Archive for the ‘Avid vs. Final Cut’ category

Filling Niche Space

April 17, 2012

In evolution, when one species disappears, others evolve to fill the vacant niche. That seems to be exactly what’s happening now in post production. A year ago, Apple abandoned the professional editing world by releasing FCP-X and putting a bullet in FCP 7. The product has improved since, and contains many  innovative ideas, but the consensus today is that if you want to edit professionally, you’re better served elsewhere.

In the intervening year, we’ve seen fundamental redesigns of the two major competitors, Media Composer and Premiere (both now at version 6) and, as of yesterday, the redesign and repositioning of Autodesk’s Smoke, now called Smoke 2013 and selling for just $3500. Not to be outdone, Avid has offered a competitive upgrade from FCP 7 (or Media Composer) to Symphony for just $1000. The result is a reinvigorated group of tools for both creative and finishing tasks, and a changed competitive landscape.

For more about Smoke and Premiere, check out two recent episodes of Kanen Flowers’ “That Post Show” — “Smoke This Podcast” and “Adobe CS6.”

Editor’s Lounge Videos Posted

April 15, 2012

If you’re not going to make it to Vegas this year and are looking for a bit of pre-show analysis, check out the Editors Lounge Pre-NAB Panel Discussion Video. It features Terry Curren, Michael Kammes,  Mark Raudonis, and I talking about such things as how the growing move to tablet devices and internet distribution is changing life for content creators. But we get into the gear, too, with a discussion about FCP-X, Premiere, Media Composer, Lightworks, and, yes, even the resurgence of the typewriter. Masterfully moderated by Deborah Kaufman, it makes for interesting viewing (and looks crystal clear at full res).

That Post Show — A Little Squirt of Dopamine

January 25, 2012

Last week, I participated in another episode of Kanen Flowers’ “That Post Show” podcast — this time covering the skill-set you’ll need in order to succeed in the real world of the professional editing room. The episode is entitled “Squirt of Dopamine” and also features Mike J. Nichols, Paul Zadie and, of course, Kanen. I think you’ll find it interesting listening. Check it out via iTunes or get it from the shownotes page.

Final Cut X vs. Media Composer 6 Podcast

December 27, 2011

If you’re looking for a sane and reasoned comparison of Media Composer 6 and Final Cut X — from the real world of the editing room trenches — look no further than the latest edition of Kanen Flowers’ “That Post Show” podcast. I was a participant, along with Scott Simmons, Paul del Vecchio and Kanen. The show is available from the  iTunes store, or you can download it on the show notes page. This episode is facetiously titled “Edit Pro Supergood.” Fair warning: it’s long, and Skype failed us a few times, but it’s consistently substantive and, from my biased perspective, makes for interesting listening.

Upgrading Without Tears — Moving from MC4 to 5

September 27, 2011

I received an email from an editor recently, a long-time Avid user, which started more or less like this: “I’m using MC5 on a TV series. But I really don’t like it. And the other editors on the show all have the same impression.” He went on to explain how much he dislikes the FCP model and prefers Avid’s trim tools, especially asymmetrical trim. But MC5 removes much of the fluidity that he loved in older versions of Media Composer.

My reaction is that while MC5 felt different, Version 5.5 brings back much of the feel of Version 4. The trick to making it work is, naturally, in your settings. If you adjust things properly, you will find that 5.5 functions pretty much as you expect, and offers several important new features, including real-time audio effects, stereo tracks, and the ability to search the entire project for clipnames or descriptions (or anything else, for that matter). If you pay an extra fee, you can search for audio dialog, as well (PhraseFind).

Here’s what you need to do.

1) Timeline Settings

Be sure to select “Clicking the TC Track or Ruler Disables Smart Tools.” That brings back traditional behavior — click the timecode track and segment mode turns off. Over time you may find that you prefer this to be turned off, but if you want familiarity, leave it on. Selecting “Only One Segment Tool Can Be Enabled at a Time” also makes MC5.5 work like Version 4 — when you choose Red or Yellow Segment mode, the other turns off. And finally, your default segment tool should be “Overwrite.” I could go on at length about this, but if you want fewer surprises, use Overwrite. Note that all these settings are not this way by default — that’s a big part of why long-time Media Composer users get so frustrated with v5 and 5.5.

2) Smart Tool

Start by turning off the Linked Selection button. For long-time users, this single feature is probably responsible for more frustration than anything else. Turn all the Smart Tools off. In Version 5.5, they’ll stay off. Turn on the keyframe tool — when you move your cursor over a keyframe you’ll be able to adjust it.


3) Keyboard

Be sure to put both segment mode buttons on your keyboard. When you need to move a clip, just hit the mode you want. I also like to put the waveform toggle on the keyboard (“Wa” in the illustration).


4) Trim Mode

Nothing special to be done here. But important changes in Version 5.5 bring back the responsiveness and precision that you were used to in Version 4 when selecting rollers. And it fixes the bug that took you out of Trim Mode if you accidentally clicked too far away from a roller.


5) Composer Settings

Be sure to de-select “Auto-enable Source Tracks.” This brings back the MC4 feature that remembered source track selection. Again, it is selected, rather than deselected, by default (see this post).

6) Keyboard Shortcuts

Yes, some of the keyboard modifiers and shortcuts have changed. It’ll undoubtedly be frustrating initially, but it’s not the end of the world. These are the ones you’ll need most often.

  1. To drag a segment vertically while allowing no movement side-to-side, use Command-Shift-Drag.
  2. To enter Slip and Slide from Trim Mode, get into Trim Mode any way you like, then double-click an existing roller to slip, double-click again to slide.
  3. To lasso transitions and clips anywhere in the timeline, hold down the Option key (rather than the command key) and drag.


7) Other Shortcuts

  1. To set the start timecode for a sequence, simply make a change in the Start column for that clip in a bin. Or right-click on the sequence in a bin and select “Sequence Report…” (You can also use this option to create a list of all effects in the sequence.)
  2. To measure a group of clips or sequences, select them, then right-click on one of them and choose “Get Bin Info.” The Console window will open, with a total length listed.


8) What’s Next?

Once you’ve got all these things set up, MC should feel pretty familiar to you. After that, you’ll want to explore some of the new features. Start with the Track Control Panel, where you can add real-time audio effects. Keep in mind that you can’t change an effect internally — it stays constant throughout your sequence — but it can still be very useful for many things, such as adding a ring-out in music. You can also turn waveforms on or off on a track-by-track basis. In addition, MC5 lets you create and use stereo tracks and clips, so you can treat a stereo pair as a single object in the timeline. You’ll also want to check out the new Find features (Command-F). They let you to search throughout your project. And you’ll need an introduction to Advanced Keyframes, which are now used for most effects. They’re much more powerful, but they take some getting used to. You can find all of that and more in my book, Avid Agility.

Apple Updates Final Cut

September 21, 2011

Working to bring back some of the professional customers that have left Final Cut in droves, Apple released an upgrade to FCP-X yesterday, which includes support for a new XML format and a way to export audio (or video) stems. FCP doesn’t allow you to control track assignments, but the new release will create stems based on metadata you’ll add to your clips. The new release also allows you to set a timecode start for a sequence, a glaring omission in the original release. The announcement also includes a note that they’ll offer multi-cam support and something they are calling “broadcast quality video monitoring” in 2012.

“That Post Show” on Editing Applications

August 25, 2011

If you’re looking for some thoughtful and provocative discussion about the future of editing applications, and specifically about Final Cut vs. Media Composer vs. Premier, check out yesterday’s episode of the podcast, “That Post Show.” Hosted by Kanen Flowers, participants were Paul Del Vecchio, Scott Simmons, Paul Zadie, Shane Ross and me. The episode is entitled “Unstoppable Hydraulic Pressure,” which is a quote from something I said about the power of market share in the post landscape. You can get it for free from the iTunes store.