FCP X makes the air.

What makes something intuitive?

For me, it’s when I think “if I designed this… I would add a function like this”, and then when I find that function, and realize that I have become one with the programmers, life is good.
I’m waiting for that to happen with FCP X. There are definitely plenty of power and controls under the hood, but it’s challenging to find the knobs and dials. It’s as if someone said I’m going to give you a new car, but there’s no steering wheel, or pedals, or gear shift, and by the way, the windshield moves around, and the GPS only speaks Swahili.

Professionally I’ve been editing for the past 8 years on a piece of software by Sony, called Xpri. It’s Similar to Avid, but it’s a product that hasn’t been upgraded for 5 years. The video looks great, but it’s not flexible. Personally I’ve been editing on Final Cut pro since FCP 3. I work for a local tv station shooting and editing all sorts of interesting stories.
It seemed like a good time to make the jump, and take FCP X to the air.

We’re a long way from digital acquisition. Our show went HD in 2003, shooting on Sony HDW730 cameras on hdcam tape. One of our reporters just got back from Moscow for the press junket for the latest Transformers film. After a series of stories about the film, Reporter Kim took her still camera, that also shoots video, and shot a little travelogue.

It was a short piece, about 2 minutes. The footage is all the things our tape based system hates: progressive video, digital acquisition, 24fps footage. Seemed like a perfect time to break out the FCP X.

Workflow distress.  I usually start my edits by laying down the reporter’s narration track, insert any interviews or sound-ups, add music, and then select shots to cover the black. Then comes the molding, squeezing, finessing, polishing and finishing.

How to start. Do I edit the same way I normally do? When you deal with tracks, you can lay everything out, like clothes. Only when you set your clothes out for the next day, they stay where they are put. They don’t slide around on your bed getting out of the way of your other clothes. I’m going to need to think about this.

My editing timeline.

Spine and spikes. I’m trying to think of the timeline like one long spine, with vertebrae that you can shuffle around. Everything else is spiked to one of the vertebrae, or spiked to another spiked clip.
I tried laying out the audio like I always do. I then spiked the video into a secondary storyline above the audio track. This way I can make use of the bumper car nature of arranging my clips. If I spiked each clip directly into the audiotrack, you can’t slip and slide the clips around.

Later in the timeline I used video clips for the “spine” and spiked the narration and music to the shots laid down. I think this is how I’m going to need to think when I edit.

Here’s the finished video. Nothing too special. I needed to overlap my audio, isolate the audio channels, adjust audio levels, animate still frames, do the variety of slipping sliding and trimming. Nothing that’s very complicated, unless you’re a righty trying to learn how to sign your name with your left hand.

I stabilized several of her shots with one click – pretty cool.

I’m going back to FCP 7, but I have another creative edit I’m going to try doing on FCP X.

Wish me luck.

Coming up next: what’s missing, or “Where’s my cheese?”

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