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Activity Forums Apple Final Cut Pro X FCP X Image Sequences and Still Frame Durations

  • FCP X Image Sequences and Still Frame Durations

    Posted by Paul Golden on March 10, 2012 at 12:21 am

    Besides live-action, I also cut animation pieces from time to time. This means using image sequences and using still frames for animatics.

    I) In After Effects, for example, you can import an image sequence (a folder of sequentially numbered still images) and cut with it like footage. You can reinterpret the footage to play out 24 or 30 or 12 or whatever frame rate you like. This is also useful for time-lapse as well as animation.

    I know FCP doesn’t do RAW, but even just the ability to work with PNG sequences without ripping them first to QT movies would be nice.That way, you could easily deal with hi-res images and do camera moves etc. I know you can use Compressor to rip QT Movies (or QT 7 Pro) but it seems lame that FCP X can’t deal directly with image sequences as footage. Am I wrong?

    II) Working with individual stills poses a slightly different workflow issue. For whatever reason all still frames come in at an immovable 10 second length in the Event library. There’s no way to re-interpret them as say 1 second or 1 frame or any other length. One work-around I’ve used is to drag the whole folder into a time-line, and the Select All, then hit Command-D to change Duration and hit 1 Enter to change to 1 second durations (more useful for cutting a storyboard reel). But this is tedious. The options in the Preferences for still frame length don’t seem to make any difference that I can see: its always 10 seconds. If you change from timecode base to frame base, it’s always interpreted as 60 fps i.e. 600 frames per still, no matter what the frame rate is for your project (which probably doesn’t matter because the stills are in the Event library not the Project).

    Anyone have a bright idea for shortening the stills length in advance of working in the timeline?

    Sjon Ueckert replied 9 years, 8 months ago 9 Members · 15 Replies
  • 15 Replies
  • Jason Brown

    March 10, 2012 at 1:24 am

    I found this as well…reported as bug, preferences doesnt seem to affect still duration.

  • Tom Wolsky

    March 10, 2012 at 1:28 am

    It’s not a bug. The FCP preference is not an import preference. It’s a selection preference, how long the selection will be when you click on an image in the browser.

    All the best,


    “Final Cut Pro X for iMovie and Final Cut Express Users” from Focal Press
    Class on Demand DVDs “Complete Training for FCP7,” “Basic Training for FCS” and “Final Cut Express Made Easy”
    Coming in 2012 “Complete Training for FCPX” from Class on Demand

  • Paul Golden

    March 10, 2012 at 1:44 am

    I’m not sure I get that. It’s certainly not intuitive. When you select it and drop it in the timeline, it’s 10 seconds. I’m not sure how you change that other than manually changing the duration once its in the timeline. The whole thing about assigning a nominal “length” to a still frame in the Event browser is weird anyway, but they should at least change that value so that you work with it more fluidly.

  • Jeremy Garchow

    March 10, 2012 at 2:24 am

    FCPX does not handle image sequences like other applications.

    Motion does.

    If you want FCPX, a good way is to do the method you have outlined, just in a compound clip. Set the format and frame rate of the compound in the Event, add the stills, change duration.

    You can then add that compound to a Project at a different frame rate if you’d like, and retime if you need it.

    This allows the most flexibility without direct image seq. support.

    It also contains your stills in to manageable clip(s).

  • Paul Golden

    March 10, 2012 at 3:05 am

    Sounds like the way to go, although it seems like it would be a really straightforward workflow to have FCP know what an image sequence is.

    Especially if you’re dealing with conforming DPX files or other frame based media. I have to say that After Effects makes it a pleasure, but it’s not my edit tool of choice (for obvious reasons)

  • Jeremy Garchow

    March 10, 2012 at 4:15 am

    [Paul Golden] “Sounds like the way to go, although it seems like it would be a really straightforward workflow to have FCP know what an image sequence is. “

    Fcp has never dealt with image sequences without third party help. Motion does. There used to be a connection between Motion and FCP, there isn’t anymore.

    Throwing out what other programs do, and with a little prep work, the use of compound clips is actually viable. Not sure what you need to do from there in terms of export/grade/conform…so make sure you can get out of fcpx to where you need to go.


  • Paul Golden

    March 10, 2012 at 4:41 am

    What I find really interesting, is that Final Cut knows all about image sequences because it’s listed as its own prominent option when it comes to output under the Sharing menu, where you export such esoterica as DPX and Open EXR sequences. Why they would not have a way to import, manage and edit image sequences in a more elegant way (especially in the world of keywords and metadata) baffles me. I’ll send in a feature request (;-))

  • Oliver Peters

    March 10, 2012 at 12:31 pm

    QT7 can built image sequences and save them as QT reference movies (or self-contained). Has anyone tried to create a ref movie and import that into X?


    Oliver Peters Post Production Services, LLC
    Orlando, FL

  • Jason Brown

    March 19, 2012 at 12:21 am

    [Tom Wolsky] “how long the selection will be when you click on an image in the browser”

    OK…so if you just drag a clip to the timeline, or use q w or e to put it in the timeline…why is the default 10 seconds…you only get the length you set in preferences if you “click” in the visual representation of the clip to actually set in and out points?

  • Paul Golden

    March 19, 2012 at 12:33 am

    I haven’t tried the reference movie idea from QT 7, but I’m kind of loathe to do that because it opens up another “linked” file possibility for media getting lost or broken. You should be able to reference the media directly within FCP X in order to be considered a robust solution.

    Images sequences are the bread and butter of visual effects workflows. Considering that QT7 is on its way out (does anyone know if you can get QT7 from Apple anymore?), Apple should come up with an in-app way of dealing with image sequences instead of having to go to a work-around to bring material straight into the system.

    One advantage of image sequences is that you’re able to just replace the “bad” frames from renders without have to re-import whole sequences or movies and replace. I don’t normally get on the hater “FCPX isn’t a pro-app” bandwagon, but the fact that FCP 7 didn’t do image sequences either speaks more to cluelessness on Apple’s part rather than a concious design choice. Considering that you can output image sequences from FCP X, it seems entirely logical that you should be able to import them. I guess this goes on a long list of 10.1 tweaks I can hope for….

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