Tag Editing

Tag Editing

Apple Presos from LACPUG – Final Cut Pro X 10.3

December 13, 2016 Tags: , , , , ,
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FCPWORKS was honored to co-produce a very special LACPUG event with Michael Horton featuring Apple itself presenting the latest features of Final Cut Pro X 10.3 and the new MacBook Pro with Touch Bar. This took place on November 30, 2016 at the Barnsdall Gallery Theatre in Hollywood.

First up, this clip showcases tons of new features and workflows with Final Cut Pro X 10.3 being used in the production of a profile of Japanese botanical artist, Azuma Makoto:

Use these links to see a specific highlight:

Next, this clip showcases 10 tips and tricks for Final Cut Pro X 10.3:

Use these links to jump to a specific tip:

  1. MXF Wrapped ProRes
  2. Continuous Playback
  3. Fade Handles
  4. Searching for Metadata types in the Timeline Index
  5. Dual Rolling Trim for Connected Clips
  6. Fast Vertical Navigation
  7. Multi-clip trim to Start,End,Playhead
  8. Source Timecode Effect
  9. Use iXML to Automatically Create Audio Roles
  10. Voice Over Automatically Assigns Role
  11. Full Height Inspector

Ok technically that was taking it to 11 tips…

Following the Apple Presentation, our own Sam Mestman presented a comprehensive soup to nuts Final Cut Pro X shared storage workflow featuring the Lumaforge Jellyfish. To see that video, please visit this link.

FCPWORKS couldn’t be more proud to help showcase not only Final Cut Pro X itself but also some of the behind-the-scenes stars from Apple itself demonstrating the software’s awesome capabilities. Bookmark this site for the latest FCPX workflows and news. To learn more about FCPWORKS and how we can help you, please visit this page.

final cut pro x 10.3

Recommended Editing Books for Final Cut Pro X and more

November 14, 2016 Tags: , , , ,
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Here’s a list of recommended editing books to help you become a better editor.

Recommended Books for Editors

Are you brand new to editing or a seasoned pro? Perhaps your skills lie somewhere in between. Regardless of where you might be in terms of experience, everyone can benefit from additional knowledge and you don’t have to go to film school to really educate yourself. Here are some of Noah Kadner from FCPWORKS’ favorite picks for books to help you master both the art and craft of editing.

Final Cut Pro X-Specific Editing Books

Let’s begin with some key books on the subject of editing with Final Cut Pro X itself. Of course these aren’t updated to 10.3 just yet as it’s so new. However, in terms of overall workflow and editorial philosophy these are all still highly useful and valid:

Final Cut Pro X 10.2

Apple Pro Training Series: Final Cut Pro X 10.2: Professional Post-Production
By Brendon Boykin

Brendon’s book is awesome (I love working with this guy) and chock full of tips gleaned from years of working both with X and with previous iterations of Final Cut Pro. You can also use this as a workbook toward becoming Apple Certified as a Final Cut Pro professional or even a trainer. Study well though, that final exam is quite tricky!

Final Cut Pro X: Pro Workflow: Proven Techniques from the First Studio Film to Use FCP X

Final Cut Pro X: Pro Workflow: Proven Techniques from the First Studio Film to Use FCP X
By Michael Matzdorff

Mike was an assistant editor and full-bore post-production guru for Focus, the 2015 Will Smith movie which had the honor of being the first major Hollywood movie edited in Final Cut Pro X. This is a deep dive into Mike’s editing room where he shares his tips and tricks for handling all of the deliverables you may run into while making a complex project with FCPX. I fondly recall Mike working his tail off on this tome, it’s a labor of love for craft.

From iMovie to Final Cut Pro X: Making the Creative Leap

From iMovie to Final Cut Pro X: Making the Creative Leap
by Tom Wolsky

This book is still in the hopper but I’ve known Tom for so long and trusted his every word in regard to Final Cut Pro, that I suspect this book will be the real deal. FCPX sometimes gets knocked as ‘iMovie Pro’ but experienced users know there’s much more to it than that. That said, many new editors come to FCPX as a stepping stone up from iMovie. Tom’s book is aimed squarely at them. Tom’s previous iteration of this book has 5 stars on Amazon…

 

History of Editing Books/Traditional Filmmaking

So now that we have the mechanics out of the way, let’s delve more into the artistry. These are books from seasoned filmmakers haring their decades of knowledge. Although post-production technology is in a constant state of evolution, the deeper thinking behind the creative calls goes largely unchanged. Here are some of the best both in terms of the authors’ movie credits and their innate ability to spin magic from the barest building blocks of production:

In the Blink of an Eye: A Perspective on Film Editing

In the Blink of an Eye: A Perspective on Film Editing
By Walter Murch

Walter is the grandaddy guru of editors and until recently a huge proponent of Final Cut Pro. Perhaps the latest 10.3 update will help bring him back into the fold.

The Conversations: Walter Murch and the Art of Editing Film

The Conversations: Walter Murch and the Art of Editing Film
By Michael Ondaatje

Walter again, this time collaborating with writer Michael Ondaatje give a master class discussion of the artistic tenets of his movies and storytelling approach. Along the way, you’ll receive a treasure trove of insight into classics like American Graffiti, The Conversation, Apocalypse Now, The Godfather Saga, The Talented Mr. Ripley and The English Patient.

Rebel without a Crew: Or How a 23-Year-Old Filmmaker With $7,000 Became a Hollywood Player

Rebel without a Crew: Or How a 23-Year-Old Filmmaker With $7,000 Became a Hollywood Player
By Robert Rodriguez

Though Robert Rodriguez’s focus was initially more on low budget production, a key aspect of of his success is shooting specifically for the edit. Mastering frugality in production will pay huge benefits once you get into the editing room.

On Directing Film

On Directing Film
By David Mamet

Mamet’s rapid fire dialogue style is not for everyone’s tastes but his renown as a screenwriter and filmmaker are hard to deny. Learn from his challenges and his triumphs.

Making Movies

Making Movies
By Sidney Lumet

Maybe you haven’t heard of Lumet’s varied directing credits including Twelve Angry Men, The Pawnbroker, Serpico, Dog Day Afternoon, Network, The Verdict and more. But you’ll be hard-pressed to find a smarter filmmaker who’s able to communicate all of his experiences and knowledge in such generous ways.

Story

Story
By Robert McKee
McKee is one of the most popular screenwriting teachers and the results speak for themselves. His graduates have written among other films: Air Force One, The Deer Hunter, E.R., A Fish Called Wanda, Forrest Gump, NYPD Blue, and Sleepless in Seattle.

Film Directing Shot by Shot: Visualizing from Concept to Screen

Film Directing Shot by Shot: Visualizing from Concept to Screen
by Steven D. Katz

Katz breaks down the visual language of filmmaking, specifically by treating the frame as a three-dimensional object ready to bend to the demands of your screenplay. Via mastery of this language you can go well beyond spoken dialogue to communicate your story directly to your audience’s shared subconscious.

Respect for Acting 2nd Edition

Respect for Acting 2nd Edition
By Uta Hagen

Yes we said this list was about editing but if you’re cutting any sort of narrative project (or want to get the best out of documentary subjects) you need to know something about the process of acting in order to unlock the best possible performances during post. Uta’s method may be old school but this book is full of acting insights you can follow through into the cutting room.

Practice Makes (Almost) Perfect

Modern NLEs like Final Cut Pro X make it easier than ever to make a cut between two pieces of media. Knowing when and why to cut is the true art of editing. It’s a skill set that will serve you well on any NLE platform. We hope you’ve enjoyed our brief survey of books on editing and filmmaking. Please let us know if we’ve missed any of your favorites.

Zoom F8 and Zoom F4 Audio Recorder Review

November 11, 2016 Tags: , , , , ,
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FCPWORKS’ review of the Zoom F8 and Zoom F4 Multitrack Field Recorders and why they’re so awesome for Final Cut Pro X.

Zoom F8 and Zoom F4 Audio Recorder Review

A Final Cut Pro X Audio Powerhouse

Zoom’s F4 and F8 audio recorders offer some pretty amazing specifications and can create automatic audio subroles for Final Cut Pro X. When compared to higher-end timecode-enabled recorders like the Sound Devices 744T, which go for $4K and up they are actually a real bargain at $999 for the 8 (with 8 tracks)and $649 for the F4 (4 tracks).

Some key specs:

  • Up to 24-bit/192 kHz audio resolution.
  • Super-low-noise microphone preamps for professional audio.
  • Discrete, locking Neutrik XLR/TRS combo connectors for all kinds of wired and wireless mics.
  • Time code generation with 0.2 ppm accuracy (unheard of before in this price range or anywhere close).
  • Dual recording on two SD/SDHC/SDXC cards up to 512 GB each
  • Metal chassis that feels solid as a rock but weighs in at a very friendly 2.27 pounds.

For a closer look at the Zoom F4 and how it works, check out the official product video:

Starring Roles

What truly excites us about the F8 and F4 is their support for iXML metadata. With iXML you can name each track something useful on the Zoom and that name will automagically become a Final Cut Pro X subrole upon ingest into Final Cut Pro X 10.3 and up and can be visualized very clearly via the new Audio Lanes layouts in 10.3. Out of the box, each track is named intuitively enough Tr1, Tr2, Tr3 and so forth.

Tracks in Zoom F8

So even if you do nothing but hit record, you’ll automatically have each track neatly sorted in Final Cut Pro X from ingest through to final mixdown.

subrolesmenu

The one and only trick is making sure your Final Cut Pro X ingest preferences are set correctly for handling iXML metadata. To accomplish this, first launch the Media Import window with File>Import>Media. Then in the Audio Roles section click the checkbox for Assign iXML track names if available:

Ingest Assign Roles

Automated Mixing

So just think of the possibilities. Sure you could leave the Tr1, Tr2 nomenclature intact and be able to see all of those channels discretely in the timeline by activating audio lanes and getting the benefits of track assignments without having to actually organize them yourself. Or you could take it to a whole different level by adding more specificity.

Some suggestions for metadata track configuration:

  • Name for characters: Bob, Linda, Narrator, Doc Subject 1, etc.
  • Name by Mic Type: Lav 1, Boom 1, Wireless 1, etc.
  • Name by mix type: Direct 1, -10dB pad, etc.

The Zooms also allow you to do all sorts of bouncing of individual tracks to others for confidence recording at different pad levels and the like. There are really limitless possibilities and the best part is you can do this directly on the Zoom by editing the metadata via the built-in display. Or if you’re in a bit of a hurry to get into production, you can stick with the default track names and rename them as subroles in batches later within FCPX after ingest.

Subroles Timeline Index

Finishing with A Zoom

The bottom line is you get an incredible amount of metadata organization with the Zoom F4 and F8 because the iXML from the original tracks to subroles will continue to live on as you edit clips into sequences, nest into compound clips and the like. It’s like having an assistant sound editor working alongside you to quickly group and organize all your tracks— only everything happens automatically.

Roles Visualized in X

You can just focus on making good edits and when it’s time to do your exports- you can again use the subroles to quickly make sub-mixes and do exports with precisely the audio you want to hear in your final exports.

We think the Zoom F8 and Zoom F4 are essential pieces of kit for your Final Cut Pro X production package. They’re very easy to operate, record very high quality audio and are perfectly complementary to Final Cut Pro via the iXML to subrole ingest power.

Zoom F4

DJI Osmo Mobile Review for Final Cut Pro X

November 2, 2016 Tags: , , ,
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In this article, read our DJI Osmo Mobile Review and learn how to use it with Final Cut Pro X.

Going Steady

For those of us shooting and editing our own projects, there’s a constant tradeoff between compact, portable (and affordable) production gear and final image results. One production category that has seen a lot of innovation in recent years is camera stabilization— specifically 3-axis automated brushless gimbals.

These devices steady compact cameras (as well as smart phones) to produce incredibly smooth handheld shots, previously requiring a complex and expensive steadicam rig. Here’s a quick working definition from DroneFlyers:

The word gimbal can be used to describe any adjustable camera holder designed to keep the device level. It uses brushless motors (powerful and quiet as well as long lasting) to adjust the position of the camera. 3-axis describes that the camera is adjusted in all directions – up/down, left/right and forward/backward (3 dimensions or, as we call it, the real world).

And here’s a quick demo video to show what footage can look like with and without a stabilizer:

 

With that out of the way, let’s take a quick overview at some of the better known camera gimbals currently available:

•Quick Gimbal Survey

The Feiyu G4 Plus 3-Axis Brushless Handheld Gimbal is one of the more popular smartphone gimbals. It’s a bit unfriendly on the Mac side and is aimed more at the PC world as evidenced by the hoops you need to jump through in order to update the firmware. It doesn’t include it’s own iPhone app and when we get to the DJI Osmo later in this review you’ll understand why this is a problem.

Feiyu G4

However, the G4 can capture really nicely stabilized shots and the handle has the ability to shift into several modes combining roll and tilt with stabilization. Since it relies on the smartphone’s camera app you can shoot with the iPhone’s built-in camera app or grab one of the higher end ones like MoviePro. This is a greater starter rig to help get your head around what is possible with a gimbal.

If you prefer to shoot with a compact camera such as a GoPro instead of a smartphone, Feiyu also offers the Feiyu Tech G4 3-Axis Handheld Gimbal. This unit is slightly less expensive and simplified specifically for these smaller units vs. the G4 Plus. As it has no onboard app at all, your workflow route to Final Cut Pro X will depend on the camera itself and which format it shoots.

In terms of the GoPro to Final Cut Pro X workflow , you’re starting with highly compressed MPEG-4/H.264 files which are great for capture but pretty lousy for editorial. So you’ll want to follow a simple workflow: First copy the entire card structure to your system. Then ingest into Final Cut Pro X and optimize media.

•DJI Osmo Mobile Review

Finally, let’s look at the DJI Osmo. The first thing you’ll notice about the Osmo is the level of finish compared to a lot of other brushless gimbals. The Osmo is built like a tank and feels more like it belongs on the instrument cluster of a sports car rather than its selfie stick cousins.

DJI Osmo Mobile Review App

This is also trickle-down technology from DJI’s bread and butter drone/quadcopter products like the Mavic Pro. But what really sets the Osmo apart from the rest of the gimbal pack however is the app that comes with the product: DJI GO. This app is actually used for several of DJI’s products including the Osmo 4K which includes its own camera vs. a smartphone mount.

What’s awesome about the app is that it enables object tracking. This means you can select an object in the frame and while you move around it, the app will automagically control the gimbal to keep the position of that selected object centered. This means you can achieve super sophisticated multi-axis camera moves with very little effort.

DJI Go Object Tracking

DJI Go Object Tracking

You can achieve super sophisticated multi-axis camera moves with very little effort.

•Taking it for a spin

The Osmo Mobile includes hardware controls to start/stop video recording, shoot still frames, reset the gimbal to neutral and control pan/tilt.

DJI Osmo Mobile Review controls

DJI Osmo Mobile Onboard Controls

For this next portion of my review, I shot some video. In the following clip you can get a taste of how the Osmo operates both in stabilization mode and in object-tracking mode shooting in the highest 4K resolution my iPhone 7 can muster (then down-converted to 1080p for this demo). Take a look:

 

 

•Back to Final Cut Pro X

Once you’ve got your amazing shots, here’s where things got a little bit clunky but workflow is what we do. The DJI GO app is great for syncing up the gimbal to the video but you’ll need to jump through a few hoops to get those shots over to FCPX intact.

Using DJI Osmo footage in FCPX

Osmo footage back in Final Cut Pro X.

Number one concern is that DJI expects you to edit directly in the app. There’s a couple of issues with this: their editing functionality is super basic and barely good enough to slap a few clips together. Second and more importantly you’re taking a major hit in quality because you are unwrapping and rewrapping MPEG4 video in the editor and the resulting image quality.

So getting clips from the phone to your Mac is a little more cumbersome than it should be. GO stores each clip in its own library rather than automatically going into the phone’s photo library. And you have no other way to get shots out other than getting them to the phone library first. And instead of just multiple selecting of every clip you want to save in one step, you instead have to open each clip and manually hit save. Hopefully DJI will address this in an update.

DJI GO Save Image

Saving an image with DJI GO is a little painful.

Once the clips are saved to the device’s library you can get them onto your Mac the usual iOS ways. If you happen to be near your computer I highly recommend using AirDrop, it’s super fast and you’ll be ready to drop the results into FCPX right away and get cutting. Otherwise you could sync through Photos or even email yourself clips. And that’s about all there is to it.

Airdrop back in OS X

Airdrop back in OS X

•Executive Summary

Next-generation camera stabilization products like the DJO Osmo Mobile can add a huge level of production value to your video content. This can translate into higher satisfaction with your clients and the ability to produce better content than you previously thought possible. With just a little tweaking, you can make the footage available for use in Final Cut Pro X. It’s just a quick Amazon order away, give it a shot so to speak. If you do, please sound off in the comments.

MacBook Pro Storage Solutions for Final Cut Pro X 10.3

October 27, 2016 Tags: , , ,
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In this article, we’ll survey Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C professional MacBook Pro storage solutions for Final Cut Pro X 10.3.

The New Way

We’ve been here before: Apple removes a venerable interface standard in favor of innovation and elicits a spectrum of reactions. But let’s ask an honest question: do you in 2016 have a serious need for floppy drives, SCSI ports, CD-ROM burners or Firewire? Or have updated technologies taken their place and improved over their original function? For most of us, that answer is yes.

macbooks_powerbooks

•Bold Moves

With the 2016 MacBook Pro, Apple has taken its boldest leap yet (well maybe after that earphone jack on the iPhone). By removing the USB ports, Thunderbolt/Displayport ports, SDHC card slot, HDMI port, heck even the MagSafe power connector from the previous generation, Apple has gone all in with USB-C/Thunderbolt 3. You need to know that USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 in its native form is blazingly fast and opens up an incredibly versatile swath of options via dongles,hubs and adapters to connect to legacy devices.

USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 in its native form is blazingly fast and opens up an incredibly versatile swath of options via dongles, hubs and adapters to connect to legacy devices.

thunderbolt3

CNET wrote about the advantages of Thunderbolt 3 and here are some important factors to digest:

  • The Mini DisplayPort connection type has been ditched in favor of a USB-C connection type.
  • All Thunderbolt 3 cables will work as USB-C cables.
  • All USB-C cables will work as Thunderbolt 3 cables as long as they are good quality cables.
  • Thunderbolt 3 has a top data transfer speed of 40Gbps as long as the cable is 0.5m (1.6 ft.) or shorter.
  • For 1m (3.2 ft.) or longer cables, Thunderbolt 3 supports passive (cheaper) ones that have a top speed of 20Gbps, and active cables (more expensive) that retain the 40Gbps speed.
  • Thunderbolt 3 is backward-compatible with earlier versions of Thunderbolt, but due to the new port type, adapters are required to use legacy Thunderbolt devices.
  • Any USB-C device plugged into a Thunderbolt 3 port will function normally.
  • Since Thunderbolt 3 devices use discrete Thunderbolt chips to function, they will not function if plugged into a USB-C port.
  • All versions of Thunderbolt allow for daisy-chaining up to six devices together to a host and in addition to data, can also carry HD video and audio.

The key takeaway is you don’t need a huge box to hold multiple interface types anymore. This is one connector and one nice compact laptop to rule them all. So let’s dive in first to converters that get you USB-C on one end and just about any legacy device on the other.

•USB-C Adapter Options

The MacBook Pro is not the first Mac with pure USB-C ports. That honor goes to the 2015 MacBook, in many ways the spiritual predecessor to the MacBook Pro. This is a little ironic, as advanced features and interfaces generally debut on the flagship MacBook Pro and then trickle down to the Air/MacBook.

But as you know Apple likes to shake it up. So, that yearlong period since the USB-C MacBook’s debut has lead to a variety of USB-C adapters and hub you can use to greatly expand your interface options as well as support all of the gear you already have. Here are some of the better ones:

anker-premium-usb

Anker Premium USB-C Hub with Power Delivery is a tiny unit, styled to fit well with the MacBook Pro and focusing on greatly expanded USB-3 ports and power delivery. If you’re willing to go all in with USB-3 hard drives and many Thunderbolt 2 drives are multimode, this is a solid opening option that won’t set you back much.

usb-c-dock4-caldigit

CalDigit USB-C Docking Station promises full Thunderbolt 3 cross-compatibility and giving you MacBook Pro audio i/o, Ethernet USB 3.1, HDMI and more. As CalDigit is long known for being Mac-focused, the Docking Station will even connect to an Apple Superdrive for those legacy DVD and CD burns some of us still have to deliver.

hootooshuttle

The HooToo Shuttle 3.1, with its silver finish and rounded edges is clearly styled to look right at home next to Apple devices. It offers power passthrough, HDMI, USB-3, HDMI and SDHC ports. This would be a solid option for the traveling videographer/photographer as so many DSLRs and compact camcorders rely on MicroSD/SDHC cards.

apple-usb-c-multiport-adapter

Apple’s own Apple USB-C Digital AV Multiport Adapter succeeds mainly on its compactness. With just one port, charging and HDMI connectivity this is more aimed at increasing the relatively paltry amount of ports on the MacBook and probably not as useful for the MacBook Pro.

•MacBook Pro Storage Solutions In Depth

So now you can see the clear path toward leveraging your existing peripherals with your shiny new MacBook Pro. But let’s say you’re ready to make the leap into purpose built storage for higher levels of performance than previously possible.

•Thunderbolt 3 Native Solutions

•LaCie

LaCie is a storage provider long associated with Apple, you’ll find their stylish external Rugged and D2 Thunderbolt 2/USB-3 hard drives on the shelves at the Apple Store. For Thunderbolt 3, they’ve come up with the 12big Thunderbolt 3. As the name implies, this is a stack of 12 hard drive bays connected to a Thunderbolt 3 bus. You can count on this low footprint setup to achieve read speeds of up to 2600MB/s.

lacie-12big-thunderbolt-3

Of course the 12big is intended as a single user, direct attached storage device. So if you’re of the lone gun variety of producer this is right in your wheelhouse, as opposed to a larger workgroup needing to share. You can daisy chain up to 6 12bigs to each other via Thunderbolt 3, which results in a whopping 576TB of total very high speed storage space.

•Promise Pegasus 3

Promise’s Pegasus line of RAIDS has always been among the top-rated go to direct attached storage solutions and is perfectly suited to Final Cut Pro X. With the Pegasus3 and SANLink3, Promise has upped the ante to full Thunderbolt 3 compatibility, for up to 40 Gbps throughput.

pegasus3-thunderbolt-3

Let’s unpack that for just a second. 40 Gbps throughput is a doubling from Thunderbolt 2’s 20 Gbps throughput. In practical terms we like to think of streams. The R2 was already capable of multiple 4K ProRes streams in Final Cut Pro X. With the doubling of throughput we can only expect to see a nice bump on the number of streams with the R3. That means more angles of multicam, more live effects/filters, you name it.

•Symply

It would be impossible to mention Promise on the one hand without mentioning its newly merged partner Symply on the other. Symply launched in April at NAB but a lot of its team members hail from the likes of Quantum, Active Storage and even the original Apple Xserve team. With that kind of pedigree you’d expect some next level products in the mix and Symply has done its homework.

Symply Share

Of interest to the Final Cut Pro X editor are the SymplySTOR and SymplySHARE  solutions which are tailored to function both as single user direct attached storage and as shareable NAS network devices, both leveraging the full power of the Thunderbolt 3 standard. Check out a video about Symply here.

Think of the SymplySTOR as a Pegasus on steroids with Thunderbolt 2 and 3 connectivity, easy device management via iOS/Apple Watch apps and up 64TB of RAID storage. Intended as an onsite ingest and edit/DI playout solution, SymplySTOR brings robust performance ready to roll to the new MacBook Pro. SymplySHARE takes that power to the next level by connecting it to the network as a modular dock for the SymplySTOR.

SymplySHARE enables up to 8 Thunderbolt 2/3 workstations and 20 10Gb IP clients to share a single or dual SymplySTOR units over a network. With Xsan and StorNext protocols, the SymplySHARE brings enterprise class performance much more into the reach of small and mid-sized production teams. If you are running a production facility that’s been used to sneaknet and NAS level performance, this is a way to get almost all of the power of very high end SAN solutions at a fraction of the price.

•Thunderbolt 2/Ethernet Solutions

•Lumaforge Jellyfish

Lumaforge is another newish player to the storage business with an intriguing Final Cut Pro X pedigree. Created by our own Sam Mestman and backed up by his formidable expertise in Final Cut Pro X. Jellyfish is highly optimized for the app (though not limited to it). With ShareClient, a custom volume mounting app, Jellyfish is designed to be as easy to setup as a directed attached drive while offering the sharing power and flexibility of a NAS solution.

LumaForge Jellyfish

The Jellyfish 4K variant is rated for simultaneous 1600 MB/s (12.5 Gbps) reads across a mix of 10GbE and 1GbE connections while simultaneously ingesting over a 10GbE connection with no interruptions in playback. While this is well below Thunderbolt 3’s 40 Gbps throughput in practice it’s well within the parameters for sufficient 4K ProRes streams for multiple Ethernet connected users simultaneously. Sam’s provided a friends & family discount: just mention FCPWORKS to receive 10% off any Lumaforge system. More info here.

•QNAP

QNAP’s TVS-882T is a hybrid NAS/DAS that channels the Thunderbolt connection as a network interface, providing connectivity across the network. It does interfere with other Thunderbolt traffic on the same bus. So if you are planning to use this model for shared storage it needs to be on a MacPro with its multiple Thunderbolt ports. Check out our article about those ports for more details.

QNAP 882

On the subject of workflow, the QNAP is a great deal for the money and offers the promise of a NAS in a Thunderbolt case. Configuring the network share for OSX/FCPX is not the easiest setup in the world but you only have to do it once.

That’s just a taste of what is out there and more to come on the horizon on the connectivity front for the new MacBook Pro and Final Cut Pro X.

The USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 interface standard for the MacBook Pro is a clean slate for content producers.

•The Bottom Line

The USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 interface standard for the MacBook Pro is a clean slate for content producers. If you are interested in upgrading your performance to the next generation there’s plenty to work with here and much more to come. Whether you’re at the one-person band, multiuser enterprise facility level or somewhere in between- this single laptop can become your high speed content creation hub. We hope you found our guide to MacBook Pro storage solutions informative and we’ll continue to update it as new Thunderbolt 3/USB-C gear appears. Please sound off in the comments.

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FCP X 10.2.3 is out, here’s how to get the most from it.

February 4, 2016 Tags: , , ,
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•Customizable Default Video/Audio Effect
Now with audio and video as separate customizable effects. The default audio and video effects are EQ and color corrector out of the box. So if you happen to have a different favorite audio or video filter you’d like to choose as your default and apply via a keyboard shortcut you’ll be all set. Keyboard shortcuts are ⌥⌘E for Add Default Audio Effect, and ⌥E for Add Default Video Effect.

•Faster Performance for Libraries on a SAN
This is a mighty feat of engineering that has been desired since Final Cut X was first released way back in 2011. If you’re not working in a shared environment with other editors this is not something you care about.

This feature opens up huge new workflow potential and is a major leap forward toward X’s viability in more enterprise grade post/broadcast environments.

However if you do work across a SAN, this is really critical. It now means Libraries can be kept on a SAN volume without the performance hit normally associated with it that forces many users to keep Libraries on local volumes. This feature opens up huge new workflow potential and is a major leap forward toward X’s viability in more enterprise grade post/broadcast environments.

El Capitan FCPX Timecode
Timecode Display is (finally!) Fixed in El Capitan
Ok this one may not be that sexy. But if you’re using X day in and day out in the latest version of OS X you’re looking at the TC display constantly. You want this…

•Canon XF-AVC import from the Canon C300 Mark II
Canon’s C300 cameras are incredibly popular in the episodic, broadcast and event videographer world. The more native support in FCPX the better.

•Ability to Share video to different YouTube accounts
If you’re on a shared system or you run multiple YouTube accounts, it’s great to not have to re-enter share credentials every time you want to export direct. For the YouTube stars of the world this will be a major time-saver.

•4K Support for more current Apple Devices
Again, another no-brainer for those of us who like to screen completed projects looking their best on iPhone/iPad. Having native Share support directly in FCPX means optimal image quality format. The iPad Pro’s screen is especially well suited to showing off 4K originated footage. It’s truly a golden age for playback.

avc-longG
•Support for more Video Formats
Yep, let’s rejoice in AVC-LongG, XAVC, and XF-AVC. These are formats used in HD/4K for cameras from Canon, Panasonic and Sony. The camera makers constantly like to reinvent new flavors of codecs for their gear. Wish they’d all just get along to ProRes and be happy but until that day comes let’s shoot up cheers to see support in FCPX catching up to what the cameras are shooting as quick as possible.

•Tons of bug fixes and performance improvements
In our bays, FCPX has been remarkably stable and fluid for a number of versions now. It’s great to see the FCPX team keeping vigilant on squashing remaining bugs and increasing overall stability. With each new release X gets more robust and battle-ready.

Hold off on updating until you’re about to begin a new Project for the easiest transition.

•The Bottom Line
We recommend of course as always, don’t do an update in the middle of a project if you can wait. Hold off on updating until you’re about to begin a new Project for the easiest transition. Our kudos to the FCPX team for hitting another major milestone. Now about that Send to Motion…

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

FCPWORKS Noah Kadner

FCPWORKS Noah Kadner

This blog post contains the personal musings of FCPWORKS’ Marketing Director, Noah Kadner. Prior to joining the company, Noah spent several years at Apple where he worked with internal Workflow and Editorial teams in support of Final Cut Pro X customers. Noah also directed a feature film available on iTunes called Social Guidance and wrote “RED: The Ultimate Guide to the Revolutionary Camera.” Noah’s ongoing career goal is communicating digital post-production workflows to experts and enthusiasts alike.You can follow him on Facebook or Twitter at @FCPWORKS.

News Graphics Plugin from Idustrial Revolution

October 19, 2015 Tags: , , , , , , ,
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Here’s a news story about the XEffects News Graphics plug-in from our good friends over at Idustrial Revolution and FxFactory. You know exactly what these look like because you see them all day long on TV monitors in airports, restaurants, hotel lobbies and in the comfort of your own home. Check out this sample of what News Graphics ($49) can do:

News Graphics Timeline

This plugin makes short work of all kinds of ubiquitous news graphics standards including tickers, bugs, DVE, picture in picture and more.

Some specific features:

  • Six preset color palettes in every template or choose your own
  • Use any font, any color, any size
  • Build In & Out animations on templates to choose between cuts & adjustable animations
  • Many display options and positioning on every template
  • Shrinkback effect controls all video DVE moves without key-framing
  • Not locked in to a single template, layer many elements on top of each other
  • Color shaded background, transition & title wipe included
  • 4K Ready

We came up with this shot in just the first couple of minutes of playing around with the plugin:

News Graphics Output

You’ll find the Shrinkback effect in the FCPX Effects Browser:

News Graphics Effect

and everything else in the Titles Browser:

News Graphics Titles

Settings are very simple and easy to use:

News Graphics Settings

If you’re doing any sort of project that requires news graphics you want this plugin. I can see it being useful for corporate videos, news shows, online streaming and more. Sure you could make these kinds of things on your own in Motion if you really wanted to…

…. but why waste days of your time when all the hard work has already been done for you. Go grab XEffects News Graphics instead for just $49. There’s also a free trial and tutorials available here: http://www.idustrialrevolution.com/x7-news-graphics

Look out for a few free copies at the October 24th, 2015 edition of FCP eXchange too.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

FCPWORKS Noah Kadner

FCPWORKS Noah Kadner

This blog post contains the personal musings of FCPWORKS’ Marketing Director, Noah Kadner. Prior to joining the company, Noah spent several years at Apple where he worked with internal Workflow and Editorial teams in support of Final Cut Pro X customers. Noah also directed a feature film available on iTunes called Social Guidance and wrote “RED: The Ultimate Guide to the Revolutionary Camera.” Noah’s ongoing career goal is communicating digital post-production workflows to experts and enthusiasts alike.You can follow him on Facebook or Twitter at @FCPWORKS.

Creating Music with FCPX

July 16, 2015 Tags: , , , ,
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Introduction

Noah here, if you’ve ever met the FCPWORKS team during a trade show like NAB or IBC, you may know we occasionally host after show karaoke parties. We even carry a portable karaoke kit in a lovely Italian HPRC case (more on that in another blog). For some folks it has been a life-changing event. 

For example, Philip Hodgetts from Intelligent Assistance became so emboldened by our karaoke round at NAB 2014 in Vegas that he decided to take pro singing lessons and up his game. 

Inspired by Phil’s recent singing presentation during a session at the FCPX Summit in San Jose, I wanted to get in on the fun. I set out with a specific technical challenge: record songs without a recording studio or a crew and then master them using Final Cut Pro X.  

The Mobile Studio

Recording music ideally requires a enclosed space with great acoustics. So how about we do it with a truck instead? In this case I went with a Honda Odyssey minivan. It’s not quite Abbey Road but it’s got it where it counts. And where it counts is in this case is that I have access to one.  

01_FCPX_Music_Car_Studio01

Audio Recording Setup

With the studio set, I went for the recording equipment. For my “backing band” I chose the Karaoke Anywhere app on an iPhone 6+. (We use this same app for our FCPWORKS parties.) The song selection is not always vast but it’s easy to pick new songs and download them instantly. 

The iPhone can record the singing directly. But then the vocals are pre-mixed with the music tracks and I wanted flexibility in post. So I went with a Zoom H1 Handy recorder. The H1 is extremely compact with decent built-in microphones and preamps. 

Zoom H1 Handy

The H1 is also capable of WAV recording at up to 24-bit/96kHz quality. And it’s easy to mount just about anywhere. This is handy indeed inside my mobile minivan studio.  

Video Recording Setup

This is FCPWORKS so we’d need some video too. Considering the compact space and the no crew aspect, a GoPro seemed like a good match. I went with a GoPro Hero 3+ Silver Edition shooting in 1080p with a suction cup mount. What’s lovely about the GoPro is you can mount it and then trigger it with the GoPro App. This proved a little tricky for me because I was already playing the music on the phone. But I could start recording and then switch apps to Karaoke Anywhere. 

Production Workflow

Now I don’t necessarily recommend driving and singing karaoke at the same time. There is of course Carpool Karaoke. Then again it’s fairly possible that James Corden is being towed or at least escorted for these segments. There’s also this as precedent.  

The actual production steps were straightforward:  

  1. Start GoPro recording via the GoPro app. 
  2. Start audio recording on H1. 
  3. Choose and start song on Karaoke Anywhere. 
  4. Sing. 

I did this for a number of longish takes where I’d do at least 2 or 3 songs per take. Occasionally, I’d cut if a fellow driver started eyeballing me at a stoplight or if traffic conditions got especially challenging. 

Post-Production Workflow — Ingest

With the videos and audio recorded, it was time to get off the road and into FCPX for some editing. I actually wanted to try Logic Pro X for this occasion as it is geared toward audio editing mastering. But as soon as I started to work in Logic I felt like it was overkill for my two little audio tracks. Also I wanted to do some video edits and color correction so I’d need FCPX anyway. Also and this is key, most of the Logic filters and plugins are available in FCPX directly including their customer UI’s so it’s best of both worlds.  

Once in FCPX I’d first import the GoPro video clips, the Zoom H1 audio tracks. I’d also import the isolated music tracks from Karaoke Anywhere, which can be copied from the iPhone onto your Mac via iTunes. Before this I brought the MP3 from Karaoke Anywhere into Twisted Wave (my favorite audio swiss army knife) to convert them to 96/24 AIFs. Technically this step could be skipped but then you’re doing live sample conversion on the fly, which increases system overhead and can lead to audible popping/sync errors.  

Twisted Wave Audio Editing

Twisted Wave Audio Editing

I wanted to have the audio and video on different lanes so my workflow was a bit of a special design. First I’d match up corresponding GoPro, H1 and music track takes in the Event Browser and then File>New Multicam Clip. Then I’d step into the multicam clip and confirm audible sync between picture and sound. 

Sync markers in a Multicam Clip

Sync markers in a Multicam Clip

Finally I’d add a marker about halfway through each song on the 3 pieces of media. Next, copy the tracks and step out into a new Project Timeline, paste everything and make sure the markers from the multicam still line up so everything is in sync. I could have done it entirely in the Multicam editor but other than the initial sync I wanted magnetic editing so I could make quick changes/edits.  

Project Marker Sync

Project Marker Sync

Post-Production Workflow — Edit 

Generally speaking I didn’t make many cuts. The songs were complete takes from start to finish so I’d occasionally do a blade halfway down the track and slide the audio a few samples if sync was slipping. But generally I didn’t on these relatively short takes. I added a nice fade in/out for each song and that was about it. The rest was mixing. 

Original GoPro Take

Original GoPro Take

Post-Production Workflow — Mixing 

I’m not an audio engineer by trade but I know a few things. First was getting the balance between the singing track and the karaoke music right. That meant looking at the audio meters and carefully raising and lowering the volume levels until it sounded right to ear. Also the original GoPro audio was redundant and didn’t sound nearly as clear as the H1 audio so I’d just disable it entirely but keep it attached for sync reference.  

Post-Production Workflow — Audio Filters 

For most of the songs I added 3 audio filters: Pitch Correction, Fat EQ and PlatinumVerb. The pitch correction is fun because it shows you where you’re actually singing on key or not and you can apply some degree of correction. You have to be judicious as too much sounds unnatural (don’t tell this to Kanye). I found a little really helped.  

Pitch Correction Custom UI in FCPX

Pitch Correction Custom UI in FCPX

Fat EQ helped overcome the limitations of the car as recording environment and its boominess. It also helped a bit to overcome the solid if not amazing built-in mics on the H1. I have a Sanken COS-11D lavalier and a Shure SM58 handheld mic I’d probably try next time for better sounding recordings.  

Finally, PlatinumVerb adds some nicely shaped echo into the mix. This also helps overcome inherent singing mistakes and makes the environment sound less flat and dry. Again a little goes a long way and you don’t want to sound like you’re in a cathedral choir.  

Audio Filters in the Inspector

Audio Filters in the Inspector

Post-Production Workflow — Video Filters 

I felt like this footage should be black and white and grainy like a behind-the-music special or something along those lines. So I removed the color with the Saturation tab in the Color Board and added a Film Grain filter with the Realistic Grain style. I also added a vignette with a Color Board Mask to boost up the exposure inside the car while keeping the streets outside the window from totally blowing out. 

Shape Mask in the Color Board

Shape Mask in the Color Board

I also enlarged the GoPro 1920×1080 footage to 125% for a little better framing. I was impressed with how well the relatively highly compressed footage held up to grading and scaling.  

Exporting

With the edits for each song pretty much complete, I went to export to Master Files as ProRes HQ. I could have gone directly to online sharing services or to H.264 but I wanted to have a high quality master. 

From there I opened up in the QuickTime Player and exported to the stock 720p setting. I could also have done this as a Share Bundle within FCPX but sometimes you just want to bang some out as quickly as you can. 

Conclusion

Without further adieu, here are the results. Hope you enjoy these and maybe get inspired to let your own inner voice bust out:

I also did one song without the camera running but it turned out decent, so here we go: 

Through this fun experience, I learned the following: 

  • The GoPro is perfect for unattended camerawork within a moving vehicle. 
  • The acoustics inside a moving van are surprisingly decent. 
  • The good folks on the road in San Francisco are very accepting.
  • FCPX alone can be used to produce music. 

We’d love to share the singing fun with you in-person at our next show. Maybe NAB? IBC? We’ll see you. Please drop us a line and we’ll add you to our guest list. 

Products mentioned

Zoom Handy H1 Audio Recorder

GoPro Hero 

Software

Logic Pro X 

Final Cut Pro X 

Twisted Wave 

iOS

Karaoke Anywhere app 

GoPro App 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

FCPWORKS Noah Kadner

FCPWORKS Noah Kadner

This blog post contains the personal musings of FCPWORKS’ Marketing Director, Noah Kadner. Prior to joining the company, Noah spent several years at Apple where he worked with internal Workflow and Editorial teams in support of Final Cut Pro X customers. Noah also directed a feature film available on iTunes called Social Guidance and wrote “RED: The Ultimate Guide to the Revolutionary Camera.” Noah’s ongoing career goal is communicating digital post-production workflows to experts and enthusiasts alike. You can follow him on Facebook or Twitter at @FCPWORKS.

10 Must-Have iPhone 6 Tips for FCPX Editors

December 29, 2014 Tags: , , , , ,
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Noah here.

As some of you might know, our typical FCPWORKS workflow services involve building FCPX editorial solutions around high-end 4K acquisition gear from RED, AJA, Blackmagic, ARRI, etc. That being said, we’re also firm believers in the philosophy of Chase Jarvis, “The Best Camera Is The One That’s With You.”

Some of the FCPWORKS team put this philosophy into action during a recent trip to Tokyo to attend the InterBEE trade show (where we learned all about the coming 8K future, more on that in a later post). On more than one occasion, we went to a great bargain sushi place near our hotel called Sushi Zanmai.

We decided to commemorate the place by shooting an impromptu episode of fellow FCPX consultant and trainer Chris Phrommayon’s YouTube restaurant review show, “You Try Now.” The challenge: we only carried an iPhone 6 and 6 Plus for cameras. To our eyes, this all turned out pretty well, but decide for yourself with the embed below and then read more all about our observations. Be sure to click on the gear on this clip and change the playback resolution to 1080p for the best quality:

This experience gave us lots of insight into ways that Final Cut Pro X editors can optimize their workflow with iOS footage. The camera on the iPhone 6 isn’t going to replace the 4K gear above, but it’s actually quite good and compares very favorably with other purpose-built 1080 HD camcorders.

The following suggestions can make the most of the camera’s capabilities so that when you get into editing with Final Cut Pro X you can achieve the best possible results.

10 Must Have iPhone Tips for FCPX Editors

  1. Use Focus/Exposure Lock. The iPhone has a great automatic focus/exposure meter but if you leave it on automatic you may find it riding the exposure and focus up and down within a shot. This could ruin a take if it happens during a key moment. So, watch the shot as you capture and if you notice this happening simply tap and hold on the screen on the subject you want to be exposed and focused on and the exposure/focus will lock for the next shot.
    iPhone 6 AE Lock
  2. Shoot Steady. Nothing screams amateur like shaky, handheld footage. Shoot with a an iPhone tripod if you have one, or brace the phone against a table, chair, or doorway. You can also hold the phone closer to your body and take shorter steps to maximize steadiness. The iPhone 6 Plus has built-in optical image stabilization that is quite good. Combine this with some judicious application of stabilization in FCPX and you can achieve nice, smooth camera moves that may fool some eyes into believing it’s a dolly or jib shot.
  3. Shoot Long Takes. A common camera phone habit is to start action at the moment you begin recording and cut right as you stop recording. But this can really limit your editing choices in post-production. Instead, start rolling, then count off a few seconds to yourself and then start the action. When the action has completed, count off a few more seconds and then stop the recording. You’ll be very happy to have those extra handles of useful footage, especially when you’re trying to fit a long voiceover onto a montage of shots in FCPX.
  4. Get the 128 GB model. The iPhone 6 shoots 1080/30p H.264 at approximately 18Mbps. This results in file sizes of around 135 MB per minute or about 8 GB per hour. Considering you’ll likely want to carry your own music, movies and lots of other apps on the same iPhone, leaving plenty of extra storage space for video is a great idea. Get the 128GB model. (It has a better resale value too.)
  5. Do Slow-Mo in Post. The iPhone 6 offers slow-motion modes of up to 240 frames per second. Unfortunately, in order to achieve these higher frame rates, the camera samples less of the sensor area (this is common on high speed cameras). The result is lower resolution in slow motion shots. You won’t notice this as much on the relatively small screen of the phone itself but it’s painfully clear when you look at the footage on an HD monitor back in FCPX. The built-in optical flow based slow motion in FCPX is a very good alternative. So, shoot full 1080p 30 (or switch to 60p if you are certain the shot will be slowed down).
  6. Watch the Color Temperature We found that the iPhone shoots a bit cool in terms of color temperature and responds well to a bit of judicious Color Board application in Final Cut Pro X.
    iPhone6 Tips Sushi
    Be mindful of mixed lighting sources as you shoot. And don’t use the onboard light unless you are literally in pitch blackness without it, as it produces a flat/deer-in-the-headlights look.
  7. Add Voice Notes While Shooting We were shooting a lot of b-roll/montage footage where we knew we wouldn’t use the audio being recorded with the video. So, we’d just annotate the video vocally as we shot. For “You Try Now“, it was “this is the dish we’re about to eat, this is how it’s made, etc.” This was much faster and simpler than stopping recording to jot down written notes. And when you edit in FCPX you can replace that temp audio with cleanly recorded voice over.
  8. Record Secondary Audio with Voice Memos We’re assuming only stock iPhone applications for this article, so this one is a freebie. Later in this article we’ll discuss additional apps but the Voice Memo app is a nice way to get audio-only clips. If you want to get the background ambience of a particular location to later lay over an entire montage, grab a quick minute or two of clean audio with the Voice Memos app and you’ll be all set when you get to the edit in X.
  9. Transfer Everything At Once The iPhone 6 Lightning connection is unfortunately limited to USB2. Even though the H.264 clips of the phone are smallish, they still take a long while to transfer into FCPX. Set aside enough time to transfer everything you shot for a particular project in one go- ideally during a long break or even overnight. You can always delete unused shots later but it’s better to get everything transferred first and then move onto the edit.
  10. Optimize on Ingest Do this for for better editing performance and quality. The H.264 long-GOP clips created by the iPhone can be played natively in FCPX but you’ll find performance suffers a lot as soon as you add filters/transitions/color grading due to the increased processing/encoding required. If you optimize to ProRes on ingest, this only has to be done once per clip and from then on the editorial performance will be much better. The lower spec’ed machines like Mac Minis and MacBooks will benefit from this the most. Make sure that the Create optimized media option is checked on import.

Other Apps

Movie Pro Recorder
We said earlier we’d assume a ‘stock’ iPhone but maybe you want to extend your toolkit a bit. Here are some other useful iPhone applications for video production:

  • MoviePro Recorder Enables 2K resolution and higher bitrates along with a host of manual controls and uncompressed audio. Filmic Pro also deserves a mention. You should test these apps carefully before committing to a workflow with one. The clips use up more space and might cause compatibility issues depending on the frame rates and resolutions you select.
  • Hyperlapse from Instagram Admittedly these clips are already getting a little cliche/gimmicky but they can make a great intro/outro to a location and the built-in real time image stablization is quite impressive.
  • Sun Seeker Technically this is a not a video/audio app per se but if you’re working on location stripped down with minimal gear, knowing the precise location of the sun throughout the day can be incredibly useful for planning out a shoot.

Hardware

One key benefit of shooting video with an iPhone is staying lightweight and agile, but here are a couple of optional pieces of hardware that will add production value without too much extra weight.

  • Olloclip is a relatively lightweight lens adapter that gives you fisheye, wide angle, and macro options with great build quality. The current model is one-size fits all for both iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. So you can share one between two cameras if needed. Adds immensely to the optical variety of shots you can achieve with the iPhone.
  • Mikey Digital Let’s face it, the onboard mic on the iPhone is decent but like any onboard camcorder microphone it will never take the place of actual professional microphones for post-production usable sound. The Mikey will get you one step closer to that ideal while keeping your kit bag relatively light.
  • Fly X3 Gimbal Gyro-stabilized gimbals are all the rage now both with drones and handheld units costing into the thousands of dollars. The X3 is a very compact and relatively inexpensive ($330) unit for the iPhone 6 (but not the 6 Plus unfortunately). Looks very promising if you’re doing a lot of high motion/active sports work.

iPhone 6 Fly X3

Conclusion

When the first iPhone came out in 2007, it didn’t even have the ability to shoot video clips. I’d have been hard to convince back then it would ever replace even the most modest consumer camcorder of the time. With the latest iPhone 6 and 6 Plus however, the game has changed. The video quality possible with the onboard sensor and in the case of the Plus, optical image stabilization is quite impressive.

The iPhone 6 tips we’ve shared in this article can help optimize this quality and prep for Final Cut Pro X. We’re not quite ready to stop shooting 4K with awesome lenses for good but when the image need not be of pristine quality and/or you want to travel light, this is a great option. And for easy b-roll for projects, the iPhone 6 is also a no-brainer. Please share additional tips you’ve found and productions you’ve made with your iPhone in the comments.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

FCPWORKS Noah Kadner

FCPWORKS Noah Kadner

This blog post contains the personal musings of FCPWORKS’ Marketing Director, Noah Kadner. Prior to joining the company, Noah spent several years at Apple where he worked with internal Workflow and Editorial teams in support of Final Cut Pro X customers. Noah also directed a feature film available on iTunes called Social Guidance and wrote “RED: The Ultimate Guide to the Revolutionary Camera.” Noah’s ongoing career goal is communicating digital post-production workflows to experts and enthusiasts alike.You can follow him on Facebook or Twitter at @FCPWORKS.

Is Professional a Euphemism for Complex?

December 8, 2014 Tags: , , , , ,
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Sam here…. It’s starting to dawn on me what professional subconsciously means to a lot of people in the post-production world.

It means, “overly-complicated thing that is so confusing that the average person can’t use it. And the people who do know how to use it never need to explain why things with the particular product don’t work the way they should.”

When I look at at some of the software out there that’s considered highly professional I notice some common themes. User documentation tends to be inaccurate, not covered, or completely wrong… and yet the veteran users often say how much better it’s gotten.

Getting up and running with many of these products is often extremely difficult… almost like it was designed to keep people away from the interface and features. Basic functionality that you would expect from any piece of free consumer software can be touted as a “new innovation” that still often doesn’t work as expected (or without knowing which submenu or preference you need to have memorized).

The bottom line is that because many of these applications are so specialized and expensive, it becomes an excuse to explain away the entire product’s MASSIVE design and implementation flaws. Essentially, the attitude becomes “well, this is the most professional and expensive thing there is… if you don’t get it, you probably shouldn’t be doing this sort of work.”

My own recent experiences with some of these tools made me think a lot about whether the fact that I tend to use a lot of Apple products in my day to day has made me less capable, or whether Apple’s simplistic design has simply made my threshold for unnecessary complexity far lower than it used to be.

At the end of the day, my definition of professional is finding the most efficient, practical way to get from point A to B without having to sacrifice quality.

What I’m finding more and more in the post production world, though, is that a lot of professionals hide behind their apps’ complexity as a way of keeping their lack of actual working knowledge hidden and preserving their rates.

For most people, all professional really means is “have you created a system that the average person can’t use so that you can charge more money for this complicated, specialized product?”

I’m pretty sure the average colorist getting $650 an hour is not happy about Resolve Lite going free. Especially when the same exact application used to be much harder to use and part of a million dollar hardware package. And that was just a handful of years ago.

A real professional should be looking at the traditional production pyramid of cheap, fast, good (pick two) and doing their best to find ways to deliver all three in as painless a way as possible to their clients. That’s real value, and real professionals know that the faster you can do the same job (at an equal quality) as someone else, the more money you can make from that job.

Delivering at that level of cheap, fast, and good would mean that you would want your tools to be as simple and easy as possible so that you can get done what you need to get done without the tools getting in the way… and so you don’t need to constantly apologize for poorly executed design choices while you work.

The general idea is that developers should design for simplicity and ease of use and with the end user in mind… very few people besides Apple do that. Give a 4 year old a Blackberry instead of an iPad and you’ll see exactly what I mean. And yet somehow they get slammed for applying that philosophy across the board to their professional applications.

At the end of the day, I’m just a little surprised that in order to be considered professional you have to have something that only a subset of people can figure out… when the truth is that the only thing that matters when it comes to being professional is the end product.

I wish more professional products followed that philosophy. We’d all be able to get more work done.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sam Mestman

Sam Mestman, FCPWORKS.

This blog post contains the personal musings of FCPWORKS’ Workflow Architect, Sam Mestman. Sam’s also a regular writer for fcp.co and MovieMaker Magazine, teaches post workflow at RED’s REDucation classes, and is the founder and CEO of We Make Movies, a film collective in Los Angeles and Toronto which is dedicated to making the movie industry not suck. If you’ve got any FCP X questions or need some help putting together a system, drop him an email at workflow@fcpworks.com and you can follow him on Facebook or Twitter at @FCPWORKS.