Tips for setting up your first feature film cutting room and editing system

One question that always comes up at the Guerilla Film Makers Masterclass is which editing tool should I use? There is no straight answer to this but here are my thoughts…

What should you consider when setting up your system?

1. For feature length narrative and documentary, you may go through several editors, so make sure you own the editing system and software.

2. If you are not techy, make sure your editor is. You MUST have a technologist in your team. They don’t need to be a genius, but they do need to ‘get it’.

3. Once you commit to one system, it will be near impossible to move your film to another, so be sure BEFORE you start. And don’t just go with what your editor suggests, it’s YOUR baby and YOU will live with the impact of this choice.

4. However long you think it will take to edit your film, multiply it by three. It just will take much longer than you think. This is one reason why you may work with more than one editor.

5. You will also run out of drive space, so buy the biggest drives you can afford. I am now using USB 3 drives for added speed too.

6. Consider Lightworks, it’s free. Avid also offer a student package that is very competitive. Adobe Premiere and After Effects is also a good choice, but less practical for feature length projects.

7. Don’t upgrade your computer OS, or editing software mid edit, unless you really need to do so.

8. Don’t use your editing system for anything other than editing. Unplug it from the internet too. Think of your editing system as a standalone machine and not a computer running software. You cannot risk catastrophe because of some web malware.

9. Backup your media and project regularly. This will be a challenge as media files and MASSIVE. On the other hand, the project files are small and could easily be saved to your Dropbox which would backup continually.

10. Try and get a big monitor and speakers attached to your system so you can see and hear clearly what you are editing. This is especially important in the latter stages of the edit.

Do you have any tips to add?

Onwards and upwards

Chris Jones, Film Maker and Author

www.livingspiritgroup.com 
www.ProductionOffice.org
e: mail@livingspirit.com

42 Responses to Tips for setting up your first feature film cutting room and editing system

  1. Oli Lewington January 25, 2012 at 5:50 pm #

    Another extremely useful and well-informed post – I’ve not watched the video, but I’ll try to when I can spare the time.

    I’m interested, though, in your thoughts on Adobe Premiere, something I’ve been considering a lot lately. What makes it less viable for feature films?

    As more and more indie filmmakers invest in DSLR cameras to shoot on, the idea of cutting natively without having to transcode the footage to ProRes first seems hugely appealing.

    The storage requirements of using something like MPEG Streamclip (frequently producing fiiles up to 3x the size of the original video) and the system drain that FCP X’s background-processing of the files comes with seem to make a native-editing app like Premiere a sensible choice for indies.

    Would love to know your thoughts, since you’ve now shot and cut on everything from film to Canon 5D.

    • Chris January 25, 2012 at 6:26 pm #

      The problem with not transcoding your footage to ProRes or DNXHD is that the software and system will struggle to play the files back. Often you can get it to work on short projects, but a feature can have so much media, the project just falls over. Of course you could invest in a much faster computer, but then you are really stealing from Peter to pay Paul. I have nothing against Premiere, it’s clearly a great tool, I just don’t want to ever press the play button and wait a moment for the computer to catch up.

      I don’t know what Dave Reynolds edited Zomblies on, and I will ask him (I suspect Premiere). Again, none of these are right or wrong choices, just what works for you. And for it’s Avid.

  2. Richard Purves January 25, 2012 at 6:27 pm #

    Well Oli, myself and Danny Lacey are pretty sold on Premiere Pro CS5.5. I was around his place getting it to work with some of his RED EPIC 5K footage, and it really does put FCP to shame with native RED ingestion.

    I was more interested in it’s integration with a ProRes workflow, which i’m pleased to report it does stunningly well. With FCP X really not being ready for prime time (it’s really still iMovie Pro at this point), it’s this or Avid.

    • Chris January 25, 2012 at 6:34 pm #

      So do the files from Epic in CS 5.5 play back in full HD without dropping frames or skipping / pausing Richard?

      • Oli Lewington January 25, 2012 at 10:16 pm #

        That was my understanding, Chris – hence the question.

        If Premiere can handle native files from RED, DSLR and other formats, it seems like a fantastic option.

        Totally agree with your concerns over skipping playback, dropped frames & slow responses, but if that’s not the case, then it seems like a great tool to me.

        • Chris January 25, 2012 at 11:53 pm #

          Yep agree IF it does playback, which frankly I doubt. It’s one thing being demo’d and tested, it’s another six months down the line after being abused by three different editors, fragmented drives etc…

          Would love to hear if anyone has made it work on a long form project though?

  3. Danny Lacey January 26, 2012 at 9:37 am #

    This is one of those debates that could go on forever, or at least until the next wave of software/technology hits the market.

    When it comes to that junction where you have to decide what software to ‘get into bed with’, it really does come down to your own personal tick list.

    1. Is it compatible with my current hardware configuration (i.e. 64-bit, processor etc)
    2. Can it handle the video format of the film (i.e. H.264, ProRes, 5K)
    3. Does it come with additional programs (i.e. Color, After Effects, Motion etc)
    4. Are you able to master it’s controls quickly?
    5. Does it fit within your budget?

    You’ll more than likely end up with a few options. Then it comes down to personal preference, you may be swayed by word of mouth, other users reviews and so on.

    I’ve invested in and used Final Cut Pro for a few years, then came along FCPX, followed by lots of negative press (no smoke without fire and all that), and then Apple’s decision to remove any trace of the old Final Cut Pro from its shelves. Leaving little ole me out in the cold.

    It was time to move on.

    Enter Adobe Premiere Pro CS5.5 (and After Effects). There will be no turning back from here. Having put Adobe through its paces over the last few months I can quite honestly say, it’s brilliant. I’m editing 5K footage on my latest short film at the moment and it is handling the files well. I do reduce the playback resolution to 1/4 for seamless playback on the timelime (and it is seamless). Besides, don’t most professional editors edit ‘offline’ first, and then go through the whole conforming process? Adobe (and of course any other software capable of editing native) now bypass that procedure. It doesn’t bother me at all, the fact that I drop resolution for playback. If I want to playback at full resolution, click of a few buttons and hey presto.

    Adobe can also handle DSLR video without having to convert to ProRes. I’m more than happy to edit H.264 video, perfect for what I need it for (i.e. corporate jobs, music videos etc). I wouldn’t dream of shooting a film project on a Canon 5D for example, for me the format isn’t good enough having shot on several other camera formats. Here we’re talking about colour information for grading etc.

    If you’re a new filmmaker cutting your own projects, you’ll more than likely be strapped for cash, so I’d opt for the free Lightworks editing software. It’s a no brainer!

    Happy editing!

    Danny

  4. Jon Mills January 26, 2012 at 11:38 am #

    This reminds me of a bit in Mike Figgis’ book ‘Digital Filmmaking’ where he describes talking to Terry Gilliam about how great iMovie is, but both whispering in case anyone else overheard them.

    I think like anything you need to figure out – honestly – where your film will end up. If it’s going to The Palais then fine, use a high-end system, 5k etc etc. If it’s Vimeo and YouTube then use whatever you can get your hands on. At the end of the day it’s about learning to edit together images and sequences to tell a story and any editing software will teach you that.

    • Oli Lewington January 26, 2012 at 8:13 pm #

      Great point, Jon – it’s the workman, not the tools.

      But it’s great to read all of this info on the different systems to understand just what is out there.

  5. Don McVey January 26, 2012 at 12:03 pm #

    This is a discussion I’ve had a lot lately and it seems there’s no easy answer.

    One thing for certain, I’ve been using FCP for years and it’s days are over. Using FCP7 is a horrible, time consuming, clunky, buggy, crashing experience. I really don’t get why it’s still got so many fan boys. There seems to be a whole group of editors who want to defend FCP to the death. You can see the desperation in their eyes though. They know FCPX will always be a turd. I think many are just very scared to take all those hours of learning and mastering FCP and throwing them away. Me included! But it has to be done. FCP editors had a decent run but they backed the wrong horse!

    I’d love to set myself up on Avid but it always comes down to that price tag.

    So I was convinced that I was going to move over to CS5.5. Of course, I’ll have to learn After Effects. Another thing I’m very annoyed about after taking the time to learn Motion!

    BUT. And I think it’s a big but. Lightworks looks amazing! Question: Does LW support 5k? I see a lot on it’s page about supporting 2k effects and playback but is that just for real time?

    Anyway, I think Premier is a great choice. Adobe seem to really understand what’s going on with film-making and make spot-on decisions when developing their software. The complete opposite of Apple (I have no idea who they are targeting now!)

    Chris – you mention big projects over fragmented drives maybe slowing down PR. Does this not happen with Avid?

    If LW handles 5k though, if it integrates with After Effects and 3rd party Plugins. It’s going to be a complete no-brainer!

    • Chris January 26, 2012 at 12:59 pm #

      Hi Don, in short, no it does not really happen with Avid. First off, Avid likes you to convert your media to an Avid specific file that has been designed to take advantage of the Avid software. Second, Avid uses it’s own media management system which is pretty Draconian, BUT, is pretty solid. My experience with Avid is that if you work the way it wants you to work, it’s pretty bullet proof. It’s not for everyone, but it works for me.

      If I were working on music promos, corporates or short films all the time, I suspect Premiere would be the way to go, especially with the integration to After Effects.

      Horses for courses.

      CJ

      • Don McVey January 26, 2012 at 1:13 pm #

        Going to grab myself a copy of Lightworks when it comes out on Mac. Hope that’s soon! Do you use AE with Avid? Does it integrate well? The whole marriage between CS5.5 is pretty appealing. In the mean time, I’ll keep plodding along on FCP. I’ve still never had a paid job on Premier mind you. Companies still use FCP. No idea why!

  6. Damian Knight January 26, 2012 at 1:23 pm #

    Great topic for discussion! I have recently cut a feature length ‘fan’ film which I used FCP (Ver.7) and I am presently cutting a short on Avid (Media Composer 6) and there are ,as you would expect, pros and cons for each system.

    My own preference is that for anything feature length (whether scripted drama or doc) I would use Avid as I personally prefer the way it saves you bins as individual files as opposed to FCP’s method of saving everything as one big project, plus this makes moving projects from suite to suite easier – although I hate Avid’s media management and need to transcode.

    For promos and trailers I really prefer FCP as you can generally (in my experience) do more in suite compositing and FX easier. Both are excellent but only as good as the editor driving the suite.

    I find the tips at the top of the page interesting though as whenever I take on a project as an editor I commit to it 100% as if it was my own, I strongly believe that editors are the true guardian of the story as often Producers and Directors can get distracted with the millions of other things they are dealing with.

  7. Ross McMinn January 26, 2012 at 1:39 pm #

    About a year and a half ago 90% of my clients were using FCP7 and as such I somewhat begrudgingly invested in a Mac with FCP7 despite having spent 8 years using Adobe Premiere Pro. At the same time I bought CS5 as Photoshop and After Effects are a bit handy.

    Whilst I still prefer to use Premiere for DSLR footage especially for the way it handles DSLR footage natively, I can see why so many people fall in love with FCP (especially the colour correction tools). Now all bar 1 of the companies I work with use CS5 as a result of FCPX and to be honest, it’s been a bit of a relief not having to transcode hours of DSLR footage and being able to jump straight in and edit.

    In an ideal world I’d love to combine FCP7 and CS5, but we don’t live in an ideal world so I’ll take the more flexible option in CS5.

    • Chris January 26, 2012 at 2:11 pm #

      Great comments everyone. Don, no I dont use AE at all, I leave that to people with way more time than I have. Great tool, I just dont have the time to get the most out of it.

      Damien, agree 100% on your comment about Editor being the guardian of the the story – I always think of the editor as really the second director on the film, and undeniably as creatively essential as the writer and DP.

      Ross, yep your comments seem to chime in with what is looking like a profile of which tools are best for which jobs.

  8. John Heagy January 27, 2012 at 4:22 am #

    I’ve begun investigating Premiere and FCPX. Both are making me appreciate FCP7 more. FCP7 is really a swiss army knife and we use nearly every tool. We transcode everything into ProRes, so all our timelines are 100% ProRes and the system is rock solid with a solid Xsan.

    I am very disappointed that ProRes is not a “native” codec in PP. The fact that ProRes is yellow in the timeline is a deal breaker. Even if every frame on a PP seq is ProRes, an encode is still required. FCP7 and X’s ability to fatten without any encoding is very powerful. We go a step further and export ref movies in mere seconds for transcode in Episode Engine. Unfortunately FCPX does not export ref movies. QT’s replacement AV Foundation does not have the ability to make ref movies. We are lobbing Apple to return ref movie to both.

    • Don McVey January 27, 2012 at 12:42 pm #

      Isn’t the point with Premier that you don’t have to bother transcoding everything to ProRes? I for one find this a real pain with FCP7. Fine if you have an Xsan and server-farm but not great for someone using a single PC or Mac. Because I use FCP7 I get nervous about projects with different file types. Premier editors don’t seem to worry about this. I might be wrong?

      The fact that FCPX doesn’t natively support Canon XF files was the final nail in the coffin for me. Apple MUST have known this was going to be an extremely popular file type with the release of the XF305. It shows a massive lack of insight on their part.

      • JohnHeagy January 27, 2012 at 3:10 pm #

        That is PP’s point and apparently one must work that way. For us, when an edit is done and needs to feed for air it has to be done/done. Not… okay we’re done, now I have to render the timeline in order to export a self contained file or reliably output to tape.

        I do like that FCPX does transcode to ProRes. In any NLE one has to pay the piper eventually in order to produce a self contained file of the program. Either you deal with a variety of native file formats and metadata or lack of while you edit, or, like us, you transcode and add proper metadata to every source file before edit and work 100% native. We choose the latter.

        • Chris January 27, 2012 at 4:15 pm #

          Thanks John, I think there are two philosphies here – first, throw it all in and render / conform at the end. Or transcode everything upfront so yo know it’s bullet proof. I think for short web based work, you can just chuck it all in and render at the end, but for anything longer, or mission critical work, you want to front load it so that it’s fast and robust in the edit.

  9. Dom D January 27, 2012 at 5:57 am #

    I had to make a choice on this recently as I was beginning shooting my third feature. I had been a Final Cut user since the beginning but wasn’t ready to follow Apple with FCPX and so took a close look at all the major players before deciding on my system.

    The first thing you notice when you move from FCP7 is how good the competition has got. AVID and Adobe offerings are both very good and very fast. I really enjoy cutting on PP- it’s a mess for a mouse reliant user but a pleasure if you want to learn the shortcuts.

    The best I found though was Grass Valley’s Edius. It is easily the fastest of the bunch, allowing real time playback of pretty much everything no matter how many filters or graphics are laid on top. All without rendering. The others are a long way behind the curve on this. The colour correction tools are brilliant and the user interface is interesting too. The default tracks locked, full ripple mode is great fun for quickly laying out your film but it really allows for the user to customise the system to the way they work. I would really recommend it for any PC based users.

    • Chris January 27, 2012 at 8:19 am #

      Thanks Jon, yep i am continually stunned at Apple and what they have done. It’s remarkable self sabotage.

    • Chris January 27, 2012 at 8:21 am #

      Edits, yep I know of this. I will check it out. Anyone else have experience here?

  10. Mohammed Tahir January 31, 2012 at 10:35 am #

    Avid have released Media Composer 6 which is now 64-Bit (you’ll need Windows 7 Professional 64-Bit) but it also allows you to connect 3rd party hardware which wasn’t possible before i.e. you had to go through Mojo and the like. AJA, Matrox, Blackmagic Design, Motu and Bluefish444 all have developed plug-ins to allow their hardware to connect to MC6. If you’ve got an Analog or SDI Mojo then it isn’t going to work with MC6. You’ll need ProTools 9 minimum for it to co-exist on the same machine. With AMA (Avid Media Access), you don’t need to import your footage – you can just link to it and start cutting. You need a powerful machine with some very fast hard drives though. AMA is available with MC5 as well. If you are going down the Avid route, make sure you get the graphics card right, and the right version of QT. You’ll get into a whole heap of trouble if you get this wrong. Avid uses the nVidia Quadro FX series.

    If you want to put your editing machine on the net, which sometimes is inevitable, then I would suggest using Microsoft Security Essentials (free) which is very lightweight. You can also disable it when you’re not on the net – I tend to have it switched on all the time without any problems. Download Malwarebytes Anti-Malware software too. This is free as long as you don’t hit the ‘Start Trial’ button in the ‘Protection’ tab. You can update the database by going to ‘Update -> Check for Updates’. The fact that with the free version you don’t get the scheduler and automatic updater is fine. You just run it on demand when you’re not editing or right click to scan a file you’ve downloaded.

    I tend to transcode up front and take the hit. But it’s a lot of disk space if you’re going from AVCHD (~17mbits/sec) to DNxHD120 (~120mbits/sec). A better way is to generate DNxHD36 proxies, cut, then re-transcode the final sequence to use a much higher bitrate to finish off with for colour correction etc. Even small projects will take a lot of disk space if you transcode everything. That leaves the tiny problem of how to back it all up… 🙂

  11. Damian Knight January 31, 2012 at 10:49 am #

    Good points Mohammed – I am not a huge fan of the whole Avid AMA route as I always run into problems if I do not transcode my rushes first. I do find FCP handles this side of things in a clearer way than Avid. I agree that the best option is to transcode to a proper offline quality, cut, then online.

    My experience is that you really need a well thought out and tested workflow tailored for your project before you start. I have a basic one for either FCP or Avid (depending on which one I am using) which i then tweak depending on how the footage was shot, how much footage there is etc etc. I do find this is very helpful when cutting on FCP but is absolutely essential when cutting on Avid as I find Avid far more unforgiving if you get the fundamentals wrong – but that is just my own experience.

    But like all parts of film making preparation is key – for me making sure I have a tested and effecient workflow from camera to suite is key – I really think a huge part of being a successful editor is the abilty to keep the ‘housekeeping’ side of things absolutely clear and tidy, if anything should happen to me it should be easy for another editor to come in and find everything and hit the ground running immeadiately so no time is lost.

    Of coarse the best part of the job is telling the story and cutting but I think really good organisational skills are key too.

  12. Andy Carslaw February 3, 2012 at 6:59 pm #

    I don’t claim to have anywhere near as much experience as you guys might have. But put me in the Adobe CS5.5 camp. I’ve just written a blog post (which also references this post) http://fernyfilms.wordpress.com/making-the-grade/ Basicall covers my personal experiences using both FCP7 and Premiere CS5.5 for the latest project. To be honest, I found Premiere a dream to use… Happily use it on more ambitious projects such as a feature.

  13. Damian Knight February 4, 2012 at 10:36 am #

    Its interesting Andy, I have been working at BBC Worldwide in Jan and they are all on FCP7 and are in the process of deciding which way to jump (Avid or Premiere) as it seems, like most people, FCP X just is not fit for purpose yet. I see a lot of people singing Premiere praises but for some strange reason I just cannot take it as seriously as an editing tool as much as I do Avid and FCP – which is weird as I use After Effects all the time too and so using Premiere should be a fairly easy proposition for me.
    Personally I would like them to go to Avid but that is for selfish reasons – my focus is on becoming a feature editor and 99% of features (and nearly all scripted TV too) is cut on Avid, there is STILL some snobbery towards FCP let alone FCPX or Premiere so I cannot see they will infiltrate this area of editing any time soon – but that is not to say either are not capable (well not too sure about FCP X bit Premiere is certainly more than able).
    I love cutting on FCP & Avid as, for me, they are super fast and easy – but then I know them back to front and inside out. They make doing what I love the most (telling the story – making a scene work and being able to experiment with different permutations etc to find the absolute best from the rushes/performances) easy and quick.
    I will definitely give Premiere a spin as at the end of the day these are all just tools to edit – the real skill lies in the editor driving them!

  14. Chris Jones February 4, 2012 at 10:42 am #

    And I will say it again, let’s remember LightWorks. Would really love to hear from someone who has used it ‘in anger’. It has a great heritage. Are suffering from that wierd thing where if it’s free, it can’t be worth much?
    CJ

    • Dom D February 4, 2012 at 10:33 pm #

      You need a brave man to cut a serious piece on beta software- which the public version of Lightworks still is. But I think the issue is not that it’s free but rather that it’s quite alien. Anyone reasonably familiar with NLEs can jump between Final Cut, Premiere, AVID and Edius without much time spent learning in between. Lightworks on the other hand would take weeks to get used to. I haven’t used it in anger but my DP has and wont use it again because the performance is too slow- by which I assume he means real time playback of files with colour correction and other filters isn’t there. Bare in mind he doesn’t use Final Cut 7 or AVID as he has the same complaint with them- speed is everything to some people. He will use Premiere but only grudgingly and when the footage is RED. Premiere has very good real time playback but it’s not at full res.

      Which for speed demons leaves Edius however I’ve found some problems as I’ve gone along. The main one is project bloat. On a feature the project gets very large and the system slows. At the moment my project file takes six minutes to open and the computer will pause every so often to catch it’s breath. Annoying but dealable. Premiere from a few quick tests I did seems to have the same issue. I haven’t used FCPX yet but I’m told it has the same problem times ten with large projects becoming completely unworkable. That’s disappointing as FCP7 could handle large projects with no issue. I guess there’s a reason AVID is the weapon of choice for feature work in Hollywood.

  15. Moihammed Tahir February 5, 2012 at 7:09 am #

    You’re right, Damian, you need to go through the flow you’re attempting to use in order to iron out all the potential issues before pushing a whole project through it. I totally agree that the housekeeping side of it is crucial. One of the problems with Avid is that it wants its media folder at the root level of the drive which makes organising into folders impossible. And there is some software you can use to move projects around. But I didn’t like that approach and I found a different approach while keeping the directory structure intact. What I do is use a standard structure for every project, irrespective of NLE, so I know where I should find certain files. It just makes it life much easier for me. Then there is a backup solution too where I use a backup program to make sure all the project data is backed up plus the footage. So there is fair bit to think about.

    Do you remember Premiere 6? That’s what I used on my first real film which was cut on a laptop with an external firewire drive from Lacie that cost a small fortune. First time I had ever used digital (PD150P) or cut with an NLE or use After Efffects. Prior to that my only experience was to shoot a short film with my brother on a VHS-C camcorder and cut video-to-video (I was trying to get into film school). The one cut on Premiere, and the only one ever entered into competition in the one festival that it was shot for, when onto win an award. The magic formula – PD150P + Premiere 6. 🙂 The only thing with Premiere was that every now and again it would vanish off the screen – crash – taking my edits with it. That really sort of sealed it with me with Premiere.

    Thats where the difference was between Avid and Premiere – I couldn’t believe how stable this piece of software was. It wouldn’t crash and if it ever did throw a small wobbly, you could just continue. Having a background in electronics, software etc. I had never seen anything like this before. Also, at the time, when I compared the CPU usage on playback with the same footage on Avid and Premiere, Avid was using a fraction of the CPU compared with Premiere. I know Premiere has moved on a lot, and I did use 5.5 recently, but it still has the same feel for me. I think Avid has a huge learning curve and I’m no expert by a long way – just get by, really. Premiere is much easier to pick-up and I really like that integration with After Effects

    People have multiple NLE’s on their system now and use bits and pieces of one or the other to solve issues. Even Serif do a freebie that only requres you to spend a fiver or something to get the AVCHD codecs and you’re away – it kind of sits a few notches above the buit in stuff in Windows. I’ve downloaded Lightworks but never used it really, just had a little look at it. At the end of the day it’s all about what comes out, irrespective of wherever you bought your spanners from.

    Enjoy the snow. 🙂

  16. Don McVey February 5, 2012 at 8:06 pm #

    Know this discussion is a little old but today may have changed my mind on a few things concerning FCP X.

    I was pretty much convinced that I was going to make the move from FCP. Probably to Premier or maybe even Lightworks.

    But today I actually saw FCP X in action and I thought it was really really good. Ashamed to say that I’ve based most of my judgement of FCP X on nothing more than other’s opinions. And here’s what I found today – Most of what I’ve heard is wrong.

    I saw FCP X being used today by a pro editor who had got to grips with it and it looked fast, intuitive, slick and in my opinion a better interface than Premier.

    So I asked my editing friend why everyone was so down on FCP X and his answer was simple ‘Apple messed up the with release but now it’s every bit as good as it’s competitors’. If Apple had released it as a beta and said it was a taste of things to come, I reckon most editors would have been excited by its potential. There’s also the point that most of the people that were so down on FCP X weren’t ‘real’ editors and didn’t really understand what they wee on about. No offence intended, I put myself in that category.

    It now has full XML support (there’s a cool little app for taking projects from FCP7 to X seamlessly).

    The multicam is the best I’ve ever seen. The ability to split the timelines and play with them is very impressive.

    It’s supports Xsan, external monitors (with Lion) and has a built in advanced chroma keyer that looks like it could be a great tool.

    I’ve also heard that NMR have said that almost none of their clients with FCP 7 edit suits are panicking and jumping ship. That they have been advising patience, to wait and see.

    With the last batch of FCP X updates, I think they have a point.

    Oh and you CAN put H264 in the timeline and FCP X works fine. You can grade it, stick fades on it, the lot and it works!

    So I’d urge you to do this. Look at FCP X as it stands now and ask yourself if it’s really as bad as you think. I’d love to know why people really hate it so much.

    • Richard Purves February 5, 2012 at 10:55 pm #

      Well FCP X still doesn’t export sound as OMF, and I can’t export EDL files in any format without 3rd party software. (Haven’t investigated in depth, may not even be possible). For my current purposes which is planning the post on a £1.5 million feature film that just isn’t acceptable because I’ve no way to get my audio stems and other related files to a post production facility.

      Despite what Apple may say, I still need to render out to tape because film delivery requires HD-CAM masters, DigiBeta masters, DVD’s of the audio tracks. FCP X will only let me export to Apple Devices, a variety of internet services (e.g. YouTube), basic DVD/Blu-Ray and as a ProRes Quicktime file. Only the last one is of any use and it will cost me extra to have that transferred to my delivery requirements.

      It’s just not ready for feature films intended for theatrical distribution worldwide. It doesn’t matter how good the editing experience is if I can’t then easily do the rest of my post production! Sadly, this means going to Avid (eugh! painful) or Premiere Pro (getting better) currently.

      I’ll keep an eye on FCP X however. It IS improving in leaps and bounds, but not good enough just yet.

      • John February 2, 2013 at 4:13 pm #

        There are ways to get sound out of FCPX.

        I wrote Vordio which converts FCP X to Reaper (The best cheap DAW and currently my favourite) but there are others tools too that convert to other formats.

        I wrote Vordio as am editing a feature doc in FCP X and wanted to make sure at the end I could do sound post in what I liked most.

    • Dom D February 6, 2012 at 12:02 am #

      Still not a great option for guerilla filmmakers though. There is no source monitor which, to my mind, kills this software for narrative work. I can’t imagine any argument for wanting to work with a unified viewer when you’re trying to cut drama. The idea of having to toggle between source/record while I try to match eyelines gives me the willies something fierce.

      But project bloat is the major issue if you’re intending to cut a feature on this. I’ve heard multiple reports from people that as the project became bloated (every single cut adds a little more to your project size) it becomes entirely unworkable. One poor bastard I know had to start fresh on a different program (FCP7) after two weeks work and as FCPX doesn’t share well with 7 it was a total do over.;

    • Don McVey February 6, 2012 at 2:20 pm #

      Hmmmm. Seems there’s still issues then. Hopefully they will all be sorted soon though.

      They’ll surely add OMF export. Not sure they’ll ever allow exporting to tape but someone will develop a 3rd party piece of software.

      The bloated projects does sound nasty though. Hopefully this was just initial bugs that are being fixed.

      As for the monitors, this is on the Apple updates page ‘Broadcast monitoring is currently in beta, and we’re working with third-party developers to continue to improve it over time.’

      I’m going to keep using FCP7 for the time being and keep learning Premier. I’m not an Apple fan boy at all. Just never really liked the Premier interface.

      My gut feeling is that Premier 6 will probably seal the deal for me.

      • JohnHeagy February 6, 2012 at 4:11 pm #

        I’d think Apple sees OMF in the same light as EDL and will not devote any resources developing an exporter, especially since one can get AAF out with a $70 app from Protools. http://www.x2pro.net/

        Once you have AAF one can use Avid’s DigiTranslator to convert it to OMF. http://www.avid.com/us/products/DigiTranslator

        It’s not cheap at $500 so one would hope facilities that require OMF would pony up that cost to support their workflow.

        I’m curious… what audio workflows are people using that requires OMF and doesn’t support AAF?

      • John February 6, 2012 at 5:31 pm #

        I often use a very cheap australian program called AA translator ($59) that will translate between a multitude of different audio program formats including AAF and native project formats like pro tools.

        http://www.aatranslator.com.au/

        AAtranslator is the best choice for me as it is the only one that allows me to convert to native reaper format, which is now my favorite audio post program. Reaper is amazing and only $60 if you pay (but can still use it uncrippled for free if you put up with an annoying popup reminder). The only downside to reaper is it doesn’t import OMF or AAF due to licensing restrictions that would push up the price of reaper so they left them out. It has great some features that in the end made me switch from the much more expensive DAWs. Over the years it has just got better and better and now there is little reason to use the others.

        http://reaper.fm/

        So between these two very cheap programs, I can handle pretty much any material in any format for just $120.

        I would recommend to indie film makers this combo as best they could possibly do on a severely tight budget for audio post.

        I really recommend audio heads that have not used reaper to spend a week learning to use it. I can work faster with this than any other.

  17. Jeff Barry February 5, 2012 at 8:49 pm #

    I bought FCPX as soon as it came out. The initial version was riddled with bugs and shut downs, but even with that I was encouraged by the intuitiveness of the program. The background rendering is by far the best rendering solution in any of the programs. So, even though it was messy at first, I was very encourages.

    Over the last 7 months Apple has made good on their promises and delivered the goods needed in the program. Now, it’s running smooth and the new versions have provided everything that is essential. Now when I go back to FCP7 it feels clunky and slow.

    Of course people jumped all over apple when it first came out, and unfortunately a lot of that were from people who hadn’t even used the program yet. Or expected that they should not have to take any time to learn the in’s and out’s of the new interface.

    In 18 months people will forget about all the blah blah around release and Apple will reacquire anyone that, foolishly, jumped over to avid and premier.

  18. John February 5, 2012 at 8:52 pm #

    FCP X is really good in some ways. It just lacks some essential features and the first version was way to limiting and buggy. I actually asked for my money back on the first release as was shocked you couldn’t get material from my camera in despite saying they supported it in the specs which I checked before buying. Also, you could not get material out for processing in another program i.e. sound (I do sound post work as well). That for me was a show stopper.

    However, the timeline and some of the editing features are fantastic in terms of being able to knock out stuff quick. I have one caveat for the magnetic timeline though – You cannot lock a clip in a particular place, so if you know that something must happen at a particular point in time, you are stuffed. That is particularly problematic for some types of project i.e. editing to a preexisting sound track or music. There is a work around which is make that the main story line the sound but then you lose the benefit of the magnetic timeline because everything else is then non magnetic. There is a work around for that, which is make it a compound clip, but then you can’t hear the damn sound track!!!

    So, I think it is promising because it is damn fast but only once they have added a few more features. I want lockable clips with everything in between being magnetic. I also want support for getting any material in and out so you are not locked into apple for every task. Then it will be pro useable.

    What the outrage for me was at the time was paying for something that was mostly hype but half baked. Apple were good and quick about giving me my money back though.

    I will revisit it when it gets the missing features. I don’t think people would have been so harsh on apple if they hadn’t called it final cut 10 and just created a new product name and if they hadn’t used the word pro, which assumes you can use it in a pro workflow.

    I am a bit worried though with some of the decisions apple makes these days, very much more consumer oriented and lock in. Going the way of microsoft me thinks, which is why I left microsoft years ago.

    What I really want is for lightworks to be ported to os x and linux asap so I don’t have to get dirty with windows ever again. If apple get there first and make FCP X really pro, then I may use that instead.

  19. Lisa Kristinardottir January 30, 2013 at 7:56 pm #

    Hi hi!
    FCPX is really Pro now. That’s my personal take. Plz read below 😉
    FCPX with all the latest updates as of 1/30/13 is the best program and easiest to use I’ve ever used for making final edits for films and trailers. The tools, add-ons (free), design/editing surface and layout and the huge ecosystem of extra plug-ins u can buy (pretty cheaply and fast!) are all phenomenal. I’m having a blast with this on my macbookpro right now. There are some bugs in FCPX which can hurt your workflow but nothing major. I use mackeeper to keep my laptop super-tweaked and optimized at all times for this….. I tried Avid before. It’s great but I prefer to work purely on Apple stuff now. I do all all my music using garageband and will be updating to the new Logic Pro! The combination is killer. Have fun creating ur video/film/music combo great works of moving art (ahem, our beloved masterpieces ;–) like I am!
    Luv all. Hugs ciao…Lisa K

    • John February 2, 2013 at 4:19 pm #

      They have come good on most of the missing essentials but I am trying to edit a feature doc in FCP X and there is one thing that is driving me mad.

      I really need to be able to have lots of short experimental time lines as I test out sections while creating a narrative from lots of random material I didn’t have a whole lot of control over. Some times I realise a clip suits better somewhere else but there is no way to open 2 time lines and move bits between them. Compound clips don’t cut it because again you can’t have 2 open at the same time.

      This only seems to be a big problem with non scripted stuff. For scripted things where you know in advance the flow and story I haven’t had that frustration.

      • Phil Peel July 26, 2013 at 2:11 pm #

        To John,

        Long time since you posted this but, in FCPX can’t you just make a duplicate project and cut and paste sections between the two?

        • John July 26, 2013 at 2:38 pm #

          Still not as convenient as having 2 timelines open simultaneously plus each project has its own render files and too much stuff gets loaded. I was using that method which is why I mentioned it as a pain.

          However, I have found a better workaround since – projectless editing (yes don’t bother creating a project at all!). Just create empty compound clips for different storyline versions in the event then open those in timelines. No need to even have a project at all. These all will share the same render space so less annoying drive spins slowly things down when trying to flip between timelines.

          Still would like 2 open at once though.

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