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Biting off more than I can chew. BRAND NEW TO FCP

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Abby Steiner
Biting off more than I can chew. BRAND NEW TO FCP
on Jul 4, 2012 at 1:07:24 am

This may just be way out of my league...i've never used final cut pro 6 (the version I just acquired). I'm a grad student in the Army, via Baylor university and we are doing a marketing video project. Essentially my group thinks that being able to create floating/3D text should be easy for me to figure out.
So here is the scoop:
1. Theme: based off of the movie Zombieland...need to know how to make text that way and make it move. can also access Maya if necessary, but i've never used it either.
2. I don't even know how to make an introduction/movie title. My group also has a vision that includes still photos downsizing themselves to become part of a collage..where perhaps the pictures can form a word or vice versa. Does that even make sense?

So...I'm usually a quick learner and am decent with technology but I've never touched the realm of videos and editing. Does anyone think this is possible? Should I use FCP or start with iMovie for simplicity reasons. I assumed I wouldn't be able to do these types of edits with iMovie.

So if anyone is willing to take on the challenge of helping a newbie, I'd be more than grateful! And honest opinions are always appreciated! kindergarten instructions are welcome!

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Mark Suszko
Re: Biting off more than I can chew. BRAND NEW TO FCP
on Jul 4, 2012 at 11:17:26 pm

Regarding task 1

Final cut Pro 6 can't make true 3-d floating titles... but you can fake it. Tell me first, do you have access to and any competence with, Photoshop? I'm thinking that what might be easier for you is to make your titles in Photoshop and use it's tools for image transform and warping to bend the type in fake 3-d there. Then you can export a targa, png, or tiff file with it's alpha channel information, and import that into final cut.

If you don't have photoshop, yes, you have tools in final cut that can distort the type a bit, under the motion tab, but it will take a little more work. Making the text move much at all is going to be problematic, since you can only move a 2-d flat object so far before it gives away that it's not 3-d.

Maya will make true 3-d letters with perspective, and you can render these out as stills that can be brought into FCP. I encourage you to try opening Maya and just make a word with the text tool, rotate it, and render it out as a still with an alpha channel. Make a second track in FCP above the first track, hang your titles in that upper track. If you saved with alpha channel, the type will show the background under/through it. If it is the type and black all around it, double-click the graphic, then go to video>effects>keyer> luma key, and set that to "key out darker". See if that worked. You could make all the text motion in Maya fora true 3-d look, but getting it to track with the rest of your scene in final cut is harder than abeginner can do. At that point, it makes better sense actually to edit the whole movie in final cut, export a quicktime file of that, and import that into Maya a a backdrop, and finish adding your 3-d type in a real 3-d environment, the movie is a flat 3-d element like a projection on a back wall, in that case, but you could fly the virtual; 3d Maya camera around in that space and it could look pretty awesome. Given enough time.

Whatever you want to do, your first step is to think it through with pencil and paper. Sketch out a scene by scene storyboard, you don't have to be a perfect artist, even stick figures will be a help. But use this to plan out each scene that has heavy effects in it, before you run into the mine field headlong. You want to cut out all the hard work you can at this stage, leaving only stuff that will have the best effect.

As to your task #2, that's a little trickier, and what you will need there to make a collage out of a lot of photos, is a separate program that does just that, or a plug-in. These are not usually free, but sometimes you can find one made for windows that's pretty cheap. Render the collage section out on someone's PC and bring the resulting AVI file or quicktime file into final cut, and you're in business. Also check itunes for a free mac app for this.

Do you only have final cut in your system, or do you have the Final Cut Suite, which also contains compressor, DVD studio, and Apple Motion? Because you can make something like your proposed collage effect using Motion, with an effects plug-in. It is not something I advise a rank beginner to try as their very first project....

Try this free app, I see that it can generate text out of photos. Looks pretty easy and is in your budget, as in free.

Save it out in various stages of completion as photoshop .psd file, and final cut should be able to float the results over other backgrounds, make dissolves between the progressive still versions, or try a checkerboard dissolve between versions on three layered tracks.

Carry on, soldier!
And thanks to you and your brothers and sisters for your service to the country.

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Harrison Gruber
Re: Biting off more than I can chew. BRAND NEW TO FCP
on Jul 10, 2012 at 10:41:14 pm

This is all very ambitious stuff for what sounds like a total Beginner. I've been using FCP for a long time and I have a film degree and it would still take me a really really long time to do this stuff. I would advise you to do something simpler so that you can spend time making that simple thing look good, rather than spending a really really long time on something that ends up looking poopy.

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Mark Suszko
Re: Biting off more than I can chew. BRAND NEW TO FCP
on Jul 11, 2012 at 1:56:38 pm

Meh, some people have a greater intuitive affinity for certain apps than others, this person may surprise you. My teenage son got into Google sketch-up with about 60 seconds worth of introduction by me, and the stuff he makes freehand in there now looks like the work of someone who's had Autocad for a decade. All by just "playing" with the software.

I would advise, however, that no matter how many cool effects you throw at a project, if it doesn't tell a meaningful, interesting, and logical story, you could use everything in Pixar's arsenal, and it would still suck.

Make the story the heart of the project; less is more, when using effects.

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