Much to love

I heart XI’ve been loving my Final Cut Pro X for 2 1/2 years now, and I literally use it every day.

I use it personally, and professionally. I use it so much, I think my dreams now occur in their own magnetic timeline.

It takes me a little more work to get my material onto my Mac, but in the end, the editing process is so fast and streamlined, that it makes up for the extra time to ingest.

I work for a daily local lifestyle show in Seattle. Our media is all ingested onto our Sony XD News server. We’ve been shooting on HDcam tape since 2003, and we aren’t likely to change since it’s such a large capital outlay, but I have a path where I can pull my footage off the server as mxf xdcam 35 files, and use XDcam Transfer to re-wrap the footage into Quicktime files that come right into FCPX.

The best part, is that I’ve removed the optical disc from my 17″ MBP, and replaced it with an SSD. I now have a 240gb SSD with my OS, and a 1tb internal drive that holds my media, and I can load it up with hours and hours of footage. I don’t need an elaborate raid array, or even an extrenal drive with my media. It’s all in my lap. I can edit in my office, at my desk, in the break room, down the street at the coffee shop, or in my jammies at home. Personally, I think all future Macbook Pros should have a slot to insert an extra SSD.

For me, the FCPX debate comes down to two things: workflow and work. If it’s too hard to get the material in and out of FCPX, it can become a deal breaker. Need an XML export? Audio for Pro Tools? Files for color correction? There are ways to do it, but it can be a little tricky.

I do everything on my laptop, from basic color correction to audio mixing, so my workflow is good.

As for the work, I find FCPX very tactile and intuitive, and it lets me make creative decisions with a minimum of fuss about how to execute the edits. The use of metadata and keywords makes media management in the browser very fast. Between the keyboard and my trackpad, I can navigate and execute edits with great dexterity. There are sniggley issues that I run into that still frustrate me, but overall it’s a fast, responsive application that lets me be creative. It’s like touch typing for video.

I recommend FCPX to people all the time. You should know that the first time you open up the app, there is a LOT to get used to. It took me a number of days to retrain my fingers and my mind to get around the app. Now, when I go back to my old regular platform, it feels so sluggish and old.

I’ve been spoiled, and I hope I never need to go back.


Removing the ease from the linear transform

This is a super secret workaround.

You’ve done this: set transform keyframes to change the position and scale of an object. You set the interpolation to linear, yet the thing still eases in and out. You play with the bezier handles but no joy. There is hope, because there’s a simple workaround that will allow you to make your animations nice and direct with no easing.

It’s all about adding a keyframe to the frame next to your current keyframe, then deleting it. It’s quite simple really, and it works.

Still Here

Yep… haven’t gone anywhere.

I’m still working primarily in FCPX. I like the promise of it a little better than the actual execution. I still get too many beachballs, and there are still many workarounds I feel I’m forced to make, however, I have ultimate faith that the app will continue to grow, like legacy Final Cut did, but in an extremely accelerated manner. Not nearly as fast as I’d like, but it’s doing alright so far.

Top requests:

  • Get rid of the timelines in the project library. Slowness by design. Yikes.
  • Figure out an elegent way to keep the render files if I duplicate a project. Is it only because I’m used to legacy FCP that I expect it to be able to do this?
  • Please come up with a vault. More than once, I’ve fallen asleep editing. I’ve had the same short clip edited 50 or more times in my timeline, overwriting just about everything else, simply because I had my finger on the D key as I nodded off. If my program crashed before I hit my undo 50 or more times, I’d be toast.
  • Fix the multicam clips. I need to be able to edit the audio without stepping into the clips several times. You can’t see the multicam clip in timeline view mode to edit the audio. You need to first step into the multicam clip, to see the individual clips, then step into the one clip I’m going to edit, then find the range of the multicam clip that’s in my timeline, then edit the multiple audio tracks to get a proper sound balance, then step back out into the main timeline. It’s uber-awkward.
  • Paste properties selection, and copy and paste individual effects. This is a must. I’m hamstrung by this weakness nearly once a week. Give me back my favorites bin for effects, and that would be a first step.
  • Find all of the memory and processor leaks. I’m still getting beach balls, and I don’t even know why.m.
  • Bring back audio automation, normalization gain, round-tripping with motion, fix the photoshop import ( I actually loved the implementation in 10.0.2 and before. I could edit away at my psd, and all of my changes would show up in the clip. Magical. Now I need to create a new clip for every alteration, and re-ingest it. It super-sucks.
  • That’s a good first step.Yay.


Still editing… blogging not so much.

I’ve been a busy boy, editing almost exclusively with FCX on my laptop. I continue to like an awful lot about X, but then there’s the awful part that I don’t like at all.

I’ve had a recent run-in with a project size bloat. I posted it to the cow, and got some good information and feedback.

FCX gives you the ability to take a clip from the event browser and open it in a timeline view, where you can basically treat it like a sequence, and modify it any way you desire. This seems more than a little dangerous. If I modified a clip with effects and needed to re-import it, would it re-enter the event with the effects nested inside?

I had added some markers, and applied the loudness audio enhancement to two of the four audio tracks inside my two main clips. Then I placed the modified clip in my timeline, and proceeded to cut it into bits with the blade tool. After cutting it into a dozen or so clips, my project size ballooned to nearly 100mb, where most of my projects are in the vicinity of 20mb.

It seems that when I altered my clip, I essentially made FCX treat it like a sequence instead of a clip. This should be avoided.

Note that I’m not talking about applying the audio enhancement to the clip in the bin. I’m talking about opening the clip and applying the audio enhancement to individual tracks inside the clip.

I’m not going to do that again. Likewise it can become troublesome make a compound clip and slice that up into bits because every time you add an edit cut splitting a compound clip, you effectively double the clip, and start making the project size larger. This shouldn’t be an issue for one or two cuts, but if you start editing an entire sequence with compound clips it can be trouble.



Another day… another edit. This one was fun.

It’s fun to edit a story where I get to push the fancy button a lot.

This is a story about a local author who wrote a guidebook for affordable fun in Seattle. I used photoshop skills to change the names on signs and stores. I created an animated copy of his book. We interviewed the author in front of a green screen to give the keying a shot. I animated book pages in motion. It was a lot of fun.

I’m feeling more confident with the interface. That doesn’t mean that it’s working perfectly for me, but I’m familiar enough to know what I can do, and how to work around what I can’t. I’m still waiting for that update this summer.

This is my entire timeline. Click to open full size.

I like to have my timelines as clean as possible, including the audio. I generally group my audio files in tracks based on the content. It’s taking some effort to let go, and let the audio clips fall where they may.

I got to use photoshop to change some signage, and put it over rolling video to help “sell” the shot.

It's fun to use photoshop to modify reality.

Overall, it was a fun experience. The green screen key was instantaneous, and required no modification at all. I still want my “send to motion” back, and it feels to me like I should be able to drag the motion project file directly into an FCX bin, and drop it into the timeline. There may be a way to send the file back to motion for modifications, without rendering a new output file, but I haven’t figured it out yet.

I need to vent

I’ve edited several projects for our daily tv show on FCX, and the experience has been a bit of a roller coaster… highs and lows.

I’m optimistic about the future of this thing, and I don’t know why I keep starting projects on it when there’s obviously so much they need to fix.

I’ve spend an entire day and a half on a 5 minute magazine story, and it’s been full of frustrations. I’ve spent enough time with this thing, learning it, and trying to coerce it and cajole it to make magic. I deserve to have a good productive rant.

So here goes…

Why can’t I slip a clip without moving the attached clips?
Why are there attached clips? Why can’t I unattach them, make an edit then reattach them? In other words why can’t I lock my tracks.

Why doesn’t this thing remember my ins and outs? Must I make everything a favorite?

Why can’t I lock the time position of a clip when I move it vertically?

Why can’t I lock the vertical or horizontal movement with the shift key when I apply a transform in the viewer?

If I build a bit of my timeline with some transitional effects, why can’t I pull that out of the primary storyline and place it in a secondary storyline? Why do I want to do this? Because I can’t slip my clips in the primary storyline without moving my connected clips. ARRRRRGH!

Why do I need to go into two nests just to animate my opacity on a clip? Open video animation, then click the most miniscule box to see the opacity animation. FC7 shows this directly in the timeline.

When I expand the video animation tab, why is there space wasted for parameters I can’t animate?

Why can’t I extend a clip to cover up some gap next to it, without leaving a zero frame gap? Really Apple… a zero length gap! What the heck is that?

Why does this thing default to 5.1 surround sound for new projects? Are they really expecting youtube video artists to be mixing everything in 5.1?

Why do I need to wait for all of the projects to load when I only want to use one?

Why is there no versioning, or a convenient way to save snapshots of the timeline at various points in time.

And if I make a copy of a project to save a version or snapshot, I can’t link to the renders I’ve already made without duplicating all of the renders. Seriously? That’s the best you could do Apple?

Why is there no attic, or autosave vault?

Why is there no way to relink clips that appear to be offline, even though I can see them on the hard drive.

Why doesn’t it add a keyframe when I change a parameter? That’s how FC7 works. When I have one keyframe and I make an adjustment further down the timeline, it should create a new keyframe.

There should be a way to paste an effect and scale the effect to the duration of the new clip.

Why can’t I copy and paste just one effect from one clip to another without copying every other effect, audio keyframe and filter as well?

When I click on an audio keyframe and hit OPT-UP or OPT-DOWN, why doesn’t it always adjust the level one db at a time? It seems to make larger adjustments if the timeline is shrunk very short and smaller adjustments if the timeline is tall. How does this make practical sense?

Why does this thing crash so much?

Why can’t I export a quicktime reference movie, and use the renders I’ve already made for a quick export.

And speaking of exports, why can’t I set an in and out point? I can only export the entire timeline? Really?

And still speaking of exports, what happened to multi channel exports? I can’t export stem tracks without turning clips on and off and performing multiple exports?

For every cool thing, there are 5 uncool things. For every efficiency they’ve added, there are 7 inefficencies. For every little bit of enjoyment that I have with this thing, there are 8 or 9 stomach-cramping, tooth-grinding, bowel-tightening frustrations.

It’s August 29th. Where are the fixes we were promised?

Thanks. I feel better now.