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Re: Why the urgency to jump to Avid/Adobe RIGHT NOW?

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Dennis Lisonbee
Re: Why the urgency to jump to Avid/Adobe RIGHT NOW?
on Jul 20, 2011 at 8:38:34 pm

I've been in the business since 1970's and have edited on moviolas, flatbeds, CMX, Convergence, Media 100, AVID and FCP. I am still active in the business and in the last two years have cut projects on both AVID and FCP.

In our department we try to plan our upgrade purchases to line up with new releases of software and hardware because our department philosophy is to be on the edge of the wave while trying to keep abreast of "bleeding edge" technology that may or may not revolutionize the industry. Most calls we have for editors are first, Final Cut Pro, second, AVID and never Premiere. If a student or graduate has FCP and AVID on their resume, we find AVID gives them credibility in the business, even if the job is for a FCP editor. As a result FCP has been our core editing system. We do offer AVID classes from time to time for upper division students who want to develop AVID skills.

This last year we made plans to either upgrade to the new version of FCP that everyone knew was coming. When FCP X was finally announced during NAB we decided to wait to switch till we could found out if it was really going to fit the needs of our student.

Our program is a Digital Cinema program that needs native support for Sony and Panasonic products, native 4K raw file support for high end Digital Cinema workflow and support for high end motion picture post production workflow. Unfortunately FCP X falls short in meeting these standards right now. The big problem is the wrench FCP throws in post production sound workflow. In the high end business the locked cut is turned over to sound designers and sound editors who specialize in that area of production. They use Pro Tools or other post sound tools for this workflow. In the "one man band" business, sound editing and mixing takes place in the editing system itself. Unfortunately most of the projects coming out of that workflow sound like they were short changed on that step; they may pass the muster for a local low budget client, but when it comes to quality national work it does not make the grade. Unfortunately FCP X seems to encourage this type of mediocre workflow.

How does this impact students? Since America now has about 10,000 film school graduates each year entering a small job market it means a lot; only the best of the best can expect to earn a living. If they don't have skills sets meant for the high end motion picture business, they are not going to compete for even lower end production jobs. So the question is, what business does FCP X prepare students for? Hopefully for FCP users looking for some major changes in FCP X, that question has not been answered yet.

One issue is the magnetic timeline. This has great promise. I love tying a sound an event in a clip. I love moving things around without crashing into other clips on the track. Remember that picture and production sound are handled by separate departments in production and are always tied together at the beginning of post production. Since the days of optical sound, they have been a real pain to keep in sync. Apple just gave us a way to tie all the sounds in a clip directly to the clip. We can add any sound we want and keep it sync and keep it from crashing into another clip on the track. However Apple did not take it far enough. They did not include of way of identifying and categorizing the sound. Production sound, foley, SFX and music in a project all need to be grouped together so when we get to the mix they can organized and mixed properly. This suggests that the Apple team did not recognize or clearly think out real motion picture workflow of sending the locked cut to the sound department for foley, ADR, SFX music editing and re-recording. That omission is incredibly telling of Apple's roadmap. Without warning or consulting, Apple told the sound department that they are now going to do foley, ADR, SFX, a music editing and mixing all in FCP X without giving them the tools and workflow; they are not longer going to work in sound categories, sound is now just generic sound. That is akin to telling someone that they are going to get to race in the Indy 500 with this incredible new car only to find out on the day of the race the engine is missing a supercharger.

Can post sound workflow be done in a NLE editor? Only if the sounds can be grouped in categories and the interface is as easy to use and as powerful as something like Pro Tools HD.

Another issue. University departments all have advisory boards and adjuncts who are all work in the business. It was not long after FCP X came out that I began getting emails from them urging us NOT to put FCP X in our labs. That certainly got my attention so I started calling post houses and asking them what they think. Hmmm... FCP X is not ready for prime time, don't upgrade.

So we haven’t jumped ship yet, but we are first in line for the life boat if Apple does not have a roadmap that will take FCP X into the high end post production business.



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