|Tutorial: Final Cut Pro 3 - QuickView
Cut Pro 3 - QuickView
Like many, when FCP 3 came out I took a
tour of the new features. I opened QuickView, took a look and
said: 'this is interesting', closed the window and did not go
back. With all the new and exciting RT modes available to us
in FCP 3, I overlooked the potentiality of QuickView. Even Apple
does not list it in the Table of Contents of the "What's
New in FCP 3" manual. It's there, on page 116 in the Tool
FCP 3 gives us different ways to
achieve 'Real Time Preview'. There is the RTMac card, G4 Real
Time Effects, which is dependent on the speed and number of your
processors and Offline RT.
It is important to understand that
what FCP 3 calls 'Real Time Preview' does not give us true real
time playback nor is the preview presented to us at full resolution.
FCP's 'Real Time Preview' is a facsimile preview. The frame rate
delivered in RT Preview and the quality of the playback image
are dependent on the complexity of the video being previewed,
the amount of processing required. The more video tracks there
are and the more complex the effects that are applied, the further
away from real time the preview becomes.
When an effect is too complex for
your current RT setup, whether G4 Real Time effects, a capture
card or the RT Mac, then there is another way we can try to play
back effects at close to real time depending on the nature and
complexity of the effect. This method is RAM preview. There are
several ways to get a RAM preview of an effect, including Option/P
or the QuickView window.
Both methods will play back an
effect by caching it into RAM first, so that if we preview an
effect more than once, then the effect can be played back from
RAM instead of waiting to render to a hard drive.
The Tool Bench
You access the QuickView Tool from
the Tools menu or as a tab in the Tool Bench window. This will
open the QuickView window which is independent of any of the
other FCP windows. QuickView is for previewing your compositing
work only. You can not edit inside the window. None of the QuickView
settings will effect the renders on your TL or output from FCP.
Before QuickView, one way of previewing
your compositing work without rendering was by making the TimeLine
active and placing the Playhead at the beginning of the composite.
Then, using the Option and P keys, FCP would step through the
composite one frame at at time, rendering each frame as it went.
This could be slow but you would be able to see your compositing
work in the Canvas. With Option/P the frames are stored in RAM
and can be played back without re-rendering into RAM, if the
effect isn't too complex or too long. One problem with using
Option/P, it's really easy to accidentally clear that cache of
rendered frames in RAM. This can happen in several ways; scrubbing
through another section that requires rendering or by accidentally
pressing "play" over the section that has been previewed.
Its always a little tricky with Option/P because you are never
quite sure if the second pass will go faster or if you accidentally
cleared all or part of that cache of RAM that were stored into
QuickView expands on this and is
better than Option/P for two reasons. 1. Because it's not as
easy to clear that cache of frames, so second passes are almost
always faster than the first pass. And the fact that its completely
customizable whether you want to try to favor quality or more
frames that can be played back "quickly". 2. The better
the balance between quality and amount of frames to be cached,
the quicker the effect can play back closer to real time. This
is not possible with Option/P because you only work at the current
render quality and that could potentially cause a slower playback.
So even though both methods store
frames into RAM, QuickView allows you to customize the playback
options to get a faster playback. QuickView will loop through
playback over and over again giving you the chance to get a good
look at your effects. Hitting the play button or space bar will
start and stop the looped playback. QuickView is RAM dependent.
The more RAM you have the longer the area from the TL that you
will be able to preview.
The QuickView Window
The controls in the QuickView are
very simple. At the top left there is the 'Resolution' drop down
menu. You are offered Full, Half and Quarter resolutions. Half
will render faster than Full, Quarter will render faster than
Half. The price we pay is in the quality of what is displayed
in the QuickView window. Using Half or Quarter will really speed
up the time required to render through the first time and the
amount of material that can be rendered from the TL. However,
Half resolution is pretty funky and Quarter resolution is all
but worthless for previewing your composite work. These resolution
settings have no effect on the render quality of your TL and
are for QuickView display only. I leave this setting at full
At the top right of the window is the
'View' drop down menu which selects the source for the material
to be Quick Viewed.
- 'None' disables the QuickView window.
- 'Auto' will display from either the
Viewer or Canvas window depending on which window is active in
- 'Canvas' draws from the Canvas window
- 'Viewer' draws from the Viewer window.
There are several ways to determine what
area of the TL gets loaded into QuickView.
The Playhead on the TL can be used to
determine what will be previewed in QuickView. When the Playhead
is used, one half of the preview will come from the area before
the Playhead and one half from after the Playhead. The total
duration of the preview is determined by the Range Setting slider
at the bottom of the QuickView window which can run from 2 to
You can set 'In and Out' points on the
TL to bracket what gets previewed, assuming you have enough RAM.
You can see that the Range slider at the bottom of the QuickView
window has changed to read 'Range In to Out'. Setting 'In and
Out' points will give you a longer preview than using the Range
slider which has a maximum of 10 seconds. This is, of course,
dependent on the amount of RAM that you have. In OS 9, the amount
of RAM that you have allocated to FCP, in OS X the total amount
of installed RAM.
You can also set just an 'In' point on
the TL, in which case QuickView will start playing from the 'In'
point for the duration set on the Range slider.
I'm glad that I went back and spent some
time with QuickView, there is a lot to like about this tool and
I use it all the time now. No RT card is required, you are not
limited to those FCP G4 RT Effects filters that are in bold,
of which there are only a few anyway. There is no limit to the
number of video tracks you can have stacked up on top of each
other, the amount or type of compositing work you are doing.
You do not have to turn 'External View' off as you do with G4
RT Effects, though External View (NTSC or PAL) does not run with
QuickView. You can choose to preview your work from either the
Viewer or Canvas and can leave them alone even if you are zoomed
in. You can resize the QuickView window by dragging the lower
right hand corner of the box. I often leave the QuickView window
open on my second monitor. Once you have rendered by playing
once in QuickView you can scrub through your preview by dragging
the little scrubber bar at the bottom of the QuickView window.
It's true that the first time that you
play QuickView the process requires rendering but I have found
that because I am normally just looking at a few seconds of compositing
work, this happens very quickly. From there on out it plays its
loop giving a good preview of your work. Just remember, the more
RAM you have the longer the section of the TL you can preview.
Special thanks to Andrew Balis
for contributing to this article.
copyright © Ken Stone
This article first appeared on www.kenstone.net and is reprinted here
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