Monday, July 2, 2012
Editing a Feature in Final Cut Pro X
Those of you who have read my previous post about Final Cut Pro X already know that I'm a fan. I've been using the software for a year now. I am still enthusiastic about it.
I recently completed an 80 minute feature called "Saint Street" which was written and directed by independent filmmaker Rob Diamond. And I used FCPX to do it. Everything from organizing the media, syncing sound to picture, assembling the rough cut, trimming a fine cut, color grading the footage, mixing and sweetening the audio, creating the titles, and exporting the final deliverables for distribution was done using this software application alone. Essentially I used the program exactly as Apple advertised it, an all-in-one post-production tool.
Where this software really amazes me starts with the intelligent ways it manages data through keywords and metadata organization. Synchronizing sound was a breeze. Its trimming functionality beats anything else out there. Compound Clips and the Magnetic Timeline kept my project clean. And the render performance/quality cannot be matched. Little things like the Timeline Index paired with To-Do Markers really sped up the process of making changes the director and producers wanted. And utilizing Roles simplified exporting Stems and Multi-Track QuickTime files significantly.
I did run into a few issues. Like any software out there it does have bugs. One bug I found had to do with the EQ randomly resetting on certain clips. There are areas where I feel the program needs improvement. I wish chapter markers could be placed and saved to an exported movie. It still has a ways to go before audio mixing is as efficient as the other features (but I'm really excited to see what they come up with later this year). And I do have a handful of other small complaints here and there.
The biggest problem I faced with this project was when it got too big and FCPX would crash. The issue wasn't the length of the project. It was the number of filters, effects, and layers I was adding to it. I ended up having to split the project up into 3 chunks in order to complete everything. However, this is not unheard of. Feature films are typically split up into 20 minute "Reels" anyway. And most projects have color and audio done in separate programs like DaVinci Resolve and Pro Tools.
I knew I was challenging the software, but that was the point. I wanted to see its limitations to understand how to utilize it best. I am optimistic about its future and firmly believe it is the best NLE available. I've become an evangelist of the software because so many have turned their backs on it. I'll admit Apple failed at FCPX's launch, but if people open their minds to a new and better approach to editing they'll find everything that was missing plus more possibilities than were ever available before.
This project took me less than 4 months for the entire post-production process. Aside from a music composer and input from the director and producers, I worked entirely on my own. No assistants, no sound editors or mixers, no colorist, no graphic designer, no post supervisor, there was just me. And I am proud to say I did the whole thing with Final Cut Pro X.