[understanding] FINAL CUT PRO is an information-packed appreciation
of FCP. Its value as a learning aide to the new user is entirely
determined by whose definition of "new" you are using.
If you are a seasoned linear editor or a convert from another
non-linear platform, you'll be able to gather enough information
to cut your own path through the briars, brambles and woods without
incurring any serious injuries. If you are an FCP user who has
only navigated the timeline for a few dozen hours you'll certainly
deepen your comprehension of the system and will return to the
keyboard with a fancy new set of tools and tricks. But if you
are an unwary green recruit who bought into Apple's "Be
your own movie studio" plug-and-play campaign.. well, here's
some upbraiding for your hubris.
[understanding] FINAL CUT PRO is a five tape series that powers through (1)set-up,
(2)log and capture (3)editing tools and technique (4) effects
(5) compositing, output, an appendix, and an update on FCP 1.2.5.
I won't belabor the counterproductive downside of providing a
tutorial for a non-linear, digital tool in the form of a very
linear, multi-tape because a rep from the [understanding]
FINAL CUT PRO production
Media informs me that a DVD version with an indexed t.o.c. is in the works.
of the series is Evan Schectman, the co-founder and operator
of NYC based Outpost
tutorial shoot is simply and economically designed. Evan is at
an FCP console equipped with a G4, two RGB monitors, an NTSC
monitor, a Beta deck, and a Targa board. The session was taped with one camera in a fixed-position, which is resituated perhaps four times. Evan's audio, captured with a lav, is clean and balanced. It looks like a three-light set-up was used for the shoot. The editor of the piece cuts to close-ups of equipment and shots of the monitors for demonstration purposes. Jump-cuts or fade in/ fade out dissolves punctuate the sections, title cards over background music are used to introduce or re-iterate key points.
Pretty basic stuff. These
minimal production values are compromised as camcorder shots
of the monitor screens are utilized, which frequently creates
scan bars and the occasional reflection of the camera lens. Screen
shots are severely missing.
Evan is a very knowledgeable and capable instructor. His delivery
is always clear and concise. The script is well-penned; in fact,
it is occasionally eloquent in its lucid descriptions of certain
difficult technical processes.
[understanding] FINAL CUT PRO's major and most glaring shortcoming
is in its failure to exactly identify and address a specific
audience. The opening is clearly skewed towards newcomers to
the world of DV, as it introduces the concepts of non-linear
editing and Firewire. "dB" is defined as "a decibel,
or a measure of sound." I expected the series to gradually
familiarize the viewer with FCP. However, Evan begins the instruction
by walking us through the process of setting preferences
step by detailed step.
Again, the information
Evan provides is accurate, informed, and will ultimately be invaluable
to a seasoned operator. For example, we are told that FCP offers
up to 99 levels of undo. "This is a linear level of undo
and the more levels of undo you have the more RAM FCP will take."
He then reviews auto-saving. Good points are made: Auto-save
doesn't kick in until after you make your first "save";
check an auto-save file after a crash by opening it from your
project file folder prior to opening FCP. (If you instruct FCP
to open an auto-save version upon re-launching the program the
auto-save elements will be incorporated as the current version.
This means you might lose certain key edits in your earlier,
original version of the sequence).
These are sterling points,
but I can't imagine the uninitiated receiving them as anything
less than a triple blow in the face from a sledgehammer. Most
people who are looking for FCP instructional tapes are probably
trying to figure what those funny buttons are on the black window
that says "viewer".
The uninitiated are probably
completely lost by now. The thought of some confused and overwhelmed
newbie then being told about multi-frame trim size is positively
Evan continues to hurtle forth. The weak and inexperienced will be crushed and will fall by the wayside. Those of you who are still alive will absolutely benefit from the rest of this boot camp. His demonstration set-up uses a Targa
card, which is an instructional "first", as far as I know. For those of you who are coming on board from the world of analogue capture, you'll be given equal time in discussions of preferences, the nuances of playback offset, TimeCode offest, VITC /LTC, sequence presets, and offline capture.
The editing segment uses
a documentary-in-progress about the life of an NYU Medical School
student. Again, there is no denying Evan's command over FCP.
Gems abound. I didn't know that if I "option-click"
on some desktop screen space, the system defaults to "finder-hide
others". Or that if the source size is scaled up above the
size of the viewer window, I won't get 30fps playback to the
NTSC or canvas window. And here is one for the pundits - an undocumented
feature: With the timeline selected, hit command-option-w to
show waveforms. Hats off to Evan.
The tips continue to
come fast and furious, all the way to the use of ease-in / ease-out
to soften the head and tail of a motion path. However, a ton
of information can make for a weighty experience if it isn't
given loft. This loft should come in the form of (1) logically
organized materials and (2) better visual aides. Apropos to (1),
the cart is frequently placed before the horse in [understanding] FINAL CUT PRO. For example, bin selection is currently shown
before the browser is introduced. Apropos to (2), despite Evan's
easy eloquence, he would be readily assisted by the contributions
of a graphic artist when he discusses things like the import
of square vs. rectangular pixels.
Conclusion: As it stands right now,[understanding] FINAL CUT PRO isn't of much use to a new user. More advanced
operators stand to benefit the most, although they rarely schedule
time for further study of a software they basically know.
to DVD I hope they consider upgrading, reorganizing and augmenting
the content. [understanding] FINAL
CUT PRO will never
be all things to all people, but with a bit more work it could
become a handy resource for a lot of us.
Please do get back
to me with your comments and observations on this series. I would
also like to hear about your other training experiences
both positive and negative.