Quick Final Cut 10.1 Library Workflow

Ok, I’ve always loved the new Final Cut Pro. In my 12 years of teaching editing software, this is simply the easiest to teach–and it is powerful. The recent updated from X to 10.1 changes the folder structure workflow, namely the creation of Libraries that contains your files and subfolders. Libraries can be moved and copied anywhere.

Here’s my workflow:

1. Create a new Library with a specific name (I used Geekery below) in Save As (you could use Project 1 or Document Location, etc.).

Screen Shot 2014-01-29 at 10.09.05 AM

2. Go to the hard drive you want to use (be sure external drives are Mac OS formatted–duel formatted drives such as FAT will not work in Final Cut) and create a new folder on the hard drive to organize your material (such as Final Cut Libraries). Below, I named my library Geekery and then select my external drive, CalDigit (Macintosh HD is the local, internal drive). Then I press the “New Folder” button and create the new folder (where I’ll put all my libraries for organization purposes).

Screen Shot 2014-01-29 at 10.22.11 AM

3. The new library appears in Final Cut (see left). It defaults to a date name, but you can change it to anything. The library contains all of your files and it can include multiple folders with a variety of names (such as audio, photos, video, etc.).

4. Select Import Media, the files will go into this library (and the subfolder you’ve selected). If it’s not there, then go to File–>Open Library.

Screen Shot 2014-01-29 at 10.22.46 AM

5. Be sure to select Copy files into [Name of Your Library]–this will make sure all your files are in that library. If you select “Leave files in place, then Final Cut will point back to these files and when you copy your Library to another hard drive it will be missing these files. I also select “Create optimized media”, telling final cut to decompress the files for editing.


The press Import. You’re done.

What if you want to move a Library from your local hard drive (Macintosh HD) to you new external drive?

1. Format the drive as Mac OS (partition it as an xFat if you want part of the drive to work on a PC). (Use Disk Utility for formatting.)

2. Go to your Movies folder. If you’re on a network drive (such as at a university), to to your login folder in Finder. Below you can see my login folder (kl442)–>Movies folder–>DSLR Workshop (Final Cut Library name):

Screen Shot 2014-01-29 at 10.36.32 AM

As you can see, the library sits by itself unless you’ve created a folder to place it. You can take this library and drag and drop it to any folder or any Mac OS formatted external hard drive. (I would recommend creating a Final Cut Libraries folder in your external drive and place all of your libraries, there.)

That’s the major change for workflow in the Final Cut 10.1 update.


Kurt_Lancaster1_smallKurt Lancaster is the author of DSLR Cinema and Cinema Raw: Shooting and Color Grading with the Ikonoskop, Digital Bolex, and Blackmagic Cinema Cameras, coming out from Focal Press in Spring 2014. He teaches digital filmmaking and documentary at Northern Arizona University. He received his PhD from NYU.

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