Monday, April 23, 2012

Interesting Apps 5 - AVT ChapterIt

My Problem with Final Cut Pro X

(long story short, I hate using Compressor 4 to make chapters, continue reading for my reasons, or skip down to "The solution" for the app review...)

I have owned Final Cut Pro X since day one. Sure I had some complaints about the new GUI and it'e similarities to iMovie but I was willing to hang in there and give it a chance. The two problems that I could not overlook, though, was the lack of multi cam support, and lack chapter marker creation. Recently a update has added multi cam support but I am still frustrated with the lack of any chapter creation.

Until today the only solution I was able to find was to export my movies to Compressor 4 and create chapter markers there. After that I could encode my movie with Compressor. There is nothing about this process that is straight forward. Here are my common problems;

(Also I should note that I am using a 2.8 Ghz Quad core i7 with 12GB RAM; all programs are up-to-date as of this posting)

Skimming on Compressor is nothing like FCPX. You end up wasting a lot of time trying to fine tune marker placement and Compressor regularly freezes, loses sync with audio, crashes, or stops playing video, thus making proper chapter placement very difficult.

Too many steps for titling chapters and reviewing chapter names. It took me forever the first time to find what I needed to do to even create a marker and if you rely on the mouse you will be moving back and forth repeatedly clicking options just to create a marker, title it, confirm, and then skim to the next marker. The fastest method is to use the shortcut "m" to make a chapter, then "command + e" to open the marker edit screen. Just make sure everything is spelled correctly, because unless you plan on wasting more time reviewing each chapter marker one by one, then the next time you'll see them it will be too late for editing.

Some encoding projects in Compressor take entirely too long! This past weekend I finished a 75 minute movie that needed chapters before being converted into a iPad compatible m4v, as well as a DVD. The estimated time for completion was over 30 hours. In addition, the process was never completed because 6 hours in I received a Quicktime error-50 for one file and a Quicktime error-0 for the other. This morning I decided to give up using Compressor and encoded the movie directly from FCPX (no chapters), using the same settings that Compressor used and my movie was finished in 2 and a half hours.
I'm a little upset at the fact that I had to pay 50 dollars for a program that I only use to create chapters, which ends up slowing down my workflow in the process. Today, however, I have found a solution that I had to share with those that have been suffering with the lack functionality apple has provided us thus far.

The solution...

Available now in the App Store is AVT ChapterIt

There the free version that only supports Quicktime movies and the $2.99 paid version that handles Quicktime, MPEG4, and Matroska (future update).

This has been the easiest (and only) way to add chapters to my movie files, that I have found other than Compressor 4. After dragging a file in the area you have multiple options. "Black Detection," which automatically places chapters at fade outs. "Auto," which places chapters at timed intervals of your choice. Or using the timeline to manually place chapters with single frame precision. You can even import chapters from TEXT or XML files as well as DVD (.ifo) files.

Your chapters and titles are all listed on the side and are easy to review and edit. All you need to do is click "save" and your done!

Made a mistake on previous movie's chapters? Drag them in and edit those chapter points, or create new ones, without having to re-encode or start from scratch.

So far, I can confirm that chapter markers are recognized in iTunes, Quicktime and iMovie, as well as on the iPad. I'm sure that with our support, functionality of this program will grow. I would like to see audio skimming in a future update but it's not a real big concern at the moment.

While I still think Apple should just add chapter creation to FCPX, this is a excellent alternative to spending 50 bucks on a program that you can't get the most out of yet.

My thanks to Stephan Eichhorn and Scirius Development for a fantastic product.


  1. hi, just bought your app and have a quick question: when I import my XML from fcpx, it says "no chapters found in file". as i'm sure i'm overlooking something here, could you point me towards the solution here or an instruction manual. many thanks...Ryan

  2. I attempted to find some instructions for you but the developers website, (, doesn't have much to offer. It does, however, contain a email address that might be helpful but i wouldn't know how fast a response you would receive.

    I would like to recreate your situation to see if I need to make others aware of any possible false advertisement if we can't figure out a solution. Where was the XML file originally created? I'm not sure if past XML metadata is retained after it has passed through FCPX.

    I haven't tried to make chapters in a XML using ChapterIt as I believe only MPEG4 and quicktime are the only currently supported files.