I've had a number of requests for instructions on how to export a Final Cut project to a DVD.
Here are the steps:
The only format that DVD-Video supports is MPEG-2. Any other format
won't work. However, that's not the format that Final Cut normally
So, here's the best way to convert your FCP project into something a DVD can work with.
The best way to export your sequence is as follows:
- Open your sequence in the Timeline.
- Select File > Export > QuickTime movie
- Make sure the top pop-up menu is set to "Current Settings"
- Make sure "Audio and Video" are selected
- If you didn't use Chapter markers in FCP, set Markers to "None"
- If you are compressing this on your system, UNcheck "Make Movie Self-Contained."
- Give the file a name and click OK to save it.
Next, if you have a current version of iDVD, you can use it to create your DVD.
- Open iDVD
- Give your DVD Project a name and save it
- Select a Theme -- a look for your DVD
- Drag your QuickTime movie (exported above) into iDVD
- Add any titles and images you wish to the main screen
- Burn your disk.
Current versions of iDVD can burn between 90 and 120 minutes of material.
The quality will be quite good and should meet your needs for all non-commercial releases of a DVD.
DVD Studio Pro
If you want to create a DVD using DVD Studio Pro, you now have two additional choices:
- Compress the file in DVD Studio Pro
- Compress the file in Compressor.
Here is how you decide where to encode your video:
- If it is short and you don't need to compress or adjust the audio, compress it in DVD Studio Pro.
- If it is longer than, say, 30 minutes, or you want to compress
the audio into AC3, or you want to make some final audio level
adjustments, compress it using compressor.
To compress the file in DVD Studio Pro, simply import your QuickTime
movie as an Asset. DVD SP will compress it in the background
To compress the file in Compressor, DON'T
use "Export to
Compressor" in FCP -- it doesn't work. Instead, open Compressor, then
drag the file into Compressor and adjust settings.
My DVD tutorial
can help here, but the short answer is that for short
clips, using the preset, "High Quality Encode" will be fine. For clips
longer than 30 minutes, you should make some adjustments to this
setting to improve file size and image quality.
an additional article that will help explain what compression settings to use:
Update - May 28, 2005
Publishing the article created a fair amount of response, so, I decided
to group them together to make the discussion easier to follow.
I have a question about newsletter #15, exporting Project files for DVD.
We are using FCP HD with DVD Studio Pro 3. In
your newsletter you suggest exporting the final project as a QuickTime
movie and then compress the file in Compressor or DVD Studio Pro.
What I have been doing is exporting my final project from FCP as a MPEG
2 in the QuickTime Conversion menu. If it is a large project I
adjust the file size in the “Quality” menu of the MPEG 2 options.
Then import the MPEG 2 files into DVD Studio Pro and creating a DVD
from the files exported from FCP. Would you suggest I export the
project as you say in the newsletter or continue with what I have been
doing? I am a little confused because I thought what I have been
doing is the most efficient way to make a DVD from my FCP projects.
When Gabe first wrote, I sent him this reply:
"Your system works, but it isn't efficient. First,
you are tying up FCP during the entire export and compression process,
which can take a long time. Second, you don't have the same control
over your compression as you do in Compressor. Third, depending upon
your video format, you may be well advised to crop the image, which
can't be done using FCP export.
For me, it's mainly a time and control issue.
However, there's nothing intrinsically wrong with what you are doing."
However, since then, I've learned more reasons why this isn't a good
idea. In the version of Compressor that ships with FCP HD, your
technique works fine. In the Compressor that ships with FCP 5, your
technique will no longer work.
The new version of Compressor has technology in it that is not
duplicated using QuickTime conversion. For this reason, you need to
start changing your habits so that you follow the guidance in that
article: export using File > Export > QuickTime Movie
If you are compressing the video on your system, make the movie a
Reference movie. If you are archiving the movie, or sending it to
someone else to compress, make it a self-contained movie.
I have never been comfortable with exporting using QuickTime
Conversion. For one thing, it automatically down-samples your movie to
8-bit. For another, it will not be as good a quality in the new version
of FCP/Compressor. Finally, the codecs is contains, while adequate for
home use, are not up to professional standards either in terms of file
size or image quality.
, from Germany, writes:
Thank you for your current newsletter.
I'd like to add one word of caution to your short
description of exporting projects from FCP to Compressor. From your
wording unexperienced users might conclude that Compressor is good for
getting your audio into A.Pack as well.
I can't recommend this, since I've frequently
observed that AIFF files exported through Compressor and used in A.Pack
get out of sync as opposed to those exported directly from FCP. I'm not
sure if this happens in PAL only, but it is a long-standing bug in
Compressor well-known in our community over here. Until know it has
never been fixed, even if I (and others) have informed Apple again and
- Export your video from FCP and encode it to MPEG-2 in Compressor
- Export your audio as WAVE or AIFF from FCP and encode it to AC-3 in A.Pack
- Don't route audio through Compressor (which can't compress audio anyway).
Let's hope it'll be fixed in DVD SP 4 with it's
tighter integration of AC-3 encoding (and hopefully the dual-CPU bug
too), but for the time being one should advise FCP users to export
audio always straight from FCP and NOT
Uli, this is not a problem I've noticed here in the
U.S. using NTSC video. So, thank you for providing a warning and a
At a recent demo of DVD SP 4, I asked the DVD SP Product Manager, Brian
Hoffman, if Apple had made any changes to the integration between DVD
SP and FCP 5 so exporting to Compressor worked properly. He said that
he didn't think so. My feeling is that if Brian doesn't think so, then
probably nothing was done.
So my recommendation is to avoid using "File > Export > To Compressor
" for any video format and, instead, do File > Export > QuickTime Movie
and bring that into Compressor. For audio, I recommend all PAL users follow Uli's advice.
Step Back for Better Quality
I just learned one other tidbit on using the Compressor shipped with
FCP HD: using "Motion Estimation (Best)" may cause vertical jitter in
your MPEG-2 movies. This problem can be avoided using "Motion Estimate
Compressor defaults to the "Better" setting, but if, like me, you
changed the setting, you might consider setting it back -- at least if
you are using DVD Studio Pro v3.
is a post-production consultant and an Apple-Certified
Trainer in Digital Media with over 25 years experience as producer,
director and editor with network, local and corporate credits. Based in
Los Angeles, he's a member of both the Directors Guild of America
the Producers Guild of America
This article is from "Larry's Final Cut Pro HD Newsletter
," a very
cool FREE monthly Final Cut newsletter -- subscribe at Larry's web
[ This article is an excerpt from of "Larry's FCP HD Newsletter
” -- May, 2005. ]
Any references to trademarks or products are used for editorial
purposes only. Text copyright 2005 by Larry Jordan
. All rights