Posts Tagged ‘final cut pro’

You are not too good for iMovie.

Editor Rob Ashe is doling out some great words of wisdom on his new website. Ashe is both a professional editor and former instructor in his field, so some of his posts strongly relate to concepts I try to teach my Electronic Communications students. In a recent post, Ashe wrote about how many editors are rabid fanboy/fangirls of a particular editing program for no substantial reason, much in the same way people are staunchly pro-Mac or  pro-Microsoft.

It’s discouraging to see this attitude develop among some of my students. For example, a few of them were visibly disappointed last semester when I said we were going to use iMovie to make their very first videos. Somehow, the students already had the impression that they had to use Final Cut Pro if the videos were going to be any good.  To them, the quality of the video hinged on the program, not their ability.

In communications-related industries, it’s counter-productive to work under the impression that there’s only one program to do the job. You’re eliminating job and work opportunities if you focus on the program instead of the skill.  Employers want to hire people who are adept at learning, using and modifying a variety of resources (software and otherwise) to get work done efficiently and effectively.  And yes, that may mean editing videos in iMovie or photos in Corel.  Sure, one program might have more bells and whistles, or do something a little better than another program.  But that’s part of what an employer is looking for – someone who knows what program to use and when to use it over others. Software is just a tool and is not vitally important; one’s ability to craft the content is.

To combat this attitude, we have to help others learn how to learn other programs. Once a person has the fundamental skills down, it becomes a matter of understanding different interfaces. A cut is still a cut and a fade is still a fade no matter what program you’re in.


02 2011

organization is half the battle

Today, I started up the second half of the SCC project and was immediately grateful that everything was so clean and neat.  Over the years, the one thing that has become abundantly clear to me is this: Organize your files or die.

When you’re excited to be starting a new project, it can be so hard to resist the temptation to jump in and start editing right away.  This happens to me every time.  Editing is fun.  Organizing really isn’t.  However, organizing is imperative for clean, efficient workflow; and if you start a project without all your ducks in a row, you’re going to be wasting time later.  Final Cut (and many other creative programs) have an immense and customizable work environment, so it can be easy to lose a file inside the wrong bin, or cross sent files up with something else and accidentally trash them.

I’ve screwed myself up enough with those mistakes that I now take my editing preparations pretty seriously.  While my clips log (I shoot on tape), I think about the particular project at hand and how to best sort and categorize the video I have.  The Ignite event was easier to organize because it was a simple shoot.  However, it still required a lot of attention because there were 3 cameras that needed to be synced. Thus, naming each shot after the individual, camera, and take was all it took.

The SCC project was much more complicated (and thus, more important to keep organized) because there were 35+ interviews conducted for about 20 hours of raw video.  Each interviewee was asked about eight other people, the subjects of the eight, five-to-seven minute videos.  With 20 hours of footage, it would’ve been so easy to get overwhelmed and lose important sound bites. Because I was also a co-producer in this venture and I had to be very familiar with the interviews anyway, I filled a legal pad with notes from each interview including the timecode for good sound bites, which were assigned a number.  The sound bites were categorized in FCP by interviewee, subject and the assigned number.

Really, every project will require a slightly different organizational scheme.  You have to invest some time thinking about how your project is going to come together before your start going all willy-nilly on the editing.  Depending on the size of your project, organization could take a few hours or it could take you a week, but it’s worth every moment you spend on it.

One final note: organization of your files shouldn’t stop when you’re project is finished.  If you plan to keep your work file, you should tidy up your bins so it will look less confusing if you have to come back to it.  I look at it this way: If another editor took over this file, would he or she be able to understand it?  The answer should always be yes.


01 2010

project aftermath

Over the last 6 months, I’ve had two really big video projects that I’ve had to take from start to finish.  The IgniteOKC presentation videos are now up on YouTube, and as I’ve wrapped that project I’ve been thinking about all the things that went well and that could’ve been done better.  Before I go too far, I need to sing the praises of Bart Wells, A/V engineer extraordinaire for the Lyric Theater.  His lighting and sound set-up was so conducive to my video project that I really didn’t have to make any major adjustments to the cameras – I was able to shoot most of the night on AF without too much worry.  Overall, I’m pleased with the finished product, but there are things that I would have improved if I did not have to compromise with timeliness.

1) SmoothCam Filter on (almost) every shot on Cam 2.  I processed a few shots with SmoothCam, and it really makes a difference if your hand was a bit shaky.  I hadn’t shot that much hand-held footage in a while, and I’ll readily admit that I was a bit out of practice!  SmoothCam is a great filter for smoothing out pans and tilts, but you should be careful using it on shots with a lot of moving subjects.  Also, SmoothCam chews up a lot of processor power, and on my MBP it was taking a long time to process fairly short clips.  The good news is that SmoothCam runs as a background process, so you can keep editing while it works away.  A better alternative would’ve been to use a SteadiCam rig, but I don’t have one for the HVR-Z1U, the school doesn’t have one, and they are expensive!

2) Send all sequences through Apple Color.  FCP has some great color correction tools, but color gives you more options.  Overall, the color on the video was okay, especially considering this is video for YouTube.  But, the contrasting temperatures of the lights on the audience, speaker, and screen gave most presenters a reddish tint.  I was able to fix that in most cases with the RGB balancer by knocking down the red highs, and uping the blues a bit.  I also relied on the 3-Way Color Corrector for helping boost brightness without losing color in the audience shots.  These simple filters in FCP are what I use almost exclusively – but I know I can achieve better results in the Color program.  I hope to spend time this year getting more adept at that program.

3) Tweak the Motion introduction of each speaker.  Honestly, I really like the effect as it is, but being that I’m a bit of a perfectionist, I see a few changes I would make.  First off, I used The Gimp to make a multi-layer .psd file (I can’t afford photoshop!) and imported the layers into Motion to make the 3D effect.  My husband Tanner is much more proficient at photoshop than I, so he really helped me get that background looking like the weave of a microphone.  The big problem is that the Ignite OKC text is actually an image, and Gimp rasters it, while the rest of the text is vectored.  As you see the IgniteOKC logo come by, the aliasing becomes obvious.  Ignite OKC is set in a custom font, which I don’t have & didn’t want to pay $26 for.  The other thing the intro is missing is audio.  That part slipped my mind until I had already uploaded several videos, and considering again the time constraint, I left audio off them all.

So there it is.  The three things I would change about this project.  I always say that I’m my own worst critic, which is probably true in this case.  I would say that the IgniteOKC videos compare favorably to other Ignite videos, and I haven’t heard any complaints (I did accidentally put the wrong name on a video, but that has been fixed).  If you’ve seen the videos and want to provide me some feedback, it would be much appreciated and you can do so right here :)


01 2010