Articles tagged with: Workflow

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!

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.

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.

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.

'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. 

Editors: Know your movie cameras

Friday, 13 February 2015

"Which camera do you think we should use?"

Up until RED disrupted traditional film cameras, editors didn't need to know too much about the devices that captured the footage they edited.

Now it is important to know about camera sensors, capture data rate, codec, bit depth and latitude.

Comparing camera sensor sizes: APS-C/Super 35/APC-H/35mm Full Frame

Camera field of view: The effect of sensor size on field of view

How much hard drive storage will you need for ARRI, RED, Sony or Phantom cameras? Also includes information on resolution, frame rates, bit depth, latitide and typical daily rental rate.

The Cinematography Mailing List evaluated the CION, ARRI AMIRA, ARRI ALEXA, Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera, Blackmagic URSA, Digital Bolex, Canon C500, Sony F65, Varicam, RED DRAGON in January 2015.

Editors: Listen to cinematographers

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Before editors have to deal with codecs and files, TV and film camera teams have to capture scenes and footage. 

It is a good idea for editors to keep up with what they are thinking. Which cameras and codecs are preferred? For which jobs? What about on-set post services?

A good place to keep up to date is Geoff Boyle's Cinematography Mailing List site. Internet mailing lists have been around since before the web, but they still work well. You register your email address with the list, and if you or any member of the list send a message to the mailing list email address, everyone in the list gets a copy of the message.

Post is disarray right now

Recently, on-set equipment hire company Panavision bought workflow consultants Light Iron. Here's an example message from a CML mailing list discussion of the news:

Subject: Re: Panavision buys Light Iron
From: "Paul Sommers"
Date: Mon, 08 Dec 2014

I recently was made to do the full dog and pony and most of the major post houses to vet and build our pipeline from dailies to final. Right now it's a bit like the wild west. The on set to dailies solutions go from the full Ferrari solution, a DIT, loader and a Utility to maintain the gear and the pipeline. It involves an on set and cloud based dailies database and realtime color correction. This is Light Iron. Their system is really well thought out and has solutions to problems that I never knew I had. They want to offer solutions that run from set to final. My problem is that it requires too much care and feeding for the day to day hurly burly of multiple locations and no internet connection that I was afraid of the complexity. And who has the budget for a full time DIT in television?

Mike ran me through the multiple solutions at Technicolor, again well thought out and adaptable to different scales of production. One was very DIT-centric, one allowed all the LUT building to happen behind the curtain with the loader. I didn't go this way because I didn't feel like I had the time to learn the system. That's a shame, I do most of my final color sessions at Tech with Scott Klein. The appeal of one vendor handling the color science from shoot to post definitely has appeal.

Keep Me Posted has a good setup that is similar to Technicolor's

We ended up going with Bling. Mainly because I've been using them for the last three years and I didn't have to contend with a learning curve.

I was very involved every step of the way, but really it came down to price

Light Iron was by far the most expensive. I doubt they are going to compete on price. They are going to compete on service, just like Panavision. It's a good match.

Bling is owned by Sim Digital and you get a discount if you bundle camera and post, and it's substantial. They compete on price.

The trick as always is to find vendors who can provide good service at a reasonable cost so that we get what we need on set.

If Panavision and Light Iron offer this sort of bundling and both become cheaper and more fluid this helps everyone. If it pushes the market and we get better answers for better prices we look better to producers and maybe they will let us get on with the fun part, telling stories with images.

Post is disarray right now with the push to deliver in 4k (Amazon, Netflix, HBO). Even though we have been talking about 4k for years, and now it seems like it's really here for those of us who toil in TV. I hear a lot of different answers from a lot of different people about this. Technicolor and Light Iron seemed to have the best answers, and they were singing the same song. It's tough for post to suddenly make this 4k jump on the schedules we work with. A degree of integration might help soften the blow. It feels like when the HD storm hit, and everyone was scrambling.

I'm also wondering if Light Iron's experience with dealing with large amounts of data and pipeline management might help Panavision. The rumor mill is pretty thick with speculation about when/What/why it's taken so long to put this system out. Maybe Light Iron is helping with the new camera as well? Pure speculation, but the data rates and sheer size of the files the rumored camera puts out and release upon must be massive.
 
Paul M. Sommers
Cinematographer

Many of the mailing lists at CML are high-traffic: many messages per day. To prevent email from these lists interrupting personal email you get, you could set up an email rule the sends all messages from a CML list to a specific folder. Many list members view messages in 'Digest' mode: A compilation of all messages is sent once a day (At CML, click a list you are subscribed to, then go to 'My Account' and choose 'Digest' from the 'Membership type' pop-up menu).

There are many lists at CML:

List of Cinematography mailing lists

The 'Post production issues affecting the cinematographer' list is relatively quiet. For editors interested in crew discussions on complex workflows should subscribe to the 'RAW-Log-HDR' list (where Paul's sample post came from).

As well as being able to sign up at CML to read new discussions, there are some useful summaries of previous discussions.

New ClipExporter 2: Final Cut Pro X export to After Effects and Nuke

Monday, 10 November 2014

Clipexporter-header

New on the Mac App store: ClipExporter 2 for Final Cut Pro X. It takes Final Cut Pro X timelines and makes them editable in Adobe After Effects and Nuke. Although Final Cut has the best NLE real-time compositor, there are times when more complex problems need to be solved. Many high-end TV and feature films use After Effects and Nuke to create more advanced effects and compositions.

ClipExporter2 also exports media managed clips from Final Cut - useful for other post production tools that need the footage used on the timeline only. A useful tool for getting media managed RED footage onto an After Effects timeline.

ClipExporter 2 has been rewritten to take advantage of all the features of Final Cut's XML format - recreating timelines in After Effects and Nuke. You can even choose which clips to export by only converting clips with specific roles.

As part of the export process ClipExporter 2 also produces a clip log listing all the clips being converted (in a timeline or the clips with specific roles which will be exported). The list includes timecode information and Final Cut metadata and can be exported as a CSV file, which is useful for workflow administration.

ClipExporter works in four modes.

Export to Adobe After Effects

Timeline elements including blend modes, position, scale, anchor point, rotation, distortion, notes and markers are recreated as AE projects. ClipExporter 2 also translates keyframes of most of these parameters.

It even converts retimed clips, metadata and notes.

Here's a timeline in Final Cut:

01-fcpx

Including a note to the compositor on one of the clips:

02-note

Just the After Effects logo is selected - this is After Effects export mode - without media management.

03-CE-start

On export a clip report is shown which can be exported as a text file:

04-export

ClipExporter generates .jsx files. In After Effects .jsx files are script files that are run using the File:Scripts:Run Script command.

The timeline in After Effects including a marker and the metadata note appearing as a layer comment:

05-ae

 

Not Dynamic Link, but quick to update in Final Cut

As ClipExporter doesn't use Adobe Dynamic Link, you need to render your After Effects project as a QuickTime movie and import it as a clip in Final Cut Pro X (keeping it external to the library). However you can make changes ripple through to Final Cut easily. Once you have updated the After Effects project, re-export the QuickTime movie with the same name in a sub-folder of the location where you first exported. In the Finder then replace the first export with the second version. It will be updated automatically in Final Cut Pro - even if it is editing the timeline where the clip is used.

Media management

ClipExporter's Video Exporter exports only the video used in a timeline (with optional handles) as new clips - not re-encoding, creating new smaller ProRes, H.264, AVCHD and RED files. ClipExporter even adds Final Cut Pro X-specific metadata to the new smaller clips (on all formats apart from RED clips). Define which metadata is included by choosing the relevant metdata view when exporting the XML final from Final Cut. 

ClipExporter includes naming templates which name the new smaller clips to match the import specifications of other high end post-production tools.

Export media managed timeline to After Effects - including RED footage

After Effects 'linked mode' does the media management of the Video Exporter - creating copies of only the media used in a Final Cut Pro X timeline and makes a After Effects project that uses the new clips as a source.

In this mode not as many parameters of the Final Cut timeline can be recreated in After Effects due to limitations in the Final Cut XML format, but you can add notes to the clip metadata which will appear as layer comments in AE.

Export media managed timeline to Nuke

The used footage only (with optional handles) is copied into new clips using the source codec and each clip is converted into a Nuke file. All the clip metadata is included in a Backdrop node. If you need to export a After Effects project with the same timeline, that is also an option. Here are is the result of exporting the previous Final Cut Pro X timeline to After Effects and Nuke in the Finder:

06-finder

For more information, including a 30-day demo version visit ClipExporter. Download it from the Mac App Store at an introductory price until November 23.

Why Avid is No. 1 in Hollywood

Thursday, 28 August 2014

When Premiere and Final Cut users try to convince Avid editors that they are living in the past, they often don't understand the day-to-day experience of high-end TV and feature film post production.

To provide an insight into why Avid is still number 1 in Hollywood, Chris Fenwick invited TV editor Austin Flack to talk on his Final Cut Pro X podcast: the FCPX Grill.

fcpxGrill logo

If you don't have the time to listen to the whole 74 minute episode, here are my notes on what was said:

[6:05] AF: I’m a reality TV editor, I’ve been doing it for 6 or 7 years…

[6:47] AF:…I’ve done a lot of Top Chef, I did a season of Masterchef

[7:25] AF:…and I’ve done a few seasons of Catfish, that’s the latest thing I’ve been doing

[10:48] AF: USC, big film school, they had a big partnership with Avid…

[11:17] AF: I was using Premiere on my computer at home… I would try and click on the clips to drag them around and it wouldn’t work and I was “this is lame - screw this” and so I gave up on Avid

[11:55] AF: When I got my first TV assistant job, it was Avid, and I bluffed and said I used it in college

[12:23] AF: Since I got into TV it has been primarily Avid…

[13:08] AF: I did prefer Final Cut 7 - strongly - for several years. It was way more modern… a year into being on Avid shows, I realised I was faster on Avid. It was a more fluid process.

Collaboration

[15:26] AF: The primary reason that most editors and post people in L.A. working on big TV shows don’t think that Final Cut X or Premiere are ready are because of shared storage and multi-seat edits… Avid is fantastic at huge post-production projects.

[16:02] CF: So by shared storage you mean… all the media for all the episodes is going to go on one shared server …and everyone has access to the same media.

[17:14] AF: …we’re not just talking about editors, we’re talking about story producers, story assistants, assistant editors, even our supervising producers - they all have Avid …everything is happening at once. I’ve been on shows with 10–15 editors, another 10 story assists and story producers, other producers, five assistant editors … we can work at the same time in the same projects. That’s the big thing.

 

[18:20] AF: Final Cut X is not terrible, I’ve cut with it and there are things I like about it …Final Cut 7 was not a big threat to Avid in Hollywood …Final Cut 7 was never the incumbent. Avid has never let go of the throne

[20:04] AF: (On MTV’s Catfish) We are constantly jumping all over the place …I’m am touching virtually every episode and the other editors are touching my episodes

[20:40] AF: Right now I’m cutting the 5th episode of this show. I didn’t start it, other people are working on different things in it. We can break it up by act, we can break it up by scene and we’ll have the same project open - we are sharing the project. I can be editing Act 1, the editor down the hall can be editing Act 2, the assistant can be adding footage, graphics and music, and story producers can be making string outs for Act 3 and that is all happing in the exact same project.

[22:00] AF: We cannot work on the same timelines…

[22:26] CF: (In Final Cut Pro X terms…) So I open a library, you open the very same library, I open a project named scene 2, you’ve already opened up a project named scene 1

[23:14] AF: If I’m the first person to open a bin (an event in Final Cut Pro X terms), it locks to me - it’s my bin. No-one can change it while I have it open. When I close it someone else can open it and change it. They can still open it… if I had a bin open… they can just open it as read only

[25:13] AF: In Avid an assistant editor can email me or ping me and say the graphics are in, all I do is save mu project, which is a refresh all of a sudden these bins pop up in my project (events appear in a library) and everyone else’s project…

[25:51] AF:…As soon as I do something someone else has access to it, as soon as they do something I have access to it.

 

[26:02] AF: Although Avid isn’t easy to use, it’s a lot easier to use especially for story producers and story editors, who are not technically savvy, it is a lot easier than anything in the Finder (connecting to servers, uploading, version control)

[26:32] AF: It takes about two buttons to log into the servers… to log into the project and you are up an running… people can watch my cuts as I’m cutting… they can open them read only

[26:53] AF: You can load sequences into the source window (event viewer) from someone who is working on a project, but I want to steal some stuff from their timeline… (you can open their read-only compound clip in it’s own timeline) …you can pick out some stuff you want to take and overlay it onto your project… if I’m doing a flashback and I need a bit of that thing to flash back to, I can set an in and out, pick the tracks - maybe I don’t want their music, and I don’t want this graphic or something - and I can just lay that into my sequence

 

[27:58] AF: A lot of people in Hollywood love Adobe, they love Final Cut X, but if you add a bunch of editors to a project, that’s an Avid project.

 

Designed for editors to edit and assistants to assist

[28:37] CF: Austin, were you the person who Tweeted me once “I’ve been listening to the Final Cut Grill and everything you talk about helps the assistant editor” 

[29:14] AF: I will admit that I was an Avid assistant, once, but these days I could not do that job…

[29:27] AF: Avid is not easy… technically-speaking. …I could still be a Final Cut 7 assistant editor… Final Cut X, I really understand it, I’m a tech-savvy guy, DaVinci Resolve, After Effects. …in Avid’s world, the editor becomes an idiot. Why I need something, I call an assistant and say “Could you take care of this, I don’t really know how to do it” …there’s just some things that are kind of old and kind of weird to use.

[30:27] AF: I don’t do any tasks that would be an assistant editor’s task… I’m just editing… it’s a failure of the process if I have to string-out a scene. They’re paying me a fair amount more than the story producers to edit.

 

[31:00] AF: When I’m editing, I find Avid much easier, much faster. …the kind of work you describe in Final Cut Pro X, which is great - with metadata, keywords and all these wonderful things you can do… that’s not ever what I’m doing.

[31:26] AF: When I start editing in Final Cut X I get really frustrated …when I’m in a timeline doing a cut that’s when I think Avid is much more fluid…

 

CF talked about at his company different editors sharing media in different rooms using Final Cut Pro X, a million Final Cut Pro X sales vs. 25,000 professional editors.

[35:49] AF: (with Final Cut 7) the fact that we couldn’t have the same project open at the same time was a frustration.

 

[36:05] AF: Now Final Cut Pro X has reached parity with where Final Cut Pro 7 was, but Final Cut 7 wasn’t good enough. 

[36:53] AF: If you really wanted to, you could edit a very complicated show on Final Cut X, but it wouldn’t be as fast and fluid

CF talked about bullet-point marketing. From a marketing perspective MacOS and Windows were the same - until you tried them. The same with Tivos and Comcast DVRs

[38:45] AF: (With Avid) it’s all this version control, it’s this database …a robust database that can manage these enormous projects and keep these versions in control and make sure everything stays linked… 

 

Fluid timeline

[40:31] AF: As an editor… Avid is more fluid. Avid is, a lot of ways, antiquated… but when I’m editing - especially when I’m using dynamic trim, I’m so happy…

[41:48] AF: It’s a lot about not taking your hands off the keyboard… in Avid I can play the edit as I’m changing it …I change the edit with the J, K and L keys. If I select an edit, press L, the edit plays forward in real time, and if I press the space bar, the edit point has changed, and the great thing is that it loops forever until I unselect the edit…

[43:25] AF: (With dynamic trimming, you press the space bar when it feels right)

AF and CF discuss music editing.

[46:22] AF: I find it so terrible in Final Cut X that you are always mousing.

 

CF dismissed the need for dynamic trimming:

[47:59] FC: If it takes you five times to find the edit… you’ve got to get your chops up!

(Chris Fenwick does not speak for all Final Cut Pro X editors on this subject! AG)

[48:52] AF: (Dynamic trimming is) so wonderful… it gives you a second to think about it… there’s a fluidity, a simplicity and an elegance to just using your J, K and L keys… when you are rippling and rolling you get the four up, but you are still getting dynamic trimming…

 

[50:32] AF: I was a Final Cut 7 partisan… I preferred it in television… I preferred the mouse and clicking and dragging. In complicated television environments, the kind of cutting I’m doing am just way faster… when you are clicking and dragging, you are not seeing exactly what frame you dragged that out to. You are not seeing that frame play. You might look at the frame “that’s the frame where he closes his eyes” but then you play the edit and say “no that doesn’t work”

[51:35] AF: Dynamic trimming didn’t come to me quickly. The way it works in Resolve is powerful but sort of clunky… If you get into an Avid situation… you are not even clicking on stuff , it’s just a lovely world.

 

[53:22] AF: Probably 80% of what I’m doing… I am breaking audio sync on purpose in Avid… X makes it cumbersome to break audio sync and then… you can’t put them back together which is maddening to me… and it doesn’t show frame offsets, so you don’t see how much out of sync it is… I don’t like how its trying to keep audio in sync because usually not what I want…

[55:16] AF: I’m the editor. It feels like I’m in Microsoft Word and the paperclip is trying to tell me what to do… I’m in charge, I know what I’m doing.

 

AF then introduced “Franken-biting” making people say things they didn’t say.

[56:14] AF: (In Top Chef) We are trying to get them to explain the recipe in 10 seconds as opposed to a minute and a half…

[56:52] AF: The biggest reason why Avid is not going anywhere anytime soon is because of ScriptSync

CF agrees:

[57:10] CF: I’ll turn to the producer and say I need five different versions of where he says the word “and”

AF then went on to explain ScriptSync (for transcribed or planned scripts) and PhraseFind (detecting words in verité footage).

[1:01:41] AF: (There’s so much footage in reality TV that) we always work offline… almost never working full res… ScriptSync is virtually everything.

 

[1:04:36] CF explains how Final Cut Pro X’s product manager came from Avid, and that he understands how some editors see Avid’s advantages over Final Cut Pro X. He went on to say that one day Avid and maybe soon after that Final Cut Pro X will be the old way of doing things. CF also said that the vast majority of people who call themselves editors need to do the assistant editing stuff.

[1:07:09] AF: When I edit stuff at home, I often use Final Cut X if it is relatively simple… I did cut a TV pilot on it and I got very frustrated.

[1:07:24] AF: If you’re an owner-operator or a small production company, Final Cut X or Adobe are great choices, I don’t think I would invest in Avid…

[1:07:56] AF: For big-time TV work Avid is still virtually the only game in town… if you’re a younger editor who aspires to big-time TV work, you need to know Avid for at least the next 5 or 6 years. You are going to be cutting in Avid… that’s just what’s going to happen

[1:08:20] AF: In a lot of ways Avid is a dinosaur that is ready to be disrupted, and that there are a lot of things they’ve been slow to embrace. Frankly I think that Adobe is the real threat. They are better at software than Avid, they are a bigger company, their survival depends on it. Apple’s survival does not depend on capturing the very high-level professional TV market… what they need is a Final Cut Server, and if that’s going to cost $1500 and need dedicated hardware, I don’t know if they feel like its worth it… Did Final Cut Server even come out?

[1:09:43] AF: Everything’s going to change: Avid has a lot of ridiculous qualities that are from the 80s…

[1:10:13] AF: Hollywood wants to use the best tool and right now Avid is the best tool for these things.

 

To see Austin Flack's video of how well dynamic trimming works in Avid, and more useful links, visit the FCPX Grill podcast episode page.

Following on from this episode there was a discussion about dynamic trimming on the fcp.co forum - showing advanced trimming in Final Cut and where it falls short compared with the Avid version.

Follow Austin Flack on Twitter and visit his website.

 

If Apple wants Avid's market, could they change Final Cut Pro X faster than Avid could change Avid Everywhere to capture some of Apple's editing market? We'll see!

Tour de Final Cut Pro X for Collaboration

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

It has been three years since Apple launched Final Cut Pro X. Although they marketed it as a new version of their venerable Final Cut Pro application, it was a completely new video editing software.

As the months and years go by, Final Cut is being used on more and more high profile projects.

Here's the next milestone in the history of Final Cut: how a team for UK production company VSquared used four edit suites and a 70TB SAN to produce 21 days of TV highlights shows for the 2014 Tour de France using Final Cut Pro X.

Producer James Venner:

There were some big hurdles to cross, the learning curve would be steep for the editors, EVS would have to be removed from the record path because they showed no inclination to make their files compatible. On the plus side we'd be doing something new, I wanted an edit system that made us re-examine our workflow; rethink why and how we did things and hopefully inject some new creativity. I wanted something that would grow with us over several years.

I didn't want a system that just let us keep doing the same old thing. Time to roll the dice.

Read the full report on how it was done over at FCP.co

More than a "What we did this Summer" report

Some Avid editors will take refuge in the fact that the kind of collaboration available in Final Cut isn't up to their standards of shared content available to multiple editors. Apple's development of Final Cut Pro X isn't about directly competing feature for feature with Premiere Pro and Media Composer as soon as possible. It is about adding features and workflows to Final Cut as flexibly as possible - allowing for years of future improvements to a system that is just starting out.

Apple and third parties can learn much from case studies. Stories like these can be used to close deals when selling post solutions and as a guide for how to set up workflows. Another interesting use is to help Apple and third parties choose what to concentrate on developing next. Some third parties weren't ready to support a Final Cut Pro X workflow whereas new suppliers provided support and more:

We must thank Pierre Chevalier from Softron for not only providing excellent product support, but for also adding a few tweaks to the program which helped us a lot.

Depending on how well Final Cut Pro X does in TV post production, third parties will be wise to ignore it or to invest in supporting it.

As production companies get used to these kind of workflows - better in some ways than the Avid equivalents - Apple can then make the necessary improvements to their applications, operating systems and hardware that will satisfy more and more post professionals.

It is easier to understand how a new feature in Final Cut Pro X 10.1.6 fits into 2015 TV production if the workflows are already there.

Last night a very talented team edited the 66th Primetime Emmy Awards in Los Angeles. Their workflow no doubt included Avid Media Composer. This Tour de France case study puts Final Cut Pro X one step closer to being at the centre of high-end live event TV post production.

 

Post problems? Don't blame technology - FCPWORKS on workflow

Thursday, 21 August 2014

An excerpt from on a Red Shark post written by a cinematographer: 

The shenanigans we are seeing now, the re-framing and re-cropping of our work by less talented others, will only become more upsetting and egregious as the pixel counts rise higher. Alas, giving producers, editors and indecisive directors so much resolution invites foul play.  And that is exactly what many of us are experiencing now.

My first reaction to this was "now DPs will truly understand how screenwriters feel," but Sam Mestman of FCPWORKS is more constructive:

On the one hand, I can totally understand where he’s coming from, and he’s totally right. I’ve seen quite a few projects butchered in color correction, and I imagine it must be very difficult to go out and put your heart and soul into shooting/lighting something only to have it completely reworked in a way that’s entirely not what was imagined… and then be credited as if that was how you wanted it. That sucks.

However, this is not the fault of the resolution, RAW, or improvements in technology. The fault lies with the way that departments work together, and it’s my biggest pet peeve in the entire industry.

No one talks to each other.

Sam then goes onto to explain how the many little descisions made by different departments go towards increasing the cost of post production. 

An article that's well worth reading, and saving for when you need to explain the advantage of hiring someone who will take responsibility for the whole workflow.

 

 

FCPX Grill podcast - Ep. 71 - featuring Philip Hodgetts: The King of Metadata

Monday, 11 August 2014

Episode 71 of Chris Fenwick's FCPX Grill podcast features an interview with Philip Hodgetts of Intelligent Assistance, an LA-based software company who make software for assistant editors and editors who have to do assistant editors' tasks.

fcpxGrill logo

After listening to this episode about logging, I thought it was well worth logging:

[5:20] Video literacy vs. traditional forms of literacy. Even if post production isn't your primary focus, you make need to make videos. Apple selling a million copies of Final Cut Pro X in a world where there are only 25,500 professional video and film editors in the USA.

[7:41] PH: People stay with software and workflows that aren't state of the art because they are proven and because they are preferred workflows of somebody that they trust.

[9:18] Philip came over to LA from Australia for four weeks in 2001 and returned in 2003.

[10:33] PH: Don't you think Final Cut Pro X reminds you of Media 100?

[11:45] CF: What is the significance of the change from QuickTime to AV Foundation?

[18:33] PH: AV Foundation only supports QuickTime movies with H.264 and ProRes Codecs - no third-party codecs.

[24:00] PH: All our applications are focussed on metadata

[24:43] PH: The six kinds of metadata: Source, Added, Derived, Inferred, Visible and Transform 

[28:38] CF: People are logging much less as they shoot than before

[29:15] PH: Marquis Broadcast Final Cut Pro X customer survey: only 2-3% of respondants do on-location logging

[31:05] PH: Lumberjack System helps you log on location by tapping check boxes on and off. The Lumber Yard application takes this logging information to generate a Final Cut Pro X library to organise footage by applying keywords, creating folders and marking favourites and also to create string-outs based on keywords - including lower thirds showing metadata-based interviewee names.

[34:17] PH: We use a very simple title, but you can select all the titles in the Timeline Index and drag a title of your choice to change the design of the lower thirds in one go.

[35:28] PH: Now you can log already captured footage using the simpler to use Lumberjack system

[38:16] PH: Most logging tools don't record time ranges, they store markers with fixed 2 second ranges before and after the marker.

[41:15] CF: A listener asked why we go on about all these things to make the assistant editors' lives easier: “I don't care, I'm an editor”

[42:45] PH: My whole focus is to take the drudge work away from editors and get the computer to do that

[44:00] PH: In the future editors will work remotely - the work will go to the lowest-price territory: Montana and Mumbai

[45:35] CF: Working from home, do you miss the cameraderie of working with other people?

[47:48] PH: Lumberjack features also support making videos at conferences - multiple iOS users can log a live event at the same time

[52:25] PH: I've stopped demoing Syn-N-Link after seeing how much better Sam Mestman and Michael Garber demo it

[53:25] PH on the genesis of Xto7

[55:30] CF: What is the difference between Intelligent Assistance and Lumberjack System?

[58:38] CF: I'm going to appear at the Final Cut Virtual User Group on Thursday August 14th

 

 

AppleCare Professional Video Support no longer a separate service

Saturday, 09 August 2014

UPDATE: The previous version of this post said that Apple have discontinued AppleCare Professional Video support. In fact support for video, audio and Xsan is still available as part of AppleCare OS Support. They are no longer available as standalone products.

Perhaps Apple weren't getting much takeup of their Video, Audio and Xsan support services as individual products. Hopefully they want to encourage third parties to establish services based on specific areas of expertise.

Old price of AppleCare Pro Video Support: $799/year. Price for AppleCare OS Support starts at $5,995/year.

Good news for FCPWORKS in LA and NMR in London?

(August 13 update: Sam Mestman of FCPWORKS has responded to this post)

Here's the original version of this post for reference:

video-finalcut-over

Apple has removed references to its AppleCare Professional Video Support service from its website. Also Professional Audio and Xsan Support are gone.

Here's how the Video Support product was described:

AppleCare Professional Video Support is perfect whether you are editing HD video, or designing motion graphics. Because Apple builds the entire video editing solution — from hardware to software to the operating system — one phone call to AppleCare can address most of your technical needs, providing integrated support that you can’t get anywhere else.

It's product page is now missing. Here is the archive copy made by the Internet Archive WayBackMachine on Wednesday 6th August.

Other professional AppleCare services are still available. On Wednesday that page also linked to Professional Video, Audio and Xsan support.

no-longer-available

Video, Audio and Xsan AppleCare Pro products are no longer available on the online Apple Store (Archive).

Interesting move for Apple. 

 

 

EMC White Paper: NFS settings for Final Cut Pro X

Wednesday, 06 August 2014

EMC is a large storage manufacturer used to supplying hardware for corporate use. They sold over $23bn of hardware, software and services in 2013.

In August 2013 a PDF indicated that Final Cut Pro X was 'under consideration' when it came to whether they would produce a Mac application for use with their MXF server product.

Looks like they are warming towards Final Cut.

There's a short white paper on the EMC China website:

With Final Cut Pro 10.1 Apple introduced a new and more flexible project management model based on Libraries

 

There is one critical modification to the OS X NFS configuration that's necessary in order for FCP X to recognise the share as a valid mount for a Library. The NFS mount has to be configured to only use local locks.

 

The PDF says that a file named nfs.conf file in the /etc directory on the client Mac needs to have the following contents:

nfs.client.mount.options=nfssvers=3,tcp,async,locallocks,rw,rdirplus,rsize=65536,wsize=65536
nfs.client.allow_async=1

 

Adobe Premiere and UK TV post-production

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Yesterday I went to an interesting evening hosted by ITV Studios and Adobe. ITV Studios wanted editors to understand why Adobe Premiere Pro is a now a peer to Avid Media Composer when it comes to editing TV programmes of many different kinds. It was presented as a tale of Premiere vs. Media Composer - Final Cut Pro 7 and X were hardly mentioned.

ITV Studios makes over 3,500 hours of TV every year ranging from soap operas like Coronation Street, dramas such as Poirot and game shows including Come Dine with Me and I'm a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!

ITV Studios Production Modernisation programme

Martyn Suker, ITV Studios Head of Production Innovation, introduced their Production Modernisation programme. ITV Studios is organised as a group of individual TV production companies. That means they didn't need to impose a single huge digital asset management system. There is no need for the 'Mr. Selfridge' drama production team to access the many hours of rushes recorded for 'Come Dine With Me.' However, as nearly all broadcasters will require file-based submission of broadcast shows by October 1st 2014, ITV Studios wanted to define a 'commission to broadcast' workflow standard. 

Instead of an all-encompassing digital asset management system, they decided to use MioEverywhere from Nativ. MioEverywhere is a 'media logistics platform' - a way for information to flow from initial proposal, to production planning, photography, post-production and submission.

One aspect of file-based production that ITV Studios want to get control over is shooting ratios. In previous years producers understood how much footage was being recorded by counting video tapes at the end of each day. If the number of tapes suddenly stacked up, producers knew that something needed to be investigated. Few people can understand how many minutes are stored on an individual camera card. ITV Studios gets producers to consider this problem at a very early stage. Once a programme, film or series is commissioned budgeting includes defining how much media storage will be available to the production. At any stage any member of the production is able to see a graph that shows how much of the storage budget has been used so far.

mio tab

Mio Tab in Adobe Premiere Pro CC

A Mio production workflow amongst other things establishes a media storage limit, standard metadata tags and names the people involved. It uses Adobe Prelude to ingest footage, giving on-set post people the correct set of tags and the chance to do simple sequence stringouts. The clips and sequences then can be accessed in Adobe Premiere Pro. As Premiere can host HTML5-based UI elements from external systems, editors can access a special Mio tab which shows production metadata and handles the approval process. Instead of individually making DVDs in Premiere, Mio handles encoding, file transfer to approvers and import of timecode-based notes from collaborators.

After signoff Mio then prepares the required files for submission to the broadcasters - the required metadata stored as XML as well as a quality-controlled file using the correct codec settings.

Why Adobe Premiere Pro?

The audience at the event was made up of in-house editors and freelance editors. I got the impression that one of the aims of the evening was for the experienced Avid-only in-house editors to take Premiere seriously. The presence of many freelancers unthreatened by Premiere was perhaps supposed to give a strong message to those who haven't needed to learn it yet.

From a technical perspective, the Adobe advantage is that it can most easily fit into non-Adobe workflows. Adobe sticks to providing software instead of attempting to sell production companies and broadcasters full systems from software to storage to networking.

There's currently no way for a third-party system to populate a custom part of the Avid Media Composer UI with information relevant to the current edit. Avid users can export AS-11 compliant video files for submission to broadcasters, but won't be involved in creating the complex XML package that is also needed.

Matthew Gyves, Senior Manager, Professional Video Team, Adobe then gave a great demo of Premiere itself. Here's the order of the features he thought relevant - as he only had 30 minutes:

  1. No rendering needed - no transcoding
  2. Flexible interchange using AAF and Final Cut Pro 7 XML
  3. Adobe Story - using a text transcription from a clip, speech to text means you can select a phrase in the transcription to set an in and out point for the clip
  4. Integration with Adobe After Effects - sending a clip, making changes in AE - instant update in Premiere
  5. Integration with Adobe SpeedGrade - same timeline in grading application, all changes implemented as non-destructive effects applied to clips
  6. Integration with Adobe Audition - fixing an audio problem in a single clip using Photoshop-like 'heal' tool to remove a syllable
  7. Features in After Effects now built into Premiere - Footage stabilisation
  8. Many effects have masks that can track features in footage
  9. Integration with After Effects - If you need to make text changes in a title, you don't have to visit AE. Text now editable in Premiere Pro.

Selling to Premiere to Avid editors

After these two technical presentations, we were treated to a pair of interesting case studies: quick turnaround music TV programme production from Jon Walton of My Little Eye productions and using multicam features to manage multiple takes in a short video, presented by William H. W. Read

For variety, Ben Foakes of We Are One Media gave a presentation about how much could change in post production in coming years. With wider availability of fast internet connections he predicts that production houses will become virtualized: the media and rendering power will be in the cloud - fast connections will mean that editors will use NLEs that transfer commands to the cloud. The cloud will then do whatever media access and rendering needed with the UI on the local computer being updated at 50 frames per second. Adobe Anywhere is a step in this direction.

The last speaker was Ollie Tait, Managing Director of Lambent Productions. He described the first full production that used the new Production Modernisation programme: The Pity of War - a documentary drama starring John Hurt. He explained that the Mio-managed file-based workflow saved them money.

  • Less ingest cost
  • Less storage cost
  • Editor can use low-end system to edit in production office - not locked away in expensive edit suite
  • No tape deck hire, no tapes
  • Biggest saving: no conform costs

An extra expense was the extra two weeks for the editor to get used to Premiere Pro - 6 weeks of editing for an hour-long drama instead of 4.

Ollie described the savings in post production as being enough for a low-budget drama documentary to be able to afford to hire John Hurt. 

Final Cut What?

Final Cut Pro doesn't seem relevant to ITV Studios productions at the moment. The resentment and mistrust of Apple seems to be present three years after Final Cut Pro 7 was suddenly discontinued. One of the main advantages of Premiere over Avid that was presented was the lack of any need to transcode footage - a feature available also in Final Cut Pro X, but irrelevant to those in the room who only took Final Cut Pro in its version 7 incarnation seriously. For many busy freelancers, the lack of layers is still a strong disincentive for them to set aside the hours to learn a completely new editing application.

Despite all the enthusiasm Final Cut Pro fans have, it looks like it will be a long time until their favorite application is a peer to Media Composer and Premiere Pro in UK TV post. In order for Apple to invest in regaining trust and opening up to third-party partnerships, they'll have to see the potential benefit to their bottom line. Will the fact that popular TV shows are edited using Final Cut encourage more people to spend $300 on an editing application? If an extra 20,000 copies are sold, then it will be worth Apple's investment.

In the coming months we'll see if Apple supports a range high-end TV and film productions. In practice that means collaborating with companies like L.A.-based FCPWorks in other parts of the world.

  

Final Cut Library Manager 1.5: Great new features

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Today Arctic Whiteness announced a very quick update to the Final Cut Library Manager application. Despite version 1.0 only having been launched on March 4th, version 1.5 adds quite a few new features.

Version 1.0 could list all Final Cut Pro X libraries on your system, provide useful information on their composition and launch Final Cut with only the libraries of your choice open. These features were free. If you paid a small activation fee, FCLM could also reduce the size of your libraries by safely deleting proxy media, optimised media and render files.

Version 1.5 is a big update - primarily Final Cut Library Manager can keep a record of every library it sees. That means libraries on external drives, mounted disc images and network locations. Even these drives, images and network locations are no longer connected to your mac, their Final Cut Pro X libraries (optionally) remain in the FCLM list. This is big news for the lone editor with tens of external hard drives and the facility manager keeping their eye on groups working on the same project.

FCLM v1.5

Here is Arctic Whiteness' list of what's changed in the most recent two updates:

1.51

Added a context menu item to show the contents of a library in the Finder.

Final Cut Library Manager now tries very hard to follow libraries and source directories that have been moved or renamed while it's not running.

Improved tracking of libraries that reside inside Disk Images, on USB keys, and on other devices that can't be uniquely identified. Note: You may need to remove and re-add these sources - sorry about that.

Visual feedback is given when trying to select a source that doesn't contain any libraries.

Improved the visual feedback when dragging libraries and sources to the main window.

Missing libraries no longer retain their size information and thus don't incorrectly affect the size display in the correspoinding sources.

Fixed a rare bug that would cause libraries on the system disk to be incorrently listed as missing.

1.52

Added a handy popup view that details the sections in a bargraph when you hover over it.

1.52-update

"Show Library Contents in Finder" didn't work correctly if the Finder was set up to display columns.

Fixed an issue and potential crash when using 2 or more identical harddrives from certain manufacturers.

New Final Cut features and third party developers

Final Cut Library Manager is an interesting example of how editors get new features for their applications. When a new third party application appears, sometimes editors ask why its features weren't already part of their main editing tool. Although Arctic Whiteness weren't asking for much money for their 1.0 library cleaning features, 'free' is always better.

If all goes well, many editors then download the 'missing feature' application. The developer can then improve their tool. They can then add features that the main application are unlikely to add. FCLM 1.5's offline library management system is a good example of this. 

Apple seems to be concentrating on making Final Cut Pro X the application for the lone professional editor. They might have considered including Acrtic Whiteness's advanced library management features in version 10.1, but they were either seen as not a priority resource-wise, or too complex for new editors. In practice, third party developers need to watch out for their apps being 'Sherlocked' by Apple (after seeing the success of third party app, Apple sometimes includes most of its features into a new version of the OS X for free).

Luckily for Arctic Whiteness and Final Cut Pro X users, Apple are unlikely to add the new v1.5 features of Final Cut Library Manager to a future version of Final Cut. Features involving backup management, workflow and group editing. That's where the Final Cut Pro API comes into play.

Over the years Apple have continued to update the Final Cut API (Application Programming Interface) - the way  third party software and hardware works with Final Cut Pro. As version 10.0 was a new application that Apple decided to Final Cut Pro X, the APIs had to built up from scratch. The unheralded feature of the 10.1 update was improvements to the API - whose benefits will become more obvious as third party software and hardware developers launch updates and new products in the coming months. 

Final Cut Pro X: the core of a modular editing system

For many years feature films and TV shows have been shot using modular systems. Panavision, ARRI and RED are modular systems with a camera at the centre. Attached to the camera would be a choice of lenses, film mags, batteries, viewfinders and support systems. 

Final Cut is the equivalent editing application. Although it can work on its own (as long as you have a Mac), editors have the option to add a variety of software and hardware to support their specific needs.

The editing app with the best software and hardware connections has a big advantage over the competition.