May 18, 2009

Digital Heaven's Final Cut Pro Killer Secrets

By Martin Baker $19.00

Review by Steve Douglas

We all have to have a first in our lives and this is the first e-book I've ever really looked at. Being an avid reader I enjoy holding the book or magazine in my hands and feel a sense of accomplishment once finished. Never the less, there are some very real benefits to having easy access to Final Cut Pro Killer Secrets sitting there on your desktop.

Available as a download from Digital Heaven's website, Final Cut Pro Killer Secrets opens in Adobe Acrobat and consists of 122 pages filled with plenty of workflow enhancements and editing explanations for the Final Cut editor.

While not a fully comprehensive expose' of all of Final Cut's features, a diverse number of topics and tips are covered related to the use of time machine, making better use of folders, capture fields, function keys, aspect ratios and a good deal more. As I read through this e-book, I came to the conclusion that its demography would be the beginner to intermediate user of Final Cut. Never the less, there are enough new tips and "I didn't know thats" for even the advanced user to make use of. With Final Cut Pro, there have always been many ways to accomplish the same thing and this is where I found this e-book so useful. Most of us have a basic workflow and methodology we find comfortable. Once in awhile, we find a better way to do what we have always done and, if you look close enough, you are sure to find something that you wished you had done all along.

For the beginner with Final Cut Pro, Martin Baker provides a clear and precise overview of all the essentials in setting up your system preferences and a good explanation of why you are doing as he suggests. Take for example his explanation of the Levels of Undo. What experienced editors take for granted, novice editing hobbyists haven't a clue as to how and why they should maintain their settings. Baker explains that you could have 99 possible levels but then warns that this will take up a great deal more memory. He still leaves the final decision to the editor but there is no techno-babble to confuse the novice leaving him the ability to make a learned choice.

Baker does the same thing in explaining just how to defeat Expose so as to make use of all your Final Cut Pro key commands as well as how to round trip from one application, like Motion, to Final Cut.

For the Photoshop user, a clear graphic chart of Pixel Aspect Ratios is provided as well as suggestions as to how best to bring Photoshop files into Final Cut Pro. One item I that was new to me was how to defeat the automatic alphabetical order that exists in Final Cut's browser simply by starting a name with a space to have the item go to the top or with an underscore to have it listed at the bottom. I didn't know that and now I do.

Killer Final Cut Pro Tips does not give audio the short shrift, as the chapter on audio is both thorough and clear. Actually, that is one of this e-books greatest features. It keeps things simple and easy to understand, and with plenty of graphics and charts, there was nothing I found confusing. Even more important, I believe the novice would not be confused either.

Two things this e-book is not is that it is not a tutorial book accompanied by a media disc filled with projects that require you to complete in order for the author to get their point across, or a reference book with a thorough encyclopedic focus on each function, purpose and tool. It's greatest benefit is that it can get the beginner started quickly, and the intermediate the extra knowledge that will promote his expertise. Finally, it also doesn't cost an arm and a leg, and on that basis, my bottom line is that Digital Heaven's Final Cut Pro Killer Secrets by Martin Baker is well worth having.

Steve Douglas is a certified Apple Pro for Final Cut Pro 6 and underwater videographer. A winner of the 1999 Pacific Coast Underwater Film Competition, 2003 IVIE competition, 2004 Los Angeles Underwater Photographic competition, and the prestigious 2005 International Beneath the Sea Film Competition, where he also won the Stan Waterman Award for Excellence in Underwater Videography and 'Diver of the Year', Steve was a safety diver on the feature film "The Deep Blue Sea", contributed footage to the Seaworld Park's Atlantis production, and productions for National Geographic and the History channels. Steve is also feature writer for Asian Diver Magazine and is one of the founding organizers of the San Diego UnderSea Film Exhibition. He is available for both private and group seminars for Final Cut Pro and leads both underwater filming expeditions and African safaris with upcoming excursions to Micronesia for the Manta Fest in 9/09, the Red Sea and Egypt for Nov.2009, Truk Lagoon and Yap in Micronesia for July, 2010. Feel free to contact him if you are interested in joining Steve on any of these exciting trips.


copyright © Steve Douglas 2009

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