Step 1: Footage Step 2: ??? Step 3: A Video!
May 29, 2006 4:33 PM   Subscribe

I've got my DV camcorder, my big hard drive and my PowerBook all set and ready to go with Final Cut Pro. I've tinkered around a bit, but I want to really get to know what I'm doing. What now?

Final Cut's user manual is eggregiously huge, though helpful. I would love to go to a web site with tutorials on using it. My goal is to work up to a professional post-production level and also to just make what I want to make well. Any suggestions?
posted by Captaintripps to Media & Arts (9 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Decide on a specific type of video you want to make (even if it just stars you) and make it...think of some cool effects or features you want to video to have and then look up specific web tutorials. You will be amazed how much you will learn from a simple 5 min video with a few interesting cuts, FX and audio work.
posted by UMDirector at 5:28 PM on May 29, 2006

I assume editing is your desired vocation - I would suggest either in tandem with learning how to use the 'tools' or better still, commencing by reading up on the art/skills of editing in the genre that your most interested (docos, film, etc).

There is a wealth of literature available, depending on where it is that you see yourself heading:

In the Blink of an Eye

When the Shooting Stops, the Cutting Begins
Transitions - Voices on the Craft of Digital Editing
The Conversations
posted by strawberryviagra at 5:37 PM on May 29, 2006 [1 favorite]

Captain tripps,

There are several FCP books that I've helped work on, and realistically, any of them, plus your local library are a good start.

My employer, has classes, for a price, that will vault you ahead six or more months (my contact info is in my profile...) and to be honest, there are other places in the NYC area that are good as well.

No matter what you do - get over to the NY Final Cut Pro Users group.

Rippletraining is a site full of tutorials (most for a charge.)

Walter Murch, the same guy who did "In the Blink of the Eye," also has a book called "Behind the Scene" which talks about FCP + Cold Mountain (along with his editing opinioins.)

Now, will all of that...go cut your own stuff. Make mistakes. Have sucessess. You have to have the first to have the last... See if you can volunteer with someone already cutting. Best of Luck!
posted by filmgeek at 5:38 PM on May 29, 2006

I cut my teeth on a project dropped in my lap and an FCP Visual QuickPro Guide from Peachpit Press. Before starting a major project, make sure you get familiar with the Media Manager. Knowing how and where media files are stored will save you some headaches.

As for Websites, the L.A. Final Cut Pro User Group has good articles and forums. I've also found Creative COW helpful.
posted by evil holiday magic at 5:45 PM on May 29, 2006 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Some Final Cut and editing tips:

- Don't capture entire tapes. In the Log & Capture window review you tape for most interesting clips, set in and out points for each clip then use Batch Capture to grab those clips.

- Music. Music helps you pace things. Rip tracks from your favorite CDs and movie soundtracks. Remember to fade music up and down when subjects our narrator is speaking.

- Still images: you can mix stills in your timeline as well. Use the Ken Burns effect (simply pan and zoom nice and slow) for dramatic impact

- Narration: Final Cut has a voice-over recorder so just plug in a decent microphone and talk directly to your audience.

- Takes notes while watching TV and movies. Observe the transition styles, pacing, and pauses.

- Sub-sequence: You can embed sequences (timelines) in other sequences. Rather than building one huge series of clips in one giant sequence, which becomes cumbersome when you need to make adjustments, instead thinl about you film as scenes and each scene is its own sequence then assemble the film one sequnece of sequences.

- Get good audio. Quality audio capturte is key. Invest in good mics and wind screens.

- Cut for tight pacing. The audience doesn't need to watch an entire 23 minute dialog between two subjects. Cut each scene down to its most essential pieces. Keep the picture moving along. Tell a concise story.

- Shoot B-role: B-role footage is extra footage of general scenery, like moving photography. B-role is used as transitional filler, story pauses, and to cover cuts, as explained below:

- Cover your cuts when someone is speaking: Your subject is talking to the camera then meanders off on a long boring tangent. You cut out the tangent but now you have a jump cut where the speaker seems to twitch while speaking. Don't worry about that yet. Edit by audio first: Treat this as a radio play. Don't watch the picture, just listen to the speaker and cut their speaking part to be coherent and concise. Their video track is now all chopped up. Cover the cuts on the speaker's video track with still photos (Ken Burns style), B-role footage, or cut-away shots of another person listening to the speaker.

- Organize your bins. Make subfolders for images, music, narrations, scenes makes it easier to find everything in your project.

- Common Final Cut moves: Select all clips forward or backward: use the track forward and track backward tool. Command-T is default transtion (cross fade) just click and edit point between two clips and hit Command-T.

My favorite Final Cut help web site is Google.
posted by StarForce5 at 5:53 PM on May 29, 2006 [3 favorites]

Best answer: It might sound dumb, but to learn FCP for the first time I grabbed a random object- happened to be an office phone- and video taped it at various locations. In front of a green screen, too. Then I just put together a simple little montage set to music. I practiced transitions, adding sound effects, cropping, using multiple layers, chroma key, messing around with the saturation and image control for some shots, etc. It took a couple days of messing around but it was pretty fun.

After that practice putting together a narrative piece, or music video, or whatever sounds the most fun to you.
posted by starman at 6:20 PM on May 29, 2006 [1 favorite]

Its been a while since I got started, and I haven't got my documentation handy, but if memory serves there are a few tutorials that come with the online documentation -- look them up and run through them; the concepts you learn there will get you started in your own work. From there, look up anything you need more detail on in the (exhaustive, ton-of-bricks-like) manual.
posted by Alterscape at 10:35 PM on May 29, 2006

It's going to be less about the software and more about shooting and trimming. I taught a class in multimedia (it was foisted upon me), and one of the hardest things to get into the students was the power of non-linear editing and the time it takes to use it to its fullest.

Take out your critical eye and watch commercials and count that jump cuts in a typical 30 second slot and you'll be amazed. Watch a typical drama (Star Trek: TNG is a good example) and in a scene with group dialog, watch all the cuts and reaction shots. Again, it's pretty astounding how many get popped in there. Be careful though, this may ruin your experience in watching TV or movies.

For typical editing, most of your work will be jump cuts or cross fades and setting in and out points. If you can do those quickly and efficiently, you can concentrate on the planning.
posted by plinth at 7:30 AM on May 30, 2006

The Apple Pro Training Series book on Final Cut Pro will teach you everything you need to know.

It comes with tons of project files and basically walks you through all the steps involved in editing a complete video. It's not a great reference book (that is, if you want to know how to use a specific function, this book might not have the answer. Or at least, it might not have the answer outside the context of the video project you're working on), but by the time you get to the end you'll know what everything does.
posted by feaverish at 3:38 PM on May 30, 2006

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