Tips on creating Final Cut Pro XML

Generating subtitles for FCP is a convoluted process. InqScribe’s documentation covers the basic process in brief; we’ll try to sketch in some of the details and offer some troubleshooting advice here.


1. Not All Generators Work

The first thing to note is that InqScribe can only generate subtitles for a subset of available text generators. Here’s the list of generators that have been shown to work:

  • Text
  • Scrolling Text
  • Outline Text
  • Typewriter
  • Crawl
  • Subtitle (from Digital Heaven)

Generators known //not// to work include the BorisFX family as well as Lower Third. This is because these generators do not store subtitle text in a format that InqScribe can generate.

2. Not All Effects Work

If you're using any of the following effects in your FCP Template XML file, please remove them and try exporting again:

  • Motion Blur
  • Drop Shadow

3. Watch Your Line Breaks

As far as we can tell, FCP will not soft wrap subtitle text. (At least, not with the text generators listed above.) That means that you need to ensure that hard line breaks are in the right place within InqScribe before you export to FCP.

A tip here is to set the font and size of your transcript to what you’ll use within FCP for your subtitles. Then set the width of the transcript window to the width of the subtitle region you plan to use in your video. That will give you a rough approximation of where you’ll need hard line breaks.

4. FCP does not support timecodes > 12 hrs.

Make sure the timecodes you’re using do not result in a relative time difference greater than 12 hours. For example, in InqScribe if your media start time is set to [00:00:00.00] but you’re using timecodes like [13:21:15.15], the XML generated by InqScribe will have timecodes > 12 hrs. When you import these into FCP, you’ll get errors like this:

: Unable to edit "Text" into "Template_InqScribe".( line 1 )

And you might find your transcript text is only 1 frame long.

The solution is to set the start time of your media files to 0:00:00.00 and adjust the timecodes to be relative to 0.

5. Bug: timecode error message when exporting > 1 hr transcript without a media file.

The error message "Export Error: OUT is earlier than IN" usually indicates that you have an out-of-order timecode somewhere in your transcript. However, if your timecodes appear to be in order and your transcript meets the following specific set of conditions, you might be encountering an identified bug:

  • No media file loaded into the project
  • At least one timecodes past the [01:00:00.00] mark
  • No final "out" timecode

The issue is that, if InqScribe doesn't have a media file from which to determine the end time of the file, it assumes by default the final frame should be [01:00:00.00]. It then uses [01:00:00.00] as the final "out" timecode, which triggers the "OUT is earlier than IN" error if you have valid timecodes past the 1 hour mark.

Luckily, this issue is relatively easy to fix. At the end of your transcript, simply insert an "out" timecode after the final subtitle. This way, InqScribe will know the correct time to stop displaying your last subtitle. For example, If your last line looks like this:

[01:00:10:23] The End

...just add a final timestamp, like this:

[01:00:10:23] The End [01:00:12:00]

We're working on a solution that either prevents InqScribe from assuming [01:00:00.00] is the final frame, or at least gives a more detailed error message of the problem.


Here are our FCP troubleshooting strategies.  If you're having trouble, we recommend following these troubleshooting steps in order to pinpoint the problem.

1. Try an HTML Export

This can be useful if you’re able to load an XML file into FCP, but the subtitles aren’t showing up where you thought they would.

An HTML export is a quick way to verify that InqScribe is breaking your transcript up in the way that you expect. Make sure that “Export OUT points” is checked, since this mimics how FCP XML exports are parsed. Export the file, and open it in your browser.

2. Try “Save Subtitled QuickTime Movie…”

If you have timecode errors in your transcript, you may have problems importing into FCP. Use InqScribe’s “Save Subtitled QuickTime Movie…” feature (in the “File” menu) to test your subtitles. If there are timecodes that are repeated or out of order, the Save Subtitled QuickTime Movie feature will generate a report for you. Fix the timecodes and try saving the subtitled movie again until InqScribe doesn’t report any errors, then do your FCP XML export again.

3. Try using the InqScribe FCP XML Template

First see if you can export a FCP XML using the default template that comes with InqScribe. Can you then import this file into FCP? Are the subtitles appearing at the right times?

If you’re not seeing individual subtitles with our template, the problem may have to do with how InqScribe is breaking your transcript into separate entries.

4. Try changing out one thing at a time in your FCP XML Template

If you were able to successfully use the InqScribe FCP XML Template, then we know that your transcript is fine, and that the export/import process to FCP works, and that the problem is most likely with the FCP XML Template file you're using.  

We know, for example, that the Motion Blur and Drop Shadow effects do not work and can break the import/export process.

Try modifying just one thing at a time (for example, you can copy sections/settings from your FCP xml export file to the InqScribe FCP XML file), checking the export each time by importing it into fcp to make sure it works. If with one change you find that things break, then that'll point you to where the problem is. 

An alternative approach is to work backwards -- compare the default InqScribe XML to your XML, and just remove the most egregious differences from the FCP version and see if it fixes the problem.

5. Try the "Text" Generator

If you’re having trouble with a text/subtitle generator not on the generator list shown above, try creating a custom template using the default Text video generator. If you can get this to work, and your preferred generator isn’t working, there may be a fundamental compatibility problem. Send us sample files (see the next step) and we’ll let you know if there’s a solution.

6. Send Us Sample Files

Finally, if you’re still stumped, send us some sample files and we’ll see what we can do. Here’s what we need to see:

  • The original InqScribe transcript (e.g. sample.inqscr).
  • The file you exported from FCP and want to use as a template (e.g. fromFCP.xml).
  • The FCP XML file InqScribe exported using the two files shown above.
  • A screenshot of any errors you see.
  • A screenshot of your FPC project with the problem files.
  • A screenshot of your InqScribe transcript (scrolled to the first line, ideally)

It would also help if you could describe what happens when you try to import the file into FCP and where the process is breaking down.

If you're interested in learning more about how InqScribe power users work with Final Cut Pro, check out the following posts from our