Lion and FCP 6 – Friends After All!

So last October, I was bitching and moaning about the concern that Final Cut Pro would not work if I upgraded to Lion. I did not want to switch over to FCPX…so I decided to figure it out.

Bottomline…I have been able to install FCP 6 on Lion OSX 10.7.3. How did I do it?  Well, I have a Mac Mini that I used as my little test case. I did not want to go through this whole installation process on a system that was critical to my business workflow.

So, I installed Lion OSX on the Mac Mini and ran all the updates. Then I pulled out my Snow Leopard installation disc and popped it in with the sole purpose of only installing Rosetta from the optional installations. Once I installed Rosetta from the Snow Leopard OSX installation disc, then this allowed me to install FCP 6 from the Studio edition.

I installed one program from FCP Studio disc…one at a time starting with FCP and Compressor. Then I installed DVD Studio and the rest of the studio programs one at a time. Then after running the FCP installation, I checked for updates from Apple Updates and completed the updated installations.

The result, I am running FCP 6.0.6 on Lion OSX 10.7.3…all of this on my Mac Mini. I have noticed lots of hits on my website looking for an update from my previous posts about this issue, so I thought I would give an update. So, I will be migrating this to my MacPro’s Lion partition, which is a dual boot system with Lion 10.7.3 and Snow Leopard 10.6.8. I am also going to be upgrading to Avid Symphony 6 on my Lion 10.7.3 Partition.

Is video tape media really dead? Is SD media cost effective? [techy blog post]

With the announcement of the new Final Cut Pro X and other Non-Linear Editors (NLE) like Avid Media Composer moving more consumers into the pro-sumer market…the question begs an answer: is tape media dead? Outside of more consumers using non-video tape recording cameras, more and more pro-sumers and professionals are moving from tape media to SD media.

In a recent review by USA Today of the new Sony NX5U along with the emergence of using Digital SLRS to acquire video images…the claim is that video tape is dead. It is in the first line of this article: “Review: Sony NX5U video camera”. Jefferson Graham states, “The big takeaway from this week’s overhaul of Apple’s Final Cut Pro video editing software is that tape-based media is dead.”

Well here are my thoughts?

Storage costs money! Yes! Higher Definition images need more space to store these images! It all comes down to work flow…what do I mean, well we will address that in a second.

Traditional image acquisition in the video production world use video tape to record the image captured by the lens and processed by the camera. Once recorded on the tape, it would take equal amount of time to play and “ingest” into a computer’s non-linear editing suite (like Final Cut Pro, Avid Media Composer & Adrenaline, Adobe Premiere, etc.). Basically, if you recorded an hour’s worth of video, it would take an hour to put it into the computer.

With solid state media, video cameras are able to record the image as a file. The better the image, the better the camera, the larger the files sizes. Instead of just playing the video back for the computer editing suite during “ingest”, you could just transfer the file, the same process typically as copying any other file from a thumb drive to your computer. This cuts down time in the production process, huge amounts of time. BUT!!! Once you transfer the files to the computer, you can erase the media in the camera and reuse for the next production.

When you use video tape, many production shops do not erase the original tape and save just in-case the original video information needs to be accessed. More video tape means more money. Thus, the transition to cameras that do not use video tape, it appears to cut down on cost.

BUT…here is the thing that keeps me still acquiring on video tape and recordable media like SD cards simultaneously. Once you put the video from a camera that records it without video tape into the computer, you have to save the original media somewhere. It requires hard drives to store this original media…because you erased it from the camera and it is not on an original video tape.

So…for the production house and the consumer, you have to find a place to store this original video media. For a production house…this turns into Terabytes and Terabytes of storage of this original footage. Now this storage costs can be passed off to the client…but it takes space. Bigger and bigger storage servers…and if you are storing on servers that use hard drives with moving parts, they can fail. Yes, you can RAID these drives…but I have met more and more and more major universities, production houses, etc. where the RAID’s fail and the original media is GONE!

Yes…I was at a major university that lost a whole season of football footage to a failed RAID system. Those hard drives are moving parts. Yes…there is solid state storage but it so damn expensive, it is hard to justify the costs with the new technology.

Avid’s NLE’s allow you to erase media that is unused in the editing process, but keep the parts of video production used in the final product. BUT…what if you want to re-access that un-used media for  another project?

Here is what I do…my current solution.

1. I use a camera that can record on video tape and solid state storage simultaneously. The video tape is there just in-case the solid state media fails. It has happened before during my ingest. I have lost a whole day of shooting on an SD Card, but had the tape as a back-up. If not, it would have cost me time and money.

2. I ingest into the computer using Final Cut Pro with the solid state media card. Why, because it converts to a Quicktime (.MOV) that is widely excepted by most major NLE’s. I can also ingest 83 minutes of HDV in 7 minutes compared to the 87 minutes it would take for me to play that tape into the computer. Then…if I want to edit in Final Cut Pro or Avid…I have the original raw media digitally. (Avid has to convert the files to their proprietary codec)

3. I save the original HDV video tape as a back-up…properly labeled. So, if I loose the raw media on the hard drive, I can open the project and use the tapes to re-ingest the media.

4. I save the project files from both Final Cut Pro and Avid Media Composer in two other spots outside of the edit suite: a back-up storage drive and my online back-up space in the cloud. So, if I loose everything digitally, I have the original project files in two places and I can pull the tapes out to re-ingest the media.

5. I back-up my raw media files of the current years’ productions at a un-disclosed storage facility on consistent basis. This allows me to save time if my systems go down…just go get the media and transfer the files.

Why do I do this…because I do not trust moving parts in hard drives. I have had more NLE systems and their hard drives fail with media. I have watched major broadcasting units not be able to put on a show because files got corrupted with lost media. Tape is a physical media that provides a great back-up solution for original media.

Now, this is not always going to be a great solution long-term…but I am researching and working with partners on solutions that will provide me and my clients a great solution.

* Image Credit: Westside Media Group & Ken Rockwell

Video Editing is more than pushing buttons! Telling Stories!

The idea behind video editing is half passion and half technique. Video editing is more than just editing…it is creating a story, creating a vision that forces the audience to forget they have peripheral vision.

How do we do that…well, let me say that it has taken me years and years of editing tape-to-tape and non-linear editing. You have to understand the technical constraints in-order to manipulate the editor to make it produce what your mind is envisioning.

How do I edit…well, I work first with technique…then passion!

1) I like to build sequences. What do I mean by sequences? Well, a series of shots that creates a series of visual images that shows the action. An example would be if you are getting out of a car and closing the door. The first shot would be a wide shot of the car as you get out of the car, to the tight shot of your hand opening the handle, leading to the next medium shot of the door opening, etc. One of the best directors I think uses sequences very well is M. Knight Shyamalan. He likes to use a series of shots brought together where they lead from wide shot to tight shots in sequences. This technique is allows the audience to engage with the visual story without even realizing it has happened.

2) I like to let sound drive the edit. I LOVE SOUND EDITING. I may not be the best technical sound editor, but I love to use sound to predispose the audience to what shot is about to come. If I am getting ready to show you the train is going by, I like to slowly bring the sound up from the train in the preceding shot to get you mind thinking train and then BAM…there is the train. An since I like to edit in sequences (wide to tight shots), and there is a “jump cut”, you can use sound to blend the edit to fake out the mind. You basically make the eye forget the visual mistake by nailing it with some sound that distracts the eyes. I also like crisp sound to edit. If the hammer is nailing the nail, I want to hear that crisp sound and make sure it matches!

3) WIDE, MEDIUM, TIGHT, SUPER TIGHT…TELL THE STORY! That is my motto…my mantra. I am somewhat a purest when it comes to my editing style. Now, I can get flashy with those fast, graphical edits…but I like to tell the story as I would visually see it with my eyes. Our eyes do not pan, they do not zoom…so why should we edit that way? You will not see me edit pans or zooms unless it reveals something. So, I search for the opportunity to edit from a wide to tights. Especially in interviews where I want to create pacing…start with a wide shot on a comment, then cut to the tight shot comment for emphasis. This creates pacing and visual interest!

4) I edit in a Non-Linear Paradigm (Final Cut & Avid) using Linear methods. I am in the zone when I have two BetaSP Decks side by side, manipulating the four channels of audio and one video track to tell a story. It is my opinion that most editor these days are sloppy allowing the non-linear editing software just create a dissolve or effect when there is nothing else to do. Linear editing is a tremendous exercise forcing one to think two shots ahead and three shots behind. You have to know what shots you are going to use next and how they blend with the previous shots. YOU ARE TELLING A VISUAL STORY…not just creating visual overload.

5) I like to evaluate a sequence or the final product in a couple ways…mainly to see if I gained success. I like to watch the video with my ears closed, eyes open; then watch again with eyes closed and ears open. This is to see of the sound and the visuals tell the same story. I also like to get others to watch the the final product and watch them as they watch the story. I like to see where they loose interest, where they have emotion, basically to see if the purpose matched the reaction.

6) I like telling stories! I like to be able to throw out all the rules and sacrifice the technique in order to achieve a better story. If there is a great moment captured and it needs to breathe…no fast edits, no sequences, no fancy effect…then let it breathe! Your audience will thank you for it and come back for more!!!!

Editing Food For Thought! Do you have any thoughts?

Final Cut or Avid Media Composer…which one will I choose???

I get the question all the time, what do you use to edit video for your projects. That is actually a good question, one that is constantly discussed in our office. The quick and dirty answer is we use Final Cut Pro and Avid Media Composer on a Mac OS platform. Both are considered industry standard Non-Linear Editors or NLE’s.

Now what does that mean to the average customer, well it depends on your knowledge and experience. But from a final product standpoint, you will not see a difference in the final product. It is purely an individual editor’s preference. But this is how I try to help people understand…from my perspective.

I produce most web based video content using Final Cut Pro Studio. This is for many reasons, but mainly for workflow. I am extremely fluent with this software and their are many times that one person might be working on a project and a few months down the road, need to re-open the project for some reason. Another computer might need access to the project, so I can open from any of our Mac Computers.

Another reason for FInal Cut Pro Studio is that it integrates well with our web delivery workflow. It works in a Quicktime based file format; so when ever we encode (dump video into the software), Final Cut creates a native Quicktime that can viewed without the use of Final Cut software. That might be confusing to some…but makes life easy.

Final Cut Studio Pro is extremely intuitive so that a novice video editor can jump in and figure out how to use the software…especially if you have any video editing background.

Now…I am a trained/certified Avid Video Editor. I have been using Avid products since 1995 from the early days of the Avid NewsCutter Software. I started my career editing video using two video decks (essentially two Beta Decks side-by-side), editing from one tape to the next. This is considered editing in a Linear Method. Avid’s software (in my humble opinion) was design for those experienced editing using a Linear Method. I edit video using that mentality…and Avid Software fits me well.

Most experienced television video editors & producers have knowledge of Avid Software, so when I work with higher end production using workflow to deliver Standard Definition/High Definition content for television distribution…I use Avid Media Composer. It has all the 3D graphic editors and animation built into the system and works well with High Definition content. If I was to do the same with Final Cut Studio Pro, I would have to use After Effects and other 3rd Party Applications to execute what I can do in Avid Media Composer.

So, this discussion has some bottom-line thoughts.

1) Both Final Cut Studio Pro and Avid Media Composer software are professional grade video editing software.

2) It all depends of the Video Editing Professional and the project, this helps me decide which software I will use to best meet the demands of the workflow and final delivery of the project.

3) Both deliver a high quality final product, whether it is for the web, television, or other video delivery method.

4) I just like having gadgets….the more I have, the more fun it is for me to do our job!