Archive for June, 2011

The overwhelming view (on Twitter) appears to be FCPX is not a “Pro” level tool, in fact I received this tweet:

@BeetleCarDriver @fineblendmedia I am a professional editor, and FCPX is not “pro” yet. Sorry.
22/06/2011 01:32

This pretty much sums up the vast majority of the sentiment that was floating around on twitter shortly after the release.  It’s an interesting on points because it’s a comment about FCPX but also a comment about how Pro people see themselves.  The insinuation being that because you can see value in an affordable mass market product that immediately means you’re less Pro.  Frankly, that fucks me off.

A Bit of Background.

Quite a lot of My/our work is non broadcast corporate communication which is never seen by the public at large.  A typical example would be a large shopping chain is keen to communicate with all their staff about a change to their branding and store layout.  We produce those videos that explain to the staff the new direction that the company is going in and why.  Because it is vital that these videos are watched by the staff they are not typically dry and corny corporate videos.  We produce videos that mirror the company’s own external marketing using current broadcast aesthetics to appeal to their staff because it is vitally important that they receive the message.  The mode of receptions can be staff training day presentations, DVDs to take home or web based video hosted on the company intranet.  The point is these presentations have to be as good in production value as external marketing or very close otherwise the presentations reflect poorly on the companies’ brand to their own employees.  The production quality is way above a lot of what constitutes broadcast TV quality.  Our main constraint is of course budgets and with the credit crunch our budgets have been further constrained so we continually look for competitive advantages and offerings.

Our budgets do not come close to approaching typical Broadcast spots but we offer the very best pragmatic and cost effective solutions using tapeless workflow, HD compact video cameras, DSLRs, VFX and 3D animation to punch well above our weight.  In a short while and once FCPX has had a couple of point releases I believe it will be making a huge contribution to our output.  We do not have the need nor budgets for a dedicated grading suite with everything that involves because if you don’t do it properly you’re wasting your time.  I have been a vocal proponent of Apple Color for a long time which has helped us get that Broadcast aesthetic but at a cost of a lot of assing around with the round-tripping, with some media supported and others not, only really a single layer grade-able at a time and no way of seeing the final composite with blending modes live in the colour corrector.  Sorry but our clients want to see these things with titles and graphics all live ready for them to change — as is their right as the people paying for the work.  FCPX answers so many of those needs.  The Color Board at first glance looks primitive but it also does a good job of hiding its power and umpteen layers of colour correction can be applied with vignettes and keys with no apparent slow down.  This is absolutely going to be a game changer for us especially when we have a client with us in the studio who is signing off the work — which enables us to get paid — so the sooner the project is finished the better.

Am I going to rush FCPX right into the frontline straight away?  Of course not.  In the few short hours I’ve used it I’ve noticed several bugs and interface inconsistencies and until they’re worked out FCPX will not be used on client facing work.  Over the coming weeks we’ll continue testing workflows and the moment we are happy we’ll roll out the use of FCPX in a controlled way.  There’s no point showing the client the future of video production only to take longer than the old school way.  But….

Having said that, we are immediately going to make FCPX part of the back room process by using the wonderful media management tools to bring all our previous client files into its database.  This will enable us to quickly access client files should the need arise.  In the past when we’ve had previous requests for a quick montage it has been anything but quick to locate relevant clips taking many times longer than the actual edit.  I’m surprised all the “Pros” that are demanding refunds couldn’t see the worth of a fabulous set of tools for managing a huge media library.  In my view these tools are worth the £180 I paid for the whole of FCPX and are immediately going to impact our bottom line.

How “Pro” do you have to be before it becomes an impediment to spotting the obvious?


FCPX has arrived to a storm of criticism.  😦

My  strong feelings are that Apple missed a masterstroke by not including the ability to load FCP7 and to export XML.  It would’ve allowed people to continue with FCP7 and integrate FCPX into their workflow just like the other parts of the FCStudio.  I could foresee editing in FCP7 then finishing inside FCPX with all the realtime goodness of the filters, Color Board and Motion templates.  The finished project could then have been sent back to FCP7 for output back to tape.  This would’ve enabled FCPX to be useful straight away and deflect much of the criticism.

I am firmly of the mind that in six months all this launch nonsense will have been forgotten as Apple will have released a couple of updates that will have addressed the main criticisms and squashed a few bugs too.

Anyway, in the most I’m really enjoying the FCPX and Motion5 experience in fact I love it.  Yes, there are a few bugs to iron out so too some workflow improvement, especially in being able to copy colour corrections to other clips on the timeline without having to resort to using the Paste Effects option.  It copies colour correction well enough but it also copies all video and audio effects onto the target clip too making it a bit of a blunt tool.

Give it time, think of it as an iPhone 1.0.  No one remembers how limited that was do they?

Back to it….

What no Color X?

Oh no the world is going to end!  Nope but it could mean we’re just about to get a Smoke competitor in FCPX and Motion.

So if the rumours are true that Apple has dropped Color from the Final Cut Studio range of applications what does this mean?

If true it means the Color Board in FCPX is the first stage in incorporating production level grading tools into Final Cut Pro X.  Surely this is something that many of us would prefer?  Round tripping to an external grading application with all of the hassles that entails is very often over kill for many projects, many of my projects, but I want more control than the FCP7 colour corrector!  Will the Colour Board be fully featured enough to grade a film for cinema release?  Probably not but then I’ve never graded a cinematic release and never will.  I deal with reasonably high-end corporate communication and marketing/advertising with generally short turnover but not scrimping on quality.  To be able to show the client the final edit with the grade, titles and graphics all live and in realtime takes FCPX into Smoke territory for finishing.  This fact seems to have been missed by the negative voices who are keen to sell the myth that FCPX is not Pro.

I’m completely confident and capable with Color and to some extent Davinci Resolve but I’d gladly ditch round-trupping for the benefits of being able to work on all the media in the timeline right up to the point the client says export.  So would my clients, especially those who’ve requested edits that have to be re-round-tripped who are then surprised by the hassle extending a fews clips causes not to mention the extra time it takes for “minor” changes up against deadlines.  In my work the benefits of a built in colour corrector with reliable scopes massively out weigh the (possibly) more limited grading tools FCPX will ship with.  I expect the, much derided already, Match Grade function to be a key component of the workflow  I don’t see this as an amateur tool but a pragmatic professional approach – if it works well.  I’m prepared to give it the benefit of the doubt.

I’ve never been able to find myself a satisfactory workflow with titles, effects and graphic media with the external roundtrip to Color (or any grading application to be honest) as there’s always some form of timeline.  Clients are well known for wanting changes to lower thirds and graphics at the last minute but how do you make sure they are video legal without round-tripping them too?  It’s been a pain in the ass so much so we were considering looking at Autodesk Smoke to limit the wasted time on round-tripping and to better offer what the client wants, continual options right up to the point we run out of time or they say the project is finished.

I have a feeling that FCPX and much tighter integration with Motion will be our answer.  Together they could be ideal for the promo work I do.
Leaked screenshots of Motion showed what looked like the ability to develop (Rig) your own effects in Motion then share (Publish) them to FCPX.  It wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to think that you could Rig and Publish a set of the more useful colour grading filters together to enhance the FCPX toolset.  The Motion workflow is probably much closer tied to FCPX than before and maybe live updates are possible while working in Motion.  One to look out for!  Whatever happens Motion is going to have a massive boost with OpenCL, GCD and 64 bit and may for the first time deliver RT motion graphics production that its previous architecture wasn’t quite able to in the past.  Motion has always been a favourite of ours and works well with Cinema 4D and could tie our post production together nicely.

My take is that with FCPX Apple is answering the needs of the users that need to finish often with the client behind them who often don’t feel they’ve done their job without making changes late in the day.  Will FCPX really be a Smoke competitor?  Not long to wait…

FCPX – A Platform

FCPX can only be days away from release so I thought I’d jot down a few thoughts.

There has been much FUD spread on Twitter during the last week, you know, the Lemmings were worried what Larry Jordan said two months ago, the sky fell in etc.  Another tweet caught my eye, it was a complaint that 32 bit Plugins would have to be purchased again to work in FCPX.  Yeah?  Well of course 32 bit plugins aren’t going to work in a 64 bit application and even if they did why would you want them to?  What we all want are the plugin developers to recode their plugins for all the nice new technology FCPX is based on like OpenCL, GCD, oodles of memory etc. etc.  Who wouldn’t want real time Colourista III, Sapphire Plugins and Conduit?  I mean, who wouldn’t?  Personally I’d love Conduit 3D to find its way into Motion/FCPX in a few short months then I could put Shake to bed and roll out “Phenomenon” for real.

My wish is that there is an excellent SDK available at launch or soon after and that developers see FCPX as an excellent business opportunity especially as the new low price is sure to attract many more users to the Pro level software.  It’s good for all of us that so many new users could be attracted making it a vibrant platform to develop for.

Much has been made of the fact FCPX will be version 1.0 software but with a vibrant 3rd party plugin developer community working in parallel to Apple to bring features and functionality to FCPX will make it the fully featured all round application we all desire sooner rather than later.