Archive for the ‘Final Cut’ category

That Post Show Rated #1

July 26, 2012

Brian Mulligan, writing for, has been listening to the many podcasts now covering new media and post production and has given his highest rating to Kanen Flowers’ “That Post Show.” I’m proud to be a participant. A new show just went live, featuring me and Mark Spencer from Ripple Training. If you’re looking for some thoughtful dialog about the current state of post production, check it out at iTunes.

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.

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.

FCP-X and the Pain of Democratization

June 27, 2011

Avid editors looking for a bit of shameless gloating will enjoy the latest installment in Kanen (John) Flowers’ podcast “That Post Show” (iTunes). Dormant for some two years, the show has reappeared with a new episode featuring four longtime Final Cut editors talking about FCP-X — and they are not happy. In their view, Apple has turned its back on professionals, creating a program they can’t use to make a living and leaving them with little alternative but to switch to Premiere or Media Composer. Some of the features they mourn: a source monitor, multi-cam editing, bins, windows that can be broken up onto multiple monitors, trim mode (they reserve special scorn for FCP-X’s “precision” trimmer, pointing out that FCP-X is inherently imprecise), the ability to cut from one sequence into another, OMF/AAF export, EDL support. The show was recorded soon after the release and is thus based on the earliest of first impressions, but it makes for some entertaining listening.

There are plenty of serious limitations in FCP-X — but there were huge limitations in FCP1, too. The pain of democratization is always wrenching, and this release of Final Cut will be no different. Every new release, it seems (including the appearance of the first Media Composer), has made editing more accessible and expanded the base of editorial talent. But by seeming to abandon its existing customers, Apple has confronted many editors with a choice they never wanted to make, and forsaking the company that once empowered them, or accepting a program that doesn’t serve their needs. Whatever you think of Avid’s performance over the last decade, new management has been doing its level best to listen to and work with editors.

None of this should cause us to overlook the fact that most of the innovation in FCP-X is focused not on workflow, but on editors and the editing process. Randy Ubillos is nothing if not creative when it comes to the experience of editing, and I, for one, want some of those features now: waveforms that don’t constantly redraw; background saving and rendering (rendering has gotten all the press, but saving will mean more to me); background proxy creation (and the ability to switch from proxy to full-res media with a click); “clip connections” that let you drag music or sound effects with the picture it’s synched to; compound clips that allow you to collapse and uncollapse portions of a sequence; “audition” groups that let you cut more than one option and quickly switch between them within the sequence, and of course, excellent timeline performance with long-GOP media. I understand the mixed reaction to the magnetic timeline, but I’d love to have it as an option.

Short term, FCP users are facing a difficult choice, which is good for Adobe and Avid. But long term, FCP-X represents a new challenge, appealing to a whole new audience of media creators and offering them features that nobody else has. Yet.

For those of you who are thinking about making a switch to Media Composer, I encourage you to take a look at my book Avid Agility (now available in print or for Kindle). If you want to get the most out of Media Composer and do it quickly, it’s your best resource.

FCP-X Enters With a Bang

June 22, 2011

Apple released Final Cut Pro X yesterday with only a press release on its home page, but it arrived to a big chorus of boos in the App Store. From the first rumors, this application was destined to be controversial, and the first day has provided plenty for would-be early adopters to chew on.

Chief complaints: no ability to open projects created in FCP7, no multi-cam, no native support of R3D or XDCam, no bins as we know them, no source monitor, no EDL, XML or OMF support (though Automatic Duck will help you with OMF). Capturing from tape is supported only over Firewire; if you need other formats, you’ll have to use software provided by your capture card, which is probably still in beta, at best (Aja’s white paper suggests a dual boot system for now). External monitoring is likewise left to third parties and not yet fully baked.

Soundtrack Pro and Color are gone, with at least some of their functionality rolled into Final Cut, where they should be, but Motion and Compressor remain, and are now available on the app store as downloads. They seem irresistible at a mere $50 each.

Folks who are coming to FCP with a clean slate and no legacy projects to support, seem to like it better, and, needless to say, there’s a lot to like: native support for tough media formats, 4K support, a slick color corrector, an audition module, a way to nest editorial options within a single clip, freeform linking of picture and sound so that they drag together in the timeline, background saving and rendering, and performance that will be the envy of the industry. Many of these things have been on the Avid wish list for years.

Apple has embraced keyword-based search as a way to organize media of all kinds, and Final Cut is no exception. Like iMovie and iPhoto, it organizes your work into “events” and encourages you to add keywords and create smart collections —  groupings that update live as you add material. Whether editors, particularly editors of tightly organized, scripted shows, are going to find that appealing is an open question.

Apple is running a game plan they know well, which worked for them with the first Final Cut — expand the user base by appealing to customers the other guy didn’t know existed. Final Cut originally focused on DV and Firewire and radically forced prices down. FCP-X is designed to do the same thing for file-based media. The company has the moxie to obsolete all previous versions, and while they will piss off many editors, they will undoubtedly find lots of new customers at the same time. FCP-X was Apple’s biggest download yesterday, and at $299, all the controversy is probably doing as much to help sales as hurt them.

For more about the new release, check out the videos and feature list on Apple’s FCP site. Many key questions for pros are addressed by Philip Hodgetts’ on his blog. The next installment of the Terence and Philip podcast, hosted by Phil and Terry Curren, will be focused on the new Final Cut and should be available shortly. Phil is also offering a low-cost pdf book about Final Cut Pro metadata, available here.

Customer Support – Not!

May 29, 2011

I recently spent some quality time on the phone with Microsoft customer support in the far east. I’ve used Microsoft mice for years, but I needed to temporarily uninstall their mouse driver. I ended up speaking to five people including a supervisor and the supervisor’s supervisor. None had any Macintosh experience. There is apparently no such thing as Microsoft Mouse/Keyboard support for Mac. After two callbacks, the supervisor’s supervisor finally informed me that the uninstaller exists in the my Utilities folder. It doesn’t have the same name as the mouse driver, but there it is. Time wasted — two hours.

I’ve had similar experiences with Adobe tech support for its publishing program, In Design, where it often seems that all problems can be solved by reinstalling the application or trashing your preferences. If that doesn’t work, then the bug you found is actually a feature.

We’ve all had these experiences. And painful as they are, they are one thing when they relate to your phone bill, and another when they’re about a piece of software you depend on to make a living.

Two weeks ago Avid took over the AlphaDogs Editors Lounge event with a series of simultaneous, small-group meetings where customers could get up close and personal with key Avid personnel. CEO Gary Greenfield was on hand, along with the principle Media Composer product managers and engineers. Anybody present could pose questions to the key decision makers at Avid and get honest answers.

Contrast that to Randy Ubillos’ impressive Final Cut X demo at the NAB Supermeet. He showed off lots of intriguing technology, and the crowd cheered. But no questions were permitted.

Avid and Apple are playing to their strengths. Apple is once again democratizing the market, making it possible for more and more people to edit, and hoping for customers numbered in the millions. Avid is building on its deep roots in the professional community and keeping those relationships as close and current as possible.

I’m glad both companies exist. They’re doing different things and both are important. But when it comes to customer support, I’ll take the up close and personal kind, any day.