Articles tagged with: Final Cut Pro X

FCPX Creative Summit 2016 Provisional Schedule - More from Apple

Wednesday, 08 June 2016

The provisional schedule for October’s FCPX Creative Summit is now available.

Interesting: Instead of last year’s 90 minute presentation given twice to two groups, the schedule shows a 60 minute ‘General Address’ followed by a choice between 90 minute breakout sessions:

2:00 – 3:00pm General Address: The Future (Apple Campus)
3:00 – 4:30pm Apple Session Breakouts (Apple Campus)

What could Apple be talking about in these sessions which would mean attendees would have to choose one session over an other?

Another point: The Summit was held in late June last year. This year it will be in late October. Given this event is organised to fit in with the plans of the ProApps team, there is a chance there will be more to talk about later this year.

Next week at the WWDC 16 there is a chance that Apple will announce or pre-announce a new version of the Mac Pro, just as they did in 2013. Final Cut Pro X is the application that most people understand needs a lot of power. Perhaps Apple will once again use a Final Cut screenshot during the keynote (which will be streamed online on Monday).

Xsend Motion - Send Final Cut Pro X timelines to Apple Motion

Tuesday, 07 June 2016

For those who used Final Cut Pro Studio before 2011, a very popular feature request for Final Cut Pro X is the ability to send clips to Apple Motion. Motion can be used for the kind of more advanced motion graphics tasks. Post production file format translation supremo Wes Plate has made Automatic Duck Xsend Motion.

Iain Anderson’s review at Mac Pro Video:

Despite the excellent integration between FCP X and Motion, this critical piece has always been missing and often been requested. Finally, it's here, and while it's maybe not as feature-complete as if Apple had done it themselves, it's very useful, and still under active development by a veteran in this space. Heavy Motion users should grab it now.

Xsend elsewhere?

This might be greedy, but what else could this technology be used for? Now that the Automatic Duck team have learnt Final Cut Pro X XML and the Motion document format well enough to make this product, where else should X timelines be sent? 

Given the power of Blackmagic Design’s Fusion 8 node-based compositing application, perhaps Xsend Fusion and Msend Fusion would have a appreciative audience!

Apple’s patent for applying effects to clips with specific roles

Tuesday, 07 June 2016

The name of patent 9,240,215 may be ‘Editing operations facilitated by metadata,’ but it is about applying effects to roles in Final Cut Pro X:

For example, several clips may be assigned one audio role of "Dialog", "Music", or "SFX". A process  then provides one or more user interface controls. These user interface controls are also associated with the tagged clips. That is, the user interface controls are associated so that these controls can be used to display or modify properties of the tagged clips.

PDF version.

 

Apple’s structure editing patent

Tuesday, 07 June 2016

While editors wait for the next big Final Cut Pro X update, I hope the Apple ProApps team will implement some of the ideas in their ‘structure editing’ patent. Here’s my old writeup of the patent they applied for in 2009 on fcp.co:

Most people think that the editor’s job is ‘to cut out the bad bits’ in individual scenes. Many are surprised to discover that editors commonly change and improve storytelling by changing story structure. As many film and TV makers consider that structure is very important when it comes to telling stories, I think it is a good idea for video editing software to recognise story structure.

Structure applies to feature films, TV shows, groups of corporate videos on an intranet, legal video depositions, architects’ video proposals or open-ended weekly web series. The more video applications can have these structures encoded in their projects, the better the tools they’ll be able to provide to a wider range of people all over the world.

Introduction to VR Video with Final Cut Pro X

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

At the FCP Exchange event at NAB in April, Tim Dashwood and I gave a presentation on working with VR 360° video in Final Cut Pro X and Motion.

Initially I explained the art of spherical video from first principles comparing it to VR apps. I showed how editors can learn specialised tools that understand 'equirectangular' video, effects and graphic overlays to tell stories that play out all around you.

I also explained how editors can share their work with millions of smartphone users around the world. Tim Dashwood then gave a quick rundown of the science of high-end VR video effects that are available for Final Cut Pro X today.

 

360° Virtual Reality with FCPX from FCPWORKS on Vimeo

FCP Exchange is a series of free industry seminar days presented by FCPWORKS and fcp.co

Dashwood 360 VR Toolbox and 360 VR Express.

Ex-chief architect of Apple’s video & photo applications to be interviewed live on stage

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Those who paid attention to 'About this software' dialog boxes in the 90s who used Adobe Premiere will recognise the name Randy Ubillos.

He was the lead developer for both Adobe Premiere in the early 90s and Apple’s Final Cut Pro in the late 90s.

By the time Final Cut Pro X was launched in 2011, he was chief architect for Apple’s photo & video applications. Apple included him in many important keynotes. His presentations included demos of new versions of iPhoto and iMovie for iOS as well as iMovie ’09:

Randy retired from Apple in April this year, but he is already making public appearances. Next he’ll be at the Bay Area SuperMeetUp in San Jose on June 26th. The SuperMeetUp is one of a series of events for those who use Macs and PCs for TV and film making.

I'm happy to say that part of his appearance will be an on-stage interview where I’ll ask him about storytelling and what has driven him over the years to make tools that have changed millions of people’s lives. As well as talking about developing applications that went on to be used by professionals to make TV shows and feature films all over the world, he’ll discuss the value of creating tools for everyone else to tell their stories.

Apple opening up on the same day

That same day FCPX Creative Summit delegates will be attending a presentation at Apple's offices about the latest version of Final Cut Pro X

FCPX Creative Summit attendees have the unique opportunity to visit the Apple Campus in Cupertino and hear directly from FCPX product managers! You’ll get a unique perspective on how this video editing software has changed the industry and how it continues to innovate today.

Get an update from Apple Product Managers on the current release of Final Cut Pro X, exciting customer stories, and the thriving ecosystem of third-party software and hardware.

Representatives of Apple's ProApps team have appeared at professional events over the years, but this event marks the first time a large group of post production professionals have been invited to visit Apple.

These days we expect all live presentations to be filmed and made available on the internet within hours. This makes attending live much less essential. Despite Apple opening up more recently, they still ask that Final Cut Pro X team public presentations aren't recorded and put online. Most assume that this is part of Apple’s culture of secrecy. In practice it might be due to the ProApps team wanting to use footage they are not cleared to show online. Footage such as rushes and alternate takes from Warner Bros. recent Will Smith and Margot Robbie feature film which was edited in Final Cut Pro X.

That week is the 4th anniversary of the radical reinvention of Final Cut Pro X. Some Final Cut users hope that Apple’s invitation shows that they will introduce exciting new features as part of a birthday celebration. Although that is possible, even if Final Cut remains unchanged, it is worth visiting the mother ship to learn from those who make the software.  

AV Foundation in OS X El Capitan adds movie editing code for developers

Thursday, 11 June 2015

The Apple WWDC 15 session video on AV Foundation shows there are new features for developers who want to manipulate QuickTime movies on the Mac.

Some notes from the video:

[0:38]
New version of AV Foundation provides new classes for applications to edit QuickTime movie files.

AV-Foundation-Session
Click screen shot to go to Apple Developer site

[1:19]
Open QuickTime movie files and perform range-based editing on movies in tracks.

You select a segment of a movie and copy it into some other movie.

Add and remove tracks (tracks in QuickTime can refer to any time-based information, such as subtitles, GPS info, camera metadata)

Associate one track with another - such as saying that this track is the chapter break information for that track.

Add or modify movie and track metadata.

Create movie files and URL sample reference movie files.

[4:06]
'QuickTime movie' means data in a file that conforms to the QuickTime movie file format or ISO base media file formats that were based on QuickTime such as MPEG-4.

[7:15]
Sample data (audio and video content) can be in files separate from the QuickTime movie.

[8:05]
Movies that reference external media are 'fragile' - if the media is deleted or moved, the movie cannot play.

[13:07]
AV Foundation can now update an existing movie file without worrying about the sample data. That means edits, tracks and metadata can all be changed if the samples stay the same - "In place editing" (URLs in the context of AV Foundation are usually describe the location of files in connected storage)

AV-Foundation-Session-2

[19:52]
A example project that shows how an application can combine many gigabytes of footage with metadata.

What does this mean for non-developers?

Good news for post production people who need developers to make applications that support complex workflows, and for those that hope existing tools will get useful new features.

Digitial Rebellion are the makers of Pro Media Tools for Final Cut Pro, Avid and Adobe software.

Before AV Foundation QuickTime libraries in older versions of OS X were able to manipulate QuickTime reference movies. These were small files that were able to represent complex edits of multiple external media files. Reference movies are much simpler to work with that gigabytes of video and audio footage.

Maybe it’s time to do a quick course in Swift so you can make your own post production OS X applications!

OS X for now

Note that the screenshot shows that these new features are OS X Capitan only (the OS X logo in the top right of the screen). Once they're available on iOS, tools for iPhones and iPads will be able to do much more with movie files.

Autodesk likes Final Cut Pro X XML as an interchange format

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Autodesk Smoke 2016 includes improved support for Final Cut Pro X XML export. 

Although Smoke can use other formats for export, the new help file says out that Final Cut's format is the one to use for collaboration:

Use FCP X XML Export when you want to share a sequence with third party applications.

The XML Export generates a simplified sequence that can be used in third party applications for creative editorial, color correction, media management, etc.

There are new Sequence Publish presets available, which output FCP X XML sequences.

  • XML for DaVinci Resolve for Source Grading (ProRes 422 and 24-bit WAVE)
  • XML for DaVinci Resolve for Source Grading (Sequence-only)
  • XML for DaVinci Resolve (ProRes 422 and 24-bit WAVE)

Smoke 2016 can also now conform Final Cut Pro X timelines that include MXF format clips.

Shout out to @finalcutproes for the link!

Brian Mulligan pointed out:

Looks like Autodesk also likes Apple's ProRes 4444 XQ.

The Foundry on high-end post production applications for iOS

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Don't believe Final Cut Pro X or Adobe Premiere will run on iOS one day? Apple’s Metal for iOS might be the key.

Jack Greasely, Head Of New Technology at The Foundry (makers of feature film post tools such as NUKE and MODO) talking to RGB HQ:

As Metal originated in iOS does this mean that there is the potential to run 'serious' applications, such as MODO, NUKE or even MARI on an iPad one day?

Anything is possible. Having a common graphics API between the two is certainly a start. What is maybe more interesting is a WYSIWYG workflow between IOS and OSX. You could use your Mac to design assets in MARI / MODO / NUKE and then have them display / rendering live on a mobile device looking exactly the same.

Using the iPad's accelerometer, Foundry tools might be able to render graphics as AR overlays.

On stage at Apple's WWDC 15

Jack also appeared on stage at the Apple WWDC conference this week - 10:58 into the video at developer.apple.com. He showed how much The Foundry team were able to achieve in four weeks of adding Metal to MODO, their 3D modelling and animation application.

Apple WWDC 2015 and post production

Tuesday, 09 June 2015

Here's my take on the announcements at the Apple Worldwide Developer's Conference 2015.

OS X El Capitan

First came details on the next version of OS X, named El Capitan. El Capitan is one of the mountains in the Yosemite National Park in California. This naming is smiliar to how OS X Mountain Lion came after OS X Lion and OS X Snow Leopard came after OS X Leopard. It signals that this update isn't as big from users point of view. OS X Mountain Lion, Snow Leopard and El Capitan have less big new features that most Mac users will get excited about.

These updates give developers that chance to catch up on new Apple technologies and Apple the chance to introduce innovations that developers can use to do new things. An example could be that if Apple have added more features to AV Foundation, the code that lets application developers (inside and outside of Apple) to do more with movies and audio. Apple Marketing won't tell the public about AV Foundation updates this year, but will hope that new OS X (and iOS watchOS) abilities will mean better AV applications in the coming months.

Spotlight improvements

El Capitan adds natural language searches "The pictures I took last year in London." This should also work for searches based media metadata, and eventually metadata added within applications such as Final Cut Pro X: "Select favourites from the second half of the concert in Manchester featuring the drummer and the bass guitarist shot on a GoPro." Apple haven't yet announced links between media metadata and Spotlight searches, but natural langauge searches in iMovie and Final Cut Pro X would be useful.

In iOS apps can make their content available to Spotlight so that an iPhone- or iPad-wide search will find content in a specific part of the app.

Metal

[20:30 into main keynote] Last year Apple introduced Metal - a way for iOS gaming applications to better access the power of iPhone, iPad and iPad CPUs and GPUs. Last year the emphasis was on how this would make iOS games better. This year Apple had a demo of how well a game worked with Metal on OS X.

Metal has also evolved to speed up more of OS X. In El Capitan Metal improves the speed of Core Animation and Core Graphics. Compared with when these libaries executing OpenGL commands, they now render 'up to' 50% faster on the same hardware.

[21:20] Interestingly for post production people, Apple also said how Metal would speed up 'high performance apps.' It does this by replacing OpenGL graphics code and OpenCL distributed processing code (for sharing work between CPUs).

[21:45] The first developer story of the WWDC keynote was from Adobe. They've been able to speed up After Effects CC rendering by 8x using Metal for OS X. Animations can be rendered in real time. Instead of waiting for Illustrator CC to rerender complex graphics when zooming, now rendering happens in real time. This brings the power of interactive graphic changes - no waiting for rendering in Illustrator.

“We are committed to adopting Metal on our OS X apps. With performance increases of up to 8x, we are excited about what Metal can do for our Creative Cloud users.” - David Wadhwani, Sr. VP & GM, Digital Media, Adobe [22:08] 

David McGavran of Adobe Systems demoed the speed improvements in After Effects CC and Illustrator CC during the ‘Platforms State of the Nation’ session [1:32:15 into this video]. He said that Adobe apps like Premiere Clip already benefit from Metal on iOS.

“Pro app makers are seeing the benefits of Metal like The Foundry and Autodesk. I think were going to see pro users, gamers and all of us benefiting from the performance advantages of Metal” Craig Federighi, Apple [26:55]

AV Foundation

AV Foundation is the part of OS X (and iOS) that applications use to manipulate video and audio. The Editing Movies in AV Foundation developer session has the following description:

Learn how to use the new AVMutableMovie class to modify media files and simplify your editing workflows. See how to support segment-based editing and discover the power of sample reference movies.

The developer documentation for the version of AV Foundation in El Capitan hasn't yet been updated to include AVMutableMovie.

Speed improvement

According to Pedro Santamaría on Twitter, the current version Final Cut Pro X runs faster on his 2012 MacBook Air - as tested using my BruceX benchmark:

This is impressive given that operating system betas aren't tuned for speed. I'll add any update he gives on how much faster the Mac Pro is running El Capitan.

Also…

In each keynote Apple likes to show slides that list ‘too many features to go into right now.’ Some that are relevant to post production are:

File copy resume - could mean that the Finder (or other applications) will resume copying files after a crash or other interruption

Photos editing extensions - could be possible to make changes to photos within video and motion graphics applications. No ‘Movie editing extentions’ yet

Airplay Video - OS X users can already play videos on Apple TVs on the same network, perhaps this mention means that other Macs will be able to play back video.

Should I install OS X El Capitan?

No. Not today.

Unless you are developing Mac software. Although Apple hope it won't cause any problems on your Mac, it wouldn't suprise exprienced developers if a fault wipes all hard drives. At the moment there are reports ranging from "No problems" to "Final Cut Pro X crashes constantly." If you must try it, I suggest you wait for the version Apple releases as part of its public Beta programme.

As regards compatibility, if a Mac can run OS X Yosemite today, it will be able to run the release version of OS El Capitan tomorrow.

Apple ecosystems

Other keynote announcements show that Apple want to maintain and create new ecosystems. As well as supporting big players, their ecosystems include support for small companies and individuals to do well. This makes sense to iOS and OS X developers selling through Apple's App Stores.

Apple Pay

As well as adding more banks and the UK to Apple Pay, Apple mentioned that Square will soon introduce a terminal that will allow anyone to accept ApplePay payments.

News

The News iOS app is a place for syndicated content from news and media organisations. Apple is also considering content from smaller sites and individuals. For now they need to set up an RSS feed of their stories and apply to Apple stating which kinds of content they create:

News brings together high-quality news, magazine, and blog sources in a single beautiful content experience. Whether you’re a major news organization or an individual blogger, you can sign up to deliver your content to millions of iOS users.

...

Topics are created and assigned by Apple’s expert editors and sophisticated algorithms.

News Publishing Guide - Apple

This means that if you can demonstrate that you provide relevant content on a subject of interest to just a few thousand people, Apple's News app might be able to help you connect with the iOS users amongst them. 

As well as being able to monetise your content with 100% from any advertising you include, you optionally get 70% of income from Apple's iAd system.

Apple Music

During the launch of Apple Music, Apple made a point of including unknown musicians. As well as being able to have their music included in Apple Music, Connect helps them maintain their community of fans by adding text, audio, pictures and video to their Apple Music page. Apple Music also takes into account how individuals within families have different music preferences by offering a good value family plan.

At the moment Apple’s Beats 1 worldwide radio station seems aimed at a limited demographic - those interested enough in current and new music to want to hear well chosen music. Those willing to pay for a music subscription. Hopefully Apple will be able to create more advanced radio experiences in future.

Future media ecosystems

This prompts the question of where video, TV and film fits into Apple's plan. If Apple is consistent with what they are about to do with News and Music, people, small groups and large content creators will be able to share their video content in the same way.

If Apple Movies was built in the same way, there would be an iOS application which would provide a single place to consume and discover video content. It would combine human curation with algorithms that would learn your preferences. If you are a producer, Apple would provide simple tools to make your content available (News) and build audiences (Apple Music Connect).

A similar ecosystem could be built around podcasts - perhaps supported by a worldwide Apple radio station that features presenters and excerpts from podcasts, audio books and radio drama.

The Apple Music family plan prompts me to point out that some media - music, TV, movies - is fun to share with others. Perhaps Apple should find a way for software to create combined streams that would entertain groups of people: A family playlist for everyone until 10pm, then content for the parents. "Stick with this 15 minute short that only your brother likes, something you really like will be on next." This could work for any group of people - including groups not gathered in one place: hanging out across the internet.

If your media has to fit in a shared customised stream, the methods you use to tell stories might change.

If Google and Apple will eventually meet in a battle of software on hardware vs. software in the cloud, Apple might need to change the field of battle. If hardware devices become so ambient as not needing to be associated with an individual - apart from an earpiece running Siri - Apple's hardware integration edge will become irrelevant. What survives will be Apple's ability to maintain and support media ecosystems. 

Exploring 360° video with Final Cut Pro X

Monday, 08 June 2015

I saw an interesting music video today from Bjork - another 360° ‘VR’ video, which prompted me to find out how to create 360° motion graphics using Final Cut Pro X.

If you view this video with the Chrome browser on YouTube, you can drag within the video to look around - left and right, up and down:

Use the cog settings control to increase the resolution to 2160p-4K.

I made this video by scaling a still equirectangular panorama down to 4320x2160 and importing it into a new 25p Final Cut Pro X project.

I then overlaid text on top, animating some of it.

Here is the 'flat' video - scaled down to HD from 4K:

Where I wanted text to appear 'behind' the initial position - where the left and right edges of the panorama meet, I created two copies of the same title, so it wouldn't be cut off by the edge.

I exported the video as an H.264 encoded mp4 scaled to 3840x2160 with a data rate of 30 Mbps (more on YouTube's video upload specs).

For YouTube to recognise that this 4K video was designed for 360° video, I opened the Final Cut output file with Google's 360 Video Metadata application. The simple UI has a single button:

Screenshot of Google's 360 Video Metadata application UI

I clicked 'Inject and save' and saved a new file which I uploaded to YouTube.

Looks like I made my graphics too large, but if you avoid moving too far up or down on your background, overlaid graphics should work OK.

 

Visit the Apple Campus for a Final Cut Pro X presentation on June 26

Thursday, 04 June 2015

It seems that after years of very little access, Apple is opening up a little more. On June 26 members of the public will be visiting Apple's offices to get an update on Final Cut Pro X. The kind of access that usually granted only to a favoured few is available to attendees of Future Media Concepts' FCPX Creative Summit:

FCPX Creative Summit attendees have the unique opportunity to visit the Apple Campus in Cupertino and hear directly from FCPX product managers! You’ll get a unique perspective on how this video editing software has changed the industry and how it continues to innovate today.

Get an update from Apple Product Managers on the current release of Final Cut Pro X, exciting customer stories, and the thriving ecosystem of third-party software and hardware.

Representatives of Apple's ProApps team have appeared at professional events over the years, but this event marks the first time a large group of professionals have been invited to visit Apple.

Future Media Concepts is a company that runs training courses in media production in the USA, Canada and online. They also organise post production events such as the Editors Retreat, After Effects World and the Creative Cloud Masters conference.

Livinia Smith, Future Media Concepts' event marketing manager for the FCPX Creative Summit says that after running events for Adobe and Avid users for many years, recent improvements in Final Cut prompted them to turn to Apple's software. The weekend of June 26-28 is just over four years since Final Cut Pro X was launched. Did that factor into the timing? "Future Media Concepts approached Apple about hosting an event dedicated to this platform. We both decided the date for the conference" says Smith.

Smith went on "Regarding the visit to the Apple Campus, when we pitched the idea to Apple, they saw value in directly interacting with this community of FCP users and they agreed to host a talk with the conference attendees in a lecture room at Apple."

Peeking out over the parapet of a besieged castle

Although Final Cut Pro X and its companion applications Compressor and Motion have been very successful over the years, Apple hasn't seen the need to publically involve itself with the user community. Compare their activities with those of Adobe and Avid - companies whose video editing applications were the traditional competitors of Final Cut Pro.

As well as constantly updating their websites with Premiere Pro and Media Composer case studies, their online activities include blog posts, tweets and Facebook updates with named staff members. They run support forums that feature contributions from software engineers. If a small user group somewhere in the USA gets in touch with Adobe to say they're organising a meeting about Premiere Pro, there's a good chance product manager Al Mooney will appear to give an entertaining presentation on his baby.

In recent years parts of Apple have been interacting a little more with the wider world. For example last year's launch of Swift, a new programming language for developing OS X, iPhone and now Watch apps was a big surprise. Apple going on to launch a programming blog on Swift is even more of a surprise. 

Anyone who visits the online forums discussing Adobe Premiere Pro CC, Avid Media Composer and Final Cut Pro X know that the harshest critics of most applications are those who use them every day for their livelihood. The combination of a long-established culture of Apple not sharing much information and the rabid nature of online power user debate means that it will be hard for the Final Cut Pro X team to change how they interact with the wider Final Cut community.

On the way towards a professional application community

Hopefully the ProApps team will be able to more directly support a Final Cut Pro X community. Online support would include

  • A buyers guide for third-party hardware and software
  • A consultants network
  • Continually updated training materials
  • A job board for employers and job seekers
  • Forums and discussion groups where the developers of the application itself can take part
  • Regular conferences so people can learn from each other and network

The majority of Final Cut users are individuals don't need to set up complex workflows and never need to call on consultants. However, knowing that there is a robust community standing by makes trying a new complex application that bit less daunting.

Although this kind of community might seem at odds with the way Apple works, they have a model of their own they can look to: FileMaker. FileMaker is Apple's professional database system. The FileMaker website has all the features I listed above.

It is interesting that Apple refers to FileMaker as a platform - as it is made up of an authoring tool, a server product and software that runs on Macs, PCs, iOS devices and in web browsers.

Perhaps the ProApps applications might end up as a platform/ecosystem too. I hope June's FCPX Creative Summit is a step on the way.

Disclosure: I'm happy to say I'm presenting a couple of sessions on Apple Motion at the Summit.

 

Apple creative apps architect Randy Ubillos speaking in LA and San Jose

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

The Los Angeles Creative Pro User Group has announced that ex-Apple employee Randy Ubillos will be speaking at public events in May and June. 

Until April 23rd Randy Ubillos was a very important member of Apple's application software team:

His influence on Mac software started years before he joined Apple. He developed the first versions of the Adobe Premiere video editing software. Since joining Apple he's worked on Final Cut Pro, iMovie and iPhoto amongst others.

On May 27, 2015 he will be appearing at the May LACPUG meet in Los Angeles. On June 26, he will be appearing at the Bay Area SuperMeetUp - a similar event in San Jose.

It isn't common for ex-Apple employees to talk publically about areas of expertise they covered while working at Apple. Especially so soon after leaving the company. I guess this is either very bad news or very good news. The negative explanation is that Randy resigned because his vision for the future of Photos, iMovie, Final Cut Pro X and other applications he was involved with was too different from Apple's plans. His resignation was interpreted by some as a sign that Apple are about to give up on their professional applications - including Final Cut Pro X, Motion, Compressor and Logic Pro X. The bad news would be that Randy feels embittered enough to almost immediately go public with problems at Apple.

The 'good news' interpretation is that Randy appearing in public is part of Apple loosening up - that they understand that it is a good idea if users understand more about the people and motivations behind Apple software.

The good news is that the agenda at the LACPUG website says that Randy will be talking about his enthusiasm for the idea of telling stories with video: 

Randy will speak about his own moviemaking experiences and the power of video to inspire and document our lives. He will also provide tips and tricks for making your own movies.

That kind of talk could be designed to establish his bona fides for a new passion project supporting video literacy. A good sign is that he will also be joining post production experts to answer film making questions in a 'Stump the Gurus' session.

There's no sign that he'll be 'dishing the dirt on' or revealing Apple secrets about Final Cut Pro X, Photos and Aperture. Mike Horton of LACPUG specifically tweeted:

However, the fact that Randy is speaking in public so soon after leaving Apple is a good sign.

Shared storage for Final Cut Pro X post teams from GB Labs and LumaForge

Wednesday, 06 May 2015

For many years post production teams have been able to access media on shared storage. GB Labs and LumaForge make products that can be tuned to work well with editors who use Final Cut Pro X.

GB Labs' Space

The GB Labs Space storage range is a NAS (Network Attached Storage) system. 10 Gigabit Ethernet connections mean that editors can work with footage and Final Cut Pro X libraries stored on shared storage.

With current connection speeds, the limiting factor for video data rates isn't the networking technology but the speed of the shared storage and storage controllers.

For two simultaneous users who need a fast direct connection to their storage, GB Labs sell a relatively portable product: the Midi Space SSD. It is designed to travel from place to place with a film crew. 

The Midi comes in the form of a Tower PC with two 10GbE connections with up to 13TB of storage with 2,000MB/s throughput.

GB Labs Midi Space SSD NAS device

The GB Labs Space SSD is less portable, but higher performance device with a througput from 3,000 to over 6,000MB/s. It is rack-mounted and serves multiple editors via an external switch: 

GB Labs Space device connected to editing workstations via a switch

GB Labs' workflow page for Final Cut Pro X.

In response to a Twitter question from Sam Johnson:

LumaForge's LumaShare

LumaForge recently introduced their LumaShare Mobile family. It is a portable (as in a luggable single tower PC-sized device) system that supports up to 12 4K users using direct 10GbE connections. Adding an external switch supports more users.

Their 4 minute demo on Vimeo shows how many streams of 4K can ber served from a single LumaShare box:

Because of the way Final Cut Pro X can work with files, the same 16 4K files can be simultaneously streamed to multiple editors on the same network via their own Final Cut libraries (which are also stored on the server).

Later that same day at the April 2015 meeting of the LACPUG:

For speed and storage specifications for the LumaShare family along with prices, visit LumaForge.

As well as GB Labs or LumaForges devices for each workgroup, each Mac needs a 10 Gigabit Ethernet connection. Modern Macs get this using Thunderbolt adapters - such as those from Promise, Atto and Sonnet

Almost plug and play

The new economic model for post production support means that the market will need medium to high-end solutions that are almost plug and play. There isn't much margin in selling Macs and video editing software. The new generation are becoming accustomed to doing without service contracts - supporting themselves instead. LumaForge say that they tune each LumaShare they sell to match the specific needs of the workgroup - including the way Final Cut Pro X libraries work on NFS shares. GB Labs have partners in Europe and the US.

Products like GB Labs Space and LumaForge LumaShare are designed to be set up by assistant editors and DITs. If both companies provide enough online training and support, collaborative workflows for many artists working with large amounts of high resolution footage will be accessible to many more people.

Up until now, obscure user interfaces have been a sign of 'high-end professional' products, but as products move 'down market,' UI quality will become more important than features. Once products provide good enough hardware and software to get the job done at similar proces, it will be the system that is easier to set up and maintain that will win.

Timecode window for Final Cut Pro X

Tuesday, 05 May 2015

Newly available for Final Cut Pro X users: a flexible timecode display window. It is a free download for users of the FxFactory post production plugin management system. FxFactory is a free download that manages custom plugins for Final Cut Pro X and other post production applications.

Because plugins cannot yet modify Final Cut's menu, you access the new Timecode window by right- or control-clicking the timecode display above the project timeline:

Screenshot of using shortcut to show timecode window in Final Cut Pro X

The window always shows exactly what Final Cut's timecode display shows:

Screenshot of Final Cut Pro X timecode window showing native timecode of clip that is being skimmed in the timeline

You can resize the window by dragging the corners or edges.

You can also choose what colours are used for the text and the window background:

Screenshot showing shortcut menu that accesses timecode colour settings

The colour controls include opacity:

tc 4 opacity

The examples shown in these screenshots include a background colour with an opacity of 33%.

Timecode over full-screen video

If you have two displays attached to your Mac, you can also overlay the timecode window on top of full-screen video:

Screenshot showing timecode with transparency appearing over full-screen video in Final Cut Pro X

To do this

  1. Drag the timecode window to your secondary display
  2. Go to full screen mode on your primrary display using the 'View:Playback:Play Full Screen' command or use the Shift-Command-F keyboard shortcut
  3. Drag the timecode window back over your primary display

At the moment the window shows the same information as Final Cut's normal timecode display panel. X displays time project timecode when skimming in the timeline, clip timecode when the cursor is over a specific clip.

If you set the timecode display to show subframes in order to do sub-frame audio editing, the window doesn't yet show the same precision:

Screenshot showing that when subframes are shown by Final Cut Pro X, the FxFactory window doesn't show them

In Final Cut Pro 7 and earlier, there was an option to overlay timecodes of all the clips in the timeline at the playhead. Since June 2011 Final Cut Pro X's information overlays have been simpler.

Maybe the ProApps team are hoping that the need for editors to know so much about timecode will go away. On the other hand, they might be working on a much more configurable overlay system for a future version of Final Cut. Time will tell!

Timecode and FxFactory are free downloads for Final Cut Pro X 10.2 and OS X Yosemite 10.10.2 and newer.

Primordial metadata

Timeline and clip timecode are an example of of a form of metadata that is over 100 years old. When films were shot with celluloid, editors had to manage film edge code - sometimes adding their own code to shot film to be able to manage every frame.

Hopefully Apple will add features that will allow Final Cut users to view and edit any metadata in a floating window - including timecode. The kinds of metadata that would be useful in this case would be

  • Timecode
  • Slate/Scene/Take
  • GPS-recorded location (co-ordinates / colloquial name of place)
  • Keywords
  • Colour grade name
  • Name of person who last made changes/changed metadata

Chatty apps in OS X: Quiet them down

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

When I upgraded OS X to Mavericks I found that Final Cut Pro X alerts got more annoying. Every time I exported a movie from my edit, I would get an alert when the background export finished. When I need to export many movies in a short period of time, I end up with a whole series of alerts:

Screenshot of many alerts produced during a Final Cut Pro X export session

To prevent Final Cut - or any OS X application - being so 'chatty,' go to System Preferences and choose the Notifications pane.

Screenshot of Mac OS X System Preferences with Notifications icon highlighted

Scroll down and click 'Final Cut Pro.'

Screenshot showing Final Cut Pro selected in the Notifications pane of System Preferences

Change the alert style from Alerts to Banners. Instead of having to dismiss each alert, banners go away automatically.

Final Cut Pro X tip: Create compound clips with handles

Wednesday, 04 March 2015

Compound clips are useful for when your Final Cut Pro X project timeline is getting complex, or if you want to use the same sequence of clips in multiple places.

There's a catch though - they aren't created with handles.

In this case some frames have been trimmed off the start of 'Clip 2' and off the end of 'Clip 4'

cchandle-1makeCC

If I make a compound clip of the selected clips (Using the 'File:New:Compound Clip…' command or by control- or right-clicking then in the timeline)…

cchandle-2nohandles

…I can't use the select tool (or the trim tool) to drag the start of the compound clip to the left in order to see the frames I know are in Clip 2.

This is because the timeline of the compound clip looks like this:

cchandle-2anohandles

However, if I temporarily add a pair of long transitions to the first and last clip of the group… 

cchandle-3addtransitions

and then make a compound clip of the clips (don't select the temporary transitions when making the compound clip)…

cchandle-4makeCCagain

and then delete the transitions...

cchandle-4aasametimelineduraion

the compound clip has the same duration as before, but now has handles equal to half the duration of the transitions.

The timeline of the compound clip looks like this:

cchandle-4ahandles

cchandle-5CChashandles

That means I can now trim out the start of the compound clip. In this case I'm adding two seconds and three frames to the start of the compound clip.

 

 

'Focus' starring Will Smith: First major studio feature edited using Apple's Final Cut Pro X

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

The announcement of a feature film production seminar in Los Angeles reveals that Focus, starring Will Smith and Margot Robbie, was edited using Final Cut Pro X. Final Cut is currently available to download from the Mac App Store for £230.

The event is sponsored by Apple, camera makers ARRI and workflow specialists Light Iron (a subsidiary of Panavision). 

Focus is released on Friday in the US and UK. It is the first major studio film edited using Final Cut Pro since is was completely revised and renamed Final Cut Pro X in 2011. It follows on from 'Gone Girl,' the first studio feature film edited using Adobe Premiere Pro CC, which was released in October 2014.

Logo of LA event on the post workflow for Will Smith film Focus

Although the event description doesn't name Focus specifically, the illustration uses its logo and the crew named as attending are the co-director, cinematographer, editor, 1st assistant editor, post supervisor and DIT of the film: 

Light Iron, ARRI, and Apple invite you to explore one of the most advanced and modern workflows in today’s cinema.

The event will begin at ArcLight Cinemas Hollywood with a continental breakfast, followed by a special workflow presentation featuring:

• Glenn Ficarra, Co-Director
• Xavier Grobet, ASC, Cinematographer
• Stephan Ukas-Bradley, ARRI
• Brandon Lippard, DIT
• Jan Kovac, Editor
• Mike Matzdorff, Asst. Editor
• Jeffrey Harlacker, Post Supervisor

The event will also feature a hands-on workflow area showcasing Final Cut Pro X and the Mac hardware used in the making of the film.

The event is on Saturday March 7th. Register to attend.

I'm glad to say that 1st assistant editor Mike Matzdorff engaged me to make some plugins to aid in the post workflow, two of which are currently available for free on my website: Alex4D Timecode 35mm 4-perf and Alex4D Feature Overlays.

Available soon: case studies on the Apple Final Cut Pro website and on fcp.co, the primary website for Final Cut news.

Also 1st Assistant Editor Mike Matzdorff will soon release an eBook covering the Focus workflow: Final Cut Pro X: Pro Workflow

Follow Mike on Twitter to find out more.

Follow me on Twitter for regular tweets on Final Cut Pro X and post production. 

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