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Review: Inside Final Cut Pro HD 4.5

December, 2004


Inside Editing with FCP HD/4.5

Price: $99 (lafcpug price, $84.15)
DVD-ROM Two Disc Set
9 hours of instruction
Purchase in the lafcpug Store


Review by David A. Saraceno

Ask any video professional about high definition formats and you'll likely get eight different answers. What is confusing is that all of them would be correct. The good news is that a new DVD ROM training series from DMTS brings some clarity to the mix. The companion disk to the "Inside Editing with FCP HD/4.5" series dedicates two hours to exploring the nuances of HD. The two disc set is available for $99.00 at the company's web site or at's store.

Narrated by FCP editor and founder of Outpost Digital, Evan Schechtman, the series introduces various HD formats and more, in eleven well-paced video segments. The disc topics include HD fundamentals, formats, editing and equipment, alternative workflows, capture cards and HD monitors. Suggestions on when to use Panasonic or Sony cameras are also provided.

Disc One: Inside Editing With FCP 4. The first disc of this two DVD ROM series explores how to professionally edit using the newest version of FCP, v. 4.5. Chapters on interface layout, set up, capturing media, editing, and audio editing are explored in concise, hands on instruction. Additional chapters on Color Correction, Compositing, Workflow, and Media Management are provided with the clarity and thoroughness characteristic of all the DMTS training aids that I have reviewed. The seven hours of instruction on this disc provide a basic and advanced editing foundation that the second disc builds upon within the context of the HD format.

Disc Two: Introduction to High Definition. Schechtman initially provides introductory details of the ATSC standards for both digital SD and HD formats. He then discusses why high definition provides a richer acquisition format than standard definition because it is scalable for delivery in its original format, to film, and internationally. This he characterizes as "future proofing in high definition." What he means by this is that video acquired in high definition has a number of potential uses that simply cannot be matched by standard definition video. Once acquired, that versatility can be preserved and exploited in a variety of ways down the line.

Most initial segments of the disc are provided in lecture format augmented by a series of onscreen graphics. Schechtman explores virtually every aspect of the different formats of high definition. Comparative explanations of progressive, interlaced, and progressive segmented frame (pSF) formats are made . . . . .

. . . . as well as various frames rates and different aspect ratios of HD that add up to eight flavors of HD.

HD System Workflows. One recurrent theme is how acquisition formats dictate mastering. Four mastering scenarios are compared that range from firewire-based HD to 3rd party card HD-SDI uncompressed or transcoded mastering. The pieces on BlackMagic's Decklink HD Pro, AJA's Kona 2, and Pinnacle's Cinewave explore pricing, capabilities and other options. Uncompressed and HD compressed storage options are also evaluated, including SCSI Ultra-320, and fiber-based full duplex channel systems.

The remaining sections deal, in part, with FCP HD set up and editing workflow. The differences between the HD and SD user and system preferences in FCP are detailed as well as information on audio/video settings.

Finally, Section III of the DVD ROM explains many of the new, time saving features added in FCP HD 4.5.

Schechtman provides illustrative examples of each the new features and suggests ways to both improve workflow, and avoid pitfalls.

The series contains numerous suggestions on hardware, camera, and deck use not detailed in this review. The information goes a long way to eliminate much of the confusion on exactly what is high definition acquisition and mastering for both the potential new user and those more experienced in HD. As such, it is well worth the admission price. And the companion disc is an excellent aid in learning the new features of FCP HD 4.5.

Copyright ©2004 David A. Saraceno

Purchase in the lafcpug Store for $84.15

David A. Saraceno is a motion graphics artist located in Spokane, Washington. He has written for DV Magazine, AV Video, MacHome Journal, and several state and national legal technology magazines. David also moderates several forums on

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