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Review: Final Cut Express Training DVD

March, 2003

Final Cut Express Training DVD
Getting the most out of Final Cut Express

By DigitalFilm Tree
System requirements: DVD ROM drive.
Price $ 49.95
Tutorial run time 2 1/2 hours
Additional 2 gigs of DV NTSC tutorial material.

Review By Ken Stone

Several months ago Apple began shipping Final Cut Express, a lite version of Final Cut Pro ($299). Included with the software is 'Getting Started with Final Cut Express', a tutorial DVD by DigitalFilm Tree (run time 45 minutes). DigitalFilm Tree has now released an expanded and more extensive FCE DVD tutorial. Included on this 9 gig DVD is the 'Getting Started with Final Cut Express' that ships with FCE as well as the new (read different) more extensive 'Hands On' tutorial that runs one hour and 45 minutes with Steve Martin as host and instructor. This is indeed a hands on tutorial as it ships with 2 gigs of DV - NTSC video footage (and the fully completed project) to be used by the viewer while working through the lessons.

Main Page

'Getting Started' Section

'Hands - on Tutorial' Section

'Getting Started with Final Cut Express'
This section of the DFT DVD tutorial is truly for the uninitiated, the beginner who has little or no experience with Non Linear Editing. This is a 'sit back and watch' tutorial as Steve Martin walks you through the basic concepts of FCE, starting with plugging in your FireWire camera to final output to DV tape, DVD, Web and CD rom and posting your movie to your .Mac account - and all the basics in between. This section employs the tradition approach by showing, on screen, each step that is taken to build a project.

In addition to seeing and working with the FCE interface, DFT has added animated graphics which effectively demonstrate the concepts of the lesson being taught.



'Hands On' tutorial
This section, which runs one hour and 45 minutes, is the heart of this tutorial DVD. You can sit back and watch this on your Mac or on a DVD desktop player and I would suggest that you watch once before actually doing the tutorial work. To begin working with the tutorial double click the DVD icon on your desktop to open and drag one very large folder (Ski Fun Project) to your hard drive (2 gigs worth of material, takes about 15 minutes). After transfer you will launch the Ski Fun Project that is inside this folder and is included with the DV footage. The completed Project will open up on your screen as shown below.

This completed project is what you will build as you work through the tutorial. The tutorial is broken down into seven sections.

  • Begin Tutorial
  • Project Overview
    • Marking your clips
    • Drag and Drop Editing
    • Audio Levels in the Viewer
  • Insert and Overwrite Editing
    • Canvas Insert Editing
    • TimeLine navigation
    • Canvas Overwrite
    • Track Targeting
  • Tool Palette Editing
    • Blade Tool
    • Lift and Ripple Delete
    • Select Tool edits
    • Ripple Tool edits
    • Roll Tool edits
    • Slip edits
    • Slide edits
  • Working with Effects
    • Adding and Modifying Transition Filters
    • Speed Changes
  • Audio Editing and Mixing
  • Utilizing Effects

The DFT 'Hands On' FCE tutorial is aimed at the very beginner. It assumes that you have never seen FCE before and takes you through all aspects of FCE in a simple and clear manner. As the lessons unfold, the viewer is introduced to basic video editing concepts using art work and short animated graphics as part of the lessons and this is a very effective way to conveying concepts of NLE (non linear editing).





Using the 'Hands On' tutorial
Upon starting the 'Hands On' tutorial you are walked through loading the DV material onto your HD, setting up your tutorial project and organizing FCE for the lessons that follow. Before you start building your project you will have a chance to see the completed project so that you will know in advance what you are working towards. Starting with an empty TimeLine and with a Browser full of supplied material, Steve Martin takes you through the entire process, step by step, as you build your project and learn FCE. Play the DVD and listen to Steve explain what you are seeing on the screen, then stop the DVD and do the step yourself in FCE. Starting with simple 'Drag and Drop' editing, as the lessons advance, you are introduced to Canvas editing, keyboard shortcuts, and other, more advanced features of FCE. The section on the Tools in the Tool Palette is one of the best I have seen. Rather than simply showing the tools with an explanation, you learn and come to understand the tools as you use them in the lessons.


While this is clearly a tutorial for the beginner, the tutorial does move into advanced areas of editing and includes topics such as Nesting, Color Correcting, Motion Graphics, Audio, Special Effects, importing Photoshop files, all essential elements in producing a professional project.

This is an excellent tutorial. It's what I have come to expect from Steve Martin and DigitalFilm Tree. They obviously set out to make a very basic yet complete tutorial for Final Cut Express and they achieved their goal. It is well written, the information is easy to understand and follow. The animated artwork goes a long way in demonstrating editing concepts (I wish that there were more). There is a great deal of information packed into this tutorial and Steve moves it along at a good clip yet the pace is comfortable. Well done.




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