Sunday, May 02, 2010

The End of Final Cut (for me)

 By Edgar Burcksen, A.C.E.

I’ve had it with Final Cut. After editing three documentaries with enormous amounts of footage, enduring multiple crashes every day, with media that had to be reconnected every time, waiting for shots to render at every turn and losing many edits to unexplainable saving miscues, I finally told the producer of my upcoming editing job – another documentary with enormous amounts of footage – that it had to be ported to Avid from Final Cut Pro.

I started out on film and worked on flatbeds and uprights and then from the early tape based off-line video editing systems like Convergence to the laser based non-linear editing on Editdroids to the early Avid Film Composer, but none are as inadequate in dealing with the intricacies of editing long form film or TV projects than Final Cut Pro.

I embraced “electronic” editing in the early nineties because it expanded my creative possibilities especially with the advance of the Editdroid which I used on the Young Indiana Jones TV series at Lucas Film. Opticals like speed changes, flops (we called them mirror image), blow-ups, dissolves, fades, wipes, color corrections, titles, etc. all of the sudden became a ready to use arsenal in my daily work. After dealing with Final Cut Pro (FCP) in the last two years I felt like I was slowly being boxed in again, because all the freedoms I earned as an editor were complicated and annihilated by the clumsiness of FCP. I had long resisted working on FCP and even rejected some jobs because they were on that system. I finally relented when a job came along that was too good to refuse, thinking that a tool is a tool and I could probably learn how to work on it in a couple of days. That turned out to be true, mastering FCP is not a big thing, editing is editing and FCP had come a long way according to some editors.

Well for me that turned out not to be the case. FCP has two major flaws and in addition to those a myriad of smaller but not less annoying ones. First FCP is designed as an all-in-one system: you input your media, edit it, finalize it with all the effects, opticals and color correction tools available in it and you’re ready to output for your final product to be screened or broadcast. This might all be good if you are only editing small projects that only use one format and uses FCP to output the final. But in the real world you’re mostly dealing with different formats, different frame rates and massive amounts of footage that needs to be managed by assistants.

FCP might be fine to do an output that you can use as a final, but forget trying to use any of the lists or formats that FCP tries to spew out to talk to other machines or facilities because it is a complete nightmare. Ever tried the FCP to give you an accurate change list? FCP is arrogantly designed as its own entity, not needing to talk to anything else but itself. When you’re operating in the long form TV and movie business, it just does not work.

Avid has always worked as a link in the chain of post production making sure it would be able to talk to all the platforms through OMF, ALE, AMA and other tools. Over time Avid has added the gear to make it a finishing tool as well.

So what are the detailed gripes I have with Final Cut Pro? When you create a project in FCP it has a limited project size that you become aware of when your project starts to grow beyond 100 MB. Frequent crashes are the result and the bigger the project the slower the start-up. Because of the limits of the project size you have to create multiple projects to make your media accessible in a workable way; for example different projects for camera media, archival material, sound effects, and music. When you go through a lot of edits and re-edits of your sequences you have to create different projects, and when they become too big and when you want to move around through these projects because you want to rearrange your sequences or use an older edit that seemed better than the one you currently use, you have to make sure that you don’t have more than three projects open because… you guessed it; FCP will become more prone to crash.

When you crash you hope that it has saved your latest edit. Well this might not have happened because FCP only saves the project highlighted in the project bin. If you have the media project open because you last checked out a shot, it will save the media project, a useless exercise because nothing ever changes in it apart from media additions. Why it does not save the timeline you’re working in, is a mystery to me. Yes, I know there’s a Save All button but when you’re in the momentum of editing, you don’t think about that. And shouldn’t the Autosave function take care of that? Noooo.        

When you import media with a different frame rate or format from your project, you have to render it to make it run smoothly. When you move these shots around they lose their render and it makes FCP prone to crash. If you want to prevent this from happening you have to export these shots (with the project settings in place) and import them again. You lose all the pertinent information of the shots which you have to manually input. In Avid when you import a shot of whatever frame rate and/or format it creates a new media file that you can use and abuse however you want. In FCP when you attach some kind of effect and/or formatting to the shot it makes it even more vulnerable and prone to crash.


In Avid you can put any sequence you have created in the source monitor and use it as a source you can cut in as a whole or partial. By using the toggle button it will give you even the timeline of the sequence with a yellow position indicator so you can chose whatever you want to cut into your sequence. You can move video or sound tracks around to fit into the timeline you’re editing. In FCP you can move a sequence into the source monitor but it loses all the pertinent information attached to each individual clip. It becomes its own entity with no reference to the original: not very useful. To do what you can easily do in Avid using the source monitor, you have to copy and paste the exact piece you want from one sequence into another.

(Editor Note: you can copy clips, then hit Shift+V to ripple insert those clips in another sequence, but this is not obvious or well known) 

The effects in FCP are awkward too but that’s something you can learn to live with once you’ve figured out where they all live and how to manipulate them. Some effects live in the effects tool tab but others live embedded in the source monitor. Motion effects you’ll find in the source monitor, just like titles and sizing. Most other effects you’ll find in the effects tab organized in categories that you have to get used to. What all the effects have in common is that they need to be rendered otherwise won’t play them properly or becomes prone to crash. Move your shot one frame and you have render it again and this goes for the titles as well. In Avid when you create a title, you create a media file that you can manipulate any way you want to without re-rendering. 

The trim tool is worthless in FCP because it always goes into clip collision mode or something like that so you find work-arounds: to refine your edits you resort to a typical FCP view, you start stacking shots so you can move them individually until they fit right. The clean ‘one video track’ mode with effects, titles or superimposed shots in other tracks of the Avid is thrown out. In FCP you have easily 12 video tracks just to cover a simple edit without much else going on.

Crashing is annoying but in FCP it is extremely annoying. It happens most of the time totally unexpected; you’re editing away, absorbed by the momentum and “plop” everything disappears to put you back at the computers desktop. When that doesn’t happen it starts to hang and the colorful spinning beach ball appears, inviting you to force quit the application. Most of the time in Avid you will get a message that the computer is about to crash, so either continue or force quit. It gives you the chance to save before you force quit.

On my last project on FCP SOS/ State Of Security, a documentary with about 250 hours of footage, I crashed at least 5 times a day, sometimes 5 times an hour when I had to work in multiple projects with a lot of archival footage that always needed to be rendered. Darfur Now a similar project I edited on Avid: during the almost one year of editing I crashed maybe three times. Bluetopia, the Dodgers baseball documentary edited on the Avid during a period of six months, there were two crashes. Crashes on FCP also make that you often lose media connections that you have to reconnect and renders that have to be re-rendered; all these are time consuming momentum killing annoyances.

Is everything bad on FCP? No, you can actually port over your personal Avid keyboard settings to FCP. Also a nice feature is the interactivity of the timeline: you can drag and drop clips on the time line and extend or shorten shots by dragging the end or beginning of a shot. But is this enough to reconsider working on FCP? No, because the new Avid Media Composer 5 has these features added to its repertoire.

What about this as a replacement: Diane Weynand wrote a book called Final Cut Pro for Avid Editors, may I suggest that she should write a book called Avid Media Composer for Final Cut Pro Editors? Because with the latest software updates for the Media Composer and the fact that Avid also has made their pricing equivalent to Final Cut Pro, there’s no reason for me to use Final Cut Pro ever again.

Setup:

FCP 6.0.5
Mac Pro 2.66 GHz Dual-Core Intel Xeon
5 GB of RAM
AJA Kona 3
3 G-Technology RAID 5 towers total 9 TB SATA
1 G-Technology 1 TB drive SATA
1 G-Technology 1 TB drive FireWire 800
Media @ Apple ProRes 422

45 Comments:

Blogger editblog said...

There's a lot of truth to what you said Edgar. This isn't the book you mentioned but I've been writing a series called The Basics of Avid Media Composer for the Final Cut Pro Editor:

http://provideocoalition.com/index.php/ssimmons/story/the_basics_of_avid_media_composer_for_a_final_cut_pro_editor/

http://provideocoalition.com/index.php/ssimmons/story/more_avid_media_composer_for_the_final_cut_pro_editor/

8:12 PM  
Anonymous Mark said...

I hear you. FCP is so bad that a third-party company had to create a tool to fix some of the problems because Apple wouldn't! Ridiculous.

http://www.digitalrebellion.com/fcs_maintenance.htm

7:18 AM  
Anonymous Philip Hodgetts said...

My company just released a tool for FCP that makes media tracking through editorial a whole lot more robust.

http://assistedediting.com/MatchbackMagic/

Philip

11:25 AM  
Blogger AJ said...

Bravo well said. You frustration has come at a great time.

The good news is Avid's Media Composer 5 just announced at NAB may render FCP obsolete anyway. MC5 speeds up the reading of all formats of digital video including Red, but most important QuickTime files are now read instantly and will carry timecode meta data into Avid. So this means Avid can easily take over an FCP project now. Happy Editing!

11:57 AM  
Blogger Rob Wilson said...

totally agree. Check out my blog post on the subject: http://robgwilson.com/2010/04/14/avid-kicks-final-cut-when-its-down/

2:13 PM  
Blogger BL said...

Thank you Edgar for writing what so many of us editors are grumbling about in our dark, little rooms.
Avid MC 5 you rock!

2:17 PM  
Blogger rdalva said...

Good article. It is all true. I recut a feature last year on Final Cut and went batty. The auto save is a real issue. You think you have saved and you have not. Every action takes many more key strokes than on the Avid. And there is a step learning curve. Nothing is obvious. The logic of a tool should disappear as you work with it. FCP battles you every step of the way.

2:25 PM  
Anonymous EditGroove said...

Thanks, Edgar -- very informative post.

FCP -- and FCS as a whole -- does have a number of nice features. But many savvier editors would agree that overall robustness & architecture are not its strong points, particularly when it comes to dealing with media management and larger projects.

For what it’s worth, for those who do still use FCP, we can help with one other limitation: namely, that of user preferences. We designed UserMatic to provide multiple-user, multiple-workstation and multiple-rollback extensibility to take better advantage of some of the flexibility that is possible with FCP. In our experience, for individual users to be able to personalize the keyboard, interface, etc., as they like and do so reliably, is one other important component of productivity.

Ron D.
EditGroove Software

3:43 PM  
Blogger Alexandre said...

Thank you Edgar for posting this. Finally, someone is telling some truths. I've actually just finished reading the book you are talking about (FCP for Avid Editors) and it's nothing more than a disguised tutorial for FCP, which cleverly "omits" some of the great things that Avid offers. It's sheer simplicity, to start with. The best thing that FCP has ever done was to bring Avid prices down. Thank god it didn't kill it! I think I would rather go back to cutting on a Steembeck rather than cutting a long-format project on FCP.

6:24 PM  
Blogger anita said...

So glad I just bought a Mac Book Pro in order to have FCP on it. I was tired of saying no to job possibilities because I didn't know FCP. Oh well.

Fortunately, if FCP disappears, (which it sounds like most people would get over very quickly,) I can always install the fabulous Avid software on my new Mac and still be able to do small projects.

Thanks Edgar, for a great article.

8:01 PM  
Anonymous Pam W. said...

Great AVID/ fcp article! Also, I've used ScriptSync on a few AVID docs (both were completely re-digitized and started over from FCP to AVID) and ScripSync is AMAZING for transcripts! I keep getting calls from "filmmakers " who've shot and edited their own films (on FCP) and have raised a little "finishing" money for a professional editor to "polish it up." In both cases I threw out their cut, had it re-diged, transcribed and wrote and edited them from scratch in a few weeks.

9:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello


Seems everyone here agrees on FCP, to such a point it seems biased... Cinema Editors Magazine being often "sponsored" by Avid just adds to the confusion.

I'm a user of both products and I do not experience what you are describing at all, even in large projects so I wonder if you have a proper set up for the tasks you are working on...

Can I ask some details ?


- Your Mac Pro is "pretty old" too. when did you last check the sanity of your drives ? and how are you getting to 5 GB of Ram ? this is a weird number for optimizing memory bus performance (but should not crash - unless if you are not using Apple qualified RAM ? I've come across tons of issues with non Apple RAM for fast tasks. Also what firmware and driver is your Kona 3 using (KONA Driver version 7.5 ??) and what slot did you put it in (see http://www.aja.com/support/faq/product-faq.php?pid=11#faq4) ? This is a non Apple product, would suggest (if you did not) to update to the latest and greatest and put in the appropriate slot otherwise you will indeed see some instabilities.

Same question would go about your HBA card and firmware for your three RAIDs ? what are you using ? did you update to the latest firmware and put in appropriate slots ? again, some big instabilities possible there which have nothing to do with FCP.

What graphic card do you have in your Mac ? as you use Pro Res, you should have an ATI (rather than NIVIDA)... again, some instabilities possible there...

- How did you format your Firewire drives ? using Apple HFS+ or Microsoft Fat 32 ? (I would not advise for Fat 32). again, some instabilities possible there...


That's for the hardware part... on the software side:

- What OS are you using ? 10.4 ? 10.5 or are you on Snow Leopard latest and greatest with all the software updates ? Obviously running the latest OS is recommended...

- Seems to me you are not up to date with Final Cut... You run Final Cut Studio 2. are you aware of the Final Cut Pro 7 ? seems unfair to me to compare the latest version of Avid without being on the latest version of FCP. see http://www.apple.com/finalcutstudio/finalcutpro/ for what you miss on the features side (and obviously this brings lots of bug fixes)

- What else did you forget to tell us ? are you using some weird random plugins ? do you have other processes running in the background ?

Thanks for sharing your insights, but if you really want to bring credibility in your analysis (although I understand the frustration) let's try to be a bit analytical and understand what is FCP pb and what could be something else... As I said, I don't have the same experience at all....

12:10 AM  
Blogger Travis said...

Yeah- awesome post from a pro with a real history of working in the business with these editing systems. It will be very interesting to see how Apple responds later this year (presumably). I hope they've re- written it from the ground up to be a pro editor and not a wedding video maker- but I doubt it.

Thanks!

1:11 AM  
Anonymous Sharon Franklin said...

I have been editing for fifteen years, more than ten of them with Final Cut Pro. I cut mainly television shows and feature films, and my experience has been completely different. I wish I could sit down with Edgar and demonstrate for him how regarding many of his gripes he is simply mistaken.

9:02 AM  
Blogger Scott Witthaus said...

There certainly are limitations in FCP, as there are in Media Composer. It can be said that Avid has not had a solid MC product since the Meridien days (and one of the interesting responses to MC5 is that "it looks more FCP-like!" Sorry Edgar...).

I use both products extensively and its "horses for courses". Would I cut long form films and docs on FCP? No, especially if they need to go elsewhere for finishing. Short form, spot work, direct out of the box stuff? Absolutely. FCS is as fast or not faster than the Avid products.

All a matter of the gig and the editor skill-set. Both are good editorial tools.

My humble opine, of course.

10:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've cut on FCP for almost 10 years. Never had any problems. Last year I did rough cut of project on my 2005 powerbook, with 48 hours of footage and only 2 gb of RAM, and NEVER had a single crash. So I would suggest to check your drives and OS.

2:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

After what I saw at NAB regarding AVID 5. I agree that I don't see a need for FCP. Avid has done an great job with the new features.
Can't wait to get my hands on it and use it on a show.

3:23 PM  
Blogger Yevgeniy said...

I've been editing on FCP for almost 10 years. And after version 4 never had any problems. I edited dozens of shorts and few features. Las year I made rough cut of project with 48 hours of material on 2004 old powerbook, with only 1.5 gb of ram, and NEVER had a single crash. I would check your discs permission first and update you FCP and OS. I don't think the problems is with fcp.

7:42 PM  
Blogger tavo said...

Great points all round. I do have to chime in and say that the rise of FCP is directly related to the fact that Avid became complacent (some would say arrogant) and failed to address end users concerns and needs. Remember proprietary hardware, dongles, service contracts? Not to mention an unwillingness to read the tea leaves of what and where production workflows where heading. I suspect that Apple fell into the same rut. I hope that Avid learned it's lesson and will continue to improve and if it does, will likely gain back some users. Sadly, I suspect history will just repeat itself after a fashion.

10:38 PM  
Blogger Saul said...

Can't help but feel some of your pain here, but there's at least one function you've missed out on which would make your life easier if you're ever forced to go back to FCP.

Next time you want to cut from one sequence into another, load the source sequence into the viewer and use cmd-f9 or cmd-f10 to copy the sequence contents (rather than just a nest) into the timeline. You can also hold down command whilst dragging from the viewer to the timeline.

Better yet, use the keyboard editor to map the commands "insert sequence content" and "overwrite sequence content" to f9 and f10, this won't make any difference to your normal use of f9 and f10 when a clip is loaded into the viewer, but will copy content from your source sequence in the way you want when a sequence is loaded into the viewer.

12:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amen. I am tired of FCP fans telling me it is as good as Avid. It has been substantially cheaper, and as a result many younger people have been learning to edit on it, but render time alone for a long format project warrants the few extra dollars Avid now costs, if you can scrape it together. FCP has its place, but it has tried to take a spot where it really does not belong. It does not compete with Avid in the long format arena, and it also is a much better system with a host of complimentary projects when you have series work and need to share media across multiple edit systems. And no, I don't sell them.

2:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

While I have to admit that I get worried that Apple isn't keeping up on necessary changes to FCS, in my experience the words intuitive and Avid have never bee synonymous with each other.

2:52 PM  
Anonymous PRIO said...

I am an old school Avid editor who loved jumping over to FCP because of the QT compatibility but over the past 18 months I have been struggling with FCP crashes. I feel like I am locked into it just because every time I look at Avid I cringe at the GUI. I tried the free trial and could not even install it because at the time they did not support Snow. I love Apple but we all know that FCP is way down on their list... I am going to give MC5 a try!!! I am ready!!!

3:39 PM  
Anonymous David Avallone said...

I've been editing on FCP for about a decade, including theatrically released feature films, tv shows and a lot of programs with mixed frame rates and codecs. I've had crashes about once in a blue moon. It happens infrequently enough that I can't remember the last occurrence.

I do primarily work on my own system, in my own office. I have encountered problems sometimes, and multiple crashes, when I've worked on other facility's systems, so I know it happens... but, all due respect, it always seems to be the result of a sloppily set-up system and bad media management.

As an aside... it often seems to me that the Avid v. FCP feuding, like the PC v Mac feuding, is more akin to religious or political divisions than rational scientific assessment. It's not a holy war. It's a choice of tools. When the previous poster throws out "wedding video makers", he's insulting not just small fry indie filmmakers like myself, but towering giants like Walter Murch. Forget my opinion... if it's a good enough tool for the best living editor, I think it might just be a little better than a "wedding video maker".

5:27 PM  
Anonymous mpheadley said...

Maybe you should check out Premiere CS5 with the Nvidia cards and Mercury playback engine? Looks pretty solid to me, and I know I've read at least one opinion of it being solid. Not sure how it compares with FCP or Avid, especially with "cutting into nested sequences".

5:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's a reality show production company that runs a few hundred Terabytes all networked through multiple XSAN's with a couple dozen FCP editors, 4 Color colorists, and 20 loggers working simultaneously with multiclips.

One of the shows is the second longest running show in Reality TV. I'll let you figure out what show that is and then you can estimate just how many hours of footage they capture each season. It is absolutely staggering.

I wish people would just retire the whole Avid/FCP debate. Avid and FCP aren't going anywhere soon so go out and learn the proper workflows and tech for both. You'll be better off for it.

8:43 PM  
Anonymous Sam said...

I can understand your frustration, but I don't blame it all on FCP. First, if you are working on these large of projects I suggest getting a new AE. We consistently work on 10TB plus projects and I can't tell you the last time I had FCP crash. Multiple formats are a pain no matter what system you are using which is why I have it all converted before it is brought in. Our last project had 18 different formats. Sorry, I think you are a complainer. While I agree Apple has totally dropped the ball on their pro users, but AVID, seriously? You really think they give a crap? They can't even design a useful website. Insane amounts of multiple formats are here to stay, get use to it. Now hire a good AE and get back to work. Seriously.

11:16 PM  
Anonymous Dylan Reeve said...

While it seems that Edgar had a bad run of luck with this project and perhaps some others - luck that might be improved with a new system or sprucing up of the old one - I find it difficult to believe that anyone using FCP regularly doesn't recognise these issues.

Even if you don't suffer them as regularly as Edgar has, surely some of them have cropped up from time to time?

Even the ease with which FCP loses renders when anything is changed (even switching a track off and then on again) is a mind boggling productivity.

And I know on more than one FCP system I've sat down one morning and fired it up to find that it had lost it's connection to some media files, occasionally evening being so helpful as to forget their names too.

Fundamentally Edgar is exactly on the money. Avid was developed to sit within a larger post production chain and to be able to feed information and data out to other parts of that chain. While FCP has had much of that stuff added to it over the years, fundamentally it was developed as an 'island'.

There are a lot of criticisms that can be leveled at Avid, especially since the end of the Meridian era, and as it faced competition from Apple, but in the last year or two they have made massive improvements, culminating in the impending release of Media Composer 5.0, which in the same time it seems that FCP has almost stalled. The change in feature set from 6.0 to 7.0 was minimal and would have be a 'point release' for most products.

Personally I would rather not edit long form or offline/online projects in FCP as I really don't think that it's strengths are in those areas, but it certainly is capable and people do those things every day.

I wrote a post on my blog about a year ago called Horse for Courses - Avid vs FCP - where I tried to get people to tell me where the felt the strengths of each system truly lay - sadly I'm not really much clearer since, it's hard to get a straight answer.

I've seen it said that while FCP is easier to get into, on the surface, that once you start to dig deeper and demand more of it, then it becomes much more difficult than Avid to achieve the same result - that it requires more hand holding. In general I'd agree with that from my experience.

Thanks for the post.

11:43 PM  
Blogger Allan said...

Thank you Edgar. I am relatively new to FCP (3 years) although I have been editing for 25+ years. Yes I started with Steenbecks and Moviolas. I have used other NLE's and none of them have given me so much heart ache and stress as FCP. It is not difficult to learn, although I find the interface rather "kludgy". There are just so may better products out there. The fact of the matter is, I have dumped it, the machine and the software sits in a corner unused. I always thought that the problems I was having were mine alone. All of the FCP groups go on and on as if the people at Apple had created something akin to the second coming. Thank you for being brave and honest enough to publicly say the king is wearing no clothes!

6:21 AM  
Blogger CineG said...

I patently disagree with most of this post. I have edited several long-form, multi-res, and multimedia docs in Final Cut Pro, both uncompressed SD and HD. I have found it very stable, primarily because I tune my system and storage regularly. I manage my project, especially if there a tons of elements and I edit proxy whenever I can. You have to know the limits of any system in order to exploit it and fine-tune your workflow to take advantage of what it can do.

There's no way in hell you provided enough horsepower for projects of that magnitude. You don't have enough RAM, and your storage is likely suspect. It is not the amount of storage you have, but how it is configured and subsequently how the Final Cut Settings are adjusted.

I mean no disrespect, but it sounds like you were working off your desktop and your files were all over the place. I work hard to pull other media into my workflow, which often times means data conversion to a common format. All images, photos, graphics stay as low-res TIFFs and then I simply reconnect them to hi-res TIFFs when I'm ready for final output. Audio is always converted to AIFF at the same sample rate. Video is always a common proxy of some kind before final reconnecting with high res media and output. It is just good practice. I guarantee that anything will drop to its knees if you work on projects at this size and throw every damn format at it and expect it to work in real time. Maybe with 32 GB of RAM a Dual Quad and Fibre Channel. What you fail to realize is that Final Cut is software and can only be exploited with the adequate hardware for the given project. For short form FC does everything multi-res, multi-format very well. The AVID of old that you are talking about had dedicated hardware, which is the only advantage AVID ever held. You can make the same argument for Logic vs. Pro Tools. You pick the right tool for the job. If you pick an inexpensive tool, you have to compromise something. You failed to change your workflow to accommodate projects of this size. You chose a less ideal hardware engine for your software. FCP has its faults, but if you throw the right gear at it for the right project type it works extremely well and is extremely cost effective, which should mean you make more money.

6:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It seems to me that most of your problems are due to an incorrect or unstable setup of your system. I have been working with FCP on a 72h footage project for a year on my MacBook Pro and never had a single crash.

7:00 AM  
Anonymous Jason Porthouse said...

Whilst I sympathise with Edgar and his frustration at a system he's experienced as unstable, I have to chime in with another viewpoint. Firstly, I've no axe to grind here - I was a longstanding Avid user (heck, I got my Emmy using Media Composer) and happy with it, but from the get-go I've had a soft spot for FCP. My own system (similar in set up to Edgars) has been rock solid, cutting a number of long-form docs, onlining/grading them (for both broadcast and cinema release) and I can count the crashes, save for a nasty experience with XDCAM, on one hand. Many of Edgar's gripes can be put down to system setup and workflow, and with the greatest respect, if you try and fit Avid mentality into a Final Cut whole it ain't gonna work. I've come across this before - Avid editors who butt up against the 'limitations' or 'faults' in FCP and deride the system, unable to see that for most of the time it's the workflow and user rather than the tool. Sure, FCP has it's foibles, but for me the editing experience is more organic and fluid than Media Composer, and working to a systems strengths whilst being aware of it's weaknesses is the way to a happy life.

Still, I hope that Edgar finds happiness with MC5, and I'll continue to cut my cloth with the tools I'm paid to use - for now, FCP still is my tool of choice.

7:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you Edgar for telling us about your experiences with Final Cut Pro. I do not feel that you are ranting or being a whiner, as
I have read here http://community.avid.com/forums/p/83608/470284.aspx#470284 the
avid.com forum site whose wonderful administrator made
note of your blog and posted its link. Negative comments about the tone of one's writing, rather than its substance, always reveal insecurities or a certain grandiosity.

I just watched a series of online videos produced in part by a major drug company. As it turns out, the editing was done non-Avid and was so horrible, I couldn't believe my ears and eyes. While it is certainly true that a professional editor can do great work on any edit system, it is also true that the subtle distinctions you outlined in trimming are, I believe, why I see and hear so many sub-par productions coming out of non-Avid setups. The equation is simple: the better the tools, the more time available for the editor to reach perfection. Only hard working experience with a superior tool can inform what is missing from all the rest- which is why your essay carries so much weight and has the online world buzzing. (05082010)

11:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry you've had so many problems with Final Cut. I've been using it since 2002 and have never had the crashing problems of which you speak. I'm currently cutting a TV show on FCP 7.0.2 and it hasn't crashed in the five weeks I've been working on it. We're using really fast drives, a Decklink card for playout, and we regularly trash our preference files and do other maintenance procedures. I never try to drop sequences in the viewer since I always cut and paste between sequences.

Terry Kelley, ACE

8:58 PM  
Blogger Alexandre de Franceschi, ase said...

What an interesting discussion Edward has opened. And I think one of the latest Anonymus puts his finger right where it hurts. It's not about Avid vs FCP really. It's about Editing. As it happens, a lot of the editors that LOVE Avid and can't let go of it (like myself) where already Film Editors when they moved onto non-linear editing. All we had to do was learn a new technology, but we already knew how to tell a story. We simply changed tools. What happened with the event of FCP and prices tumbling down (not always a good thing!) is that by making it so accessible to anyone with a laptop, FCP has bastardised the skill: I know 19 year old boys that are able to use that program as there is no tomorrow. Yet they can't edit. They have no story-telling skills, no experience on how to take a script further than the page, how to deal with bad performances, how to delay information, how to tease, brief, how to edit. Sure, they know everything about how to get plugs-ins and third party applications and how to perform edits 10 different ways and ramp-up and use flash frames. They still can't cut. And this applies whether they're on Avid or on FCP. The amount of butchery we see today on shows (particularly reality ones), and films is just not funny.

And although I'm a great fan of Avid, its simplicity, its safeguards and I do forgive it for dropping the ball at some stage (but picking it up again), I know there are great editors getting great results on FCP. It's not the tool that matters, it's the soul one puts in it. Yet, there is no way of going backwards now and technology is not making things easier to learn the true skill: assistants are not present in the room anymore and therefore not part of the process. Are we doomed? I don't thing so. There just will be more crap made on film and Tv, bigger volume, less quality. But the good will stand up, as they always have, whatever they cut on.

Alexandre de Franceschi, ase.

6:50 PM  
Anonymous Andy said...

To all the people who said that Edgar's problem was not with FCP but with the system he was using, thats the point, he wants to edit not become a computer technician.

It may be a technical achievement to run a reality show with FCP, especially considering the amount of data it gets fed, but the end result looks like crap. All editors notice the short hand used to make those shows 'work' and it is apparent that not enough time has been spent crafting.

Like the offense of referring to FCP users as Wedding video editors referring to the FCP (or Avid) technicians as editors is equally offensive.

Avids a tool designed for crafting and in my opinion is far better for that task than FCP. FCP crashes like there is no tomorrow but Avid crashes weekly for me, though the difference is I don't lose my work.

I don't care what tool you use but Edgar's experience equates to my own and I thank Apple for making Avid pick up their game.

So the real question is who actually cares anymore? Both are so cheap that its easy to run both. They both have positives and negatives so what's wrong with a frank discussion of either' flaws.

1:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have just cut 4 x 1 hour HD doccos for ITV in UK, on a similar setup to you. But using much more media 6TB over 100hrs footage.

Have used Avid since 1995 and FCP since 2002 I complete disagree with most of what you are saying.
You MUST fully understand how setup and manage large workflows properly before you can complain of crashes and losing stuff.
Ive seen people who do not fully understand workflows get in to a real mess in fcp and that sounds like whats happened to you.

12:36 PM  
Blogger Neil said...

I just completed an eight camera Multi-cam edit with FCP studio 2 using Lacie 1TB D2 Quadra external drive with the latest Mac Book Pro.
Everything worked fine. Check your preferences and codec settings.
Neil Seiffer FCP/Editor

By the way,world renowned editor Walter Murch edited the feature film Cold Mountain with FCP; 16 months and 500,000 feet of footage.
You should ask him his opinion.

5:17 PM  
Blogger Rob Wilson said...

In response to everyone's positive outlook about FCP, claiming that all he needs to do is upgrade, I say no way. As a longtime Avid and Final Cut Pro user, the solution for making FCP work should never me "just upgrade your system." Sure that can work, but that is not cost-effective and the workflow should always work no matter what system you're working on. Remember the AV/BV Avid system on Mac OS 9? I know an editor who just stopped using that LAST YEAR only because the director wanted to work in HD. Until then, she had cut major features and documentaries on it for years and it never needed an upgrade. Same thing with another major studio I've worked at. They just recently moved beyond their OS9 Media Composers, sticking with them for years and cutting huge multi-million dollar films with them. Why did they stick with these things so long? Because they worked. They didn't create new problems for themselves seeking out the latest workflow. They're sticking with what's always worked. Sure there are benefits to FCP, but those benefits are quickly becoming null with Avid's new technologies. Pick the tool you like and use it, but honestly, starting from zero, I'd pick Avid every day of the week right now.

11:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been using avid for 8 years and fcp for about 1 year now and whilst I appreciate some of the neat features fcp has to offer, I find it still fails to do many simple things at all well. Some major gripes I have with it right now are that if I play in to out, you still hear about 3 or 4 frames of audio from after the out point. Trying to make edits or in / out points on the fly or even just pausing in a certain place is very inaccurate and unresponsive compared to avid. This is hugely annoying indeed. And also soloing tracks on the audio mixer just does not seem to work properly. I'm constantly hearing snatches of audio bleeding in from other tracks when I want to hear just one or two in isolation. Until apple can fix things like that I'm never going to be a fan of final cut. - Mark

4:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The fact that people think you need 32 gigs of ram and an 8 core machine with fibre connected storage just to run what is essentially just uncompressed SD (proRes is designed, like Avid's DNxHD codecs to aproximate the data rates of uncompressed SD whilst still being mastering quality HD resolution) means that FC really is a clunky, badly designed piece of software. Can you imagine how much an 8 core Mac Pro with 32 gigs of RAM costs? That's a $12,000 computer! We work on longform HD and SD productions week in week out with our Avids, have very few crashes but are not running anything near that spec for our HP workstations. Yes for our HD jobs we have fibre storage but 32GB ram?? FCP is also not conducive to organising media - in the Avid if the media isn't in the OMFI Mediafiles or Avid Mediafiles folders then it is not seen by the system, indeed you cannot digitise into anything but one of these folders - the Avid automatically creates them when you start diging to a new hard drive. You can be virtually guaranteed that as long as your media is in these locations then a relink, directory refresh or database rebuild will bring the media back online - in FCP you can store your media any old place - yes, you should have good organisational routines to make sure you don't do this but it's just one extra step that you don't need to bother with in Avid. We have Avid 4.0.5 but were using a much older version until recently and they are rock solid and these were working on, at best, dual core xeons. The fact that you need to be running a supercomputer to make FCP work says a lot about the quality of it's design - and don't get me started about communicating with professional video decks, we've given up trying to get frame accurate layoffs, it's easier to front panel it after the fact! With a deadline looming I wouldn't trust FCP to hold Avid's jockstrap.

4:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have both...FCP and Media Composer. Editing on MC for 14 years, FCP 3 years. I edit primarily with MC, but I have to admit that my work flow would be simpler if I edited with FCP. Why? I work with a lot of freelance videographer's who go out and shoot BTS of music videos and TV shows, and they ALL use FCP. So when they hand me a drive of quicktimes, using Apple's XDCAM EX codec's (or some other Apple codec), I have to use FCP. (A lot of times they don't save the BPAV folders for the AMA import on Avid). And I then use FCP to export out quicktimes with ProRes, which I can then import into Avid.
The main reason I prefer MC, is because FCP is closed. Closed to anyone that doesn't edit on a Mac. If FCP was released for a windows based machine, then I'd probably use that just as much as MC, if not more. But Apple isn't in the business of selling software, they're in the business of selling hardware.

1:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Damn, such anger. I just finished my 3rd feature on FCP and it has never let me down. The speed and the flexibility it allows me beats Avid at every turn. I too started cutting film on a flatbed and editing in FCP feels much closer to the film cutting experience than Avid ever has and I cut on Avid for 16 years.

8:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When final cut crashes it is usually holding on to bad preference files.

I work at a post house and have seen it all.

Here's my troubleshooting list. Start at number 1, if that doesn't fix it, move down.

1. Restart
2. Trash FCP Prefs
3. Remove and re-install FCP
4. Check/Repair system permissions
5. Upgrade systems files if available (quicktime, FCP, Mac OS X)
6. Clean OS install on machine.

If none of the above works, you should probably run a system hardware test and check your storage device.

A little troubleshooting or a post on creative cow could of saved you hours.

Just my opinon

12:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Try FCP 7.0 on OSX 10.6. It's another story.
Your version is old and unstable.
Check your drives and RAM.

FCP 7.0 is stunning fast and stable.

9:43 AM  

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