Sphere: Multi-camera edit in Final Cut Pro X

Sphere multi-cam floor plan

Sphere multi-cam floor plan

As mentioned in my previous post, technical constraints and availability of equipment have had an impact on the final recording of the piece. The piece is intended as an installation piece and will eventually be displayed in a gallery environment at this scale, or if larger, would be a live performance piece. The key difficulty with filming this was getting a sense of depth and shape to the object in video – hence a multi-camera recording of the piece. Above you can see a rough floor plan for the filming of the piece – using 2 projectors and 6 cameras. I only had access to one camera so the easiest thing to do was record the piece multiple times from each different angle and re-sync in Final Cut Pro X.

It’s the first time I have used the multicamera editing feature in this version of Final Cut, I found that it was a real pleasure to use and very straightforward. Below I am going to describe the process involved in editing the video using this technique.

Creating a multi-cam clip

1) Creating a multi-cam clip in FInal Cut Pro X

1) Once the project/footage is imported, it a simple case of selecting the clips for the multi-camera edit. Right click and select new multi-cam clip. An option comes up to synchronise the clips via audio automatically or manually.

synchronising clips in multicam precision editor

2) Synchronising clips with the multicam precision editor

2) Once the new multi-cam clip is created you can drop it into the timeline. Once in the timeline you can open the multicam precision editor and the multi-angle view. By nudging each clip left or right (, and .) you can synchronise each clip. I found it best to select an easily identifiable keyframe and working through each clip one at a time, sync each one. You can edit each clip also e.g. trim, cut, etc. When completed the multiple clips act and appear as one normal clip in the timeline (albeit with a small icon of four squares in the top left of each clip, which identifies it as multi-camera footage).

Beat markers in timeline

3) Beat markers in timeline

3) After adding the high-quality audio as a .wav it is time to edit the footage. You can do this two ways, the first by doing it live and clicking on each clip in the angle viewer and selecting different camera angles as the timeline plays. This is great fun and a quick way of editing the piece. You can go back and tweak this after. I prefer doing it manually, so I can precisely edit the video in time with the music. The easiest way of doing this is by tapping the rhythm of the piece using the M key, to add a marker alongside the music to indicate timings. Once these markers are added, you can move between each and cut to different shots, safe in the knowledge that the cut will be in time with the music.

Multi-camera playback using the angle viewer can be quite processor intensive (6 streams of 1080p footage in my case!). I’m surprised that my 2009 Macbook Pro handled it, although it was showing some strain. Although more time-consuming, for better performance it’s best to transcode each clip to a proxy version optimised for editing like this. Simply select all the clips, right-click and select transcode to proxy. It’s as easy as that. It will take some time depending on the speed of you computer to do this. So probably a good time for a cup of tea. It does make a substantial difference to the performance and is worth doing on older computers.

Selecting alternative angles in the timeline

4) Selecting alternative angles in the timeline

4) Once edited, it’s easy to right-click on each angle in the timeline, and test out alternative shots.

Completed timeline

5) Completed timeline

5) In this final image, you can see the finished edit of the piece, with additional markers dividing each movement (highlighted in yellow). The final edit is now virtually complete, with some final tweaks to be added over the next couple of days. I have found he process of editing in this way quite enjoyable and very simple, thanks to the interface. I know the software has its critics, but I highly recommend giving it a try. Now the software is on version 10.0.9, the initial bugs and stability issues have been ironed out. It’s a very powerful and highly accessible piece of editing software, which puts professional tools into the hands of everyone. The final edit of Sphere will be revealed on Thursday 15th August.

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