Export XML Files to Safely Future-Proof Media Projects Using Premiere or Final Cut

Posted on by Larry

For long-term archiving, I strongly recommend you export an XML version of every project you want to save – whether you are using Adobe Premiere Pro or Apple Final Cut Pro.

Project files are proprietary, XML files are designed for transfer and archiving. Protect yourself.

NOTE: Just as an example, FCP 7 projects can only be opened by FCP 7 (which can’t be opened at all these days). However, XML files exported from FCP 7 can be opened in a variety of applications today.


XML files are designed for transferring files and data between applications. These text files are very small, and readable by a wide variety of applications.

If you open an XML file in the same application that created it, virtually all your project data should be safe. It is only when transferring XML data that some project data may be lost due to differences between the two applications.

However, XML files do NOT contain media and, if you are moving XML files between applications from different developers, not all data will transfer. Media files and edits, for example, safely transfer while most effects do not.

Always archive your projects, and, for protection, also archive an XML of the same project. As well, because XML does NOT contain media, you will need to archive media files separately.



Here’s a typical project in FCP; though short, this can easily illustrate the export process. It contains video and audio clips, transitions, titles and captions.

An XML (eXtensible Markup Language) file contains pointers to all clips, but not the actual media, as well as settings for just about everything in the project file.

Select the project in either the Timeline or the Browser, then choose File > Export XML. In the resulting dialog, give the XML file a name and storage location. Then, click OK.

NOTE: Be sure to always pick the latest version of XML (Version 1.9 in this screen shot).

In just a few seconds, an XML file is created. XML is a language similar to HTML that you see on many web pages, that explains exactly how the project was created, but doesn’t contain any media. It just contains all the different settings applied to each clip.

NOTE: For long-term archiving, I strongly recommend you save an XML version of every project you want to save. For example, we can convert FCP 7 XML projects easily today, but can’t convert a single FCP 7 project. XML is a long-term archiving format.

NOTE: XML files are just text files. You can open them with TextEdit and see what’s inside; for example the screen shot above is from my project. The good news is that you don’t need to understand how to read an XML file in order to use it.

At this point, the XML file is complete and ready for archiving.


Here’s a typical project in Premiere. Note that it has audio and video clips on multiple tracks, transitions, and titles. While this is a short sequence it will serve to show how the export process works.

Select the sequence you want to export.

NOTE: You can, if you want, export an XML file of the entire Premiere project. However, I tend to export the specific sequences that I need.

Choose File > Export > Final Cut XML.

First, Premiere simplifies the XML associated with this sequence, then opens a dialog where you can give the XML file a name and storage location.

NOTE: I tend to store XML files on the desktop while I am working with them, to make them easier to find, then move them into a dedicated location after the export is complete. This isn’t required, it’s just how I work.

Premiere generates, then exports an XML file to the location you specify.

Next, it creates a Translation Report of anything that won’t successfully translate.

Here’s what the Translation Report looks like for this sequence. Your Report will look different, depending on the contents of your sequence.

At this point, you can quit Premiere Pro CC. We are done with it.

The last step is to find a safe home to store your XML files. Oh! And be sure to give them a file name that allows you to find them again in the future.

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2 Responses to Export XML Files to Safely Future-Proof Media Projects Using Premiere or Final Cut

  1. Dennis Mahaffay says:

    This is very helpful and important, Larry. Thank you!

    • Larry says:


      I agree. Look how easy it would have been to save an XML file in FCP 7 when we finished editing it; yet how difficult it is to access any FCP 7 projects today.

      Plus, XML files are tiny, so they can fit anywhere.


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