The Postman Always Rings Twice

I’ve cut a lot of television in the last 7 years, and I mean a LOT! But my feature film editing resume has always been patchy at best. Starting in the early 90’s when I cut a couple of  French soft core porn films in South Africa on an Avid (which I still hate, both the porn and the Avid) to over the years having a hand in several feature length documentaries including the Oscar winning Amandla- A revolution in four part harmony. But the last couple of years I’ve done several features that I have picked up after production had finished and an editor had already done a first pass on. In fact I’m currently doing exactly that for another South African client and it has prompted a bit of a rant.

So let’s go back to the beginning of 2015 when a Director friend of mine asked me to fix his film. He had been in editing for a year at which point, when he was shown the cut was told it’s only an assemble edit. After a year. Fuck! So I stepped in. It was shot on a Sony and cut with a spoon in Adobe Premiere. At this stage it was still early days for me and #FCPX and I wasn’t confident enough to tackle a feature in it. So knowing how to use Premiere I kept the workflow and fixed the film. There were massive issues. Premiere was slow, kept rebuilding the fucking waveforms etc every time I opened it. The 4K footage had not been converted to a more user friendly codec so was battling with the original mxf files which were still in their original folders, no proxies or any housekeeping to speak of. There were no sync bins or synced timelines for any of the scenes. But the deadline was looming and I struggled on through eventually delivering a cut everyone was happy with. 

I did another film later in the year which was easier but still in Premiere as the company I was contracted to wanted my daily project files for stuff they were doing. So Premiere it was. Apart from the my project file corrupting every few days or so, it was a fairly painless affair. Housekeeping was marginally better but it got done. 

Fast forward to January this year and I picked up another feature, this time it was being cut in FCP7. I know right? 

Working in Ireland where I now live and work with proxy footage dropped over the net by my assistant in South Africa has its challenges in and of itself but now having to get it all together in FCP7 proved a real challenge but one I needed to embrace. Suffice to say it was a fucking mess of epic proportions. I still have 7 on my Mac but it’s a bitch to open. I have to disable all my plugins (using Digital Rebellion’s Pro Maintenance Tools – a must buy!) and a hope to fuck it opens when I click on it. Anyway it opened (I think it was the hope to fuck that made it happen). I spent a few days prepping it for the big move because there was no way on this green and blue earth that I was cutting in anything other than my much loved #FCPX. We’ve come too far to have that shit on my head. The project had to be fiddled and tweaked to within an inch of its life before it would export xmls correctly. I’m an old school editor in the sense that I like to have my footage named correctly and placed in its relevant bin not a whole bunch of random camera file names just dropped anywhere in the project. Even in FCPX I maintain that discipline.

It finally did and after several days got to the point where I had many, many xml files for export to FCPX. Opened 7toX (another must buy if you are ever in this predicament and it works for Premiere as well if you do the housekeeping correctly) and proceeded to import the xml files and start cutting.

It has been an absolute pleasure using the new version of FCPX. The new interface had me scratching my head for a few minutes while I figured out where the fine folk at Apple had moved buttons to etc in the flattened new look. This is not the Avid interface which doesn’t look like it’s changed since 1991, FCPX is an organic, developing lovable beast of a programme and has come a long way since it’s 1st inception 4 years or so ago. It opens quickly and it just feels so much slicker than before. I love the new audio roles, the audio lanes, the alt front square bracket shortcut, the workspace options and on and on.

 Because I’m anal about housekeeping, the metadata functionality in FCPX is just right up my street. The keyword functionality alone is worth its weight in gold. Finding stuff is way as hell and it makes for a much smoother working process.

It’s only been a couple of weeks and I’m ahead of schedule. I would not have been able to do that if I was still working in an outdated, cumbersome, clunky, glitchy, unsupported piece of software or FCP7 for that matter. There are still a few things I would like to see in FCPX but that is for another rant, a nicer one, with less swearing, maybe. Actually nope, I will always be a sweary motherfucker. 

And for what it’s worth ‘cos I know people out in the real world like, here’s my list of must buy software/plugins/hardware if you cut in #FCPX, not in any particular order of preference. 

1. Everything by Digital Rebellion. Pro Maintence Tools, Post Haste, Cut Notes, Kollaberate, Marker Import are all excellent products. I’ve been using them for  a number of years and they never disappoint. 

2. Edit Ready from Divergent Media. An excellent media transcoder and very user friendly.  Been using this for a couple of years and is great.

3. XtoCC as well as 7toX from Intelligent Assistance.  Been using these since mid 2015 and can’t live without them. 

4. X2Pro. Splash out and buy the pro version, your audio guys will thank you. 

5. Color Finale Pro. Takes color correction in FCPX to another level. Especially if you are finishing in FCPX, otherwise it’s Resolve all the way.

6. Tangent Ripple.   The tiny color correction panel that has a big heart. Works inside FCPX with Color Finale and works really well in Resolve as well. Couple it with the Tangent iPad app and you have a very powerful set of color correction tools. 

7. Control+Console. A really useful FCPX controller. 

The postman rings once to give you the work and rings a second time to bring you all the things that make that work easier. 

Oh and just in case you’re wondering, I loved FCP7. It was perfect for its time, it got me back on my obsession with Apple, but now, please, please, I beg you, stop using it. You know who you are. Just say no. And make the switch to FCPX. You’ll thank me, your whole Post Production team will thank me.

Peace, love and vomit