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Editing for Dummies


The Morning After…

Final Cut Pro

Image via Wikipedia

After over a decade as a happy Final Cut Pro user, proponent, and propagandist, it’s been a terrible two weeks for me. When George Rizkallah and I went in on our first FCP v.2 system from Promax back in 2000, little did I know how accessible editing would grow to change my life. As a director, I could cut my own work. When I could afford to hire another editor, I would do so – but on a system I understood. And as I grew with Final Cut Pro, editing actually became a revenue stream for me between directing gigs and my knowledge of a professional-level tool made that possible.

Accessible pro-level editing has also changed the landscape of all editing. Avid, the industry leader in Nonlinear Editing (NLE) was prohibitively expensive before FCP barnstormed onto the scene and forced Avid to lower their prices for their customer base. And the low price created an exponentially-larger market than anyone would have guessed in the early 1990’s when this stuff first showed up.

It has filled me with dread to watch the Windows Vista-like release of Apple’s latest Final Cut Pro offering, and the subsequent backlash, and Apple’s tone-deaf, tin-eared, mealy-mouthed, “Think Different” response to that backlash. Editors have made videos, and even put together a petition, to reinstate FCP 7 as the standard and to relegate the edit-abortion that is FCPX to the trash heap of time. First, David Pogue of the New York Times posted a blog where someone deep inside Fortress FCP explained to us pleebs why FCPX’s bullshit was actually Jello pudding. Consultant and blogger Richard Harrington reposted Pogue’s blog with his rational responses point-by-point here.

Falling Fairly Far from the Tree

Image representing Apple as depicted in CrunchBase

Image via CrunchBase

And what of Apple directly? Have we heard anything from them? Barely. They released a FAQ paper explaining how their loyal supporters can spend $500 on the utility “Automatic Duck,” for something the program has always done for free as well as a litany of other things mostly which lead me to believe that, as a professional tool, Final Cut Pro X has a long road ahead. Will it get there? Maybe. Will I be there if/when it does? Well, I won’t be asking for a refund, but that doesn’t mean I’m counting on FCPX to turn the ship around.

But the real question anyone who edits is this: What are we going to do right now? I mean what are we actually going to do? As professionals, we don’t have the time to play around with multiple new programs until this dust settles as it could be months, and it might take Apple over a year to put FCP back on track.

To their corporate credit, both Avid and Adobe have jumped on Apples misstep by offering huge discounts on their products. Yes, it’s obviously the dealer’s first hit of crack for most of us, and as always I ask myself which of these two media-making monoliths will actually net the most new professional customers by the time this is all over. Which brings me to the here and now…

In the here and now, I actually have a project I’m cutting for my friend and frequent collaborator, Kays Alatrakchi. Entitled “APPNTMNT,” it’s Kays’ first film as director. Shot on the RED camera (with some Canon 5D in there for B-camera), we want to stress-test whatever software we used to see how well it handled all the professional-level demands we could throw at it. He and I waited until FCPX was released to begin the editing process (which is why I downloaded FCPX on day one). And now we’re switching horses.

To Adobe Premiere Pro 5.5.

Watch This Space

Adobe Premiere Pro Icon

Image via Wikipedia

So I took Adobe up on their offer and upgraded my Production Suite, and I’m going to chronicle here what that’s like, the ups and downs. Any Premiere users, I’d love to hear how I can make this smoother. I’m going to post screencaps, complain about missing functions, and hopefully sing the praises of the software that (from my perspective) could be the one to fill the gap that Apple is leaving for filmmakers and post professionals – both of which I consider myself.

Meet the new boss. This is my actual workspace in Premiere Pro 5.5 - I've really tried to make it feel like the FCP of old.

Honestly, I’m not excited about moving to a new platform. This will be my third (Media 100, Final Cut Pro, now this – go ahead and laugh, Avid users). But the integration of AfterEffects (which is becoming a must-have item for filmmakers, see www.videocopilot.net to understand my zeal) and Photoshop make it an attractive one-two knockout punch.

So here goes nothing. I will let you know what I think as I go.

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10 comments on “Editing for Dummies

  1. I got a refund from Apple, yet I still get to use the download. I feel somewhat vindicated.

    I’m also checking out Pr as well.

  2. You really should consider Avid it has become more friendly to all formats. The AMA function works fast and covers all the new formats

    • I actually downloaded the trial version of Media Composer and have played around with it a little. Even for their low price of $1,000 it was cheaper to get the full CS 5.5 Production suite (which I only needed to upgrade to get anyway), but I definitely think FCP editors may have to finally learn Avid now. I think a lot of us still harbor an old price-related grudge against it and we might have to get over that in order to work.

      The question I keep asking myself (and have posed in my blog) is this: What fills the void left by FCP? Right now a lot of FCP-based houses in LA are just sticking with FCP 7 and hoping that Apple fixes this. The ONLY thing going against Premiere in my opinion is that there isn’t a FCP-sized Premiere user base ready to work so if one wanted to hire a Premiere editor, I don’t even know where one would go to find that person. Avid, obviously, has the largest user base.

      In a way this all sucks, and in a way it’s a little exciting to see how one bad decision (FCPX) ripples through the entire industry. And who knows, maybe Apple’s going to fix FCPX and FCP editors will learn the new interface (GAG!) and keep on working in FCP. I don’t see it going down like that, but stranger things happen all the time.

  3. […] shoot for my friend Ben. More importantly I was working on the first project I was to cut in Adobe Premiere Pro, and finding myself personally resistant to learning a new thing. And it was weighing on me – […]

  4. […] Editing for Dummies (neptunesalad.wordpress.com) Share:EmailMorePrintDiggLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. Categories: Thoughts Comments (5) Trackbacks (0) Leave a comment Trackback […]

  5. Old post but hopefully I will hear back 🙂 I’m making the switch to Premier from my old friend FCP 7. So far it’s not too difficult but the one thing I desperately want to do is extend the sequence window across the entire width of the screen, like in FCP and in your screen-grab above. I’ve been able to adjust most of my workspace but I can’t figure out how to get it exactly like you have it. Any help would be great!

    • You can hit the X in the upper corner if the windows you don’t want or you can drag the tabs and a purple “guide” will appear to show you how your windows will be aligned. You will get the hang of it after totally screwing up and resetting your workspace a few times.

      What I did was nuke all of the windows on the lower left (media browser, properties, history, etc.) and the only one I left was Effects, which I dragged behind the viewer window for a more FCP-like arrangement.

      I even boosted the interface brightness until it looked like FCP for a while, to psychologically get me over the hump.

      I’ve since darkened the interface, but left the windows in a generally FCP7/Avid- type configuration.

      I hope that answers your question but if not feel free to hit me back here with this or any FCP-to-Premiere questions. I’m always game to help fellow converts on this particular road!

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