The Time is Close at Hand: Goodbye Final Cut Pro

21 05 2012

Logos for Final Cut Pro and Adobe Premiere. Copyright Apple and Adobe.

Well, I think the time has finally come that I will be weening off Final Cut Pro for good, as much as it pains me to say.  I began using Final Cut, Apple’s professional non-linear editing software, in 2002 during my freshman year in the then Broadcasting and Cinema Department of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.  Our editing lab at the time had Mac G4s with FCP 3.0 loaded on them, and we ingested the primary form of media, mini-DV tapes, through mini-DV/VHS combo decks that sat on top of 4:3 color broadcast monitors.  It was humble beginnings with the software, but was fostered through my tenure at UNCG and, subsequent, upgrade of our systems to FCP HD (4.5) by my senior year.

Following graduation in 2006, I embarked on a semester long journey into law school at Elon University’s School of Law.  Still to this day, I will speak high praises of their program; law school just wasn’t right for me personally.  In November of the first semester, I made the hard and long thought out decision to drop out, doing so just before the deadline of making the difference between my professional transcript reading “Withdrawl” rather than “Failed” (since I wouldn’t have taken the exams and completed the mini-semester following).  I used what monies I had set aside for my next semester of law school and bought about $11,000 worth of HD video gear including an HVX-200, FS-100 Firestore device, Lowel lighting kit, Azden shotgun mic and my first ever personally owned Mac: an iMac 17″ Intel Core 2 Duo (which has since been bequeathed to my girlfriend) .  I upgraded the stock RAM and processor to as high as I could on and then purchased Final Cut 5.1.  About a year and half later I made the jump to 6.0 and then to 7, the last true version release of the software as far as I am concerned, in 2009.

Just last year, the latest official release, Final Cut Pro X, was released.  The new release, a complete redesign of the program, has all but neglected the professional clientele who use the software and caters to high grade consumer-based editing.  Essentially, it’s iMovie Pro.  I tried the free trial version of the software for about three weeks and hated it; it was one of the worst editing environments I had ever used.  Even with some of the firmware updates that were released to clear up some of the original issues, it still wasn’t the FCP I know and love.

Yet, still I persevered and continue using FCP 7 and the rest of the associated programs with FCP Studio 3 as my primary NLE.  I dabbled in Adobe Premiere during this disheartening time, but still found myself coming back to FCP 7.  However, the time has come where I must make the cut for good.  FCP 7, now a three year old software, will only run as a 32-bit program, limits the amount of RAM you are able to utilize and has several other antiquated features that are pushing it further and further into being obsolete.  Meanwhile, competitors like Adobe just keep sweetening the deal.  With their recent release of Adobe CS6, I think they have finally won me over; that, and the fact that my new job will require me to edit in a PC environment.  But, since I am switching for work, I think it is a good time to go ahead and make the switch at home as well.

In reading over the upgrades to the CS6 Master Collection suite, I found my mouth watering.  With updates to Photoshop, Premiere, After Effects and Audition, as well as the addition of Speedgrade, a color correction software, and the ease of use with Prelude and Encore, all programs working seamlessly together, I just can’t continue using an outdated program.  Heck, Adobe even makes the switch easy for you by allowing you to choose Final Cut Pro Keyboard Shortcuts in the Preferences menu!

I’m excited about the opportunity to grow as an Adobe user, but will be saddened to leave behind Final Cut Pro.  It will be like the loss of an old friend, one that I have had a now ten year relationship with.   This is not to say that I will never consider Apple’s wonderful NLE again, but they will have to do some major overhauls to convert me back.  Until then, Adobe here I come!


Silent Film Released in 2011 A Possible Oscar Contender?

27 05 2011

Copyright 2011 La Classe Américaine

This film was recently brought to my attention by a co-worker and I can’t tell you how excited I am to hear about it.  Directed by Michael Hazanavicius, The Artist was completely shot in black-and-white, in Academy Ratio (1.33:1) and is completely silent!  Starring Jean Dujardin, Berenice Bejo, John Goodman, James Cromwell, Missi Pyle and Penelope Ann Miller, the film takes place in 1927 and centers around silent film star George Valentin.  At the dawn of sound, he’s worried his career might fall into shambles; whereas, in contrast, young extra Peppy Miller (Berenice Bejo) sees the transition as an opportunity to propel to stardom.

The film made it’s debut at the Cannes Film Festival the other week and won Best Actor for Jean Dujardin.  In addition, the Weinstein Company have negotiated to bring it to wide release later this year, both domestically and internationally.  Could this film possibly be the first silent film in Oscar contention for Best Picture in nearly 70 years?   Could it be the first silent film to win Best Picture since the beginning of the Academy Awards in 1927 with Wings?  

Being a huge fan of silent films, I can only hope for such happenings.  I can’t wait for the release to see if this film really is as good as so many critics say it is.  In the meantime, I will have to be happy with the trailer, which is available in HD at:

The 5th Quarter Premiere in Winston-Salem

19 03 2011

The 5th Quarter was shot entirely in Winston-Salem and premiered at the Grande 18 theatre on University Parkway last night.  It was an invite only event which included many staples of the local film industry and many of the cast/crew who worked on the film from out of state.  I was lucky enough to get an invite for my minor part in working on the film in late 2008.

My involvement with the film began rather unexpectedly.  I had heard that this film was coming to the area, but at the time, I was busy playing in a band and working as a Features Editor for a small newspaper.  My good friend and associate Dan A. R. Kelly ended up being hired as a casting associate through extras casting agency Altair Casting.  Two days out from the first day of filming, the production had yet to find a suitable stand-in for lead actor Ryan Merriman.  Being at the pre-filming party with Dan, someone suggested I might fit the bill.  I laughed a little thinking to myself how drastic a change that would be from the roles I usually play on a set, but they insisted I come down and check with the AD department to see if I would work.  I did and, sure enough, they wanted me for the entire shoot (25 days) to be on set as Ryan’s stand-in.  The pay wasn’t bad and the opportunity to be close to the camera/lighting crew headed by A-list camera operator Craig Haagensen was very nice; so, I jumped on the offer.

This was my first time seeing any part of the film cut together.  The story itself is based on actual events and was scripted and directed by Rick Bieber (no relation to Justin). It focuses on Wake Forest University line backer Jon Abbate (Ryan Merriman) and his family (Aidan Quinn as the father, Andie MacDowell as mother, Matthew McGrath and Mandy Manis as other siblings) who lost their youngest brother/son in a tragic car accident during the 2006 season. The young son, Luke’s, organs were donated following the accident and his spirit was the inspiration for his brother Jon switching from Jersey “40” to Luke’s number “5”.  The switch and remembrance of Luke brought on a phenomenon at Wake Forest calling the 4th quarter the 5th quarter and the 2006 season went on to become one of the best in the university’s history.

I enjoyed the film.  It definitely pulls at the heart strings and knowing it is a true story makes that all the more difficult.  It’s great seeing a film like this made in the area because it really shows some of the wonderful locations for filming that are available here in the Piedmont Triad area, puts money into the local economy and shows some of the pride of Wake Forest.  The film will open to the masses on March 25 at 120 screens.  More information on the film is available at

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