Filmmaking by Michael Rosa
With daily crowds of 100,000+ tech lovers, the National Association of Broadcasters Show (aka the NAB Show) was held at the Las Vegas Convention Center last week.
While attendees strolled the NAB Show exhibit floor, one of the biggest and most popular programs was the “Post|Production World,” where speakers taught, gave presentations and discussed the software and hardware they use to make professional film and video content.
“And the Oscar Goes To…”
In the Post|Production World keynote, Academy Award winner Robert Legato (Titanic, Hugo) and the team behind this year’s comedy Whiskey Tango Foxtrot discussed their creative process.
Legato also worked as visual effects supervisor on films like Avatar, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, and his most recent box office hit, Disney’s The Jungle Book!
“Films that use animation have the fidelity of live action now,” he said, praising the quality of today’s special effects before alluding to virtual reality as the future of filmmaking, saying, “It’s gonna get even better with VR – really close to live action film.”
Robert Legato took the keynote audience behind the scenes of the Martin Scorsese films Hugo and The Departed, and offered a sneak peak of The Jungle Book, his latest project.
At the end of the presentation, Legato took questions from the audience, so I joined the line forming at the microphone and asked: “What piece of advice would you give a young student who’s interested in filmmaking and special effects?”
“I would say, ‘See The Jungle Book a couple of times,'” he joked, causing a quick uproar of audience laughter. “No, what I would really say, obviously, is practice, practice, practice. If you have any camera, any piece of editing equipment, anything that you get your hands on, download color-correction programs (some of them are free), do all that stuff.
“The more you know, the better. Every element you understand, makes you better at the other jobs. I’m a better cameraman or director if I know how to view a story editorially, so all of those things will make you good. You don’t necessarily have to be the best at any of those disciplines, but whatever discipline you pick, having knowledge in the other ones really rounds you out.
Go out there and make a movie. Then make another movie. And so on…and that’s my advice!
– Academy Award winner Robert Legato
“You can shoot a movie with your iPhone…hate it…don’t let anyone see it…make your next one, which is a little bit better…and your next one gets a little bit better. Because all a ‘pro’ is, is someone with a lot of experience. They’re no better than anyone else. They just have a lot of experience and a lot of opportunities based on that experience.
“So the first time you get your break, then you’re a pro. You already know how to do it, and you’ll shine when you do it. So go out there and make a movie. Then make another movie. And so on…and that’s my advice!”
Actual Pros Using Final Cut Pro
After Legato’s presentation, the team behind war-comedy Whisky Tango Foxtrot (starring Tina Fey and Alfred Molina) took the stage. Directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, editor Jan Kovac, assistant editor Kevin Bailey, and VFX supervisor John Weckworth shared their unique perspectives on the directing and editing process while using Final Cut Pro.
“Making a movie is all about fresh eyes,” said Requa. The team’s work often overlapped, with the director editing clips alongside Kovac, Bailey and Weckworth. This allowed for an incredibly quick turnaround for the film’s final production, which was shot in just 47 days!
“Final Cut throws out the film paradigm, especially with workflows. It literally saves days and weeks of time, and that’s what drew us to it” said Ficarra. “If you’re creating a low-budget film or TV show or pilot – you can do it all – you’d be doing yourself a great service by using Final Cut Pro.”
The list of films edited using Final Cut Pro is fairly short, but Ficarra and Kovac were early adopters, using it on their 2014 film, Focus, starring Will Smith.
Run-And-Gun Filmmaking, The Emmy Award Technique
Throughout the week, Emmy Award winner Eduardo Angel (Best of the Bronx) offered pro-tip presentations on run-and-gun production when you’re operating as a one-person crew. These sessions were smaller and more intimate, so you could really interface with Angel.
Many of Angel’s presentations discussed “hybrid assignments,” where one person takes on multiple roles like director, producer, cameraman and editor.
“If I parachute into the middle of a remote location, I should have all the essential tools I need to capture and edit my work,” Angel said. “And ideally, if there’s internet, be able to deliver the product when I’m finished.”
Angel uses Lightroom for digital photography projects and Premiere Pro for visual effects on his film productions. His incredible array of work experience led him to be chosen as an official beta tester for both programs!
Summer Filmmaking Like The Pros!
Digital Media Academy provides incredible filmmaking courses every summer, and offers the same type of hardware and software that real industry professionals – like the ones we got to meet at the NAB Show – use to make award-winning movies and television shows.
Make this the summer you finally take those filmmaking & visual effects courses you’ve been dreaming about!
The National Association of Broadcasters Show (aka, the NAB Show) was held at the Las Vegas Convention Center this past week, pulling in crowds of 100,000+ tech lovers.
The show has something for everybody. Attendees could practice flying drones in special netted-off sections or leave the crowds of Vegas for a few minutes with virtual reality demos.
Cool gadgets aside, some of DMA’s biggest partners were at the NAB Show, including Adobe, Autodesk and Canon!
At the NAB Show, Adobe drew huge crowds. Most people know Adobe for Photoshop, which is heavily relied upon by graphic design artists. But Adobe also hosts a ton of software platforms, and showcased a new motion-tracking software on the exhibit floor.
Not a single chair was left empty at the Autodesk booth on the NAB Show floor, where Autodesk engineers showcased the latest software with demonstrations on workflow improvements. Autodesk Maya is used in 3D modeling and animation. Movies like Star Wars: The Force Awakens utilized Autodesk to create its immense backdrops and various 3D characters.
Canon had one of the largest booths at the NAB Show, and justly so, based on its extensive product line. From cameras and lenses to projectors and camcorders, Canon pulled out all the stops for the NAB Show. While it’s best known for its digital photography, Canon showed that its video cameras are equally impressive on the filmmaking front.
Miniature train sets gave show attendees a great subject for testing new cameras (like this Canon XC10 4k camcorder) and their ability to capture detail and motion.
Skip The Crowds This Summer
Las Vegas is the only town that’s really big enough to handle the massive convention crowds of the NAB Show – but you don’t have to go to Vegas to learn how to use these amazing products.
Hosted at over 25 locations in the United States and Canada, there’s bound to be a DMA summer tech camp near you! And with the multi-course discount, you’ll save $50 when you sign up for two camps this summer.
Don’t miss your chance for an amazing summer filled with the latest technology on the market!
In today’s world, many students are slaloming down a mountain of student debt as they finish college, only to land at the base of another summit they must ascend: grad school.
Who knows if whatever academic major you declare actually turns out to be your true calling? There has been no opportunity to experience this ambiguous path before committing to one of the biggest decisions of your life – until now.
GET HANDS-ON EXPERIENCE WITH PROFESSIONAL EQUIPMENT
In response to the growing need for immersive learning, DMA has developed new experiential learning like nothing else in the world – DMA Studios: Film Production. It’s a two-week, full-immersion experience, where students serve as the film and edit crew for a real-world client.
DMA Studios is led by industry professionals, giving students a one-of-a-kind filmmaking experience. We travel around the Bay Area on field trips and location scouting, hire real actors to direct, use industry-standard camera equipment from Canon, and much more.
In last summer’s DMA Studios: Film Production course, students successfully completed a music video for Pacific Disco, an electronic music duo from Oakland, Calif. We went on location to Pomponio State Beach to capture the majority of the beautiful images.
We directed the talented Chelsea Elise, a dancer and actress, on location at the beach, at DMA corporate offices and in front of a green screen to create the floating effects for the film.
The students set up professional lighting scenes, laid track for dolly shots and captured stunning HD images with the Canon C300. The students helped shoot and edit this professional music video in just two weeks’ time.
Find Your True Calling in Filmmaking
DMA Studios Instructor Tyler Winick discusses filmmaking & visual effects with his students.
Famous directors didn’t get to be where they are overnight. Creative storytelling is a labor of love and it can take years to find your voice. We all start with an interest in something, find out we really love it and want to turn our passion into our profession.
But sometimes you don’t get what you expect. You may be better suited as a camera operator instead of a director. Maybe you’ll love color grading footage to give films a stylish look…or you really love visual effects that enhance a motion picture.
In DMA Studios: Film Production, you’ll get a chance to experience a variety of different roles, guided by true professionals who make their living from their craft.
Here’s the video of the project created by last year’s DMA Studios students!
What will we create in DMA Studios this year? Stay tuned for more info! It’s sure to be an epic experience. I hope to see you there!
DMA instructor Tyler Winick is a San Francisco Bay Area creative producer, with more than ten years of industry experience and his own company – Winick Media – which also showcases his vast experience as a music producer. In addition, he also served for six years as creative coordinator for The John Lennon Educational Tour Bus. This will be Tyler’s eighth great season teaching filmmaking at DMA!
Whether it’s using Canon projectors to light up tutorials on the big screen, pairing C300s with cine lenses for the budding cinematographer’s perfect setup, or shooting our DMA Studios: Film Production class in 4K with the high-powered 1 DC DSLR, Canon is behind the magic that makes DMA’s filmmaking classes an amazing learning experience.
What do you get when you mix teen creativity with Hollywood-level cine lenses from Canon? Amazing shots found only in DMA’s film courses.
Keeping Up With Canon
Canon wouldn’t be Canon without producing such amazing quality. It’s one of the reasons DMA has decided to put Canon cameras in the hands of our students, year after year.
“The relationship that Canon has built with Digital Media Academy is a great example of the focus Canon has on creating pathways to young storytellers and image makers,” says Canon Education Business Development Representative Aaron McNally. “Digital Media Academy’s dedication to providing cutting-edge education to a young audience was a perfect fit for us.”
We want our students to start practicing the craft of filmmaking at a young age, whether it’s with DSLRs or by making documentaries. The best way to do that is to expose kids to the best possible industry equipment, which they might not otherwise be able to access.
Stepping Stone To Success
Travis Schlafmann, one of DMA’s advanced filmmaking instructors for 10+ years, is inclined to agree. “As a professional filmmaker and commercial video producer, I have used Canon lenses and cameras for the last 13 years,” Schlafmann says. “I was thrilled when DMA partnered with Canon.”
DMA has served as the stepping stone for hundreds of students entering into film schools. Many students take a DMA filmmaking course prior to attending college in order to get hands-on experience.
“Having the opportunity to use Canon’s professional filmmaking equipment has allowed DMA students to create amazing projects while learning on the best equipment in the industry,” Schlafmann adds.
This experience enables students to study filmmaking in a real-world, project-based format which gives them a taste of professional-level film and video production. Because of this, many former DMA students have gone on to the best film schools in the country and are now pursuing their dreams by working in the film and video industry.
DMA Studios: Film Production instructor Tyler Winick encourages students to make their ideas come to life through the camera.
Inspired By Canon
“It’s truly inspiring to see the talent and creativity such young students have these days, but having great ideas and making something great are two different things,” says Tyler Winick, DMA Studios: Film Production instructor. “At DMA, students get the opportunity to experience what it means to MAKE a great idea come to life. And to me, that’s what it’s all about.”
Like Schlafmann, Winick has been working with DMA for many years, and continues to return summer after summer because he believes in DMA’s mission to get more students interested in high-quality, creative filmmaking.
Whether they’re interested in photography or filmmaking, DMA courses allow creativity to flow through high-quality cameras, prepping teens for a camera-oriented career.
The Ultimate Partnership
All of this is due in part to the partnership with Canon, ensuring our students are using the highest quality hardware in the professional world, getting them ready to take on leadership roles on production sets once they complete our camps.
“Canon is 100 percent committed to being an active partner with Digital Media Academy. We are immensely proud of the partnership we have with DMA, and look forward to working with it for years to come.” Canon’s McNally adds. “It’s a relationship built for success.”
Before computers took over special and practical effects, Hollywood had a long tradition of creating sets, costumes, creatures, detailed models and props – all by hand. In classics like Jaws and Star Wars, special effects artists, craftsmen and painters helped filmmakers realize their vision.
Realistic miniature models, for example, required the skill of a true artisan. Models took weeks or even months to produce and once used, were destroyed. If they were needed for another shot, often times they had to be painstakingly reproduced.
Computer-generated imagery (or CGI) made that process much faster and cheaper, plus CGI gave filmmakers much more freedom. Compared to producing elaborate models, sets or creature effects, filmmakers saw an incredible value in using computer-generated visual effects.
Today Hollywood is again embracing technology for film production. As 3D modeling and visual effects artists push the boundaries to create realistic effects, many production studios have adopted new methods of creating costumes, props and even those old models: with 3D printers.
Jason Lopes of Legacy Entertainment explains how 3D printers were used for Avatar, Robocop and other films.
Companies such as Makerbot, Formlabs and Stuffmaker have been providing consumers with 3D printers for home use since 2009. Filmmakers are also adopting 3D printing and industrial design technology, moving away from computer-generated special effects in order to design and print them instead.
And it’s not just filmmakers who are embracing the technology. “It’s so convenient and easy, it just makes sense,” says Scott Summit, founder of Bespoke Innovations, a San Francisco, California-based company that uses 3D printers to make customized prosthetics for the physically challenged.
Nowadays, creating costumes, creatures, props and even spaceships is easier than ever. Convenience and ease of use were definitely on the agenda for director Jon Favreau, director of the critically acclaimed Iron Man 2. Favreau needed to quickly prototype and create Iron Man’s armored suit; he did so with a 3D printer.
A New Era for Cinema
This change signifies a big shift in the way films are made. With the increased use of 3D printers in films like Iron Man 2 and the upcoming epic Warcraft, tech designers are creating a new way in which props are designed and created – and giving audiences more lifelike experiences.
With a faster turnaround time and, in many cases, lower cost than computer-generated special effects, 3D printing is beginning to take over the world of Hollywood and beyond.
Everyone has to start somewhere. Steven Spielberg, George Lucas and even Walt Disney weren’t always the Hollywood successes we know today. Everyone has to start somewhere – now it’s your turn to start following your dreams. With this quick guide, you’ll learn how to become a filmmaker.
Write a Story
Since pre-production is arguably the most important step in the production process, you can never be too prepared. As you begin your journey to Hollywood, start with a simple story so that you can focus on production skills.
The three-act structure has been used as a model for screenwriters since the dawn of the filmmaking. By dividing the story into parts called the setup, confrontation and resolution, filmmakers are given a clear format for their work.
Successful production studios often develop storytelling techniques of their own. Pixar developed 22 rules of storytelling that is referenced internally during the creation of modern classics, like Toy Story, Up and Inside Out.
Grab a Video Camera
These days, almost everyone has a video camera. Does your smartphone have a camera? Perfect! Got an old video camera that your family hasn’t used in years? That can work, too…
Today, most cameras and smartphones come equipped with very capable automatic settings perfect for first-time filmmakers. If you plan to shoot with manual settings enabled, be sure to brush up on fundamental camera functions, like aperture and shutter speed.
Although you can make an Academy-Award-winning film using your iPhone, Digital Media Academy recommends Canon cameras and camcorders to help aspiring filmmakers capture the shots they have always dreamed of. Be sure to visit Canon’s website to find the camera that’s right for you.
Assemble a Crew
Filmmaking is truly a team sport. With all of the roles that need to be filled on set, creating a film by yourself can be extremely difficult. Grab some friends and #CreateTheNext summer blockbuster!
In their most basic form, film crews consist of a director, camera operator and actors. As the complexity of your films (and your budget) continue to grow, additional roles (such as assistant camera operators, gaffers, set designers and script supervisors) become increasingly important.
The best way to become a skilled filmmaker is to be a filmmaker. Like any discipline, patience and precision is required to develop the skills of an advanced filmmaker.
Hit the Editing Room
Thats a wrap! Now that you have captured your shots and filled your memory cards, it’s time to piece your film together the way you always wanted.
There are a number of options when it comes to post-production software. Apple’s Final Cut Pro X provides users with an advanced and cost-effective video-editing solution, perfect for both Hollywood hotshots and first-time filmmakers.
Looking for some inspiration? Check out some of our favorite Hollywood films edited using Final Cut Pro and start editing today!
Create a Buzz
Now that you have started editing, it’s time to get people excited about the release of your latest film, by creating a web presence.
Websites such as Facebook, YouTube and even Instagram, provide filmmakers with a platform to promote and showcase their latest projects. Utilize these platforms and other popular outlets like Vimeo, Twitter and Tumblr to expose your work to as wide a viewership as possible.
Lights, Camera, Action!
Filmmaking is a great way to tell the story you have always wanted to express. Now that you know how to become a filmmaker, it’s time to put these tips and tricks into action. With a little bit of effort, patience and passion, it won’t be long before your film is playing on the big screen.
From extreme sports to family vacations, Lily, the the first-ever “throw-and-shoot” camera, is about to change the way we use drones.
Drone cameras have given photographers and videographers a new way to view and capture the world around them, but learning to fly them often requires a lot of time, skill and patience.
While the new perspective gives operators a chance to shoot in a way that would otherwise be impossible, it leaves them stuck on the ground controlling their camera. But not with Lily.
Lily is the future of personal drones. This autonomous-controlled drone allows its user to capture high-quality photos and videos from above as it follows a tracking device worn on the ground by the owner, as if you were being filmed by a hot air balloon.
With a multitude of functions/views, digital gimballing, image stabilization, fixed focus, and slow-mo capabilities, Lily is just as versatile as it is innovative.
And true to its billing, it is truly “throw-and-shoot.” The user simply tosses Lily into the air and the drone automatically rights itself and starts climbing to the desired vantage point.
In the promo video (see below), a kayaker even chucks a Lily into a river before the plucky drone rises out of the whitewater and heads upward.
Price: $499 (pre-order)
Length & Width: 10.29 in (26.1 cm) x 10.29 in (26.1 cm)
Height: 3.22 in
Weight: 2.8 lbs (1.3 kg)
Battery: Built-in lithium-ion battery (20-minute flight time), 5A charger (2-hour charge time)
Min/Max Altitude above head: 5 ft (1.75 m) to 50 ft (15 m)
Max Distance from User: 100 ft (30 m)
Video Resolution: 1080p 60 fps / 720p 120 fps
Video FOV: 94º
Video Format: H.264 codec, .mp4 file format
Photo Resolution: 12 MP
Memory: 4gb micro SD (provided) and an external memory card slot
Sensors: Accelerometer, three-axis gyro, magnetometer, barometer, GPS, front-facing camera, bottom-facing camera
The Tracking Device has a built-in lithium-ion battery with 4-hour battery life and micro USB charging, and comes with a waterproof wrist case. Inside it has an accelerometer, barometer, GPS, microphone and vibration motor.
Plus, with the Lily companion app (available on iOS and Android), you can change camera settings, create custom shots, and Edit and share content you’ve captured. If you want to see Lily in action, check out the amazing video below.
Summer Vacation Filmmaking
Shot by Brad Kremer, known for his advanced digital filmmaking in the the snow-sports community (he’s also filmed for Red Bull, Ubisoft, Nike and the X-Games), the video shows Lily keeping up with legendary Finnish snowboarder Jussi Oksanen.
It then follows a kayaker down some rapids (proving the waterproof shell works by lifting off with ease from the surface of a river) before taking video and photos of a family on summer vacation.
While anyone can use Lily, editing that footage into an extreme sports video or family keepsake like the video above might take a little additional know-how.
If your child has ever shown interest in filmmaking, DMA offers camps where industry professionals teach students digital filmmaking with DSLRs from Canon and show them how to edit their footage with Final Cut Pro. There are even a few courses that combine sports and technology, like the video above!
When the Lumière brothers screened Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat in January 1896, viewers had never seen anything like it. The silent film, lasting only 50 seconds, depicts a locomotive as it pulls into the Paris station. Having seen nothing like it before, the audience fled the theater in terror, thinking a real train was bursting into the theater. An early example of virtual reality, from more than a century ago…
Uses for Virtual Reality
With the introduction of VR headsets from Oculus, Samsung and even Google, there is no question that virtual reality technology is here to stay. With much of the attention centered around virtual reality gaming, many users are missing out on many of the other uses that have been developed in the world of virtual reality:
Travel the World
Sometimes, traveling sounds easier than it actually is. Virtual reality, on the other hand, takes the stress out of traveling with the ability to transport users anywhere their hearts desire.
Many directors are using virtual reality to take viewers places they have never been. Destination British Columbia created The Wild Within, allowing anyone in the world to take a trip through the beautiful landscapes of Canada and beyond. With this ability, family vacations may gain a whole new dimension.
Prep for Surgery
Today’s virtual reality technology is allowing doctors and surgeons to practice potentially risky surgeries before entering the operating room.
This virtual training ensures that medical professionals around the world have the access they need to study high-risk medical procedures before they have to perform them. Medical students can also observe surgeries in virtual reality, helping them gain an understanding of the procedure, as well as a taste of how an operating theater functions.
Become Part of the Movie
When director Guillermo Del Toro set out to promote his 2013 summer blockbuster, Pacific Rim, he wanted viewers to become a part of the experience.
Using the Oculus Rift, fans of Pacific Rim had a chance to become a Jaegar Pilot in this combat simulator. (Image: Legendary Pictures)
With the ability to command the skies as a Jaeger Pilot, it’s no surprise that virtual reality is saving the movie business. But how exactly? Virtual reality allows directors to find creative ways to attract viewers. By immersing fans in the film, they become more attached to the to the world of Pacific Rim and other movies.
Work in Space
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab has combined an Oculus Rift with Microsoft’s Kinect to allow scientists to control and see through the eyes of a robot.
NASA has combined the Oculus Rift with the Kinect to allow for full-control robots on earth and beyond.
It’s not quite R2-D2, but the robotics engineers and programmers over at NASA are coming close. Using the Oculus Rift to control the robot’s head and a Kinect to mimic movements, scientists are now able to analyze incoming data in real time.
Virtual reality has progressed by leaps and bounds since being worked on by companies like Oculus and Google during the past few years. Do you want to #CreateTheNext virtual hit? Check out Digital Media Academy’s Game Design & Development courses and start creating this summer!
For more than 15 years, Final Cut Pro has remained the independent filmmaker’s editing system of choice. Its clean interface and intuitive mechanics make for a streamlined post-production process that is hard to find elsewhere. Need proof? Check out these hit movies made with FCP:
Napoleon Dynamite (2004)
The Final Cut Pro editing system met Director Jared Hess’ tight budget requirements and helped him deliver a hit. (Image: Fox Searchlight/Paramount Pictures)
John Heder starred as Napoleon Dynamite in the art-house comedy of the same name. With a next-to-nothing budget and no way to hire additional editors to cut the film, Final Cut Pro became the obvious choice for director Jared Hess and producer Jeremy Coon. They edited Napoleon Dynamite in Coon’s apartment, using a $6,000 Macintosh loaded with Final Cut Pro. More than $46 million later, Napoleon Dynamite became a lasting cult classic that helped define a new era of teen-angst comedy.
Corpse Bride (2005)
Tim Burton edited the film using FCP, and shot it using Canon DSLR cameras.
Who says Final Cut Pro can’t help bring animated characters to life? Filmed using the Canon EOS-1D Mark II DSLR, Burton’s grim musical featured his usual dark sense of humor along with many of his regular actors, including the voice talents of Helena Bonham Carter and Johnny Depp.
The Simpsons Movie (2007)
Matt Groening’s hit television series made its way to the big screen with a little help from Final Cut. (Image: Fox Studios)
After years of waiting (seven, to be exact) and more than 100 rewrites, Homer, Marge and the rest of the family became a part of Hollywood history, thanks to Final Cut Pro. FCP was used for the film and has also been used for scenes from the TV show.
Giselle is about to become a princess when her dreams of meeting the perfect prince become a reality. (Image: Disney Studios)
The film payed homage to classic Disney productions (although you’ll find more Disney easter eggs in Frozen). Edited using Final Cut Pro, Enchanted blended animation with live action to create a magical Disney experience.
The Social Network (2010)
Final Cut Pro helped The Social Network win three Academy Awards. (Image: Columbia Pictures)
Academy Award winner for Best Film Editing, David Fincher’s The Social Network immediately caught the attention of audiences around the world. Based on Mark Zuckerberg’s experiences when creating Facebook, The Social Network exposed the controversy that surrounded the building of a social-networking platform.
Focus was produced completely with Final Cut, including its titles. (Image: Warner Bros. Studios)
Editor Jan Kovac used a few versions of FCPX 10.1.x for Focus – the Will Smith/Margot Robbie con-artist film. Originally, Focus was shot in the 2.35:1 aspect ratio, but filmmakers used Final Cut to re-frame the film to 1.85:1, which they felt better suited the movie.
Michael Matzdorff, Kovac’s first assistant editor, was so impressed by the editing process that he wrote Final Cut Pro X: Pro Workflow: Proven Techniques. Focus is also the first studio film to use FCP X.
Other films that have used Final Cut? True Grit and Zodiac.
For a quick, inexpensive and comprehensive editing suite, Final Cut Pro is the choice of editors around the globe.
Making the Final Cut
From animated projects to live-action epics, Final Cut Pro has helped critically acclaimed directors and editors bring their films into the spotlight. With hands-on instruction from industry experts, you can learn how to edit a film using Final Cut Pro. So what are you waiting for? #CreateTheNext indie blockbuster this summer at Digital Media Academy.
They said it couldn’t be done: You can’t edit a major feature on Final Cut Pro.
The editors of Focus, starring Will Smith, use Final Cut Pro X’s advanced features to create a memorable scenes.
But you can. In 2002, Walter Murch used a version of Final Cut Pro (FCP3 and 4) to edit the film Cold Mountain, starring Nicole Kidman and Jude Law.
Most recently, editor Jan Kovac used different versions of FCPX 10.1.x for the Will Smith/Margot Robbie movie Focus. Kovac’s first assistant, Michael Matzdorff, was so impressed by the process that he wrote a book about it. The excellent, Final Cut Pro X: Pro Workflow: Proven Techniques from the First Studio Film to Use FCP X is now available on Kindle and iBooks and covers the FCPX workflow for Focus.
For the Edit
The book was written in collaboration with Brendan Boykin, who wrote the authorized Apple Pro Training Series for FCPX (on which DMA’s Final Cut Pro and Filmmaking classes are based).
It covers the workflow and process of working with FCPX on a big budget, high pressure major studio productions like Focus. I give it my highest recommendation.Matzdorff’s work is full of detailed recipes for the process of assembly through editing and collaborating with other software on a production as complex as this, with VFX shots, color grading and audio mixing.
It’s a wonderfully interesting read for anyone using FCP. The book is not a how to use Final Cut Pro book, as Matzdorff makes clear at the very beginning, but it does have a lot of great insights and details in the process, and what could be done with the application to bring the project to fruition.
From FCPX to the Audience
The dailies and cut versions were viewed by the studio and test audiences throughout the process at 2K resolution output directly from FCP, from the projects used in editorial. There was no conforming from an EDL cut list.
All this is possible, of course, because the original material was shot using Arri Alexa cameras and recorded using Light Iron recorders with careful backup and data wrangling throughout the on-location production process. FCP’s standard titling tools were also used to make the titles that appeared in the finished film. No added software needed.
Final Cut Pro X gives you professional dynamic tools for creating titles and effects (without spending a fortune), like those seen in Focus.
It’s All About Workflow
Just like the book points out, modern production isn’t about shooting and then editing and then adding sound and VFX: It’s about workflow. It’s a continuous process of media moving through stages through various hardware and software. And before you begin, whether on a giant major studio production or one with a more modest budget, every step of that workflow needs to be tested thoroughly.
In addition to the digital media workflow, you need to test metadata workflow, all the information about the media, the notes from script, director, camera, and sound. All of this has be preserved and attached to the media and updated as it changes.
FCPX loves metadata and has countless ways of collating and presenting it to the user. Because Focus was captured in the ProRes 4444 and RED RAW media formats, VFX could be created directly from the editor, reinserted and output for finishing without any conforming process.
The book provides a fascinating look into the intricate process of major motion picture post production.
Tom Wolsky is a lead instructor at Digital Media Academy and the author of numerous published books about Final Cut Pro. He has decades of professional television experience, including his years of work as an industry-respected producer for ABC News.