Is FCPX ready for prime time?

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by OldCorpse, Aug 8, 2012.

  1. OldCorpse macrumors 65816

    OldCorpse

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    #1
    So, after overcoming huge challenges, I'm getting ready to shoot a no-budget 90 minute feature film. I'm shooting on 2 DSLRs (Panasonic GH2), so it will be basically a two camera shoot, though not always, and AVCHD files (I'm going to be using a hacked GH2, so the files may be fairly large). I have a fairly long shooting schedule (because I'm using my own apartment, heh :)), and I want to try to edit as I go. The workflow would be to start editing at the end of the day to see what I've got, and hopefully come out with a rough cut right after the shooting is over. At that point, I'll spend some time in post editing, doing sound etc.

    My gear is basically Apple stuff. For editing, I want to use my late 2009 27" 2.8GHz i7 with 8GB RAM. I'm running 10.6.8 Snow Leopard. I have several external drives 7200RPM, FW800/USB2.

    Unfortunately, my last effort was in 2006 a 2 hour documentary I shot on video and edited on FCP 4.0 HD, and I have not kept up with NLE's at all, so I have no idea what's going on out there software-wise. Here are my questions.

    1)For various reasons, I'd like to stay on Snow Leopard. If I go with FCPX, do I have to upgrade to 10.7.x or 10.8.x?

    2)Is FCPX going to be sufficient for editing? Can I quickly and painlessly get files off of my GH2, ingested and easily organized in FCPX and get going on cutting immediately

    3)I will need very minimal special effects, but will need some graphics, such as titles which I was able to do in FCP 4.0 HD.

    4)Color correction. I'm going to try shooting very flat, with the idea that I can do extensive color correction in post. Is FCPX going to be able to handle this?

    5)Sound. I won't need too much in the way of a lot of overlapping dialogue, but I may need reasonably many sound effects tracks and editing.

    6)It's a two-cam shoot for about 70% of the footage. Is this going to be a problem for FCPX?

    Bottom line, is FCPX going to be the ticket here, and I should invest in learning it now, or should I look elsewhere?

    If the Apple world is not going to be best here, I'm open to the PC world.

    What's my best bet for editing software?

    I intend to start toward the end of the year - December. TIA!
     
  2. Carl Sagan macrumors 6502a

    Carl Sagan

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  3. \-V-/ Suspended

    \-V-/

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    #3
    No, it's 10.6.8 and above.
     
  4. simsaladimbamba

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    #4
    FCP X needs 10.6.8 and above and runs on my Snow Leopard Mac just fine.

    OldCorpse, why not try the trial?
     
  5. OldCorpse thread starter macrumors 65816

    OldCorpse

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    OldCorpse, why not try the trial?[/QUOTE]

    Well, because my only other editing experience was on FCP 4.0 HD, and it is my understanding that FCPX is a complete change where you need to unlearn various habits and learn new ones compared to any traditional NLE out there.

    I am quite willing to learn new things, but before I commit my time and energy to it, I'd like to know if I am barking up the wrong tree or not.

    Bottom line: I need to know if FCPX will do what I need it to do - as in the questions I asked - before I invest a ton of time learning it. Using the trail, would mean learning it. I'm trying to decide if it's worth it.
     
  6. simsaladimbamba

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    #6
    No, as answered before.

    Yes, it is sufficient for editing. It is easier than iMovie (I come from Adobe Premiere (before it went "Pro") and Avid Media Composer, thus iMovie is garbage for me) and can import your footage. Any transcoding to a video editing friendly format happens in the background and can also be turned off, though editing AVCHD footage natively puts more stress on the CPU during editing.

    Titles and some special effects are possible.
    FCP X has an extensive list of preset titles (you can modify them easily) and effects:
    [​IMG]
    image is 779 pixel wide and 557 pixel high

    Yes, though know, that even shooting flat with a GH-2 will not bring that much if you use the AVCHD format to record the video in, as it discards of a lot of information, even the invisible one. But flat is probably better than not flat.

    Audio editing and positioning is still something I am not quite comfortable with in FCP X, but I didn't take that much time to learn it either. There are a lot of tutorials out there for almost every aspect of FCP X, many free on YouTube. Maybe have a look. Or not.

    No, since it now has Multi-Cam editing ability.

    To see, what FCP X is capable of, go here.
     
  7. OldCorpse thread starter macrumors 65816

    OldCorpse

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    #7
    Fabulous, simsaladimbamba, thank you very much, this is exactly what I need to know. You've been very helpful. I'm going to go ahead and look into FCPX. Thanks again!
     
  8. \-V-/ Suspended

    \-V-/

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    #8
    Honestly, FCPX is improving all the time. Apple started over from scratch with the intention of adding in features continuously with each update. I enjoy using it for what it currently is and it's only going to get better.
     
  9. simsaladimbamba

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    #9
    Glad to have helped at least one person today. Have good experiences discovering FCP X, though be prepared for some head scratchers (to not fall back into profanities).
     
  10. mBox macrumors 68020

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    #10
    You are a prime candidate to re-learn video editing using FCPX :)
    Its usually the die-hards that hung on till FCP 7 that are having problems with it.
    I teach it and Ive had nothing but great results (and no thanks to me) from new students.
    Its the old ones that have tracks on their brain that cant seem to let go.
    Last class was June this year and Ive heard back from the problem students that they have now gone full blown FCPX and left Legacy for good.
    I havent had a reason to open FCP since last November.
    For Snow Leopard 10.6.8 with FCPX 10.0.4 was stable for a long time.
    But now its all Lion for me.
    No Mountain Lion yet, too many horrors stories.
    Check out www.rippletraining.com for great cheap tutorials.
    Then go to www.colorgradingcentral.com for great tutorials.
    The PDFs from http://www.dingdingmusic.com/DingDing/FCPx1.html are great and helpful.
    Lastly for free awesome tutorials http://www.kenstone.net/fcp_homepage/fcp_homepage_index.html

    Have fun and dont fret, we are here to help ;)
     
  11. OldCorpse thread starter macrumors 65816

    OldCorpse

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    #11
    Thank you everybody for all the great resources. I actually loved editing (the one time I did it for the 2 hour documentary), and I'm really looking forward to it. I just wanted to know that the tools will be up to it. The kind of tools that let you just do your stuff but otherwise get out of the way. I hate the fiddly kind, where it's all secret handshakes and odd keystrokes. Sounds like FCPX is a fresh look and fresh start. I'm delighted to hop on this train! Plus I can't believe how cheap it is. I mean $300 is nothing to sneeze at, but I remember when editing suites were in the thousands (Avid), and even FCP was several times this price... you kids have it so good! I'm in awe of how far we've come technologically. Cameras which cost under $1K and which deliver footage that you couldn't get with top of the line cameras a few years ago. Computers, software, everything has come down in price. I can actually make a movie, and my total budget (out of pocket, not counting equipment) is $10K for a feature! We live in amazing times.
     
  12. musique macrumors regular

    musique

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    #12
    simsaladimbamba's post and others have given you some good advice. I came to FCPX from Premiere Pro 5.5 and FCP 7. It was a bit of a learning curve. However, you're going to need a system to do all of those things that need to be done in post and relying on your old system isn't realistic.

    FCPX's metadata features, especially when you may have thousands of clips, should make the investment of time worth it.

    I have a few thoughts:
    1. Space. If you're converting your AVCHD card data to Apple ProRes 422, converting one minute of data will take up about 1 GB of disk space. Assuming that you shoot 10 times as much footage as you'll have in your final print, plus audio (and maybe stills), you will probably need at least a 1.5 TB drive just for your ProRes clips. This needs to be either an internal drive or one connected via eSATA or ThunderBolt to your computer.

    2. Backup. A feature film with no budget is a labor of love. Make sure you have multiple backups of everything with one always stored off-site. You don't want to lose anything if a catastrophic event occurs. And remember that a RAID device should not be considered a backup. RAIDs need to be backed up too. It sounds like you should have two or more 2 TB backup devices.

    3. Audio recording. How are you capturing audio? You can't record quality audio on the GH2 so you must be planning to record to an external recorder. Remember that most people can forgive poor video if a story grabs them. However, poor quality audio is simply a turn-off. You should plan on having a boom operator (and if possible a separate recordist) constantly monitoring sound, but mics need to be 18-24 inches away from mouths to get good sound. You can't have your mic on the cameras. A high quality pre-amp (like a MixPre) will also help, especially if you're recording onto one of the smaller, less expensive devices. Bottom line: As the director of a film there's enough to do working with actors, blocking, set design, and shooting that you should not attempt to also have the job of concurrently capturing audio.

    Allow time to do Foley. Don't record any sounds other than dialog in real time (Turn off the A/C, the refrigerator, etc. while shooting.). Door closes, silverware pickups, glasses being put on the table, drawer openings, and the like should not be recorded while filming. Remember also to record room sound for at least several minutes with your cast and crew in place for each scene. You'll need it for your audio layering.

    4. Lighting. What are you using for lights? Ambient lighting will work, but may not give you the flexibility of exposures and focus you might want. You should probably have at least a handful of tungsten fresnels (low cost and make people look warm, but also give a lot of heat), light stands, diffusion material, c-stands, and flags to control your lighting. At a minimum invest in some Chinese globe lanterns. Of course if the feature is a horror story, maybe LCD panels will give you the effects you might want.

    I know you said that you'll doing CC in post, but it's always best to get your raw footage as useful as possible.

    5. Video effect. For graphics, there are companies that make plugins for FCPX that add more options to the relatively extensive transitions and titling features provided.

    I think FCPX will give you the tools you'll need to make this feature. You may need to enhance your hard drive space for editing and for backup.

    Best of luck on what sounds like a fun project. Let us know how it goes.
     
  13. OldCorpse thread starter macrumors 65816

    OldCorpse

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    #13
    Thank you, musique, you tell it like it is. I hear you, and I agree. Basically, I got external HDDs up the wazoo, plenty. But by the sound of it, my internal drive on my iMac may be too small (1TB), so that's one weak point right there.

    Everything else, I got covered. Sound, I know is super important, and believe me, I'm not gonna stint on it. External recording all the way, good quality preamps like on the Sound Devices MixPre-D, going into a decent recorder (haven't nailed that one yet) and some decent quality mikes and so on. I'm gonna have a dedicated sound person mixer/boom op - I wish I could swing a separate mixer and mike guy, but this is beg borrow and steal, so I'll have to try to get good sound by shooting around situations. Anyhow, yeah, great sound is a must.

    Lighting, I'm gonna do mostly practicals simply because I don't have the $ for a lighting package, but I do have a few LED panels, some tungsten and such (yeah, I know). I'm covered on grip stuff (stands, flags etc.) It's gonna be tough. A lot of the action is going to happen at night, so I'll try to finess it with minimal lighting. Yeah, it's a horror movie, though a bit unconventional. I'm gonna have a DP and a couple of grips.

    Yes, it is a labor of love. I've had this idea for years, and we're finally at a point, technologically, that I can afford most of the hardware. As always, the story is #1, but in practical terms, the biggest factor is gonna be actors - that's where the rubber hits the road... biggest chance to fail, if you don't get damn lucky and if you don't get your ducks in order.

    Nobody's getting paid, but I'm gonna feed everyone high quality food.

    You know what the odds are for a $10K feature - basically, it's lottery odds... one in 10 million. But if you don't at least once in your life give everything you got, heck, you haven't lived a life worth living. Thank you for your words of encouragement - much appreciated!
     
  14. chiefroastbeef macrumors 6502a

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    #14
  15. mBox macrumors 68020

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    #15
    Just go for it :)
    Keep in mind that talent is still required across the board, whether its your gear, operators, actors, gaff, ad, dit, colorist, wranglers, etc...
    Oh yeah and the script ;)
     
  16. LethalWolfe macrumors G3

    LethalWolfe

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    #16
    A thing about horror, and shooting so it looks dark or dimly light in general, is you need a lot more light than you think you do. I've seen so many people completely ruin 'moody' shoots it's not even funny. They under-light which means the footage comes out looking like crap and there's no way to even tweak it in post because of all the noise and macro blocking.

    The last thing you want to do is to have shadows so dark that the camera can't pick up any detail in them. If they camera can't 'see' what's in the shadows those areas will be full of ugly noise and compression artifacts. Once you add just enough light so the camera can see into the shadows you'll have to add an equal amount of light to your talent so you keep the relative exposure difference between light and dark the same. Then, when you color correct the footage you can bring down your blacks and get a nice, moody/shadowy look that's free of noise and compression artifacts (within the limitations of your camera and codec of course).

    Watch some episodes of the TV show Supernatural (it is streaming on Netflix) to get good ideas about how to light for night/dark/spooky w/o it looking like crap.
     
  17. mBox macrumors 68020

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    #17
    Bucket List #2

    Not to disurpt the topic, but watch this short film done last year by Ruairi Robinson.
    https://vimeo.com/ruairirobinson/blinky
    I hope someday I will be able to produce something close to this.
    Im more for the CG on this but would like learn and experience the practical shooting of it.
    Its on my bucket list and ordered a Black Magic Cinema Camera to help fulfill this dream :)
     
  18. jpine macrumors 6502

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    #18
    FCP X is getting better and I do use it over FCP which I still have. In my experience and for the type of work I do, the most lacking is clip (Called an "Event") management and audio editing (along with a long list of other things such as limited export options and lack of exporting just a segment from the timeline, but I digress :D). There are workarounds to both. The latter can be done with a dedicated audio editing solution. I use and like Adobe's Audition, but that's just me. Since you're shooting a feature, I assume you will record audio separately anyway so it makes sense to have a good audio program. There's nothing worse than watching good video with with bad sound. ;)

    The former can be made A LOT easier with a $4.99 program called Event Manager X (http://assistedediting.intelligentassistance.com/EventManagerX/). Trust me, it will be a very well spent 5 bucks. It manages both events and projects (a Project is basically the timeline).
     
  19. musique macrumors regular

    musique

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    #19
    To piggyback on what LethalWolfe said, it's not until someone tries to do his or her own lighting that there's the realization of the art involved in the technique.

    More than 20 years ago, Ron Howard did a film about firefighters with sets that had a great deal of real fire. Although everyone involved going in assumed that fire scenes didn't need a lot of light, Howard discovered that the opposite was true. Because the fire provided so much light only on and from itself, there needed to be even more light on and around the fire to light the characters and sets and to show shadows where they were wanted.

    Lighting is at least as much art as it is science.
     
  20. Artful Dodger macrumors 68020

    Artful Dodger

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    #20
    I just took the plunge and bought FCPX & Motion. It helped me make up my mind by watching some stuff from Larry Jordan (look on YouTube) lots of good free stuff to see if FCPX is where you would like to be.

    After watching his YouTube stuff and some others like mentioned above, it was the right path for me to go down and start learning from the beginning with a different approach. I hope it is what you need and don't get discouraged when or if it feels a bit awkward or different, that can be a good thing ;)

    I went from the older iMovie HD to FCE then to the new iMovie and now FCPX and at times I didn't like any of them but stuck it out one foot out of my comfort zone, glad I did fwiw.

    Last, I've been watching stuff from filmriot on YouTube as well which for a beginner seems to help for extra ideas, how-to's and so on…

    Good luck :D
     
  21. OldCorpse thread starter macrumors 65816

    OldCorpse

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    #21
    Right, I realize shooting in low light doesn't mean "no light". I'll have a DP working, but frankly, I'm buying the GH2 and will rent some fast lenses ahead of time, because I want to do extensive experimentation. Since this is low light in small spaces, I'll need some fast wide lenses, like the 25mm f/0.95 Voigtlander and the 17.5mm f/0.95. - my intention is to rent the lenses for a few days and experiment extensively. I'll also look into maybe the lumix 24mm f/1.4 and the 20mm pancake, or whatever, the 12mm f/1.6 Noktor, the 11-16 f/2.8 tokina. On the longer end I got a few all in Nikon mounts, 28mm Sigma 1.8, Nikkor 50mm 1.8, Rokinon 85mm 1.4.

    Basically, my idea is to experiment with lighting and lenses and see what I will actually need to purchase, and what I can get away with lighting-wise just with practicals, maybe change a few bulbs. The advantage I have, is that most interiors will be shot in my own apartment, so I always have access to the location for experiments :).

    The youtube and various free tutorials are a huge resource - that's fantastic advice.

    It'll be an adventure, that's for sure - and I've been persuaded that FCPX is the ticket to that adventure as far as editing. The original reason I asked if FCPX was ready for prime time, is that I read that there was a huge outcry by the pros who felt that there should have been an FCP8 instead and how FCPX is a toy and unstable and lacking features and hard to work and basically not good for much more than aunt Millie cutting her toddler's birthday party video for some laffs and giggles. But all my computer gear is Apple, so before I got a PC NLE, I wanted to find out if maybe the outcry was exaggerated and FCPX has progressed nicely. It sounds like it has, and will be more than able to handle my modest feature.

    Also I want to thank everybody here - it's a very nice community, macrumors, glad to re-discover it.
     
  22. LethalWolfe macrumors G3

    LethalWolfe

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    #22
    Experimenting is the best way to go as you'll find out specifically what works and what does not. I mean, I've seen DPs I thought should know better screw it up because they don't understand how the sensor and codec will react. They see smooth black in the viewfinder so they assume smooth black is what gets recorded but in reality it's all funky noise that can't be fixed.


    Avid and Adobe make Mac versions too ya know. ;)
     
  23. Artful Dodger macrumors 68020

    Artful Dodger

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    #23
    Since this will be a download I should mention about saving some cash if you can. By that I mean look around at local deals like at Costco, Sam's Club or even what I did last week, Target. They had a sale on iTunes cards, the more you bought the more you saved. All total $400 face value cost me $323 after using my Target Visa and an extra five percent (Target Visa) on top of the sale so buying FCPX & Motion was a real deal.

    Thought this would help a few folks out reading this so the cost doesn't seem as much if you are on a tight budget or just want to use the cash in other areas :D
     
  24. mBox macrumors 68020

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    #24
    Or go in on it with four others. Create an iTunes account that shared and download to five different computers.
     
  25. Artful Dodger macrumors 68020

    Artful Dodger

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    #25
    Yes, I already had made the purchase when I figured that one out which would be really nice in the long run ;)
     

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