Sock Media Library

Many of us collect media, not templates or plugins, that we use occasionally (or often) to enhance our post-production work. These are usually video clips, photos, graphics, or audio such as music or sound effects. I personally have collected a ton of this stuff over the years, and have recently started to go through it all and cull out what is no longer useful, such as standard definition video, lower quality media, etc.

Some examples of stock media would be MotionVFX’s mFlare or mFog, or background animations from VideoBlocks, or music clips and sound effects from AudioBlocks. Again, these are stand alone pieces of media, not Motion templates or plugins for Final Cut Pro X.

Thus, the issue comes up of how to organize and store them. I’ve seen a variety of ways to do this, but here is how I personally prefer to work. It’s easy, flexible and always available in any project I work with.


Finder Organization Comes First
I always organize my stock media in the Finder first. On the Pegasus P2 R4 RAID5 I use for my media and Libraries, I have a folder called “Stock Media”. Inside there I create a folder for each company I purchase stock media from. Inside of that company’s folder will be folders designated for each product name and download my purchased media package into there.

For example, If I purchase mSmoke from Motion VFX, it would go into this folder path; Stock Media > MotionVFX > mSmoke.

Some packages like mFog come in sub-folders, which I keep intact (see image below).

Having everything laid out in an orderly manner in the Finder makes most of my organizational work inside FCPX a lot easier, as you’re about to see. This also allows me to update media collections, add to them and delete them much easier.


The Stock Media Library
Then I go into Final Cut Pro X and create a Library called “Stock Media”. This Library is saved to the Stock Media folder I created above. One of the biggest advantages to having a single stock Library is that when I use these elements in other Libraries on the same drive (which is 90% of the time on my system), FCPX creates links, which use next to no space at all. There is no duplication of media anywhere, and I don’t have to go importing it over and over and over overtime I need it.

For more information on links,
click here and watch “How FCPX Uses UNIX Links”.

This is where media management can get really subjective. I’m only offering what I do as a guide. And I have exceptions to my own management rules. Take what I do, and use the concepts to create a media management scheme that works for your stock footage.

So I double-click my Stock Library and inside of Final Cut Pro X, I hit Command-i to open the Import Window. There I select a specific company’s folder in the Finder, set “Create New Event” in my Stock Media Library, and name the Event after the company. Then I’d set import to “Leave In Place” and to make Keywords from folders.

If you’re adding to an existing Event, you don’t need to create a new one, obviously. What I end up with is a Library, an Event called, for example, “Pond 5” and keywords for each package I’ve purchased from them.

Stock Media Library

Exceptions & Flexibility
I do have exceptions to all of this. For example, I have really old stuff I don’t remember where it came from. I have stuff I created myself. In these cases I make folder called Misc Stuff or Old Stuff, and in it make sub-folders that categorizes that media into genres; Light (flares, leaks, flashes and the like), Vapor (fog, smoke, whispy stuff), Music, etc. I do the same with stock media I created myself. I don’t create much of my own overlays anymore, but there was a time I needed to do a lot because what I needed wasn’t for sale, or was way too expensive. Things have changed a lot and you can find pretty much anything at a reasonable price.

I also make an exception for when I import stock media that comes in very large, subdivided catalogs. MotionVFX is a prime example. I simply make a new Event for each package, then import each package using the sub-folders as keywords.

And I’ll put several keywords into Folders for more compact organization. Rampant Design is a good example of this. I’ve gotten a lot from them over the years, and a lot of it is very similar. So I group similar keyword collections into Folders such as; Film Effects, Arrows, Backgrounds, etc.

A Step Further
I also take my organization a step further on occasions. I sometimes make other keyword collections with descriptive titles to assign groups of media, beyond the Finder’s folder structure I made. I may group these into Folders, also, if it helps. You can get as extensive as you want. Remember, we’re not making Bins here, we’re building a flexible, easy database we can find what we need quickly without hassle.


iTunes, Photos & Multiple Libraries
I used to use iTunes for my stock music and sound effects. I created a Playlist to group them all in. But eventually that got quite large, and iTunes won’t allow me to sub-group in any way. So I moved all of that into the Finder folder system described in this blog post. I think if your stock music collection is small, iTunes can be an easy way to go. But for larger collections, just put it all in organized folders in the Stock Media folder and import with “Leave In Place”.

As for the Apple Photos app, I’ve very mixed feelings about it, and I don’t store any video there, except simple, personal stuff that really does belong to a specific life event with all of the photos I took at the same time. When I do my drone work, or other work where I’m taking photos and video for a production, everything goes into that production’s Library. The stock photos I have, go into my Stock Media folder just like everything else. Photos doesn’t let me organize the way I need to in FCPX, which makes this really fast and easy.

I honestly do not find the way the iTunes and Photos library systems work to be very compatible with how we do things in FCPX, so I leave them all separate as much as possible. But again, you may find exceptions or other ways that work better for you, personally.

If you find you have too much music and too many stock photos, then make three Libraries; Stock Photos, Stock Audio and Stock Visuals (which includes video, graphics, animations). Be creative, be flexible, use what works.

The Media Browsers
In FCPX there are media browsers for photos and audio and such and there are tricks some folks pull in the Finder to make their stock media show up in them. It’s too much like work for me. I don’t want to “trick” the Finder and FCPX into doing things like that. If you’re so inclined to work that way, go for it, that’s great. For the rest of us, I’d say leave it alone, make a Stock Library, it works, it’s easy.


Culling Out Obsolete Media
The time comes with something is out of style or out of date in some way so badly it simply needs to be put to pasture and die. Very simple; go to your Stock Media Library inside FCPX, find that media, right-click and choose Reveal In Finder. Once you see it in the Finder, right-click and chose Send To Trash. Once back in FCPX, right-click again and choose Move To Trash, OK the warning, done! I don’t go to the Finder to remove the media, I do it from inside FCPX so I can get both the physical hard drive copy, and the FCPX virtual copy both deleted at once, in one place. It’s more efficient and I don’t get side tracked and forget one or the other. Which later leaves you with “Missing Media” warnings you’ll get confused by.

There are lots of ways to organize stock media. This is one example. If it works for you, good, but don’t hesitate to elaborate on it and evolve it to your personal needs and work style. Or create your own system from scratch. I hope there was some information here that was helpful.