Montag, 29. August 2011

Questions from an AVID user answered

I was asked in a forum:
" I know j/k/l functions are in tact, but what about "fit-to-fill","replace edit", "extend edit" or "top" and "tail" ? It would be great to hear your thoughts on that stuff..."

I have talked about some of these before in this blog, but here is a dedicated answer:
"fit-to-fill": well since you ask about the extend edit after I guess this should be a fit-to-fill retime-tool. There is a tool for it, but only half implemented yet. Select the clip, hit CMD-R (or the retime-tool-button), now you can drag the top and tail and of the clip and it adjust the speed, so the ins and outs stay, but the duration changes. Problem...this is always in ripple mode, so you don´t close the gap, but push it; half implemented, because in POSITION MODE it should overwrite the following GAP/CLIP. 
Workaround in version "tendotzero" is to select clip OPT-CMD-UPARROW it so it is above the primary storyline and now retime the clip to fill to wherever you want it. Then OPT-CMD-DOWNARROW to put it back into the Primary storyline.

"replace edit": that one is very well done in FCPX. Drag a clip above the one to be replaced. You now have the options to replace (duration stays as it was in timeline), replace from start (new clips stays as In Out are set in the bin), replace from END or even replace as audition (so you have both and can watch how each one looks in the timeline)

"extend edit": SHIFT-X

"top" "tail": not sure what they are in AVID, but I guess they are "trim-start", "trim-end" and "trim-to
-selection" in FCPX. I put them to the keys 1, 2, 3 respectively and they are HUGE upgrades to FCP7.

Another "tool" that make editing faster in FCPX is (even if it is not polished yet) the magnetic timeline. I know 90% of seasoned editors hate it, but I can only understand this if someone didn´t really teach themselves in it (as you have to in every tool, also AVID) or only talk heresay. The magnetic timeline takes away a lot of problems that are existing in FCP7; I know they are not as bad in AVID and Premiere from the heresay I get, but I can only directly compare to FCP7 and Edius, the two most recent NLEs I used, and FCP7 was simply the worst in keeping sync. One is constantly asked to check down the timeline, lock tracks to be able to ripple, I was constantly cutting through clips that I didn´t want to touch etc. 
I know the so called pros say if you know what you do these steps are easy, but I prefer software that simply works without those additional steps. FCP7 was flexible, but it was clumsy.

two more features:
J- and L- cuts are a blast in FCPX with a simple doubleclick on the audio.

And finally: The magnetic timeline keeps sync all the time. With the clip-connection (which can also be a compound of dozens of clips or even a secondary storyline) I can move big parts of a timeline by simply taking the "masterclip" in the primary timeline. 
For example I am editing a documentary now that follows 3 people alongside the mainstory. So I drift off to one of them at a sunset-clip with her own interview (in a secondary storyline container) and added B-Roll that is also connected to the same sun-setclip. This sunset will now stay together with her story and her B-roll. No need to select many clips and beware which audio follows with it. All is connected to this sunset-cip. I can even replace the sunset with a clip from dinner, still everything stays where it was. I can now easily move her story with that clip. It is hard to understand, but the way everything stays in-sync is just easy and it works. It is truly more magic than magnetic when you take a junk of your story that is several minutes long and contains maybe 50 clips with one and simply drop it behind another chapter of your film.

I see many good things there that are nice improvements over FCP7. But I also see problems. As nice as the magnetic timeline is, it still has its bugs and is far from usable for everyone. I don´t blame anyone for waiting on it. But keep your eyes open to what happens there and what direction Apple and the 3rd party vendors go, before you sell yourself totally away from FCP.

Montag, 22. August 2011

A review of FCP7 from a FCPX-user

For those who didn´t follow our whole "megatest". We had a project for 3 weeks in July where we ended up with close to 6.000 clips to be editied into two seperate films for two different pan-european networks.
Produced in 1080p in FCPX. And it went well. If you are interested in it....start in the beginning of July on this blog.....
For those who hate FCPX and bash it wherever they can, because they are sour with Apple and never got around to learn FCPX....well, leave, because this post will hurt you and expose you as an editor stuck in an old workflow.

I went back to FCP7 for two films. You might ask why since I was all over FCPX for a month.....well.....
Project A was edited in 2009 in FCP7 and it had to be rearranged a little and made ready for a broadcast with 8-channel output. So there you have it: the lack of backwards-compatibility definitely didn't have me thinking for more than a second. Had to be done in FCP7. (until we can import legacy projects that is)

Project B is a bit different. A 25-minute season-review for a sportsclub that consisted of several long recordings (exist as huge ProRes files; huge means 50+GB per file and there were 15+ of them) and there were five 10 minute magazines that were done in FCP7 and there was much material (interviews, talking heads, practices, gamefootage) to be used from within them. And I wanted to grade them again.
I also had about 10 hours of fresh footage (XDCam EX, XDCam Hd 422, Canon DSLR that had to be imported)
And I needed 8-channels out so would anyway at some point have to come back to FCP7.

This time the decision was harder, but I figured it would be faster to stay in FCP7, have the magazines open in tabs and copy-paste the clips that I need in the summary-film to have handles.

So here's my FCP7 review of August 2011:

The overall look
When you open FCP7 for the first time you are shocked at how old-fashioned it looks. The fonts are so small you need a magnifying glass. Everything has a dull grey look.
The bin-window is a mess. It is a neverending scrolling-procedure once you have a few hundered clips in the project.
Edius has the best Bin-window in my opinion and FCPX comes close. Graphically FCP7 is just an eye-killer and it is easy to lose overview. Show a complicated FCP7 project to a person who never saw it and tell them to find a certain clip from a certain day/reel/take. Then do the same on another NLE...guess which one is slowest.

Importing old material
I had a project with all magazines and the long recordings in it. It was easy to just select it and it opened without problems. I had several missing files. FCP7 is great in that situation, because while it opens the project it offers the option to reconnect the files by pointing at the backup drive; or you just rightclick the missing clip in the timeline and reconnect. This took quite some time, because some stuff was spread out over several backup-locations the week before and I had to find it again (didn't expect to make this movie out of it and therefore didn´t have it properlycatalogued yet )....costed a day, but it would have taken just as long or rather longer to find it and import to FCPX, because I would also have to find the stuff that was reconnected quickly.
I also had some new graphics ....I have just overwritten the old ones and they appeared in the project just fine.
So importing old material that had been moved is a feature FCPX is missing and it misses this badly.

Importing new material
I had to ingest XDCam EX and XDCam HD 422 footage. Well , same procedure as in FCPX, use the XDCam Transfer and XDCam Browser to re-wrap them to quicktime. Then import those files.
Importing Canon DSLR stuff is a bit of a hassle, because FCP7 doesn behave well with h.264 files. You need to convert first. At least Canon made a nice plug-in so I can do that within the "Log and transfer window". So it was not a big hassle, you only need for the material to be transcoded and AFTER THAT can edit away. FCPX would have handled this better and it would allow me to edit while it's working in the background on the re-wrap/transcode.

Conform files
 I had some XDCamEX material shot in 720p50 so I could have audio and also create smooth slomos of it. In FCPX you simply conform the clips in the timeline; it uses the old cinema-tools engine for this and it is non-destructive and in real-time (plays back instantly and renders in the background).
FCP7 has none of this. You need to identify which clips are actually in 720p; that takes time; then duplicate your material (the following process is destructive), then you have to make ProRes files out of everything ; then open these ProRes Files in Cinematools (it works with a Batch list)...then it conforms. Import these files again. Well....this costed me a few hours I could have used better. Point for FCPX; to me an important feature that FCP7 doesn't have or only with a long workaround. Pretty much offset the time I saved with the re-connect feature.

Footage Managment
Now I had everything in the project. Hundreds of clips, approximately 60 hours or more. FCP7 did not once slow down and also works fine on my Macbook Pro (late2008; 4GB RAM). So it doesn't really need a huge machine to work.

I started watching interviews...ahm...where was the keywording? Oh....yeah that's right...subclips and notes is how I did that. So I created dozens of subclips. My Bin structure started to get messy and I had to scroll quite a lot to find stuff......searching in the bins is possible, but somehow not as fluent as in FCPX. Also once I have 12 answers to one topic there is no automatic way (that I know of) to collect them.
I don´t know....the bin-windowin FCP7 is the one I really won´t miss.

Finally let´s get to work.
Ah, yes...there is the split timeline with audio/video separated. So here we go. Every clip I put into the timeline needs to have the audio-tracks selected beforehand or it gets very chaotic; after all I have ambience, music, interviews, voice-over and stereo-mix to be separated. Speaking of "adding to the timeline"...where´s my APPEND command "E"? Oh really need to watch out in FCP7 before you do anything. Gone are the FCPX days when you effortlessly add clips and never have to worry to mess up an edit or an audiotrack.

When you did some editing (like 20 minutes with 600 clips) and you want to add one extra piece at 1minute3seconds22frames and then maybe trim it anyway....WATCH OUT ...clipcollisions on the audiotracks....use the audio-patch-tabs...hey I did checkerboard my timeline after all, but dropping a new clip with audio while wanting to keep both audios is a task. J clip, detach audio, lift video a track higher, press "T" four times, lock the audio, press "R" two times and roll, attach the audio again...phew.....what a clumsy way wehn in FCPX you just double click the audio and drag the video or audio; at least FCP7 has the red numbers that show me missing sync. FCPX is missing those, but then again....I hardly see a reason why FCPX should lose sync on my primary audio.

You know what, I want to see how the other interview sounds / looks here. Where´s my audition button...oh right. Didn´t exist when FCP7 was around. So that involves some work when they are not the same length. A lot of work .

Yes you can read it.....editing in FCP7 is just a hassle once you got used to FCPX (unless you need multicam....).
I also need to mention FCP7 crashed at least daily on me....usually after 6-8 minutes in the 10 minute autosave-loop. And every autosave that shows me a spinning beachball gives me a near-heartattack. In my experience crashes happen often when I need waveforms (turn them off mostly for that reason alone) and also thumbnails-cache seems to be buggy always in legacy FCP. FCPX crashes also in its 1.0 version, but at least you never lose work, because it saves every step anyway.

Speaking of steps.....FCP7 has one step involved often......RENDERING...something you simply never need in FCPX. In FCP7 you often need to stop to render a quick preview to see how a composite or a transition with a graphic overlayed looks or you have like me Nattress Effects or other 3rd party effects that don´t play realtime. Annoyning when you have a machine that costed thousands and has more power than needed for this.

Some good news in FCP7: I could watch my editing on my monitor via the calibrated Matrox MXO2....something FCPX doesn´t offer (yet) and is missing badly.

Colour correction:
Send the timeline to Color. Since I use the FCPX waveforms and Colourboard I can´t get around to use the 3-way colourwheels in FCP7. They are just bad in quality; the scopes are pixelated like a Nintendo Game Boy game. Color on the other hand is a monster and gives great results. Send the corrected timeline back to FCP7......done. But once you want to handles...the roundtripping starts. In this project the FCPX colourboard would have been sufficient, I never used more than 3 secondaries here, something FCPX handles easily.

Video: no difference; create a Quicktime in Apple ProRes, drop into compressor if needed. Well there is a difference: if you need to render or you want to render all once again for some reason (switching from one ProRes flavor to the next) then it takes LONGER in FCP7. Way longer, because it doesn´t use all your cores.
Audio output: FCP7 shines. Change the audio-output settings, set the dedicated audio-tracks and voila.....8 tracks out to an OMF for the audio-department in the network.
One feature that really is only in FCP7 (unless you want to buy Automatic Duck for FCPX)

In the end I doubt I was faster by using FCP7. had I imported all the capture scratches and keyworded them I could have had a nice project (event) setup. The problem was the 10-minute films where I wanted the turned out I only needed an  extra-handle on a clip once or twice, so had I rendered some ProRes versions and taken the needed parts from there I would have had the advantage of the faster editing, saved the roundtrip to Color and would have a project now that can be used in 3 years again when FCP7 is probably not installed on many of my machines.

FCP7 is EOLed.....and this was probably the last time I used it out of my decision. From now it only comes into play when a client wants some old (as in pre-June2011) project changed.

Mittwoch, 3. August 2011

Some new friends

Apple has changed many keyboard-shortcuts around. Why and how they decide these things ...don´t ask me. But I usually follow a programs shortcuts and don´t remap to much, so when I sit at someone´s machine I can also use the custom set.

But....there are many commands that are NOT in the manual or had to find but are very useful. So you need to open up File-> Commands and remap some keyboard shortcuts or create them.

YOUR new (and some old)  best friends are .....
(but beware...some items are different on international keyboards, i use a german keyboard!):

1- Trim-Start / Trim-End / Trim-to-Selection: I mapped them to "1" "2" "3" - they are very fast and work on the fly.

2 - Shift-R / Option-R….your new 3-point editing tools. Select a clip or range in the a clip or set the In Point in a clip in the event and use Shift- or Option-R to REPLACE (replaces with the whole clip from the event) or REPLACE FROM START (replaces the clip in the timeline beginning from the event´s clip IN). If you add SHIFT you can do it backtimed 

3 - Copy colour from last edit. I mapped this to Shift-V for the last edit (Shift-CMD-V for 2 edits back; Shift - OPT-CMD-V for 3 edits back): these commands will copy the colourcorrection from the clip before the selected one (or two clips ahead, or 3....). It does not copy/past all effects (CMD-OPT-V does that), only the colour-correction.

4 - OPT-W creates a GAP

5- OPT-CMD-arrow-up: this lifts the selected clip from the primary storyline to be a connected clip, leaving a GAP-clip down on the storyline. I use that often. It´s a fast and easy way to pre-edit an interview (just drag the GAP-outpoint a little)

6 - CTRL- + CTRL- - changes the audiolevel by plus1 or minus1 db. And it does so on the fly withoput stopping the playhead.

7 - OPEN CLIP in TIMELINE: this opens a clip and all its audiotracks into a seperate timeline, where you can adjust the audiotracks without getting them out of sync. Turn tracks on/off or adjust their levels etc.
I mapped this to CMD- ^ as open timeline and SHIFT- ^ to close this timeline again (^ might be something else with you, it is the one above the TAB with me)

8 - CTRL-V: opens the effects-tab of a clip IN the timeline, not the inspector. You can then for instance double click the opacity and fade I/O. CTRL-AA closes this effects-tab again

9 - CMD-G creates a storyline. You need this to be able to add a transition to audio. And I like secondary storylines, because they behave like primary storylines: rippled. And they stick to your primary connection, so when you move the clip they are connected to, they go with it. That dreamsequence is always in sync with the talent closing his eyes.....

10- finally......ß (next to the 0) and ü (next to P) are what the "u" was for in FCP7 and select, if you edit the incoming or outgoing frame of a cut

I hope I could inspire some of you to look at the commands, because if you scroll through them you might find more stuff you thought wasn´t possible in FCPX!

Montag, 1. August 2011

Tools I prefer in FCPX

In a discussion over at I got asked to list "the many ways" that I believe FCPX was better than FCP7....

so here´s my answer, and when I get time I´ll extend the list

- Media Management and the whole keyword-structure...don´t think I need to explain why that is better than the old FCP bin where I never knew where I was and when I looked for something needed a loupe for it; now just type a keyword;and in fact it looks like bins still
- smart collections are on top of all that without subclipping (e.g. best/crane/evening/talentB/crowdnoise) 
- Skimming: Open your Event and skim through hours in minutes; no more double clicking dozens of clips to see what´s in them and it allows you to be a little careless with your keywords if need be;

editing: I list a few simple tools that make life easier for me
- on many operations FCPX keeps playing! It doesn´t stop for every trim or plays.and it plays in the background while you maybe adjust a motion effct or work in Photoshop or read the Cow
- again skimming: no more aiming for the timebar; move your mouse to where you want to start, hit SPACE or some other key....done; BTW you can turn it off and use JKL...surprise
- primary storyline (full ripple-mode): I often get back to my edits to tighten them. This time I don´t need to watch for collisions and lost sync on various tracks. Maybe again I can edit a little more careless, but why is that bad? If I need more "freedom", use the P tool to position clips down the line
- Trim-Start / Trim-End / Trim to Selection: these save hours every week and I missed them since I saw them on Edius.
- the new replace commands are a faster way of the 3-point edit. Select the clip (one click instead of click in, set I, click out set O; but you can still do that and then you can still insert, overwrite the selection or set a connected clip above) 
- this time round nesting works: compound clips and especially the secondary storyline help arranging sidetracks of the story and stay connected to the exact moment in the primary storyline where you want them no matter what you do; if I need them in certain tracks I need to be innovativ, that´s true, but I can manage that because you can move compound clips up and down; say you have graphics for different languages....compound them; stack them and toggle them on / off
- timeline index: longtime missing in FCP
- audition; although I didn´t use it much yet, when I did it was a solid help
- Titles/Effects from Motion: some of you pure editors don´t need this if you have graphics departments, but for smaller houses this new motion-to-FCPX plug is very practical. And trust me your graphics artists will surprise you when they publish new graphics into your project without you noticing it ;-)

add ons:
- NO became so "normal" i forgot about this.

- 64-bit..if FCPX needs to render it does so by using 100% of my hardware talks about this blog

Slashcam is a large resource for german-speaking information for indiefilmers. They took us to the frontage. Nice ;-)