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Review: Final Cut Pro 4 - On The Spot

January, 2008




Final Cut Studio On the Spot
By Richard Harrington, Abba Shapiro & Robbie Carman
Focal Press $29.95
Available in lafcpug Store for $19.77 (Click on FCP Books)



Review by Steve Douglas

There have been several 'On the Spot' releases over the years for Final Cut Pro and After Effects. The one thing I liked about them was that they were packed with many time saving tips and techniques, little insights and tricks of the trade that no matter what your experience level may be, you might never have thought of. Final Cut Studio On the Spot realigns its focus to not only address workflow and technique tips for Final Cut Pro but to also bring into the fold tips for Motion, Compressor, Live Type and Soundtrack Pro. This is the 3rd edition for the Final Cut Pro series and it remains true to its heritage. Addressed to users primarily at the intermediate and advanced levels, this is not a users manual. There are no large tutorials to work on and it is not meant to be the book you learn the applications within Final Cut Studio from. It is not meant to be that at all. It is just what it implies, an easy reading, non linear book comprised of shortcuts and tricks to help you speed your workflow, allow your interface to work for you without hindrance, and enable your editing chores to be more efficiently accomplished.

There is no reason to have to read this book from page one. It was not written with sequential reading in mind. It is one of those books that allows you to skip to the chapter on text, should you desire to do so, without relying on previous chapters to build your knowledge and understanding. In that sense, it is a great read, you can jump around, bend the pages holding the tips or techniques that you find valuable and skip those that you may not have a need for. Because this On the Spot edition has veered away from focusing solely on Final Cut Pro, you will find that there are also a great many tips related to your work in Motion as well. Live Type, Soundtrack and Compressor are also addressed but it appeared to me that the greatest focus was spread between Motion and Final Cut Pro.

All of the graphics are in black and white and most are easy enough to read. These graphics simply illustrate many of the step-by-step methods to achievement that are offered within. While many of the tips and tricks are new, it did seem to me that most, especially as concerning Final Cut Pro, could be found in the Final Cut Pro On the Spot 2nd edition. In fact, almost all the graphics used regarding Final Cut Pro were identical to those used in that 2nd edition. Thus, this book is not so much an updating of the previous version but an enlargement to also incorporate Final Cut Studio's other applications. While there are new chapters covering the use of editing in HD, HDV and the use of the Pro Res 422 codec, I would have preferred a greater depth and focus than what I found. Granted, that while the purpose of this book is not to get into a deep discussion of these areas, it seemed to me that an enlarged focus would have been warranted.

Which brings me to my bottom line on Final Cut Studio On the Spot Version 3. If you are looking for a wide variety of time saving tips and shortcuts for Final Cut Pro and already have the version 2 copy, you will not find much that is new here. However, if you have not read the previous version and/ or you would like some nifty tricks, tips and shortcuts for Motion, Live Type, Soundtrack and Compressor as well, then this really is a cool book to read at your leisure. Read a page here, there, or on a break, and you may have an epiphany or two that really will make your editing day go faster and with greater efficiency.

Available in lafcpug Store for $19.77 (Click on FCP Books)

Steve Douglas is a certified Apple Pro for Final Cut Pro 6 and underwater videographer. A winner of the 1999 Pacific Coast Underwater Film Competition, 2003 IVIE competition, 2004 Los Angeles Underwater Photographic competition, and the prestigious 2005 International Beneath the Sea Film Competition, where he also won the Stan Waterman Award for Excellence in Underwater Videography and 'Diver of the Year', Steve was a safety diver on the feature film "The Deep Blue Sea", contributed footage to the Seaworld Park's Atlantis production, the History channel's MegaDisaster show and other networks. Steve is one of the founding organizers of the San Diego UnderSea Film Exhibition and leads both underwater filming expeditions and African safaris with upcoming excursions to Indonesia and the Coco Islands, Costa Rica in 2008, Kenyan safari in Africa and the Red Sea for 2009, and Truk Lagoon in Micronesia for 2010. Feel free to contact him if you are interested in joining Steve on any of these exciting trips.


copyright © Steve Douglas 2008


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