is 1.22 gamma according to Discreet Smoke (by checking export option for mov)

This 1.22 gamma and 0.88 gamma is the difference in which Smoke and FCP export

There are ok to use on their platform itself but not ok to mix up exports in eachothers, there are tricks in fcp and smoke to change the gamma while importing movs or tga by using

lut but that is not the solution iam looking for

Once again I start I want an export from fcp image seq TGA/TIFF to be gamma 1.22 to be correctly readable on Adobe AE and Discreet smoke.

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