Every once in a while, a software package revolutionizes an entire industry -- and changes lives in the process. PageMaker did it for desktop publishing in the '80s, enabling mere mortals to create professional-quality publications and extending the discipline of graphic design to people who never imagined they'd be part of it before. Final Cut Pro and Premiere are doing it in the '00s -- transforming folks who wished and dreamed they could make movies into folks who are actually doing it.
Of the two programs, Final Cut Pro -- with Apple's lineage of simplicity -- may be the more accessible. That doesn't mean it's easy: a glance at that gigantic manual will tell you right off the bat that there's a lot to learn. But you can relax. Final Cut Pro hews to the 80/20 rule: you'll spend 80 percent of your time with 20 percent of its features. If you practice, those features will become second nature. The real issue for those who want to master Final Cut Pro isn't learning features, anyhow. It's learning what it really takes to get a film made with Final Cut Pro. How the workflow feels. How the features fit together. And above all, how the program can be used to support your own personal creativity.
These are the areas where Final Cut Pro and the Art of Film Making shines. This full-color guide to Final Cut Pro walks you through the entire process of making a film with Final Cut Pro. You'll start by setting up both your Mac and Final Cut Pro for maximum efficiency, then learn some essential techniques for creating your footage -- including how to keep a camera log, how to shoot video so that it can edited most efficiently, and how to use an external microphone. David and Jason Cranford Teague next walk step-by-step through logging your footage -- including how to prepare for efficient batch capture.
If you're following along by shooting your own video, super. If not, the book comes with a DVD full of clips you can use to walk through every procedure that follows. In Part II, you dive into editing, starting with the basics. The Teagues introduce the classic "three point editing" system, and show how Final Cut Pro enables you to set the "in" and "out" points it requires. You were introduced to the Timeline and Canvas earlier in the book. Now you'll get serious about using them: adding blank tracks, dragging, dropping, pasting, and performing slick Overwrite Edits, as you begin to shape your footage into a film.
Gradually, through step-by-step procedures, you'll master all the essential skills you'll need in day-to-day editing: creating insert edits, linking audio and video clips, making roll edits, ripple edits, slip and slide edits, and more. There's a full chapter on adding and tweaking transitions -- including trimming, changing durations, adding audio transitions, and more. If you're using the Teagues' DVD footage, the book's hundreds of illustrations will show you exactly what you should be seeing at any time. You'd have to be pretty contrary to go astray.
There's a full section on Final Cut Pro's extensive special effects toolset -- static and moving titles, filters and color correction, blurring and distorting images, changing perspectives, creating "negative" images using Invert, even copying and storing the complex sets of effects you've generated through experimentation, so you can easily use them again. While you may not use it all right away, Final Cut Pro and the Art of Film Making also contains advanced chapters on compositing, motion controls, key filters, and keyframing.
In our favorite chapter, the Teagues bring together everything they've taught, showing how an editor can compose a film's total effect -- making direction, acting, camera work, lighting, sound and music into something that's far more than the sum of its parts. Follow along, and you'll see how real editors approach the juxtaposition of shots, use match cuts, edit for rhythm, work with B-rolls, and manage continuity. There's no better way to learn what editing -- and what Final Cut Pro -- are really about. (Bill Camarda)
Bill Camarda is a consultant, writer, and web/multimedia content developer with nearly 20 years' experience in helping technology companies deploy and market advanced software, computing, and networking products and services. He served for nearly ten years as vice president of a New Jerseybased marketing company, where he supervised a wide range of graphics and web design projects. His 15 books include Special Edition Using Word 2000 and Upgrading & Fixing Networks For Dummies®, Second Edition.