Logging And Capturing Footage

THL Toolbox > Audio-Video > Technical Processing of Audio-Video - Log, Edit and Compress > Logging

The Logging & Capturing Audio-Video Tapes Manual

Contributor(s): Chelsea Hall, Eric Woelfel.

Logging” refers to the process of selecting what footage you would like to extract from the source media and deposit on your local hard drive to be manipulated further in the editing process. Logging also allows you to add descriptive comments to clips that may be helpful to editors using your logging files to recapture your project in the future when video compression standards improve.

TIP: As you become more comfortable with the entire media production process, you will be able to refine your logging technique to streamline your editing work, but when you are beginning it is best to err on the side of including more footage than you think is necessary when you are logging to give yourself ample room for making transitions and cuts during editing.

Once your tape is entered into the audio-video database, you can begin to process the footage on your physical media. Although this documentation focuses exclusively on media processing in Final Cut Pro on an Apple computer, many of the principles described here can be used with media editing software on other platforms.

TIP: Save your work often! To save in Final Cut Pro use the “Apple + S” shortcut or the “Save Project” selection in the “File” option from the top level menu. TIP: Try not to have open many project files while you are working as this can cause FCP to crash and lose unsaved work.


It is important to make sure you are working with the correct video format in Final Cut Pro before you begin your project. Using the wrong video format settings can result in unusable videos and lost work. Final Cut Pro will save your settings so if you are working primarily with PAL or NTSC you will not have to change the settings every time as long as you are consistently working with one format.

  1. To adjust Final Cut Pro to conform to the video format of your source media select “Audio/Video Settings” under the “Final Cut Pro” option in the top menu.
  2. Depending on the format of your source tape (PAL or NTSC) set the “Sequence Preset” to “DV NTSC 48KHz” or “DV PAL 48KHz”.
  3. Set the “Capture Preset” option to “DV NTSC 48KHz” or “DV PAL 48KHz”.
  4. Set the “Device Control Preset” option to “FireWire NTSC” or “FireWire PAL”.
  5. Set the “Video Playback” option to “Apple FireWire NTSC (720 x 480)” or “Apple FireWire PAL (720 x 560)”.
  6. Save your changes and close the window by clicking on “OK”.
  7. Finally, before inserting your tape, make sure your DV deck is set to play PAL or NTSC tapes. If your DV deck can play both NTSC and PAL tapes, there is usually a switch on the deck to set the video format of the source data.


  1. To adjust Final Cut Pro to conform to the video format of your source media select “Audio/Video Settings” under the “Final Cut Pro” option in the top menu.

or easy setup - hdv


  1. Turn on the DV-deck so that it will be synchronized with Final Cut Pro.
  2. Start Final Cut Pro and insert your tape into the DV-deck.
  3. From the top menu in Final Cut Pro select “File” then “New Project” then select “Save Project As…”.

IMPORTANT: THL’s naming convention for logging files is to save the project in XXXX-YYMMDD format (“XXXX” represents the unique four-digit ID assigned to the tape in the Audio-Video Database). The date entered should be the date at the time of logging. Example: 0575-051215.

  1. From the top menu select “File” then “Log and Capture…” (shortcut: Apple+8). The log and capture window will open up in Final Cut Pro.
  2. Check the “Log Bin” in the log and capture window. The text there should corresdpond to the file name for your new project. Enter your tape’s four-digit ID into the “Reel” text field.
  3. In the “Description” field enter a short mnemonic for the clip. The description should be less than 15 characters long and contain only alpha-numeric characters with the exception of hyphens (-) or underscores (_). The description entered here will not be represented in the final media file (unless assign the final file name as such) but it should be as descriptive and clear as possible to ensure future staff using your logging file will be able identify the the content of the clip by glancing at the file name assigned in the description field.

IMPORTANT: Depending on your familiarity with the project, you may have to watch a clip before you can give it a description. If your project is already fleshed out in the AVDB, you can elect to assign the title ID to the description using the following format: “XXXXX_title-name” (the XXXXX refers to the unique THL ID assigned to the title in the AVDB. The complete description including the ID, underscores and hyphens cannot exceed 21 characters. As this description will be visible to the final user in the form of the compression’s file name, the title should be as descriptive and non-idiosyncratic as possible.

  1. You can now begin to play the tape by pressing the play button on the DV-deck itself or clicking on the play button in the log and capture window. You will be able to view the footage in the preview window.
  2. Some useful shortcuts that you can use during the logging process are:

  • Spacebar: Plays and stops the DV-deck.
  • i Marks the “in point” for a clip. The “in point” indicates where you would like to begin capturing a clip.
  • o Marks the “out point” for a clip. The “out point” indicates where you would like to finish capturing a clip.

  1. Mark a clip for capture by setting in points and out points. You can set in points and out points by clinking on the “Set In/Out Point” buttons in the log and capture window or by typing the timecode directly into the text window beside these buttons. TIP: In final Cut Pro the timecodes follow the HH:MM:SS;FF format (HH: hours, MM: minutes, SS: second and FF: frames per second). Note that NTSC (the video standard in the US) runs at 30 frames per second. Half a second is 15 frames (00:00:00;15) not 30. PAL, on the other hand runs at 24 frames a second. Half a second in PAL is 12 frames (00:00:00;12).
  2. Make sure to add about 5 seconds to your in points and out points to make room for adding transitions later in the editing process. For example; if your clip ends at 00:02:54;12, set your out point at 00:02:59;12. IMPORTANT: You must allow at least four seconds after the timecodes begin on a tape to set an in point or four seconds before the time codes end to set an outpoint otherwise Final Cut Pro will not be able to capture the clip. This means the first four seconds and the last four seconds of footage on any tape are unusable.
  3. After capturing this footage you will have the opportunity to refine the clip during the editing process. When marking in and out points err on the side of including any footage that has the potential to be used in the final version of the title. As you gain experience in Final Cut Pro and media processing in general, you will be able to make some editing decisions during the logging process.
  4. Sometimes there are breaks in timecodes on a tape that will cause difficulties during the log and capture process. Timecodes get broken when people try to rewind and view what they are filming in the field. The best way to deal with the problem is to trick Final Cut Pro into thinking it is starting a new tape to capture the portion of the footage after the point where the timecode is broken. When a timecode is broken, the counter starts over at 00:00;00, therefore you will have a situation where there are multiple instances of the same timecode on one tape. If there are 2 timecodes the computer doesn't know which one you are referring to when you tell it to capture a clip containing that timecode. To trick the computer you have to manually cue up the tape for every break in the timecode. If you have one break in the timecode you will have to capture footage in two separate sessions. Capture the footage that falls before the timecode break in one capture session, stop, fast forward the tape so the counter is on the timecode after the break, and capture the remaining footage (the 4 second rule applies to the beginning and ending of broken timecodes as well the same it as it applies to complete tapes). If the break in the time code does not come at a natural break in the video, then you will have to make a break and try and fix the transition during the editing process. Sometimes these methods to fix the broken timecodes do not work. In this case, one possible solution is to try copying the footage to a new tape.
  5. After setting in and out points for a clip stop the tape and write a short description of the clip in the “Log Note” text field. As a rule, the more information provided the better.
  6. Click on the “Log Clip” button and check “Mark Good” then click “Ok”. You will now see your clip appear as a grey box with a diagonal red slash though it indicated it has not been captured in Final Cut Pro’s “Browser” window.
  7. Repeat these steps until you have captured all of the desired clips from your tape.

Alternately, if you have existing logging files from a project, you can use these to recapture from your source tape without having to re-edit. To do this, open the selected file, highlight the logging files, and control+click and select 'batch capture.'

Capture Footage from the Source Media

“Capturing” (also called "digitizing") refers to the process of extracting the source footage from the physical media and depositing it on your local hard drive for more detailed editing. Digital audio/video data that exists on a hard drive is more easily manipulated than the same data on a tape.

  1. Click the “Batch Capture” button and select the “All Items in Logging Bin” option from the “Capture” dropdown menu. The capture process will begin and will proceed in real time.

TIP: Make sure you have enough hard drive space to capture your footage. Every five minutes of footage usually requires about one gig of hard drive space.

TIP: If you know that you want an entire tape's contents, you may also just cue up your tape in the "log and capture" mode, begin playing it, and then click on "Capture Now". This will immediately begin capturing the footage on the tape and continue doing so until the end of the tape. However, as mentioned above, beware of time-code breaks that may interrupt this capture. Final Cut Pro is able to negotiate, and continue capturing around, certain time-code breaks. Others will cause the capture to fail, and you must manually work around this, as described above. AGAIN, when using "Capture Now" you must not start "capturing on the fly" (as this technique is sometimes called) until just after 4 seconds into the tape. Although "Capture Now" will successfully capture some of this pre-4-second footage, any users in the future who may have to re-capture this footage (after capture scratch may have been deleted) will be unable to do so, because there won't be enough space on the tape for the computer to cue up just prior to the segment to be captured. "Capture Now" is ideal for when you want the contents of an entire tape, and when there are 5-10 seconds (at least) of non-critical footage (prepping microphones, interviewee settling in, etc.) prior to the beginning of the critical content.

Create Sequences to Edit the Captured Footage

  1. Create a “sequence” by right clicking in the “Browser” window under “Name” and select “New Sequence”.
  2. Use the unique 5 digit THL ID followed by an underscore (“01436_” for example) as a prefix to the title name. The file name should be in the “XXXXX_title-name” (the XXXXX refers to the unique THL ID assigned to the title in the AVDB) format. The complete description including the ID, underscores and hyphens cannot exceed 21 characters or contain any punctuation or spaces. As this description will be visible to the final user in the form of the compression’s file name, the title should be as descriptive and non-idiosyncratic as possible.

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