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metadata hodgetts tutorial

There's not much about metadata that Philip Hodgetts doesn't know. He's put together this quick trip around how Final Cut Pro X reads, displays and generates metadata.

Do you know what the IPTC pane in the inspector is meant to display? No we didn't either and it goes to show that the metadata capabilities within FCPX go very deep. 

Good job we have the top man on the case, Philip Hodgetts from Intelligent Assistance who not only tells us what IPTC is, but runs through how FCPX handles metadata and more importantly, why it is there.

Although many editors might not even care about metadata, used correctly it can prove to be very powerful in FCPX and third party applications when exported out.

The tutorial & the script Philip very kindly sent to us are free, so we should give his excellent applications that use FCPXML a mention too.


Philip also very kindly sent us the script to the video which might prove a handy reference:


The Power of Metadata Views in Final Cut Pro X

Metadata Views are not one of the best known features of Final Cut Pro X, but they are one of the more powerful ones. Metadata Views control:

  • What is shown in the Info view in the Inspector pane; and
  • What metadata is included in an exported XML file and therefore can be used by asset management systems such as CatDV or Axle; other departments, or reported in Intelligent Assistance’s Producer’s Best Friend.

While there are Metadata View presets supplied with Final Cut Pro, each of these views can be customized by adding or removing Metadata Fields to the View. Metadata Views can be duplicated and customized, or completely new Views created.

As well as an enormous list of metadata fields available to be added to any View, Final Cut Pro  allows us to add completely custom metadata items to a Metadata View. 

The ability to export any, or all, metadata entered in Final Cut Pro X, means that no metadata is ever locked in Final Cut Pro. 


Choosing a Metadata View

The most obvious use of Metadata Views is to select what metadata is displayed in the Inspector’s Info pane. Apple’s Metadata Views,defaults to the General display. 

You’ll notice that the General Metadata View contains the same metadata items as can be displayed in the Event Browser. In an ideal world, changing the Metadata View in the Inspector would change the available metadata items in the Event Browser, but that remains a feature request for the moment.

The Basic View simplifies the metadata down to the absolute minimum, while Extended adds additional information about the video like color profile, field dominance and any pulldown applied, as well as Camera ID.

Other default Views include Audio, obviously focused on audio-related metadata and EXIF - metadata most commonly associated with still images, but also frequently applied to video elements from iPhones, iPads and DSLRs with dual still and video capability. 

IPTC metadata was developed in the 1970's by the International Press Telecommunications Council - hence IPTC. Selecting the IPTC View appears to display very little information, which is because the file doesn’t contain any IPTC information to display. Final Cut Pro optimizes the display, so that the interface is not cluttered with empty fields.

Of particular interest is the Settings View, where we get access to Timecode Display, Alpha and interlace settings, as well as any Color LUT applied.

As well as determining what metadata is displayed in the Inspector’s Info pane, the Metadata View controls what metadata is exported into an XML file. If the metadata isn’t included in the Metadata View being exported it won’t be available to other applications.

For example, you might want Producer’s Best Friend to report “Content Created”, which is not part of the General metadata View. Nor is it part of any of the other default Views. This is easily fixed because Metadata Views can be customized by adding or removing metadata items, or we can create complete custom Metadata Views.


Customizing and Creating Metadata Views

To include Content Created in our General Metadata View, we select Edit Metadata View and make sure we’re working with the General view in the Metadata View window. 

Scroll or search for “Content Created”. We add the Studio “Content Created” to the Metadata View by clicking its checkbox on.

Then click OK to save our settings. We can now see Content Created in the Inspector. Content Created will now be included in the XML export when the General View is selected during XML export, and reported in the spreadsheet from Producer’s Best Friend.

Using this same method, we can created completely new Metadata Views within the Metadata Views window.

Alternatively, we can duplicate an existing Metadata View by selecting it, and then choosing Save Metadata View as from the pop-up menu. Once you have named the new group you can customize it, as we just saw.

If you use an Asset Management System, I suggest creating a Metadata View that includes all the metadata you want to transfer to your Asset Management System.


Adding Custom Metadata Items

There is one more trick you can do: Custom Metadata Fields. If there isn’t an existing metadata field, create your own. Once created Custom Metadata fields can be added to any Metadata View.

For example, I might want to add a custom metadata item for “Sound Roll” to the current View (General). The quickest way is to select “Add Custom Metadata Field’ from the Metadata Views pop-up menu. Name the field and provide a brief description. 

You can also add a Custom Metadata Field inside the Metadata Views window, from the Gear menu. A Custom Metadata field can be added to as many Views as you want to include it in.

When we come back to the Inspector the Sound Timecode field has been added. Unfortunately there’s no Sound Roll metadata in the file to read, but we can copy and paste from other locations, or enter directly, into this new custom metadata field. Anything entered will be tracked with the clip, Event, Project and exported XML.

Metadata Views are highly useful in controlling what metadata is viewed in the Inspector so there can be all that is needed, without unnecessary clutter in the Inspector pane.

They are useful to control what metadata is exported into the XML, particularly since we can customize and Metadata Views by adding fields we want reported in the XML, so the exported metadata can better match the needs of your Asset Management System, or reporting tools like Producer’s Best Friend.

Finally, they allow us to add completely custom metadata fields within Final Cut Pro and use them in any Metadata View, either for use in Final Cut Pro X or in the exported XML.


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