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Exporting from FCP to ProTools using Titan

I recently had to export an FCP project using Cantar audio files, to ProTools sessions for the sound designer.

Aäton publishes an excellent document1 which explains various workflows using Cantar BWF files. Everyone involved should read it before the editing begins.

Below is a shorter aide-mémoire for one specific case, with a few additional details, and a fix for a little glitch we came across.

The project was done in Final Cut Studio 2, using stereo mixdowns from the Cantar multitrack files. One way of exporting the FCP timeline to ProTools sessions seems to be using XMLPro2, but we didn't have that, and it is quite expensive. What we did have is Titan Flash Conform3, and that eventually worked quite well too.

The audio files used in the project were named like "TH8659== 3B 6 T 4==PX.WAV". The ProTools session, however, needed the original individual tracks, where instead of ...PX.WAV, they would be named ..._1.WAV, _2.WAV, _3.WAV, etc.

Titan did this perfectly after a few minor tweaks to the EDLs exported from FCP.

EDL export

The first step is to export the EDL in CMX 3600 format from Final Cut. This showed a couple of warnings, but it seems they were harmless.

The export settings looked like this:

CMX 3600 export screen

There was a warning which was probably for music imported from CDs or files:

CMX 3600 export warning about missing reel names

And another one about nested clips, but that was also harmless:

CMX 3600 export warning about nested clips

EDL cleanup

Our EDL had a few peculiarities which needed to be fixed. Maybe yours doesn't, and you can jump directly to the Titan part.

We had these glitches to fix first:

As an example, an audio clip in the EDL looked like this (hover mouse over the underlined numbers for more info):

021 1014 A C 11:39:58:11 11:40:09:01 01:04:43:03 01:04:53:18 
   * FROM CLIP NAME: TH8645== 3B 4 T 4==PX.WAV
   * COMMENT: 2008-10-14 

The following simple command in Terminal took care of removing the null characters. It takes all .edl files in the current directory, saves a copy of the original file with an .fcp extension, and removes any null bytes in the .edl files:

perl -i.fcp -pe 's/\0//g' *.edl

If you would like more feedback, like knowing whether anything was actually changed, you can use this more verbose version:

perl -i.fcp -pe 's/\0//g && warn "NULL byte removed in file $ARGV\n"' *.edl 

After that, it was possible to replace the "reel name" field with the Cantar "tag" which Titan expected there, using this short script (it has more lines of comments than actual commands)

# Replace tape name with Cantar file id
# Milivoj, Apr. 2009. (mi at alma dot ch).

# FCP audio export to CMX uses Cantar's "tape" field (really the date in mmdd format)
# in the CMX "reel name" field. But it seems Titan's Flash Conform wants to find
# the Cantar "tag" there (the 6 first characters of the filename).

# CMX files use DOS line endings (CRLF).
# But Perl on Mac uses Unix LF. So the normal paragraph split with $/="" doesn't work

$/ = "\r\n\r\n";

while (<>) {
  my ($clip) = /^\* FROM CLIP NAME:\s+([A-Z]{2}[\d]{4})/m;
  if ($clip) {
  print $_;

I called it cmx-cantar.pl, and used it like this:

mkdir new-edls
for f in *.edl; do perl cmx-cantar.pl $f >new-edls/$f; done



Titan could then create the ProTools session files from these EDLs:

After all that, Titan will scan all the audio files, and extract their metadata from the bext and/or iXML chunks. This takes a while if there are many files (we had over 9000).

Your comments, corrections or other remarks are welcome here: http://alma.ch/blogs/milivoj/2009/04/sessions-protools-depuis-final-cut.html (in the language of your choice).

1. See http://www.aaton.com/products/sound/cantar/chain.php for Aäton's "Cantar PostChain" documents.

2. XML-Pro "converts Final Cut Pro timelines [...] into Pro Tools sessions with volume automation".

3. Titan 3 is published by http://www.synchroarts.com. An evaluation version can be downloaded from their site.