[Updated September 28, 2018 wording changes for clarity.]

Introduction

There is quite a bit of literature1 2 3 4 5 on the net how Adobe applications can embed XMP metadata and modify original footage on importβ€”wreaking havoc for other NLEs like FCP. Posts range as far back as 2011, the year FCP X was released, to even one in mid 2014.

The takeaway of all them, rightly so, was to uncheck the nasty Write XMP ID to Files in Import setting in Adobe Premiere, After Effects, etc. which is on by default! 6

The Write XMP ID To Files On Import option tells Premiere Pro to add a single piece of XMP metadata to the source file itself. This is basically a unique identifying number that can then be used by the various applications that understand XMP metadata [namely, the Adobe Suite] to tell which files is being used where. So, yes, it does modify the source file. If you don’t want that to happen, then make sure that checkbox is unchecked.

By unchecking this option, the checksums and file sizes of the raw assets do not change, and projects in other NLEs like FCP X will not force re-linking because of an incompatible media file.

However, for those that roundtrip between FCP X and Adobe with XMP metadata, turns out things have changedβ€”for the better!

Setup

The following experiment was conducted using the following:

  • 15” Mid 2012 MBP 9,1
  • OS X 10.11.1 El Capitan, released 2015-09-307
  • FCP X 10.2.2, released 2015-09-048
  • Adobe Premiere Pro CC 2015 9.1.0(174) Build β€œOriginal Gravity”9
  • XAVC-S 720p MOV file from a Sony AX100

Procedure

  1. Import video (as a linked file) into FCP X. Sony XAVC-S MOV file imported into FCP X

  2. Use ExifTool and save linked file metadata. Note the System File Date/Time values at the top.
    $ exiftool -api largefilesupport=1 -G1 XAVCS-sample.mov
    ​	[ExifTool]      ExifTool Version Number         : 10.08
    ​	[System]        File Name                       : XAVCS-sample.mov
    ​	[System]        Directory                       : /Volumes/Scratch/est
    ​	[System]        File Size                       : 3156 MB
    ​	[System]        File Modification Date/Time     : 2014:05:22 03:25:30-04:00
    ​	[System]        File Access Date/Time           : 2016:01:09 20:28:35-05:00
    ​	[System]        File Inode Change Date/Time     : 2016:01:09 19:47:23-05:00
    ​	[System]        File Permissions                : rwxrwxrwx
    ​	[File]          File Type                       : MOV
    ​	[File]          File Type Extension             : mov
    ​	[File]          MIME Type                       : video/quicktime
    ​	[QuickTime]     Major Brand                     : Apple QuickTime (.MOV/QT)
    ​	[QuickTime]     Minor Version                   : 2005.3.0
    ​	[QuickTime]     Compatible Brands               : qt
    ​	[QuickTime]     Movie Data Size                 : 3307975773
    ​	[QuickTime]     Movie Data Offset               : 48
    ​	[QuickTime]     Movie Header Version            : 0
    ​	[QuickTime]     Create Date                     : 2014:05:11 04:50:09
    ​	[QuickTime]     Modify Date                     : 2014:05:11 05:31:53
    ​	[QuickTime]     Time Scale                      : 600
    ​	[QuickTime]     Duration                        : 0:41:43
    ​	[QuickTime]     Preferred Rate                  : 1
    ​	[QuickTime]     Preferred Volume                : 100.00%
    ​	[QuickTime]     Preview Time                    : 0 s
    ​	[QuickTime]     Preview Duration                : 0 s
    ​	[QuickTime]     Poster Time                     : 0 s
    ​	[QuickTime]     Selection Time                  : 0 s
    ​	[QuickTime]     Selection Duration              : 0 s
    ​	[QuickTime]     Current Time                    : 0 s
    ​	[QuickTime]     Next Track ID                   : 3
    ​	[Track1]        Track Header Version            : 0
    ​	[Track1]        Track Create Date               : 2014:05:11 04:50:09
    ​	[Track1]        Track Modify Date               : 2014:05:11 05:31:53
    ​	[Track1]        Track ID                        : 1
    ​	[Track1]        Track Duration                  : 0:41:43
    ​	[Track1]        Track Layer                     : 0
    ​	[Track1]        Track Volume                    : 100.00%
    ​	[Track1]        Image Width                     : 1280
    ​	[Track1]        Image Height                    : 720
    ​	[Track1]        Graphics Mode                   : ditherCopy
    ​	[Track1]        Op Color                        : 32768 32768 32768
    ​	[Track1]        Compressor ID                   : avc1
    ​	[Track1]        Vendor ID                       : Apple
    ​	[Track1]        Source Image Width              : 1280
    ​	[Track1]        Source Image Height             : 720
    ​	[Track1]        X Resolution                    : 72
    ​	[Track1]        Y Resolution                    : 72
    ​	[Track1]        Compressor Name                 : H.264
    ​	[Track1]        Bit Depth                       : 24
    ​	[Track1]        Video Frame Rate                : 29.87
    ​	[Track2]        Matrix Structure                : 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1
    ​	[Track2]        Media Header Version            : 0
    ​	[Track2]        Media Create Date               : 2014:05:11 04:50:09
    ​	[Track2]        Media Modify Date               : 2014:05:11 05:31:53
    ​	[Track2]        Media Time Scale                : 44100
    ​	[Track2]        Media Duration                  : 0:41:43
    ​	[Track2]        Balance                         : 0
    ​	[Track2]        Handler Class                   : Data Handler
    ​	[Track2]        Handler Type                    : Alias Data
    ​	[Track2]        Handler Vendor ID               : Apple
    ​	[Track2]        Handler Description             : Apple Alias Data Handler
    ​	[Track2]        Audio Format                    : mp4a
    ​	[Track2]        Audio Channels                  : 2
    ​	[Track2]        Audio Bits Per Sample           : 16
    ​	[Track2]        Audio Sample Rate               : 44100
    ​	[Track2]        Purchase File Format            : mp4a
    ​	[Composite]     Avg Bitrate                     : 10.6 Mbps
    ​	[Composite]     Image Size                      : 1280x720
    ​	[Composite]     Megapixels                      : 0.922
    ​	[Composite]     Rotation                        : 0
    ​	$
    
  3. Launch Premiere Pro. Enable the setting in Preferences to Write XMP ID to Files in Import which is now off by default!! Enable Write XMP ID to Files on Import Setting in Premiere Pro

  4. Import the same clip into Premiere Pro. Sony XAVC-S MOV file imported into Premiere Pro

  5. Run ExifTool again to confirm the file has been modified. Note how the System File Date/Time values are updated and the new XMP info at the bottom!
    $ exiftool -api largefilesupport=1 -G1 XAVCS-sample.mov
    ​	[ExifTool]      ExifTool Version Number         : 10.08
    ​	[System]        File Name                       : XAVCS-sample.mov
    ​	[System]        Directory                       : /Volumes/Scratch/est
    ​	[System]        File Size                       : 3156 MB
    ​	[System]        File Modification Date/Time     : 2016:01:09 20:30:04-05:00
    ​	[System]        File Access Date/Time           : 2016:01:09 20:30:22-05:00
    ​	[System]        File Inode Change Date/Time     : 2016:01:09 20:30:04-05:00
    ​	[System]        File Permissions                : rwxrwxrwx
    ​	[File]          File Type                       : MOV
    ​	[File]          File Type Extension             : mov
    ​	[File]          MIME Type                       : video/quicktime
    ​	[QuickTime]     Major Brand                     : Apple QuickTime (.MOV/QT)
    ​	[QuickTime]     Minor Version                   : 2005.3.0
    ​	[QuickTime]     Compatible Brands               : qt
    ​	[QuickTime]     Movie Data Size                 : 3307975773
    ​	[QuickTime]     Movie Data Offset               : 48
    ​	[QuickTime]     Movie Header Version            : 0
    ​	[QuickTime]     Time Scale                      : 600
    ​	[QuickTime]     Duration                        : 0:41:43
    ​	[QuickTime]     Preferred Rate                  : 1
    ​	[QuickTime]     Preferred Volume                : 100.00%
    ​	[QuickTime]     Preview Time                    : 0 s
    ​	[QuickTime]     Preview Duration                : 0 s
    ​	[QuickTime]     Poster Time                     : 0 s
    ​	[QuickTime]     Selection Time                  : 0 s
    ​	[QuickTime]     Selection Duration              : 0 s
    ​	[QuickTime]     Current Time                    : 0 s
    ​	[QuickTime]     Next Track ID                   : 3
    ​	[Track1]        Track Header Version            : 0
    ​	[Track1]        Track Create Date               : 2014:05:11 04:50:09
    ​	[Track1]        Track Modify Date               : 2014:05:11 05:31:53
    ​	[Track1]        Track ID                        : 1
    ​	[Track1]        Track Duration                  : 0:41:43
    ​	[Track1]        Track Layer                     : 0
    ​	[Track1]        Track Volume                    : 100.00%
    ​	[Track1]        Image Width                     : 1280
    ​	[Track1]        Image Height                    : 720
    ​	[Track1]        Graphics Mode                   : ditherCopy
    ​	[Track1]        Op Color                        : 32768 32768 32768
    ​	[Track1]        Compressor ID                   : avc1
    ​	[Track1]        Vendor ID                       : Apple
    ​	[Track1]        Source Image Width              : 1280
    ​	[Track1]        Source Image Height             : 720
    ​	[Track1]        X Resolution                    : 72
    ​	[Track1]        Y Resolution                    : 72
    ​	[Track1]        Compressor Name                 : H.264
    ​	[Track1]        Bit Depth                       : 24
    ​	[Track2]        Matrix Structure                : 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1
    ​	[Track2]        Media Header Version            : 0
    ​	[Track2]        Media Create Date               : 2014:05:11 04:50:09
    ​	[Track2]        Media Modify Date               : 2014:05:11 05:31:53
    ​	[Track2]        Media Time Scale                : 44100
    ​	[Track2]        Media Duration                  : 0:41:43
    ​	[Track2]        Balance                         : 0
    ​	[Track2]        Handler Class                   : Data Handler
    ​	[Track2]        Handler Type                    : Alias Data
    ​	[Track2]        Handler Vendor ID               : Apple
    ​	[Track2]        Handler Description             : Apple Alias Data Handler
    ​	[Track2]        Audio Format                    : mp4a
    ​	[Track2]        Audio Channels                  : 2
    ​	[Track2]        Audio Bits Per Sample           : 16
    ​	[Track2]        Purchase File Format            : mp4a
    ​	[XMP-x]         XMP Toolkit                     : Adobe XMP Core 5.6-c111 79.158325, 2015/09/10-01:10:20
    ​	[XMP-xmp]       Create Date                     : 2014:05:11 04:50:09Z
    ​	[XMP-xmp]       Modify Date                     : 2016:01:09 20:30:03-05:00
    ​	[XMP-xmp]       Metadata Date                   : 2016:01:09 20:30:04-05:00
    ​	[XMP-xmpDM]     Video Alpha Mode                : None
    ​	[XMP-xmpDM]     Audio Sample Rate               : 44100
    ​	[XMP-xmpDM]     Audio Sample Type               : Compressed
    ​	[XMP-xmpDM]     Audio Channel Type              : Stereo
    ​	[XMP-xmpDM]     Video Frame Rate                : 29.970030
    ​	[XMP-xmpDM]     Duration Value                  : 1502300
    ​	[XMP-xmpDM]     Duration Scale                  : 0.00166666666666667
    ​	[XMP-xmpDM]     Video Frame Size W              : 1280
    ​	[XMP-xmpDM]     Video Frame Size H              : 720
    ​	[XMP-xmpDM]     Video Frame Size Unit           : pixel
    ​	[XMP-xmpMM]     Instance ID                     : xmp.iid:f876396c-36cd-46bb-8e10-198ec05bf13c
    ​	[XMP-xmpMM]     Document ID                     : xmp.did:0b184efa-54f1-404a-91a9-e1a5be69375d
    ​	[XMP-xmpMM]     Original Document ID            : xmp.did:0b184efa-54f1-404a-91a9-e1a5be69375d
    ​	[XMP-xmpMM]     History Action                  : saved, saved
    ​	[XMP-xmpMM]     History Instance ID             : xmp.iid:4b09e22c-62ee-4df5-b4c0-c6ae3db78df7, xmp.iid:f876396c-36cd-46bb-8e10-198ec05bf13c
    ​	[XMP-xmpMM]     History When                    : 2016:01:09 20:30:03-05:00, 2016:01:09 20:30:04-05:00
    ​	[XMP-xmpMM]     History Software Agent          : Adobe Premiere Pro CC (Macintosh), Adobe Premiere Pro CC (Macintosh)
    ​	[XMP-xmpMM]     History Changed                 : /, /metadata
    ​	[Composite]     Avg Bitrate                     : 10.6 Mbps
    ​	[Composite]     Image Size                      : 1280x720
    ​	[Composite]     Megapixels                      : 0.922
    ​	[Composite]     Rotation                        : 0
    ​	$
    
  6. Switch back to FCP X. No red media missing icon! Perhaps FCP X is working off the audio and video track lengths themselves, which did not change (as the ExifTool printouts showed). Modified file still linked and scrubs in FCP X

A Whole New World

While it’d be nice to know which version of FCP X finally became immune to embedded XMP metadata changes, the fact is 10.2.2 now is. Doing so opens a fresh range of possibilities for those organizing footage and roundtripping the Adobe and Apple ecosystems.

Some people wait a lifetime for a moment like this.

Indescribable feelings.

Hit the road, Jack!

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