Pro Tips, Tutorials

Organize Your Final Cut Pro Media With Master Libraries


Every time you start a new edit in Final Cut Pro X, you’ll inevitably have to create multiple folders and keyword collections, then bring in files that you use across multiple projects — for instance, if you’re using a library of downloaded royalty-free music tracks, SFX, or b-roll clips and title sequences.

That’s why you’ll really benefit from creating a master FCPX library template to open up every time you start an edit. This template will live on your local or external hard drive and contain all the folders and assets, along with a generic FCPX library you’re going to change once you open it. Here’s how to create this master template in FCPX.


1. Create the Proper Folders in Finder

Creating a “master” project template that you can open every time you begin a new video edit will keep all of your FCPX libraries, folders, and media assets in the right places with consistent naming conventions. It can be saved on your local drive or on an external hard drive.

Open your Finder and select the drive you want to create the project* in. Right- or Control-click and create a new folder or click the New Folder button, then give it a generic name like “20YYMMDD_NewLibrary.” This will be the root folder you’re going to zip later.

Within this folder, create other folders that you plan on using in your library. It depends on your project, but I at the very least need Audio, Graphics, Footage, and Exports folders on every project. You can create more detailed folders within those if you like.

*FCPX calls video projects “Libraries,” so when I say “project” in this step it means the entire video project as a whole, including folders in the finder, FCPX libraries, and media.

The other item you need to put in this root folder is a master Final Cut Pro X Library with a generic title. In FCPX, this library will contain all of your necessary folders, keyword collections, projects, and any files you need/want to access on every project. Let’s make those now.

2. Creating a New Final Cut Pro X Library

To place this library into your generic root folder, you first need to create it and set its location. Open up Final Cut Pro X and go to New > Library. A window will pop up where you can type in a title and choose its folder.

Select the generic root folder you just made and give the library the same generic title, then save.

In the browser, click on your new library, and on the righthand side, you’ll see the library properties window. Choose “Modify Settings” and set the media storage location to your root folder. Leave the motion content in the library, then set the cache and backups to your root folder as well. Click OK to save.

Now find the event — which is essentially just a folder where the project and its assets are stored. It will be an icon with a star in it and a date as the name. Change the title of the event to the generic name, as well; this is where all of your media will go. Click OK and your new library will be created in your master project folder.

Ignore smart collections for now, because you’re going to make your own.

3. Importing Media

The next step is to create folders and keyword collections in your event that match and link to the folders in your master project. Right click on the event or go to New > Folder and create a folder each for Audio, Graphics, Projects, and Footage.

Within each one of those folders, create keyword collections that correspond to different categories in those folders.

You could make keyword collections for music, interviews, and sound effects in the audio folder; lower thirds, intro credits, or lens-flare overlays in the graphics folder; A-roll or B-roll collections in the footage folder. It’s all up to what your typical workflow will be, which you can amend for each different project. Remember, as this is your “master” project, you just want to make this your starting point for each project to keep everything consistent.

After you’ve created the collections, import any files that you use across all your projects. You can do this for your lower thirds, music tracks, intro/outro credits, stingers, b-roll, photos — anything! Click on the import button or press Command + I to bring up the Import menu. Within this menu, you can click any volumes on the lefthand side to find your media (you can add/remove folders in this menu, as well), and you can preview and skim your files as you select them for importing. On the righthand side, you have the ability to set which event to send everything to — in this case, you should leave it all in the existing master event.

You can copy your files over to the new library if you prefer, but since these are assets that you want to use on every project, it’s better to leave them outside your libraries, in a separate root folder. This will still create symbolic links (symlinks) that point to the original media that you consolidate later, but that’s for another tutorial. From here, you can pull keywords automatically, decide what to do with audio files as you pull them in, transcode media to optimized or proxy media, and analyze and fix media upon import.

For this master project, just leave everything unchecked, select your assets (I’m importing my background songs I use for our YouTube tutorial series), then click Import Selected/All. Anything you’ve imported will be visible in the browser when you click on the event.

Select all of the files for one of your specific keyword collections and drag them into it, then repeat for any additional media.


4. Creating a New Project

If you work with the same camera or output settings for each video, it’s good to make a new project that will be there when you open this master project. Right-click on the event and select New Project (Command + N). Name it with your generic title and choose your preferred settings. For this basic project, just set the starting timecode to 0, then select the format, resolution, and frame rate you want to use for your project (this can only be changed from here on out if the timeline is completely empty, FYI).

Leave color space at standard (if you can even change it), and choose ProRes 422 to start. You can also leave the settings to be automatically set. Finally, create a keyword collection and name it the same as everything else, put the project in it, and place this collection in the Projects folder.


5. Save And Zip the Master Project

Now that you’ve got the basics, go back to the Finder and find the root folder that contains all of your folders, the FCPX library, and everything else. Right-click and select to compress the folder. Once it’s a zip file, all you need to do is unzip it and rename everything with the generic title to the name of your new edit, open up the FCPX library, and start editing with all your folders and evergreen assets automatically in place!

The last thing to add is that this is the way I personally like to structure my workflow — it may not work as smoothly for you, or you may want to be even more specific with your folders, events, and keyword collections. The great thing is, it’s easy to just amend everything to meet your needs and preferences. So if you have other ways of organizing things, we’d love to hear about them. Just tell us in the comments below!

And don’t forget to download the free Pond5 app for Final Cut Pro X, to easily bring Pond5 media into all your projects!