Product Review: FCP 2.0 Tutorial

December 24, 2001

Inside Editing With Final Cut Pro 2
Review by Tony Donaldson


Description: HyperCD training in 1-3 CDs to learn setup and use of FCP via work on a real-world project
Manufacturer: Magnet Media

Cost: Special Edition: Free; Professional Edition: $149; Platinum Edition: $199 with current $50-100 discounts (normally $100, $199 and $299 respectively), shipping and handling extra
Required Hardware/software: Minimum Mac OS 8.1, 166 MHZ Power PC, 14.4 kbps modem, Netscape/Internet Explorer/aol versions 4.0 or higher, 16 MB RAM, 4x CD-ROM (You can't run FCP on this system, but you can view the Training CDs)

I love Final Cut Pro, work with it a lot in my business, in fact, almost daily. And I've learned a lot from Lisa Brenneis' books and Steve Martin's "Final Cut Pro A to Z" and "Secrets of Final Cut Pro 2", so I wasn't sure what to expect with a set of CDs. I spent over three hours learning stuff I didn't know, but learned I needed too.

Inside Editing is taught by Zak Tucker, owner of Swete Studios in New York. He's not your run-of-the-mill training guy with a good working knowledge of FCP, he's a multi-award-winning editor with clients like Fox Sports Network and Oxygen, AND a training guy with a good working knowledge of FCP.

The program is taught via a browser interface, so you can surf easily through the quicktime-based segments and chapters in your browser. You have to be connected to the web for this, which is a small gripe for me. I still prefer to run FCP on a separate partition to keep it clean and unencumbered by all the other stuff that can build up in a system folder and cause problems (I still remember having to hire Trey Kaiser to come out and debug my G3 system to get FCP to work), which means no internet connection, browser, etc. However, you don't need to have FCP up and running to watch this program.
(You can create an extension set to view this tutorial along side FCP - Ed.)

It can be helpful, though, because most of the good training in this program revolves around cutting two versions of a commercial spot for a fictitious shoe company, and all the media is provided so you can follow along and work with the footage to learn the tips and tricks hands-on. And what you learn editing a :30 spot can easily be applied and is very useful in any longer-form project as well. Zak explains the interface very well.

The beginning part seemed really basic for anyone who has used FCP before on real projects, but is absolutely great for anyone who is setting up a system. In fact, this is actually good info to have BEFORE you buy your system and FCP to help you configure a system to edit whatever you plan to edit. When you sign on for the first time, you get access to a free PDF guide on proper setup. It's a nice, big file full of descriptions and instructions.

Zak then walks you step by step through how he prepares for every project making it absolutely easy and organized, especially if you often have clients present or dropping by, so you can find your materials easily, and get a good workflow going. There are some real gems of information in here.

He tells you up front that he won't cover every button and function in FCP, just a solid foundation to get you started.

The Special Edition, currently free on the website (before shipping and handling), includes workstation setup, interface basics and logging and capturing. For $150 more, you get the Professional Edition, which adds segments on project organization, basic editing, outputting to tape and an excellent section on media management. The final version, the Platinum Edition, has all that plus motion effects, advanced compositing and project relocation. It also covers the basics of keyframing and effects, very valuable stuff if you've never done it. Furthermore, archiving both your project file (in case you ever have to change something, you can re import just the footage you need quickly and easily and automatically rebuild your project), and exporting an EDL for other edit systems (e.g. Avid) or OMF export for Pro Tools work.

The setup early on is great, he explains how to set up a project to include bars and tone, slug, and black so that any other editor, producer, broadcaster or duplicator can easily use your project from the tape with the proper standards.

If you already use FCP, you'll likely find some great information in the Professional or Platinum edition. If you're just getting started building or using your FCP system and want to try this series, the Special Edition is a good way to start. If you're considering the Professional Edition, don't bother, you'll want to spend the extra $50 for the whole program. To me, the media management and project setup training is worth the price of admission.

copyright©2001Tony Donalson

About Tony Donaldson: Tony is a sports photographer (still photography, mostly extreme sports) with clients including Sports Illustrated for Kids, ESPN the Magazine, Scholastic, eBike, and many more. He also shoots, edits and produces video projects from commercials to short films (Odessa or Bust, The Cypher) to the Redline Bicycles Team video to a new video-based photography training series. He lives and works in the Los Angeles area and spends way too much time online learning all of Ken Stone's secrets.


This article was originally published at LAFCPUG and is reprinted here with permission.
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