How to get audio with handles & source media from Final Cut X to Pro Tools (for free).

I couldn’t find any all encompassing instructions on how to do this with handles/with source media actually getting exported/without X2Pro (which costs more than I want to spend.) So, here some are!

How to get an .aaf file with 10 second handles, an .mxf file with source media (so you can send to Pro Tools on a different computer), and a video reference file:

  1. Export an XML from Final Cut. The internet already has instructions on how to do this.
  2. Download DaVinci Resolve. The free version is fine. Import your XML that you exported from Final Cut. (Note that I’m writing this using DaVinci version 14. Other versions may differ.)
  3. You will be tempted to go file → export AAF. That’s no good because source media will not be exported. Rather:
  4. In the rocket ship icon area in DaVinci, under the render settings there is an AVID AAF setting, and a Pro Tools setting. We actually want the AVID AAF setting, not Pro Tools. (The Pro Tools setting does not seem to have an option for adding handles, while the AVID AAF does. I bet this will get changed in future versions of DaVinci. I’m writing this using version 14.)
  5. Under the AVID AAF settings, in the video area, go to the advanced settings. At the bottom, there is an option for frame handles. Add 300 (or however many your sound person wants — 300 should get you ~10 seconds). Uncheck the “export video” option. This keeps the export from being huger than necessary. And Pro Tools can’t read the .mxf video files anyway (as far as I can tell).
  6. This render will export an .aaf file with handles, along with an .mxf with audio source media. Pro Tools will need both.

Now for the video reference file:

  1. Under the “custom” render settings in DaVinci, render out a “Single clip” (Individual clips is what is automatically marked — we don’t want that) of a QuickTime Apple ProRes 422.
  2. Leave “export audio” checked under the audio section.

Bam. Now we have an .aaf with handles on the audio, an .mxf with source media, as well as a video file that Pro Tools can read!

(In Pro Tools, import the .aaf session data as usual. It should point to the .mxf file automatically, and then generate an Audio Files folder of its own:)

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