Category Archives: Tips and Techniques

How Final Cut Pro X Broke My Heart.

Like a Vegas romance, what happens in Vegas, should probably stay there. Such was my brief love affair with Apple’s Final Cut Pro X. I bought Final Cut Pro X, the first day it was released and immediately dove into editing with it. And like a hot love affair, I relished in all the new, different and better qualities and overlooked its shortcomings.  I even wrote a long blog post extolling FCP X’s virtues.

FCPX broken heartIt is now some three months since that initial post and I no longer have FCP X installed on my Mac. Here’s the story of how I fell out of love. After editing a couple of minor projects with FCP X, I decided to edit my short film project titled “Love and Robots” with it. First off I struggled with FCP X’s media management when it dated my event as 2009, probably because I hadn’t set the date and time in one of my cameras. I then created my project, thinking that projects in FCP X where similar to sequences in FCP 7. I discovered much to my surprise that you can’t rename a project once it’s created. And even stranger, if you duplicate a project, it duplicates and renames the media associated with the project. And don’t try to move your event from its initial location on your hard drive, because FCP X loses it and you can’t reconnect the event, unless you move it back to the folder where it was created. What about FCP X’s much touted metadata and keyword organization? Well, I had several hours of footage and hundreds of clips that I carefully logged into scene smart folders. I had shot this project on a DSLR, so I was using double system sound. So when I went to use the highly touted sync clip feature, I found the matching video and audio clips for a take and synced the clips, FCP X then proceeded to sync the clips and created a new clip, which lost all the metadata from the original clips. All the hours I had spent organizing my video clips into smart folders were lost. The lesson here being, that you need to sync your clips before adding smart keywords. So like a date that can’t handle their wine, FCP X’s media management turns really ugly, really quickly.

As far as just editing video, FCP X did an admirable job. There were some little peeves, like not being able to copy and paste clip attributes, not being able to key frame color correction parameters, and not being able to edit a text template without, creating a new template in Motion. All of these were little irritating things, but not relationship breakers.

That brings us to the big break-up. Everybody knows that FCP X’s most glaring flaw is its inability to export XML or even an old fashioned EDL. Having XML support is critical in any film project because several people need to collaborate on the project. So when it came time to want to do some effects work in Adobe After Effects and to edit the soundtrack, FCP X essentially locked me in the hotel room. I was stuck not being able to export my sound as tracks. Practically every editor out there separates their audio into tracks, usually the first two are for dialog and then ambience and then effects and then music. And usually you can send these off to the sound editor for further editing. Well since FCP X doesn’t use tracks per se. You can’t separate the various parts of your soundtrack. And worse yet, you can’t export your sound as separate clips. “Round-tripping” soundtracks is critical to film workflow, and this is something that slammed the brakes on my project and made me abandon FCPX as a viable editor. This is a massive fail, that unless it is resolved, will kill Final Cut Pro as a professional  editor.

I had to export my movie and since there is no EDL support, I had to go through the movie cut by cut and hand-log all of my shots. I then reconstructed my entire edit using Final Cut Pro 7. Essentially Final Cut Pro X cost me four weeks of editing. Needless to say the thrill was gone. And like the end of  a bad romance, in a fit of rage I threw out Final Cut Pro X. Now my Mac is free of it, good riddance.

I finished the film in Final Cut Pro 7 and now I am slowly weaning myself from eight years of loving Final Cut and have started to edit on Premier CS5.5. It is sad.

You can see the trailer for Love and Robots at:



DIY GoPro Jaybilizer Jib Arm Test

This is a test of a DIY jib arm design for small, light cameras like the GoPro Hero. the boom is a 12′ paint extension pole. I need to work on the trapeze so that it has less friction, but overall I can see this as a useful tool. I want to try my Samsung HZ10W next, as the GoPro is not the best video quality and the fisheye lens is so wide that you cannot avoid lens flares. Shot at 720 60p conformed to 24Fps. ungraded, edited as Prores in FCP, compressed with the Elgato Turbo H264HD.

Slomo: Conform vs. Optical flow

This was a test comparing 24fps conform to optical flow.The 60 fps to 24 fps conform using Cinema Tools is about the limit before the footage looks to jerky. With Optical Flow in Apple Motion, shot duration (RAM size?) seems to be the limiting factor. If I go beyond 30%, I get stuttering and artifacting after about 400 frames. I know that you can get better results using simpler back grond and foreground shots. Here is a great tutorial from CrumplePop on using Optical flow: 1000fps for free – using Motion Optical Flow instead of Twixtor
Shot with Lumix GH1 with 28Mbs settings, post in FCP6 and Motion, compressed to 5Mbs with Elgato Turbo h.264HD. No grading.

Panasonic Officially Launches the LUMIX GH2 at Photokina

Lumix GH2 DSLR The Lumix GH2 was officially launched today at Photokina. Actual units will ship mid December in the US for $900 body only. Cool features include expanded ISO, 3D Lens capability, the ability to take stills while recording video Varible Frame Rates, and live HDMI output. Not so cool features include 24Mbs limited AVCHD and no audio level controls or headphone output. Judge for yourself, here’s a link to the GH2 press release
and the GH2 Web page.

GH1 Low Light Lens Comparison

This is a quick non-scientific comparison video of several lenses. I compared the kit Lumix 14-140 lens to the following:
Canon FD 28mm F2.8
Minolta 35-70mm F2.5
c-mount 35mm F1.8 CCTV
c-mount 25mm F1.2 CCTV
Canon c- mount 11-70mm TV
the c-mount lenses used the SLR Magic adapter.
The subject is a wine glass, lit with 5600K daylight LED light source and the room was lit with 2800K CFL lights. The camera was white balanced for day light.
The GH1 is using the Ptools firmware hack and was shooting 24FPS no pulldown 1080P at 40Mbs with a 1/50th sec. shutter.
Edited as ProRes 422 in FCP. Output to h.264 @400Kbs

Timelapse test GH1

A time lapse test with the Panasonic GH1 with kit lens shooting 1/1000sec shutter in shutter priority. F stop varied between 8 and 4.1. Some shutter “wow”. I’m thinking I should have shot f4.5 in manual. any advice is welcome. Next time , I want to compare using apeture priority. as long as the shutter speed doesn’t exceed the the interval time I should be okay.
Location: Golden Colorado

My First 3-D Anaglyph Video

I shot my first Red-Cyan 3-D anaglyph video for the video open for the 2010 Student Video Expo for Front Range Community College. I shot using two Canon HV-30s mounted as close as was possible (lens centers were about four inches apart.) and obviously shot it against a green screen, just to make it more difficult. Post Production in FCP6, I probably could have got better results using After Effects.
I made a lot of mistakes and learned a lot. One problem that I encountered is since you can’t gen-lock these cameras they were about a half a frame from being in perfect sync. Also due to the crap HDV 4.0.0 color space and temporal compression, quick motion breaks up the video, especially in the red channel.

Powdercoating and c mount lenses with the GH1

Lunched with a couple old friends and we are looking into doing some software video tutorials as a business, Then ran down to Blue Flame Power coating to pick up a bunch of Jaybilizer parts that I had powder coated. Yeah baby! powder coating sure beats paint.
Finally got my Canon 11-70mm f 1.8 c-mount tv zoom lens and mounted it to my Panasonic GH1 with a c-mount adapter and I was immediately disappointed to find that it only covered half of the sensor. After a little Google search, I found that the work around is to use the 2X digital zoom to get a full frame image. This actually kinda sucks because you are trading off resolution by the camera interpolating pixels, and you are doubling the crop factor, so that my 11mm now has a 22mm field of view. So in reality if I can shoot at f4 I’m ahead to use the kit 14-140mm lens for wide angle shots. The only upside is that the tv lens will be good for some shots where I want narrow DOF and soft vignetted edges. Note to self, check Google before buying on ebay.