Adam Schoales
Editor. Geek. Tea Drinker.

Adam Schoales : : Blog

Thoughts, process, and other ramblings.


Packaging with FCP X or How to Stripe Audio

Recently I had to do the final packaging of a show that we cut using Final Cut Pro X, or more specifically add our finished, mixed, and mastered audio files to a colour graded master video file. I was pretty well versed in this process using Final Cut Pro 7 back in the day, but had never actually had the occasion to do it with Final Cut Pro X. The problem I was having was that each audio file was supposed to correspond to a separate audio channel, which in the old days corresponded to the tracks in your NLE. But, as we all know, Final Cut Pro X has no tracks. So what are we to do?

After a quick Google I didn't really have any luck in finding an article online outlining what it was that I should do. So, I did the next best thing: I took to Twitter. More specifically I reached out to Charlie Austin, an expert when it comes to this sort of thing (he is, after all, the owner of, and with his help had sorted out exactly what needed to be done. In order to better help my fellow Final Cut Pro X users down the line (and also so I have a resource when I have to do this again next time) I wanted to put together a quick tutorial article outlining what needs to be done.

The first step is, obviously, bring all your material into Final Cut Pro, and then make sure you've got what you need in your timeline. We had just one master video file in the main storyline, but you could do this with your live timeline as well. For this show, our audio layout was to be as follows:

Ch.1 – Left
Ch.2 – Right
Ch.3 – Center
Ch.4 – LFE
Ch.5 – Left Surround
Ch.6 – Right Surround
Ch.7 – Stereo Downmix Left
Ch.8 – Stereo Downmix Right

So with the video laid down on the main storyline, I then connected each of our mono audio files to the video, according to the layout from the network.

The next step is to setup your roles. We're basically going to create a separate role for each individual "channel". Open up the Inspector (CMD+4), click on the "Info" tab, and from the role drop-down select "Edit Roles...". From the new dialogue create a new role for each channel you require.

Once you've added a role for all your channels head back to the timeline, and click on each individual audio file. From the Inspector, go back to the info tab, and set each audio files role accordingly. Once you've done that you can double check that everything is set-up correctly using the Timeline Index.

Once you've confirmed that all your audio files are present and accounted for, and set to the proper role, it's time to export your file.

You'll want to make sure your video settings are set up correctly based on your specs. Once that's done, you'll want to focus on that dropdown that says "Roles as: Quicktime Movie". We're going to change that to "Multitrack Quicktime Movie". 

Final Cut will now create separate "track" for each of your audio roles, as well as the video roles. If there are any other roles listed besides your channels delete them: in this case, because we still had a few graphic files with the dialogue role enabled we're going to delete that, since it doesn't contain any information we need (and will also affect the track layout).

Next, you'll want to change each "track" from Stereo to Mono

Once that's completed, you'r ready to export.

Your finished file will then have each of your audio stems laid out in separate audio channels.

Inspecting the resulting file in Quick Time 7 (remember it?!) shows all 8 of our audio tracks.

Dropping the file into a track-based editor (such as Premiere Pro) shows all our tracks came through nicely, and in the order we set them up.

My thanks again to Charlie Austin for his wisdom and helping sort me out. Be sure to follow him on Twitter and to check out his blog for lots of great articles about working with Final Cut Pro X.