January 16, 2012
Final Cut Pro X - Making the Transition
Book by Larry Jordan
www.peachpit.com - printed book-$44.99 - ebook-$35.99
Review by Steve Douglas
I didn't know what to expect with this book on Final Cut Pro X and was pleasantly surprised with its tone and comprehensive review of most everything FCP X has to offer, as well as critiques of some of the elements still missing and hoped for in future versions.
Following a sequential order of topics when he can, Mr. Jordan, as he states in his forward, not only explains how to accomplish tasks but provides the 'why' one should do them. It goes back to that old saying "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime." And Larry is correct. There are a number of tutorial books and DVDs that provide steps and 'how to's, but without providing an understanding as to the why of the subject, you can never develop the skills needed when faced with editing situations later on.
As with most books, 'Making the Transition' is not meant to be read in one sitting. While you can start from the beginning, which is recommended if you are very new to editing, there is no reason why one can't skip around to the chapters that most identify what one needs to learn when transitioning to Final Cut Pro X. In my own attempts to eventually master Final Cut Pro X, I found that, once I was able to get my head around the basic concept differences and terminology changes, much of Final Cut Pro X is really quite intuitive. For me, problems surface primarily when having to learn new keyboard shortcuts and steps that have changed since legacy Final Cut Studio, and like anything you may learn in this book, you won't really absorb things until those tools, shortcuts and workflows are demanded by the project you are working on. Once you are required to do something on a regular basis you then learn the protocols necessary to complete the task.
'Making the Transition' is easy reading. Larry's writing style is very informal and, thus, it makes the reading much easier to work with when testing his directions out on your own NLE. On your journey you'll learn the best ways to edit footage and add transitions, effects, and filters, do basic color correcting, work with audio, and utilize a variety of HD workflow techniques. On the side of most pages are a large number of tips that further help your understanding of the subject matter. Illustrations are in full color though many of them I found a bit too small to view without squinting. Perhaps it is just my old eyes.
It has always been known that in any version of Final Cut Pro, there would be several techniques one could utilize to accomplish the same task. One thing that the reader really can appreciate is that the author does not hesitate to not only provide various choices in the way a task can be completed, but also offers up his own personal preferences for task completion for your consideration. You don't often see that in many books of this type. What you usually get are the steps to complete a task as laid out by the author but little insight into what the author actually does. Kudos to Larry on this approach.
Audio is often the bastard child of tutorial books and is rarely gone into in depth. Larry doesn't make that mistake and provides a very thorough chapter on audio basics, analysis, meter usage, importing and techniques for working with audio. No mention of the lack of a proper mixer in Final Cut Pro X, but I guess you can't write about what doesn't currently exist. The important thing is that by reading this chapter you will gain a better understanding of the sonic realm of editing as well as how to work with audio within the construct of your video project.
Another area that the reader will appreciate is a very thorough covering of the proper use of the video scopes. Most books provide pictures and definitions without really explaining just what one is looking at and how to efficiently use them. If you are new to using scopes, this is one of the finer chapters and a must read.
My only area of concern with Larry Jordan's 339 page 'Making the Transition' is its cost. With the recently reviewed Lisa Brenneis/Michael Wohl Final Cut X reference book at 505 pages, also from Peachpit press, costing only $31.99 for the print version and $25.59 for the ebook version and PDF, I do not quite understand why this book would be so much more expensive. Both books serve a good purpose, but that does not make one more valuable to me than the other and may make you think twice before making a purchase. The bottom line is that I found myself using my yellow marker to highlight several areas of 'Making the Transition'. One can not learn everything at once; you learn only by doing on a regular basis and in 'Final Cut Pro X-Making the Transition' you will find, as did I, that it provides an easy way to learn and understand the concepts and techniques to editing within FCP X. Very well organized, this was an enjoyable and worthwhile read.
Steve Douglas is a certified Apple Pro for Final Cut Pro 7 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 was a 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 underwater filming expeditions and African safaris with upcoming excursions to Bali, Raja Ampat, Indonesia, and the Maldives Islands. Feel free to contact him if you are interested in joining Steve on any of these exciting trips. www.worldfilmsandtravel.com
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