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June 2017 Giveaway

MP3 files & Final Cut Pro/Express

Q: “How do I get an MP3 file to work with Final Cut Pro?”

A: Final Cut Pro and Final Cut Express are not set up to directly import MP3s for use within video projects. Final Cut project wants to see an AIFF audio file and preferably in a 48kHz sample rate.

As a side note, both MP3 (and AAC for that matter) are “lossy” compressed audio formats. They lack the sound quality of the original, uncompressed audio, even if you convert them back to AIFF (uncompressed format). Because of this, you should consider using the original audio if possible. Remember, good video can be made GREAT with great audio!

When only the compressed MP3 or AAC file is available, there is a “work around.” MP3 and AAC audio files should be converted to uncompressed AIFF files that match the sample rate (that’s the really important part of this Tech Tip) of the audio in your video sequence. If you don’t already have an audio application that can convert MP3s, you will need QuickTime Pro to complete these steps. The good news is that Final Cut Pro 3 and 4 include a QuickTime Pro key (you can just download the software, then use the key number to unlock the “pro” features). Follow one of the procedures below to convert and import the audio into Final Cut Pro and Final Cut Express:

Using QuickTime Player
1. Determine the audio sample rate of your Final Cut Pro or Final Cut Express sequence by selecting the sequence in the Browser and then choose Edit > Item Properties. The audio sample rate appears in the Item Properties window. The default DV preset uses 48kHz audio.
2. Locate the MP3 or AAC audio file in the Finder. If the song is in iTunes, you can choose File > Show Song File to locate the song in the Finder (or use the steps below). AAC song files have a filename extension of .m4a.
3. Drag the song file onto the QuickTime Player application icon.
4. Choose File > Export.
5. In the Save dialog, navigate to your media folder. This is where the AIFF file will be saved.
6. Choose “Sound to AIF” from the Export pop-up menu.
7. Click the Options button.
8. In the Sound Settings window, set the Compressor to None and the Rate to the sample rate of your sequence. Also choose Stereo unless this is a mono audio file.
9. Click OK to dismiss the Sound Settings window.
10. Click the Save button.
11. Import the AIFF file into your Final Cut Pro or Final Cut Express project as you would with any other media file. You can drag the file from the Finder directly into the Browser window or choose File > Import > Files.

Using iTunes
1. Open iTunes.
2. Choose iTunes > Preferences.
3. Click the Importing icon at the top of the Preferences window.
4. Select AIFF (See Note 2) encoder instead of MP3 or AAC encoders.
5. Click the button next to Setting (it should be set to Automatic by default).
6. Select Custom.
7. Select 16 bit Sample Size
8. Select Stereo Channels (or Mono if your files are monaural).
9. Select 48kHz. This is the standard sample rate for DV.
10. Click OK.
11. Click OK again.

All audio files will now be ready for importing into Final Cut Pro and will not require rendering. To listen and encode MP3 or AAC files in iTunes, change the Importing preference back to the MP3 or AAC encoder.

By the way, songs purchased from Apple’s iTunes Music Store cannot be directly converted to other formats and therefore cannot be used with Final Cut Pro or Final Cut Express unless you go through the extra step of burning them to a CD. The audio from the CD can then be imported.

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