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My mini-doc, “A Cemetery Remembered” is now online!

I’m pleased to present my latest short-form documentary, “A Cemetery Remembered.” As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, this was a passion project of mine that I started last summer in 2013. I read an article in the L.A. Times which recounted the story of Mt. Zion Cemetery. It is located in East Los Angeles and had fallen into disrepair. Because of the story in the Times, a grassroots campaign was started by a local rabbi to restore it.

I pitched the story around to a couple of people, but realized that this was a project that I needed to pursue on my own. Well, sort of on my own. I enlisted the help of my amazing fiancé/producer (prodancé? fian-ducer?), Tina Nguyen, to help me out on the shoot and the edit.

We shot over the course of one day with the following equipment:

  • Panasonic GH2
  • Sanken COS-11D
  • Rode VideoMic Pro
  • Roland R-26 Field Recorder
  • LED 900 light
  • Kessler Pocket Jib Traveler
  • GoPro (footage was not used in the final piece)
  • Gripper 3025 suction cup car mount. Used with the GH2.
  • My home-made shoulder rig (AKA, The Spider)

I edited the piece in FCP X so that I could use it as a test bed for a larger documentary or other non-narrative piece. I’m happy to say that FCP passed the test.

X is great for this kind of project. And this project had it all: synced dailies from non-jam synced second source audio, multiclips, footage from different codecs, DSLR video, proxies, extreme color correction with lots of power windows and tracking, camera stabilization. I was even working off of a portable bus-powered $120 Buffalo Thunderbolt HD and moved between two systems.

I started the project late last year in 10.0.8 and then upgraded to 10.1 in December. The new Library-based system works extremely well. I finally feel that my hard drives, and consequently my own brain cells, are organized.

Backing up is simple and effective. I employed the use of Timeline Snapshots as daily backups of my sequences in addition to FCP’s built-in system of backing up (which, thankfully, I never had to use). The camera footage was backed up on a larger RAID.

Because of working on projects like this over the past year, I now feel 110% comfortable in the magnetic timeline. I can work as fast, if not faster, than 7. The key here is to create the dialogue audio bed first (the radio cut), then add music and b-roll. The radio cut generally drives the story and the music and b-roll support it.

Once everything is generally worked out in the timeline, the fine detail work begins. It’s then very easy to move sections and soundbites around without causing music which resides later in the timeline to go out of sync.

On this project, I would change the clip connection point of music generally to the second shot, since the first shot would have been an outgoing shot of the previous scene. When you get used to the magnetic timeline you start to think about relationships between clips. In doing so, you begin to think about story as opposed to what clip goes on what track.

Cemetery Remembered Timeline

X still has its issues and there are most certainly some major areas waiting for improvement. My two biggest request are as follows. I hope that Apple comes up with a way to organize audio clips based on roles. I’d also like to see a way to move the active clip indicator (that little white dot on top of clips) up and down so that you can edit with the keyboard more effectively in secondary storylines. There are also general responsiveness and playback issues that need to be fixed.

The good news is that, with the 10.1 update, I can clearly see Apple’s direction here and it’s all good. There is very little I cannot do with the app. Where there are problem areas in the software, I now have solid workarounds. We have clearly moved well beyond the days where I couldn’t work due to bugs. I’m now experiencing the opposite. I have so much control over the footage that I didn’t know where to stop!

All-in-all this was a great experience and I look forward to using the knowledge I gained on this short-form piece on longer projects.

I owe a huge debt of gratitude to Uncommon Library, who donated all the music tracks heard in this video. Their music can be licensed at uncommonlibrary.com. Please check them out and license some music from them!

More info on the restoration can be found at restoremtzion.com.

FCPWORKS L.A. Launch Event

This past Saturday, I had the privilege of both attending and demoing FCP at the FCPWORKS L.A. launch event. It was a great day that harkened back to the early years of Final Cut when Apple would demo and do one-on-ones with prospective and upgrading users.

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What was great about yesterday’s event was not only that channel partners like AJA and Quantum were there showing full support for the new FCP ecosystem, but that Apple was there as well, demoing all the new features. The fact that there were about 10 Mac Pros chugging away was pretty impressive, too. I got to work on an 8-core all day and… holy shmoly I want one.

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FCP X Quick Tip: Clearing Splits

This is a pretty basic command and not exactly earth-shattering, but I had no idea that it existed until today. I found it when I was reading through some of the commands in the command editor. This could be helpful after a long day of editing a radio cut and dealing with expanded audio and b-roll.

Updates

Hi everyone! Just wanted to throw some calendar updates out there as to places I’ll be in the next couple weeks. If you are at or near one of these places, feel free to contact me. It would be great to connect with folks that have been keeping up with my blog.

1. I’m very excited to announce that I’ll be attending Sundance this weekend (1/19 & 1/20) for the premiere of the documentary that my fiancé edited, Fed Up. For info on the documentary, please visit the site here. If you are coming to Sundance and wish to attend a screening, you can find info on signing up for a wait list here.

It will be both our first times to the legendary Land of Redford. I’m really looking forward to this trip. I hope to snap many amazing pictures of L.A. peeps coveting hot chocolates and lattes while wearing stylish poofy North Face jackets.

On that note, we spent the past two weekends looking for stylish poofy North Face jackets and snow boots. I know it’s a chain store, but I had amazing luck finding a comfy pair of snow boots at REI. If you’re in L.A., I recommend the store in Arcadia. It’s further out, but they have a better selection than Santa Monica and the staff is much more helpful. Plus it has the added benefit of a lower sales tax rate. Santa Monica is now an insane in the crazy brains 9.5%.

2. I’ll be attending the FCPWORKS premiere event on 1/25. You can sign up here.

This promises to be a great event. Alexis Van Hurkman, Alex Grossman from Quantum, Bryce Button from AJA, and Sam Mestman will be demoing their products and presenting their workflows with FCP. I’m very excited to see what Sam’s new venture will do for the growing FCP X community in Southern California. While I recognize that the world is filled with editors these days and what happens in Hollywood isn’t as big a deal anymore, I still feel that L.A. is the heart and soul of the entertainment industry. It’s great that a workflow and equipment reseller dedicated to FCP is starting up in my town.

3. LACPUG meetup on 1/29. Regster here. I try to attend these every month. This month’s meeting happens to be about… you guessed it, all the new features in FCP X 10.1. It promises to be a great event and I hope to see some of you there.

Shortest FCP X 10.1 Review Ever

In the vein of my shortest Premiere CC December Update Review Ever, here we go.

I see 10.1 as a very solid groundwork for moving forward with FCP X. No crashing, so far. Speed and responsiveness are better than 10 dot naught. The new library workflow is a most welcome addition. My favorite new feature is the clip indicator as I can see that little dot becoming something very important in the way we edit.

I look forward to testing the heck out of it over the next few weeks and months. More later, of course.

And to whet your whistle on things to come… check out Peter Wiggins’s video at the bottom of the page:

http://www.fcp.co/final-cut-pro/articles/1307-the-first-24-hours-with-apple-s-new-mac-pro-and-final-cut-pro-10-1

FCP X 10.1 Released!

Ok, exciting night here at the Garbershop homestead. The boards are lighting up like crazy. And I forgot my power supply for my laptop at the freakin’ office!

I’ll update this post with updates. But here’s what I know for now.

  • FCP 10.1 released (tons of updates and changes)
  • Compressor 4.1 released (new UI)
  • Logic update released
  • Motion 5.1 released

Event Manager X now free. Read this article about using it to move your old FCP file structure over to the new Library structure. It’s very easy and straightforward. I’ve already done it with a client project.

http://www.philiphodgetts.com/2013/12/upgrade-your-events-and-project-to-fcp-x-10-1-libraries-the-better-way/

Philip’s review of 10.1:

http://www.philiphodgetts.com/2013/12/final-cut-pro-x-10-1/

If I was a betting man…

…then I would have made a lot of money today. No new FCP X announcement. And you know, I’m ok with that. I’ll be spending a couple days just getting my systems updated to Mavericks.

I’m very glad we got the scoop on the new Mac Pro. I’m also ok with it being available in December.

It’s curious that Apple didn’t announce a new display to go along with it. Maybe that will get announced closer to the December release?

As with “everything Apple” these days, time will tell.

*UPDATE*

From the the Mac Pro Performance page:

Final Cut Pro X. Now optimized for Mac Pro.

The new version of Final Cut Pro X (coming in December) has been engineered to take advantage of the 4K capabilities of the Mac Pro. The dual workstation-class GPUs in Mac Pro accelerate effects, optical flow analysis, video export — and virtually everything else you do in Final Cut Pro. Ultrafast PCIe-based flash storage means fast project loading and multi-stream 4K playback. And Final Cut Pro X has been so perfectly tuned to take advantage of the new Mac Pro, you can work in 4K — in real time — without rendering. (Take a minute to let that slowly sink in.)

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