Digitizing Video Using Final Cut Pro

Digital Video Station Using Final Cut Pro

Before You Begin:


  • Make sure that the Digital Lab has the proper equipment to capture the video format you are trying to convert. The lab currently has equipment that can transfer the following formats:
    • VHS/S-VHS
    • DVD
    • ¾” (U-Matic) in both twenty and sixty minute lengths
    • Betacam and Betacam SP
    • Betamax
    • 1-inch Type C open reel videotape
    • Video8 (8mm; home video format—must use camera found in storage cabinet; ask Karen Gracy for details)
    • Other home video formats, if you can supply the camera (can be plugged into the auxiliary panel).
  • If you are not sure what format you have, ask Dr. Gracy or take a look at the following website: http://www.arts.state.tx.us/video/identify.asp.


Make sure the video you are trying to convert is in good condition. Inspect the tape to make sure there is no breakage, wrinkling, scratches, or residue (Figures 1 and 2). If you are unsure, please contact Dr. Gracy before you begin.

Figure 1 - Wrinkled tape
Figure 2 - Moldy film

Storage Requirements

Make sure you have the appropriate media storage device with you for saving the new digital copy. Smaller video clips (0-10 minutes) may be put on flash drives (no bigger than 16 GB), while larger video files (more than 10 minutes in length) should be stored on an external hard drive or burned to a DVD-R. To estimate how much storage will be needed, use the following chart:

Original Length of Video
Approximate File Sizes

10-Bit Uncompressed
MPEG-2(DVD quality)
at 5.0 Mbps
MPEG4/H.264 QuickTime
at 2,000 kbps

Flash (.swf)
5 min.
8.79 GB
187.5 MB
917.61 MB

20 MB
15 min.
26.37 GB
562.5 MB
2.69 GB

60 MB
30 min.
52.75 GB
1.1 GB
5.38 GB

120 MB
60 min.
105.5 GB
2.2 GB
10.75 GB

240 MB
120 min.
211 GB
4.39 GB
21.51 GB

480 MB
  • Assumes bitrate of 2,000 kbit/sec.

Calculate the storage required, using the chart above or using this handy online tool (http://www.digitalrebellion.com/webapps/video_calc.html), and match to the appropriate storage device:
  • Flash Drive = 250 MB – 16 GB (size varies)
  • DVD-R = 4.7GB (single-sided, single-layer; more sides and layers give more space)
  • External hard drive = 500 MB – 2 TB (size varies)
The video workstation includes a 2 TB external hard drive, however, it is to be used for temporary storage only. Please do not leave large video files on it, as they may be deleted without warning to make space for new transfers.

The Transferring Process
  1. Before opening Final Cut Pro, you must identify and configure the correct machine for your format. Note: If you have one-inch video in the open reel format, please contact Karen Gracy beforehand if you are using the machine for the first time, so that she may show you the correct threading pattern.
  2. Press the power button for the CRT monitor (at the top of the tower).
  3. Turn on the Hotronic TBC panel using the switch located on the right-hand side (Figure 3).
    Figure 3
  4. Configure the Extron video switcher by following these steps: Press the “esc” button on the control panel. Select an input device on the TBC panel. Example: if you are transferring a VHS tape, press the “VHS/S-VHS” button. Note: you can only select one input device at a time. Then select the following buttons for output: “computer,” “monitor” and “TBC.” Note: all three options must be selected for the capture to work properly (Figure 4).
    Figure 4
  5. Press “enter” on the control panel. The buttons, which should have previously been lit up, will flash and go out. This is correct, so do not worry that something is wrong if no buttons are lit after following this step.
  6. When your device is set up, log in to the Video work station and open Final Cut Pro in the lower right hand corner of the computer desktop (Figure 5).
    Figure 5
  7. Once Final Cut Pro opens, go to File-->Menu-->Log and Capture (Figure 6).
    Figure 6
  8. Before you begin capturing, save your project to the FreeAgent Drive (Figure 7).You will transfer the final project to your own media storage device after capture is complete.
    Figure 7
  9. Once saved, prepare to start capturing your video. First, press play on the device in the tower (for example, the VHS). Immediately after you push play, click the Now button in the Log and Capture window in Final Cut Pro, located in the lower right hand corner of the window (Figure 8).
    Note: Another window will automatically open and display the video being captured (Figure 9). Your video should now be playing on the CRT Monitor and the computer monitor.
    Figure 8
    Figure 9
  10. The capture process will take as long as the run time of the video, or whenever you capture the desired amount of video. Once finished, click the ESC button on the computer keyboard. The captured video will appear in the Final Cut Pro window in the top left (Figure 10).
    • Note: The capture process can be repeated as many times as necessary to create a variety of clips.
      Figure 10
  11. To export your video clip, click File-->Send To-->Compressor (Figure 11). In the Compressor window click Window-->Destinations (Figure 12).
    Figure 11
    Figure 12
  12. In the Destinations window, click on the Destinations tab. Click on the Apple folder, which will drop down four choices. Click and drag Desktop to the Compressor window (Figure 13). Click on the Settings tab in the Destinations window and find the MPEG-4 folder. Click on the folder to reveal the only option that reads MPEG-4 video with AAC audio at 48kHz. Settings based off the source resolution and frame-rate. Click and drag it to the Compressor window, just as you did with the Desktop option. Important: You will notice that the MPEG-4 Source may turn red with an exclamation mark. Simply click and drag it to combine it with the MPEG-4 Desktop directly above. The screen should like it does in Figure 14. After you combine the two, you may delete the bottom one by clicking the minus button on the right side of the window.
    Figure 13
    Figure 14
  13. Click the Submit button in the lower right corner of the Compressor window (Figure 15). This will open a small window that will ask you to (re)name your file. Leave the Cluster and Priority options as they are. Click Submit in the small window.
    Figure 15
  14. Your file will save to the desktop (after several minutes of rendering, depending on the file’s size). When complete, you may now transfer the MPEG-4 file to your personal jump drive or harddrive.