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Final Cut Pro X for iMovie and Final Cut Express UsersMaking the Creative Leap
By Tom Wolsky
Focal PressCopyright © 2012 Tom Wolsky
All right reserved.
Chapter OneLESSON 1
Getting Started with Final Cut Pro X
LESSON OUTLINE iMovie and Final Cut Express 2 What You Really Need 3 Multiple Drives 3 Optimizing Your Computer for FCP 9 Monitors 11 Firing Up the Application 13 The Primary Panels 14 Window Arrangements 15 Summary 17
Welcome to Final Cut Pro X (pronounced ten). The application is listed as version 10, but to be honest it really is the first version of a brand new application for video production. This is unlike any previous versions of Final Cut Pro or Express. On the surface it is more like iMovie than it is similar to traditional video editing applications like legacy Final Cut Pro, Adobe Premiere, or Avid Media Composer. It is entirely new, a completely new concept for professional video editing built on an entirely new foundation, using the most modern technologies available in the operating system, 64-bit, OpenCL, Grand Central Dispatch, Core Video, and others. You don't have to understand what these do except to know that they allow the application to use all the available power in your computer, as much RAM as you have, as many processors as are in your machine, as well as utilizing your graphics processor, all to speed up, simplify, and make the application more capable. The application is called X because it is based around the capabilities of the Mac OS X operating system, unlike previous versions that were first introduced and used on Mac OS 8.5, and have since been strapped onto the newer and more sophisticated operating systems.
iMOVIE AND FINAL CUT EXPRESS
Final Cut Pro X, which we will simply call Final Cut Pro or FCP, is unique in video editing applications. It is the first professional application capable of editing everything from consumer video to high-resolution, film-size formats, while still being sold at a consumer price. Until now those who were interested in producing videos could either use iMovie, which comes free, pre-installed on all Macs, or step up to an application like Final Cut Express, or even one of the full-featured professional applications but at substantial cost.
Many users' first foray into video production is with iMovie. Serious hobbyists and professionals starting to work with the application often became quickly frustrated by that application's limitations and quality issues and had to step up to legacy Final Cut Pro's younger brother, Final Cut Express. At that time Final Cut Pro was available only as part of a suite of applications called Final Cut Studio, most of which the majority of consumers and many professionals simply did not need, nor were they willing to pay for. Final Cut Express was designed to occupy the space between iMovie and Final Cut Pro at a consumer affordable price. For many, the move to Final Cut Express, though affordable, was fraught with dangers. The application was hugely different from iMovie, a complete paradigm shift to a professional interface with two monitors and multiple tracks as they were called in FCE.
With the new Final Cut Pro, this has changed. The new application will not be as strange and intimidating as its predecessors to iMovie users. In fact it is very much based on the iMovie interface. Much of what was familiar in iMovie will be there in FCP. As you start to work with this application, you will find much that is recognizable: the layout of the interface, the terminology, and even many of the editing functions and tools. In fact it will be legacy Final Cut Pro and Final Cut Express users who will find the application strange and foreign. The entire interface and especially a completely new glossary of terms will stand between them and this new application. In the beginning everything that will be familiar to iMovie users will be new and strange to Final Cut users. The further we go into our exploration of this application, the more the techniques and tools will become familiar to Final Cut users and the more strange and complex they will be for iMovie users. As you go through the lessons in the book, I will try to point out the differences and similarities in the interface and in the workflow for both users.
The first few lessons will be familiar ground to iMovie users and strange to Final Cut users, covering whole new ways of dealing with media and how it's stored and cataloged and organized and edited into a very new Timeline. As the lessons progress, the interface and capabilities of FCP will become more familiar to experienced Final Cut users. They will know about keyframing and color correction and mattes. Here we will be in new territory for iMovie users, and we'll see the application's great power and flexibility come out, multiple video and audio tracks, animation of filters, and customization of effects and generators. Once we're done, whether you're an iMovie or a seasoned Final Cut user, you will know how to work with this amazing application and use its capabilities to the fullest to achieve the results you want, easily and efficiently.
WHAT YOU REALLY NEED
Final Cut Pro requires the latest operating system and computers. It will work only on Intel-based machines and only on computers running Mac OS X 10.6.8 Snow Leopard or 10.7 Lion or higher. The computer needs to have a processor speed of 2GHz or higher and has to have an NVIDIA or AMD graphics card or better. It will run on a computer with the Intel GMA processor shared with main memory; however, this is not recommended as it will limit the application's capabilities. For detailed information on the system requirements for Final Cut Pro, you should check the Apple website at apple.com/finalcutpro/specs.
For most people, their needs and their finances almost invariably dictate which computer they purchase for editing video. Generally it's a good idea to get the biggest, fastest, and most powerful computer you can afford. If you have budget constraints, start with an iMac or even a Mac mini. If you need to be on the road a lot, get a MacBook Pro. A MacBook is not recommended for FCPX or its companion app, Motion 5, because the laptop shares memory between user RAM and video RAM. If you have a larger budget, go for it: a 12-core Mac Pro tower, with two 2.66GHz 6-core Intel Xeon processors loaded with lots of RAM.
Storage is an essential part of any video system. Digital media file sizes vary enormously. Acquisition formats that are heavily compressed, such as AVCHD, can be as low as about 2MB per second of storage space. Media from a DSLR camera is roughly 6MB per second, or about 350MB per minute, or about 20GB per hour. Higher-resolution formats using codecs such as Apple's ProRes can be about 40MB per second, working out to about 140GB for an hour. As you can see, it won't take long to fill up everything but the largest hard drives. Fortunately, cheap hard drives are available in ever-increasing sizes, with platter speeds, seek times, and caches adequate for working with ProRes material. For higher-quality video using ProRes HQ or large format media, you'll need to have a RAID (Redundant Array of Independent Disks) system. This allows multiple drives to be tied together to work as one unit providing higher capacity and greater speed.
Unless you have a large Mac Pro, you will need external hard drives for your media. Though USB drives are very common, they are not recommended at all for use with video applications. USB drives can be used for archiving your media, but for high-speed delivery of high-resolution high-data-rate media, you really need at least a FireWire 400 drive and better still a FireWire 800 drive, an eSATA drive, or one of the new Thunderbolt drives that are becoming available. Thunderbolt delivers astonishing speed and performance and works wonderfully for video applications.
Codec stands for "compression-decompression." FCP works using a multimedia architecture that handles video, audio, still images, and other data. This version of FCP supports many different formats natively, though it works best with optimized ProRes QuickTime .mov files. Cameras very commonly shoot in the H.264 codec, which, though it can be used in FCP, is not a particularly good codec for editing. AVCHD, for instance, is MPEG-4 using H.264. This codec compresses video by looking at multiple frames and using the compression information from earlier frames to make subsequent frames even smaller. These formats use GOP (Group Of Pictures) structures to compress the video, using interframe compression. These structures are difficult to edit because only some of the frames have complete picture information; your computer processer is needed to re-create "real" frames for editing. I-frame (intraframe) compression codecs, such as the ProRes codecs, DV, and the Apple Intermediate Codec, compress each frame as a separate piece of information. This is much easier to edit and requires much less processor power from the computer, allowing the application greater capabilities by not using processor power to decode complex codecs. Some formats such as MPEG-2 used on DVDs are not supported in Final Cut Pro. The MPEG-2 format used on HDV tape can be imported into FCP. DVD media should be converted to QuickTime using MPEG Streamclip ( squared5.com/). Some card-based AVCHD formats, such as nonrecognizable MTS files from some consumer HD cameras, may need to be "rewrapped" for use on Macs, with utilities like ClipWrap, (divergentmedia.com), which also offers the ability to transcode files to various flavors of ProRes422 for editing.
It is important that you be aware that only drives that are formatted in Mac OS Extended will work with FCP. They will not work with DOS-formatted or FAT32 or NFTS drives. They simply will not appear in the application.
Audio Sample Rates
While video is compressed using codecs, digital audio is recorded by cutting up the sound into samples. The more samples per second into which the audio is divided, the more accurately it will represent the original sound. The standard for almost all digital media is 48kHz (kiloHertz), which means the audio is sampled, sliced into 48,000 segments per second. Older DV cameras still use two sample rate options: 32kHz and 48kHz. The camera manufacturers designate these sample rates as 12-bit for 32kHz and 16-bit for 48kHz. You should always set your camera to record at 16-bit or 48kHz. Higher sample rates such as 96k are also used and are accepted in FCP. Compressed audio, such as MP3 and AAC, can also be used in FCP, but should be avoided. I recommend that compressed audio files be converted to AIFF (Audio Interchange File Format) at 48k. This is an uncompressed audio format, also called Linear PCM in some applications. We'll look at converting audio files in a later lesson.
Because a digital video editing system needs to move large amounts of data at high speeds, you should use separate drives purely for storing video data. You should have one internal hard drive dedicated to your operating system and applications, such as Final Cut Pro, Photoshop or Photoshop Elements, iTunes, your iLife applications, iDVD, iWeb, Garage Band, and so on, and everything else from Internet—access software to word processing and spreadsheets. All of these should be on one drive—your system drive—and all the applications should be in the system's Applications folder. All of the Apple applications are usually installed at the top level of the folder. They should not be moved into other folders; otherwise, Software Update or the App Store may not recognize them.
It's a good idea to periodically check the App Store to see whether there have been any updates to the application. Applications are constantly being refined and updated to fix problems or to accommodate developments in hardware or the operating system. The projects used in these lessons may need to be updated to work with your version of the software. The application will update the projects automatically when the new version is launched.
Excerpted from Final Cut Pro X for iMovie and Final Cut Express Users by Tom Wolsky Copyright © 2012 by Tom Wolsky. Excerpted by permission of Focal Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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