Loader V2.0. The function FCP forgot.
Review by Jude Cotter
Every now and then a product comes along that just makes your life easier. You know, something that’s no muss, no fuss, no flashy bells and whistles, just really stupidly-obvious useful. I don’t think I would be going too far out on a limb to say that Loader is one of these products.
Why do I say this? Well, for three reasons.
When I teach FCP I always have to justify why I’m teaching people a long winded workaround to import music correctly, and really, I hate that. In my opinion Loader does what FCP should already do. If it did, I wouldn’t be wasting half an hour of class time trying to get twenty-two people to the same place via ITunes.
- It just does what it claims to do.
- It works in the background, so it doesn’t stop your workflow, and
- I personally believe what it does should already be a function in FCP.
In fact something similar did exist in the very early versions of FCP, and I’ve be moaning and requesting that this functionality return ever since it was dumped around about FCP3. It really is the function FCP forgot.
So what does it actually do?
Put simply, it converts audio to the correct format for FCP to work with during import.
OK. I can sort of do this in iTunes, or Quicktime (if I have the right Quicktime installed), but what’s the workflow for that?
Open iTunes, go to preferences, go to the import preferences, set up a custom import to suit FCP, import the files and do a conversion. Identify the correct versions and (usually) find them in the Finder and drag them to a new destination for media management purposes. Open FCP, find the correct version, import these into FCP, sort into bins, go back to work.
Or you can do it the Loader way. Open FCP. Open Itunes. Drag and drop as many tracks as you like at once into the Loader window. Go back to work.
Once you’ve installed Loader, it can be configured to launch automatically when FCP starts up. Inside FCP all you see is a small tab, which can be moved to the left or right of your screen (mine is on the far left of my left monitor) and shifted up and down so as not to be in the way of anything important. Dragging anything over the tab makes it pop open and allows you to drop the media into various panels, depending on which projects you have open.
You can drag media from anywhere on your computer or even right out of the iTunes interface. And if you prefer, you can hold down the command key while dragging any file, and the source file will be sent to the trash, so there’s no extra copies of junk lying around taking up hard drive space.
There are a bunch of customizations you can set in the preferences panel. For example, you can set folders in the browser for different kinds of media - so, one for graphics, one for audio, one for movies, if the destination is set to ‘named bin’.
Loader doesn’t convert graphics or movies on import, but it does group them for you in your named bins in the browser, which is a neat bit of added functionality.
There is also now the option that if the destination is set to ‘top level’, imported files go right into the browser, without being binned.
Originally Loader used timestamped bins, and you can still choose this option, but personally I really like the ‘named folder’ setting, because it helps to keep my browser organised. Yes, OK. I am known to be slightly OCD about this stuff. But, hey, I’m an editor. It’s my job to be able to put my finger on any clip at any time, and to know what and where everything is.
Loader currently handles conversions from .aif, .aiff, .bwf, .wav, .aac, .caf, .cda, and .mp3 files. Protected aacs will not get converted as they can’t be used in FCP.
It can also recognise and import bmps, .gifs, .jpgs, .pcts, .pdfs, .pngs, .psds, .tifs, .tiffs, .tgas and .movs.
Still not convinced? Here’s a screen capture of me populating my browser with (slightly random) media. Note how I can keep working without any lag while the files are importing in the background.
So, again, why do I love it? Because it can shave hours off your post time, sort your media automatically and mean you never have to hear the dulcet tones of the FCP unrendered audio beep again. For me it’s a must-have item. And at the price, it’s within everybody’s reach.
copyright © Jude Cotter 2010
Jude Cotter lives and works in the wilds of Western Australia as a freelance broadcast editor, FCP trainer and trouble-shooter.