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Bill Davis
FCP-X and IMAG
on Feb 9, 2014 at 8:20:10 pm

In my constant quest not to just discuss how X works on particular types of gigs, but to maintain actual experience doing them - I took a two day gig editing highlights for a huge financial convention that came to town last week. Fascinating experience.



I used to do these years ago when it meant schlepping my MacPro and Cinema display to a hotel room and setting up a complex remote edit suite.

This time, I carried my "edit suite" inside my briefcase. My MacBook Pro and a single 2TB portable Firewire 800 drive. But a good thing, since per usual, the "edit room" wasn't ready in time - so I was able to start ingesting and rough cutting on a side table in the lobby! I know, nothing special about that. All laptops can edit these days. But still it was nice not to sit drinking coffee while getting further and further behind.

What WAS special was having a continual stream of 32gig P2 cards landing at my elbow - and being able to pop them in and edit immediately as needed. For the first day, I did the sparse bundle dance, but as we got closer and closer to the big overnight edit for the 6am closing session, I was able to take the last afternoon's footage and integrate it seamlessly with my stored content - making cutting the closing material really, really easy. And the instant re-call of my keyworded stuff meant that if I wanted a shot of people, a specific convention event, B-roll or a particular executive, they were at my fingertips instantly.

Drag and drop magnetism also rocked - particularly the new "fit to fill with speed ramp" replacement edit in 10.1 - that let me rough range select the content I wanted to edit in, then drop the new content on an old clip maintaining the integrity of my entire storyline's sync. Scene substitution with the client looking over my shoulder was usually done in literally two seconds.
I can only imagine doing this kind of gig with a MacPro Tube! It's going to be so stupidly fast! And with the 3 stream of 4k real-time output, I truly suspect this is going to become the de-facto standard for large show IMAG playback - IF the industry can find enough X qualified editors out there.

As I've said here before - editing is FUN again! Even when it's a long slog overnight...

FWIW.

Know someone who teaches video editing in elementary school, high school or college? Tell them to check out http://www.StartEditingNow.com - video editing curriculum complete with licensed practice content.


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Michael Sanders
Re: FCP-X and IMAG
on Feb 9, 2014 at 10:22:43 pm

Nice write up Bill.

I've done a few of these in my time (quite knackering for me as I usually shoot quite a bit then do the edit overnight). Last time I did one was on FCP X 10.0.1 and it was quite hard work with all the bugs but still definitely faster than FCP7.

Michael Sanders
London Based DP/Editor


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Michael Garber
Re: FCP-X and IMAG
on Feb 10, 2014 at 3:18:48 am

Thanks, Bill. Would love to see a snapshot of your library! Curious how you organized your b-roll and what system you used for keywording. Congrats on the success of the gig.

Michael Garber
5th Wall - a post production company
Blog: GARBERSHOP
My Moviola Webinar on Cutting News in FCP X


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Bill Davis
Re: FCP-X and IMAG
on Feb 10, 2014 at 3:54:28 pm

Sure.
Here's a partial keyword screen cap from the gig.



Some notes:
If this was a library I was going to work in for weeks or months, I'd start with a much more formal written tagging strategy. I find that REALLY helps for large projects. But this kind of gig is the ultimate one-off. So there's no keyword strategy - it's just "make it up as you go." I try to keep terms super short. Some categories are obvious. Others not so much. For example, the Dine Around and Dine Around Schtick came from a note from the videographer who works for this company a lot and was my working partner on the gig. The CEO hops in a Limo and has to make appearances at three "fine dining" venues around the city where he hob nobs with the top sales performers. At each of those, the videographer sets up some quick silly bit - like the diners doing "the wave" across multiple tables - or doing a silly seat-swap fire drill gag. So that's the schtick. (thank you Yiddish for the ability to borrow such a great word!)
A bin like Hugs (obviously team members seeing each other at the convention for the first time in a while - provides a "go to" bin when you want to drive a bit of emotion. Some bins come in "auto generated" from my imports - like the For_Bill bin that just took the name of a thumb drive import.
This particular videographer is excellent in shooting visual punctuation like swish pans and explosion zooms, so I have both SWISH and XZoom buckets for those below this list. Another HUGE bucket below this is Signs. Every event like this has lots of graphics, banners, screen shots and printed stuff that "brands" the event. So dipping into that bucket makes it easy to keep the identity of the event front and center in the piece.
That scratches the surface reasonably well.

Know someone who teaches video editing in elementary school, high school or college? Tell them to check out http://www.StartEditingNow.com - video editing curriculum complete with licensed practice content.


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Douglas K. Dempsey
Re: FCP-X and IMAG
on Feb 10, 2014 at 4:30:54 am

Sorry, haven't worked on that big a gig; can you explain "sparse bundle dance?" Thanks

Doug D


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Bill Davis
Re: FCP-X and IMAG
on Feb 10, 2014 at 4:02:08 pm

Sure Doug.
When I receive any type of file based "card" media, the first thing I do is use Andreas Kiels' fabulous SCDI utility to create a Sparse Bundle of the resource. That essentially makes a digital clone of the card that, when launched, appears to the computer as if the original card has been re-loaded. Apple has their own version of this built into X as the Create Archive menu on the Import Screen. Both work great. I just like SCDI since I don't have to actually be running X to make my disk images.

Sparse bundles are really useful for individual editor workflows since you can save multiple copies to storage drives, and when launched, they give you a virtual drive mounted in your finder that FCP-X will "see" as a mounted Library source.

Know someone who teaches video editing in elementary school, high school or college? Tell them to check out http://www.StartEditingNow.com - video editing curriculum complete with licensed practice content.


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Douglas K. Dempsey
Re: FCP-X and IMAG
on Feb 10, 2014 at 7:22:48 pm

Excellent, Bill. Thanks. Another useful aspect of X that helps you handle professional workflows efficiently!

D

Doug D


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Mitch Ives
Re: FCP-X and IMAG
on Feb 10, 2014 at 5:15:00 pm

Bill,

I meant to ask you when you were telling me this the other day... what did you use to read the P2 cards so you could make the archives on your hard drive?

Mitch Ives
Insight Productions Corp.

"Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things." - Winston Churchill


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Bill Davis
Re: FCP-X and IMAG
on Feb 10, 2014 at 6:42:09 pm
Last Edited By Bill Davis on Feb 10, 2014 at 6:43:56 pm

The client provided a P2 card reader. One of these: Panasonic AJ-PCD2GPJ Single-Slot P2 Memory Card Drive

Biggest hassle was that it took up BOTH USB ports on my MacBook - so when I needed to get content via USB Stick, I had to unplug the drive. Sigh.

Know someone who teaches video editing in elementary school, high school or college? Tell them to check out http://www.StartEditingNow.com - video editing curriculum complete with licensed practice content.


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Scott Witthaus
Re: FCP-X and IMAG
on Feb 11, 2014 at 12:31:46 pm

Great stuff, Bill. Thanks for sharing this!

Scott

Scott Witthaus
Senior Editor/Post Production Supervisor
1708 Inc./Editorial
Professor, VCU Brandcenter


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Bob Zelin
Re: FCP-X and IMAG
on Feb 12, 2014 at 2:56:52 am

Hi Bill -
at the risk of getting "beaten" by this entire forum (I see that you have only very positive comments in response to your thread), I can only say one thing (which will be negative, and probably offend you and the rest of the group). Do you see the MASSIVE amounts of equipment that is in your photo ? Do you know what that means. It means that the rental facility (a company like LMG or AVI-SPL or others) make a S#$% load more money than you did, with your briefcase editing system. And in the past, when you had to schlep your Mac Pro and Cinema display, and before that, even MORE equipment (possibly cases that required a truck) - you made a HELL of a lot more than you make today. So even though you have this very elegant solution that fits into a briefcase, and allows you to do the same job, you are not able to charge as much as you used to - while this rental facility, that is providing the projectors, the cameras, the staging, the sound reinforcement (PA), etc. is making as much money on this ONE GIG, as you will make in all of 2014.
Is this something to be proud of, because you brought in your laptop with FCP-X, and ingested their capture files, and uploaded everything they wanted to this companies website in record time, at a record low price ? I know that you are a very smart guy, with a lot of experience. Are you making as much money as you made just a few years ago ?

Maybe I am wrong. It's a strange perspective. I have no problem making less money, but when everyone else around me is making more (the rental facility), then I feel like must be doing something very wrong.

Bob Zelin

Bob Zelin
Rescue 1, Inc.
maxavid@cfl.rr.com


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Bill Davis
Re: FCP-X and IMAG
on Feb 12, 2014 at 7:28:37 am

[Bob Zelin] "Hi Bill -
at the risk of getting "beaten" by this entire forum (I see that you have only very positive comments in response to your thread), I can only say one thing (which will be negative, and probably offend you and the rest of the group). (SNIP FOR BREVITY) the cameras, the staging, the sound reinforcement (PA), etc. is making as much money on this ONE GIG, as you will make in all of 2014.
Is this something to be proud of, because you brought in your laptop with FCP-X, and ingested their capture files, and uploaded everything they wanted to this companies website in record time, at a record low price ? I know that you are a very smart guy, with a lot of experience. Are you making as much money as you made just a few years ago ?

Maybe I am wrong. It's a strange perspective. I have no problem making less money, but when everyone else around me is making more (the rental facility), then I feel like must be doing something very wrong.

Bob Zelin

Bob Zelin
Rescue 1, Inc.
maxavid@cfl.rr.com
"


Bob,

I completely understand your POV. And I hope you understand mine.

Yes, the staging company makes much more. And in order to do that somebody has to INVEST much more. And that somebody will expect to take the lions share of the profits.

But that's business, Profits follow capital.

Capital is a huge issue these days in case you hadn't noticed. It's pretty darn concentrated in nearly every industry out there. (On a personal note, I had a really nice cash stash for many years, but one sick kid in crisis and one bad insurance policy and that was that. No regrets, he's better now - and I can easily live with the trade off!)

The staging company at that level plays a different game that I can. Let them spend significant time managing depreciation, labor issues, transportation and shipping hassles. In those and a hundred other areas, their business model and mine share little in common. They have to create and support a vast infrastructure and work relentlessly to support that. Which is laudable. And I'm glad companies like their are around to enable these shows. But that is NOT the same as believing that running, or even participating as a stakeholder in an enterprise of their scale is the ultimate point of doing what we do for a living.

Sure given the grit and business acumen (AND THE CAPITAL!!!), a company like that can do VERY well. And yes, much better than a sole operator with a laptop - IF the primary measurement metric is gross profit.

But I do wonder what the chart would look like if we could factor in the amount of effort verses the actual return?

I made in my modest 2 days on site, more than enough to replace every bit of gear I used in the gig with equivalent new models and I was comfortably in profit on top of that. That means I can now earn the "tools of my trade" in a single gig. And let them work for me the other 362 days of the year.

I sincerely doubt that the staging company can say the same. Heck, a couple of Barcos or Christies take a while to amortize, right? In their business model, they probably have to book a dozen similar "big dollar dates" in order to meet the costs of equipment and the crew labor necessary to maintain their scale of production. Of course, after the break even point, they have precisely what you imply - the potential for much, MUCH greater profits. Which is totally fair, commensurate with the capital investment the effort and risks they have to incur. In fact, since capital flows toward profits, if they ever can't generate rich returns, they'll be out of business cuz the money will simply flow somewhere else.

That's business 101. And I'm fine with it.

There will be guys who want to paint mailboxes, those who want to paint houses, and enterprises who are set up to paint whole office complexes.

Scalability is a fine metric, but it's not the only one, and is it the ultimate one? Maybe. But also, maybe not.

I just really enjoyed this gig. It was personally satisfying. I suspect that if it was my 35th straight week on the road working out of my briefcase, I would feel differently.

I once shot a piece for a former University of New Orleans Professor who wrote a book called "The Perfect Business." If I recall his point correctly, the perfect business is the one that fits what you want to accomplish - with the LEAST stress and hassle, combined with what you feel is a fair reward for the effort involved.

This gig simply met that criteria in spades.

It needs no more defense than that, really.

Running a large enterprise is NOT my passion these days. Doing interesting work is. Sure I hope I can robustly profit from that work. But I'm already surrounded by a studio full of older gear rapidly losing value. I'm loath to do it again.

Gigs like that one in the picture are driven by two words. Capital Access. I did my years making finance companies and lease agents and office owners richer and richer. I think I mentioned years ago here, the story of one year long ago where ONE of my vendors gave me a magnum of Champagne for Christmas - and after the delight wore off, sure enough, checking my books I realized that I'd paid his company a good bit MORE than I'd taken home that entire year.

Lesson learned.

As to the money questions, actually, finally, yes. More. But it took a while. What I used to do (traditional video production" got seriously devalued. So I had to re-train myself into something different. I picked FCP-X. It's been fun and after nearly 3 years, It's actually finally starting to truly pay off. January was by far my best month in some years. And February is looking darn good as well. But my work is different now. Less of the big stuff where I grossed more but often netted less - unless I was willing to screw my crews and partners to the point of pain.. Now I'm more about targeted creative driven by my continuing fascination for FCP-X. It seems to be working and it's sure a lot more fun.

Finally, one more anecdote. I did a gig abut 18 months ago where I got asked (much to my surprise) to rent out my old SD Sony DSR series camera with it's Spider Pod rig for a similar financial convention. But this was a much LARGER firm. One of the big global consultant firms. Instead of the big IMAG rigs and 50 Road cases, they had two SD cameras feeding an array of three laptops transcoding to multiple T1 lines - and from that, they fed the proceedings to a global audience in real time.

No video village. No switcher. Two SD cameras, plus three guys who traveled to Phoenix from San Francisco with laptops. Period. 100 in the room, but perhaps 100,000 watching globally.

I sat having lunch on day two of the gig I pictured in this post - looking at all the wooden shipping crates on the loading dock - and my brain said NOPE. This is NOT the future. It's the past. But hopefully not too soon. I know as well as anyone just how painful disruptive this type of change can be.

These dog and pony shows will continue. But they will change. They always have.

Peace.

Know someone who teaches video editing in elementary school, high school or college? Tell them to check out http://www.StartEditingNow.com - video editing curriculum complete with licensed practice content.


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Scott Witthaus
Re: FCP-X and IMAG
on Feb 13, 2014 at 10:53:37 pm

[Bob Zelin] "And in the past, when you had to schlep your Mac Pro and Cinema display, and before that, even MORE equipment (possibly cases that required a truck) - you made a HELL of a lot more than you make today."

I look at this statement differently. I may have issued a much larger invoice back in the "schlep" days, but my net-out is as much or more today on far lower invoices.

Scott Witthaus
Senior Editor/Post Production Supervisor
1708 Inc./Editorial
Professor, VCU Brandcenter


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