Pub. Date:
Taylor & Francis
Focal Easy Guide to Final Cut Pro 7 / Edition 1

Focal Easy Guide to Final Cut Pro 7 / Edition 1

by Rick Young
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Product Details

ISBN-13: 2900240521816
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
Publication date: 12/18/2009
Series: Focal Easy Guide
Edition description: NE
Pages: 288
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 1.25(h) x 9.00(d)

About the Author

Director and Founding Member of the UK Final Cut Pro User Group and an Apple Solutions Expert. A freelance television director and editor with many years of broadcast experience, including work for the BBC, Sky, ITN, CNBC and Reuters. Also a Final Cut Pro Consultant, Rick has attended numerous UK and US exhibitions, is a liaison to the US FCP user groups, and author of the best-selling series The Focal Easy Guides to Final Cut Pro.

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Focal Press

Copyright © 2010 Rick Young
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-240-52182-4

Chapter One


The Digital Laboratory

Think of your computer loaded with Final Cut Pro as being like a digital laboratory. In the days when cine-film was the only means for movie-making, everyone relied on the lab. Film would be processed at the lab; there were work prints, answer prints, release prints, opticals ... the lab was central to virtually every facet of the post-production process.

Your Mac is a digital lab, just waiting for you to stir the potions.

Essentially the post-production process is the same as it has always been. While the means to achieving results has changed, digital film-making requires similar methods and procedures to that of film-making in the world of celluloid and chemicals.

While film needed to be developed, the images recorded on videotape need to be transferred from tape to hard drive – this process is known as capture or transfer.

The raw material must then be ordered and structured. In the film world this would take place in the cutting room where the editor would take reels of film and break these into smaller more manageable sections – when using Final Cut Pro an electronic equivalent to the cutting room is provided in the layout of the interface. It is here that the editing takes place.

Once the picture was edited the sound needed to be mixed. Dubbing suites with many machines running in synchronization were traditionally used. Inside your computer multiple audio tracks are electronically mixed to be output in sync with picture.

Final Cut Pro is compatible with external Sound Surfaces. If one has a Mackie Control Protocol or Euphonix control surface you can ride your faders and directly mix your film inside of Final Cut Pro.

The software will record all the fader movements that you have put into the system. You can then play back your mix with full fader automation.

Effects and titles were traditionally created using a device known as an optical printer. Film exposed in the optical printer would then be immersed in developing tanks, in total darkness, to emerge, as if by magic, with hundreds of tiny transparent images. When projected these images would light up a room ... Final Cut Pro uses electronic processes to achieve these results. Video tracks are layered in order of priority to build effects which can be made up of many different layers. This process is known as compositing.

Finally, the original negative would be cut and matched by technicians, wearing pure white gloves, in dust-proof rooms. Release prints were produced so the film could be distributed to cinemas and later television stations throughout the world. Release prints in the modern world are recorded onto digital tape, DVD or the final edit may need to be prepared for Internet or Blu-ray delivery. This phase of the process is known as encoding and output.

It should be obvious that a distinct set of processes takes place in the editing of any production. When using Final Cut Pro these processes can be broken down into five distinct areas:

(i) capture or transfer (ii) editing (iii) sound mixing (iv) compositing (v) encoding and output

Learn how to perform these essential tasks and you will be well armed with the knowledge needed to edit any program. Once these processes are learnt, you, as the editor, will be able to concentrate on the creative aspects of the editing process. Only when one moves beyond the mechanics of the editing can Final Cut Pro be used to its full potential.

Hardware and Software Requirements

At the most basic level the following hardware is needed to use Final Cut Pro:

1 A Firewire camera or deck, or the means to ingest file-based media. File-based media usually plugs into the Mac via adapters which may be Firewire, USB, Express 34, or proprietary to the camera manufacturer.

2 Final Cut Pro 7 and the rest of the Studio work only on Intel Processors. Therefore if you have a G5, G4, or older system you will need to upgrade your Mac. The system needs a minimum of 1GB Ram (2GB or more is recommended for working with HD); ATI or NVIDIA graphics processor; Mac OSX version 10.5.6 or later.

A total of 50GB is needed to install the entire suite of applications and media content; however, one can be selective about what to install. The applications only take up 4GB and the media content fills up a total of 46GB – therefore it can be advantageous when working on a MacBook Pro or MacBook, where hard drive space is limited, to only install the applications and therefore conserve a great deal of disk space.

At the most basic level one needs to install Final Cut Pro 7 and Compressor.

If you are working with a Firewire based system you will need a video deck or camera with DV 'in' and 'out.' Ideally you should also have a television monitor and pair of external speakers. For those working in HD a computer monitor to preview images is the most affordable solution. Many opt for a twin-monitor system; ideally monitors should be capable of displaying 1920 × 1080 resolution.

Inside your Mac

Your Mac is made up of many different components all specifically engineered to work together. There are hard drives, fans, a motherboard, memory, circuits, a power supply, ports and slots. Data pumps through the internal system while the keyboard and mouse act as the interface between the computer and the mind of the operator. While it is not essential to understand exactly what goes on inside your Mac it is helpful to have a general overview – particularly with regards to memory and available hard drive space. These two areas are critical to having an efficient and well-managed machine.

How Much Hard Drive Space?

The hard drives are the place where you store your video files. Any video editing system requires large hard drives capable of storing vast amounts of data. While 'the more, the better' rule applies, each and every one of us is on some sort of limit and we all have to stop somewhere.

When DV technology first became available it was all SCSI – these were very expensive hard drives with limited capacity; which were a lot more difficult to set up than Firewire or USB. These days when additional hard drives are needed it is as simple as ordering Firewire or USB drives online or buying from your favorite computer store. One can also choose more sophisticated options such as external RAID boxes, which come in several forms including SCSI, Firewire, and eSATA. eSATA is an improved drive technology which gives sustained and reliable fast performance when using many drives RAIDED together.

A lot has been written over the years of the benefits of working with the operating system of your computer on one drive and storing your captured clips to a separate drive. This is really the best way to configure your system, but in the real world a lot of people will have to use a single hard drive for the operating system and media storage for the simple reason that they only have one hard drive physically installed inside their computer. The professional MacPro towers allow for a total of four drives to be installed inside the computer.

Should you require more drives than your computer allows internally the simplest option is to go for external Firewire or USB drives. USB works fine for low data-rates Firewire is the preferred option. Beyond this one would look towards eSATA RAIDS.

Video at DV resolution chews up approximately 1GB to 4.5 minutes of sound and video. It is easy, therefore, to work out how much material you can store on hard disk. Simply multiply the capacity of your hard drive by 4.5 and then divide the result by 60. This will calculate the amount of storage you will get in hours and minutes. The measurement of 4.5 minutes to the gigabyte is a conservative estimate. You actually get slightly more. Therefore a 60GB drive will provide room for between 4 and 5 hours of digital video. A 200GB drive stores approximately 15 hours at DV resolution.

If you are working with formats of higher resolution than DV then the amount of storage per gigabyte drops dramatically. While 1 minute of DV footage consumes 216MB, 1 minute at the uncompressed standard definition will use 1.4GB, and for top-of-the-range high definition the same 1 minute will eat up 7.3GB of hard drive space. Furthermore, uncompressed and high definition video formats are far more demanding and often require expensive RAIDs – this is when several drives work together to provide fast and reliable transfer of large amounts of data. HDV has the same requirements as DV. Other formats such as XDCAM may have variable bit rates, thus the space required will vary according to the chosen quality setting, whereas DVCPro HD, by Panasonic, uses up four times the space of DV.


Firewire is an Apple-invented technology that also goes under the name of iLink and IEEE1394. One of the remarkable features of Firewire technology, unlike USB, is that it is intelligent. Firewire serves not only as a data transfer bus, it also allows for device control. It is for this reason that video and audio can be transferred through a Firewire cable and deck control can take place. Furthermore, Firewire is also bi-directional, which means video and audio can flow in both ways through the cable. Thus video and audio can be transferred from a deck/ camera to a computer and then back again – or, alternatively, one can perform deck-to-deck editing.

The golden rule when connecting your Mac and camera/deck with a Firewire cable is to make sure the connector is the correct size. Without sounding too basic, make sure you insert the Firewire connector correctly – if you jam it in backward you will end up with a bent Firewire port.

Firewire ports are identified by a symbol (which looks remarkably similar to a nuclear warning symbol).

Firewire cables come in several forms. Cables can be made up of any combination of small to small, large to large, or small to large connectors. The larger 6-pin Firewire port is found on the back or side of your Mac (depending which Mac you have), while the smaller 4-pin Firewire connector is located on your camera or deck. More recent Firewire cameras have the larger 6-pin connector on-camera. The latest version of Firewire, known as Firewire 2, or IEEE 1394b, has a maximum transfer speed of 800MB per second, which is twice the speed of the original version, known as Firewire 400.

Simply plug the large end of the Firewire cable into your Mac and the small end into your camera or deck. Firewire cables are hot-pluggable, which means they can be connected or disconnected while the Mac is switched on or off, although, ideally, the devices should be plugged together prior to launching Final Cut Pro. Otherwise a warning message will appear to alert you to the fact that no Firewire device is being seen.

It is important to be aware that the more recent Mac Pro towers and MacBook Pro's feature only Firewire 800. Therefore to connect camera to computer you will need to invest in a Firewire 800 to Firewire 4-pin connector; or a Firewire 800 to 6-pin connector. Once you have the correct cable it is simply a matter of plugging one end into the computer and the other into your Firewire device, be it a camera, deck or card reader. It is also possible to get an adapter that converts from Firewire 800 to Firewire 400.

Before and After Firewire

It was all analog. Everything tangled up in a mass of cables. There were wires everywhere and different standards too. We're talking 1980s' technology – Composite Video, S-Video, Component Video.

All through the 1980s the standard was Sony Betacam. First there was standard Betacam, followed by Betacam SP and eventually, well into the 1990s, Digibeta emerged as the standard for professional digital production. Sony may have lost the format war to VHS but when it came to the professional arena Sony was untouchable.

Before Betacam it was U-matic, available in low-band and hi-band versions. There were various one-inch formats: A, B and C. C-format was the best by a long shot. It was like working with 35mm film and coincidentally the tape was about the same in measurement. Before one inch there was Quad – two-inch tape that originated in the 1950s when Ampex first invented videotape.

The 1990s. Digital is everywhere. Digibeta, D1, D2, D3, D5, D9. Avid ruled the non-linear market, with Media 100 chasing at its heels. DV hadn't even been invented. Final Cut Pro wasn't even a whisper.

Everything changed in 1996 with the introduction of one camera: the Sony VX-1000. When this camera appeared on the market the world went crazy. I remember the BBC had purchased 100 of these and the camera had only just been released. Then I started hearing the BBC had a VX-1000 in every single department in the whole of the BBC. Documentaries were filmed with this camera, multi-camera shoots were produced and the professional world with all their big cameras sat back in astonishment as the world of acquisition was redefined, apparently, overnight!

DV blew the whole scene apart. The quality of DV, as a recording format, is roughly equivalent to Beta SP. Perhaps on a technical chart DV might score slightly less, but then DV doesn't suffer from the drop-out problem that plagued Beta SP due to shedding and flaking of oxide.


Excerpted from THE FOCAL EASY GUIDE TO FINAL CUT PRO 7 by RICK YOUNG Copyright © 2010 by Rick Young. 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.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Getting Started, The Interface, Capture, Organizing your Footage, Editing, Rendering, Media Management, Effects, Audio, Output, HDV

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