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Review: InSession Training Series: Final Cut Pro 3

May, 2002

InSession Training Series: Final Cut Pro 3
Spinworks Media Group
Price: $129.95 U.S.
Description: 2-DVD video training series with extra materials
Purchase at (link no longer active)



Review by Tony Donaldson

Spinworks Media Group has come out with their own version of a training DVD for Final Cut Pro 3. It's an interesting one.

It's a 2-DVD set with interactive menus to guide you through everything from basic concepts of using FCP to using it in every way it was designed to work.

Shane Ross designed an interface for this DVD set that really works well - you can view the DVD straight through, go by sections, or go by chapter. The chapter headings are in the printed guide, so if you need a quick reference on how to do a particular thing in FCP, you can simply type the number of the chater (e.g. "334" for the section on "Slipping and Sliding Segments") into your keyboard or on your remote if you are watching on a separate DVD player. It is easy enough to go between the DVD player and Final Cut if you have both open at the same time.

The first DVD has a ton of useful demos and content, including all the video and audio used in the demos in DV format, so you can follow along if you'd like. The program doesn't direct you through a particular project, like "Inside Editing with Final Cut Pro" that I reviewed earlier, as much as just giving examples of things you might do on a typical edit. Other useful goodies include quite a few Sounddogs sounds, a demo of Joe's Filters (see review here on this site also), a keyboard shortcut layout from NeoTron, several Digital Juice Jumpbacks already in DV format, a few Worldclips (video scenes from cities around the world), and more. There's a wealth of good material here.

Adam Green, the host, takes us through a very detailed tour of Final Cut, in a series that is well-suited for beginners who have never edited with Final Cut, to experienced users who want to learn a few more ideas on how to edit with the greatest of ease. Things are described in detail, e.g. the reason for using "white" over "superwhite" for broadcast. The narration is good, and the closeups on-screen that follow the mouse make everything very esay to read and follow along.

Over five hours of training is broken down into four main sections, Disc One has "Understanding" and "Managing", and Disc Two has "Using" and "Mastering".

The "Understanding" section has all the basics you'd ever want, minimum requirements for Mac, video capture options, storage, cameras and decks, etc. It has good demonstrations of log and capture, and different ways to handle that and the incoming media. There is a good explanation of the nomenclature, covering nearly every button and option, tools, proper setup and use of sequences.

The "Managing" section covers Easy Setups, creating your own and saving them, project setup and browser/timeline use. Very good and detailed information on the varous ways to organize and use bins, sorting, searching for media, modifying information, and all the various media management tools and all the ways possible to use them. Even experienced FCP users, perhaps especially the recent converts from version 2 or even 1 will really get a lot out of the training on the new media management tools. This all-encompassing approach is excellent, as it showcases how well-setup FCP is for all kinds of uses and all kinds of users, so the same thing can be achieved in severals ways depending on the personal preferences of the user. This section also covers all the preferences and what they do.

The second disc goes deeper into actually using Final Cut, from proper log and capture to basic editing. Explanations and demonstrations on three-point edits, all the options for making them, and backtiming are invaluable. The "Working in the Timeline" and "Working with Audio" are very good, and even as an experienced user I learned a few things here. The section on transitions is good, and explains the new real time transistions and filters well. "Creating Final Output" shows the proper way to assemble to tape, print to video, and even all the options for exporting OMF, EDLs, batch lists (if you want to print out your logs or keep them in a spreadsheet, for example) and all the quicktime export features, from movie files to reference movies with chapter markers for later use in DVD Studio Pro.

The final section, "Mastering", gets much deeper into Final Cut, showing compositing, markers, editing via storyboard, text tools, media management and subclip use in depth. The last part of the DVD has several tutorials, on things like speed changes, making a letterbox matte (sample mattes are included on the first disc), travel mattes, soft focus on edges (simulated swing/tilt), color correction mattes, and even how to use iTunes for audio import.

There is also included softare called "DVD@ccess" which alllows direct links from the DVD to the web, but I didn't have time to try it.

Overall I would recommend this to all beginners, and to any more experinced users who want to learn more on proper use of Final Cut Pro 3, even if you just want to learn the new features. It's easy to use, has an interface that will make me come back to it again and again for reference, and it is easy to carry if I want to take it on the road for use in my Powerbook.

InSession Training Series: Final Cut Pro 3 is the first "self paced title" to be certified by Apple.

copyright©tony donaldson 2002


About Tony Donaldson: Tony is a sports photographer (still photography, mostly extreme sports) with clients including Sports Illustrated for Kids, ESPN the Magazine, Scholastic, eBike, and many more. He also shoots, edits and produces video projects from commercials to short films (Odessa or Bust, The Cypher) to the Redline Bicycles Team video to a new video-based photography training series. He lives and works in the Los Angeles area and spends way too much time online learning all of Ken Stone's secrets.

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