Final Cut Pro-X: (Dr. Strangelove, or why I learned to love the bomb)

Pocket

We recently spent some time with Professional DaVinci Colorist and Editor Jason Feiler of Kalman Pabst & Associate. His work ranges from color grading numerous Independent Films to editing spots for Moen and Arhaus

Using Final Cut inhouse, Jason relies heavily on it’s workflow and ease of use when sending projects to DaVinci for finishing. In talking about X, we  listened to his joy and pain (mostly pain) concerning Apple’s new version of their Professional NLE system. I thought I’d share it, as while the web is full of reviews of the new release, having a working NEO professional, who deals with deadlines and clients everyday, discuss first hand his experiences I thought would be great.

Jason Feiler

Many editors I’ve talked to have simply abandoned the idea of FCP X. Apple’s new release to be sure is a new, radical way of editing, and its definitely a 1.0 version. Its new keywording and bin structure features make it quite easy to get up and running on  a project, especially if you don’t have an assistant editor. Its fun to play with, add effects, and create fun little movies,but in very little time the “Pro” will realize that despite some sexy styling, this baby is made for the iMovie masses.

FCPX Interface

Its not that its a bad “app”,  its just not designed for pro editing and pro output (To date, X does not support a second monitor or output via Kona or BlackMagic card). A huge part of editing is making cuts on intuition, in order for that to happen you need to have muscle memory. Meaning that an editor can wave their hands over the keyboard and perform magic without using the mouse, quickly and seamlessly. Well Apple felt that was no longer important, and that as editors we should drag clips around a “storyline” until it magically (or magnetically) found its place. Thats fine for someone that has never edited or doesn’t really appreciate what its like to trim a single frame away for the perfect cut, but not for professionals. We need control, we need that muscle memory. Often, the meter is running as I work and Apple’s radical changes in “thought process”, shouldn’t cause me (or anyone else) to have to think, “what is the new way of doing this?” as clients sit, a few feet away.

Here’s a few things that a Professional Editor might be able to live with or without in considering upgrading to X;

Extensive Terminology re-education
No support for OMF (no sending files to ProTools)
FCP 7 Plugins won’t work until updated to new 64bit FxPlug2
You can’t import previous FCP projects (this is HUGE)
Color Match in Color Board doesn’t show feedback in controls

Lets talk about color correction in FCP X. This is an area that really concerns me, as Apple has added a whole bunch of canned looks into FCP X, and a new color board. I have to admit I had a blast “playing” with these looks, however at the end of the day it was very destructive. I want to clear the air on this subject, yes technically if you do more then a primary correction its called color grading, but lets be real there is so much more that goes into color grading then tweaking a few colors or adding a vignette. BlackDesign DaVinci is my tool of choice and a great one at that, in fact no other name says color correction like DaVinci. It’s a powerful tool and I use it every chance I get. But for the project that needs finish in the NLE, I still like to be able to offer something other than canned looks to my clients. The thought is nice, but again, a tool for the iMovie masses. (In fact, I’d have to say that ripping off the Magic Bullet Looks approach to cc, makes the Apple solution even more puzzling, i.e. build a better mousetrap, etc.)

One more thing that keeps getting overlooked is that FCP X is designed around the HDSLR/H-264 user. Apple wants you to bring your native h.264 footage into FCP X, thats fine, but what about the rest of the filmmaking community. (To date, FCP X cannot even work with RED or Alexa footage.) Remember h.264 is a compressed output CODEC, not a capture and definately not an editing CODEC, we seem to have all forgotten that. I’ve found that part of editing is knowing what to do when something goes wrong and how to fix it, its understanding CODECs, framerate, bit depth, resolution, the list goes on and on, but in FCP X you simply do not have that control, and I think that most users of FCP X right now are okay with that lack of control and understanding.

Who knows what will happen in 6 months or a year, but one thing is for certain, and thats the television and film industry will not stop and wait for Apple to come back down to earth. Use whatever tool gets you to where you need to be, but don’t sacrifice quality to get you there.

Me? Still running FCP 7 and I’m now evaluating Avid and Smoke at the office and Adobe at home.

Jason Feiler is a DaVinci Colorist and Editor at Kalman Pabst, he can be reached at jasonpfeiler@gmail.com

 


 

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