Final Cut Pro X

The new Final Cut Pro was announced this week and, after years of anticipation, it has really been shaken up. Above is a video of the presentation, detailing many of the new features.

I’m not going to go through all of these new features but you can read about it all over the internet.

While things like magnetic sound/visuals, usage of RAM and the price tag are very interesting – and liable to save time and money – I’m not as excited as a lot of the video production blogs and other websites out there. This is no slight on Apple or anyone posting multiple giddy updates about FCPX, I just couldn’t shake the thought that it isn’t going to make me create better films. I get it, though. I understand that people are on deadlines and the time that this might save could mean more money, it could mean more time with the family (or other pursuits), it could be a new tool to play with. Of course I want to spend more time being creative and focusing on the areas which I like best, but I think I just don’t get excited until I see something which widens my abilities, or allows me to do something which I could not otherwise achieve.

But yeah, I’ll probably get it anyway.

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Editing Set-Up For HD Video Production

Apple Mac Pro
I left early to work from home on Wednesday lunchtime, I had a head-cold and was deteriorating as the day went on and I had no meetings in the afternoon. When I got up bright and early yesterday I was happy to see my editing set-up had arrived.

I had constructed a spec list for the basic equipment and software that would be necessary for the task but was unsure the exact items that would be provided. I have a Mac Pro on my home set up, with an Apple Cinema Display and secondary monitor and most of the software I’d like, so I knew what would work. I was definitely looking for more cores and more RAM as my system does get slow rather easily.

There’s a lot of discussion about where and when and what it is possible to edit with; there are minimum requirements for editing software and there are lists of people’s ‘ideal scenario’ set-up (which would usually increase the price dramatically). There isn’t so much talk of solid real-world systems or “What hardware and software SHOULD I be using?” because it is different for different people and purposes and also changes rapidly, as software and hardware are in a constant state of change.

So here is what I will be working with initially, let’s see how soon this becomes archaic:

Hardware

Mac Pro
2x 2.26 GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon
6GB 1066 MHz DDR3

2x 22″HP L2245wg monitors

Software

OSX 10.5.8
Final Cut Studio
Abode CS 5 Production Premium

The total price of this is around £6980, with tax and without any discounts. The hardware and software are quite evenly divided.

So that’s the core of what I’ll be using. Obviously monitoring speakers are coming in (but are part of the camera budget..), I will be using a tapeless workflow (SDHC cards), so good card readers will be added. The monitors are not 1920×1080, like I wanted (they top-out at 1680×1050) but they will do for now. I have ordered in a pair of Western Digital 2TB drives for all the HD footage I will bringing in. I’ll probably cover this stuff in workflows, archiving, etc. sometime soon.

As for the software, I am likely to use Final Cut Pro to edit, After Effects and Photoshop for graphics and basic effects, Compressor for conversions and DVD Studio Pro for making hard copies. I will probably also be using: Cinema Tools (conforming), MpegStreamclip (transcoding), Soundtrack Pro (audio), Color (colour correction) and other applications that I have missed but are probably absolutely essential – but I forget about them until I have a real problem!

Now I just need some footage to play with!

Editing Set-Up: Hardware and Software for Macs and Final Cut Suite

For creative computing, I prefer to use Macs. I was originally taught to edit video on a Mac and use them for photo editing, web development and so on. However, I was also taught Avid and my previous job was all PCs, where we used Avid Media Composer to create broadcast television. I found there were some things I preferred on Avid, that Final Cut Pro just did differently. The way they handled files, the way you would control it and other things that I forget after a Christmas break.

But I am running this show and prefer Final Cut Studio for the whole package of software, as well as using it for my own projects so am comfortable with updating it and adapting it to suit my needs. I am sure I would achieve the same results whether I had chosen FCS, Avid, Vegas, Premiere etc.

Now that I have chosen Final Cut Studio, getting a Mac is the way to go.

I know I haven’t discussed camera equipment yet and there is a reason for this: the editing suite is going to be okay-ed and installed first. You’d maybe think the post-production hardware would follow the production hardware, but really neither is of much use without the other. I could start shooting and just keeping all the footage on a hard drive, but I want to test everything out and create a workflow that I am happy with, from start to finish. The main reason, though, is that getting a computer around here is much easier than all the production equipment I want, from lots of different sources.

I know I am likely to be shooting a lot of hefty HD footage, which will probably need transcoded and edited without bogging down the system. Deadlines are going to come pretty rapid around here and I don’t want to be held back with a machine that has difficulty doing what I need it to on a day-to-day basis.

So, the economics of the situation have led me to the following basic set up:

  • Mac Pro (mid-2010 model), dual quad cores with 6GB memory.
  • Dual 22” monitors.
  • Final Cut Studio
  • Abode CS Production Professional

Now, as I am unfortunately not in control of what precisely gets bought, I will have to wait until I am sitting using the Mac before I can be more specific about anything. That’s just the way things go. If I run into any obstacles with this, I will document as I go – but I think this set-up should suit my purposes.