Friday, April 26, 2013

Notes from the Boston Creative Pro Users Group

Here’s some quick notes from the three speakers at last night’s Boston Creative Pro User Group meeting:

Ben Consoli

Final Cut Pro WorkFlow
Ben Consoli of BC Media Productions started the evening off with a demonstration of Final Cut Pro X. He explained that he intended to show the workflow, not provide a training session as such.

  • He said that the first thing he does when importing new media from a camera or card is create a camera archive of the material.
  • He then demoed creating metadata in Final Cut Pro X, and how to add metadata, create Roles and use Filters. I’ve seen several metadata demos before, and I understand how they can be useful if you work in a certain way. Unfortunately, I have many bad editing habits, and I tend to just throw things onto timelines and start cutting, rather than go through and tag and divide things up before I start. Maybe if I had a production assistant I would be doing that more...
  • That said, Final Cut Pro X can demo well. The Precision Editor is definitely cool, letting you do the little fiddly things in the Magnetic Timeline, including J cuts. I still don’t know how you do it, but you can do it.
  • Said Ben about the Magnetic Timeline “A lot of stuff people were saying that the magnetic timeline constrained people, but you can get around it,” though he also said he actually likes it.
  • Ben demoed the Color Tool in FCPX. For someone who doesn't want to get into serious color grading, it's definitely a nice little thing.
  • Greg Ikens then stepped up and demoed how he uses Magic Color Looks in Final Cut Pro X to do color grading. One caveat; it only transfers a single frame to Magic Color and you grade using that; you can’t scrub through the video clip as you adjust it.
  • I liked Greg’s comment about video “There's always too much green in video.”
  • Ben came back to show some audio features, including the Logic plugins, and how you can get AIF files across to ProTools (export to XML, then use X2Pro Audio Convert to create the AIF files.)

Ben’s last advice on Final Cut Pro X: “It's too different to just tinker with; you have to learn it the right way.” He recommends getting a training package from or Ripple and working with that.

Next up, Patrick Sculley asked the question "How can the cloud benefit video production and what can it do for Post?" He also asked the rhetorical question: “Have you ever had to work with a technically challenged customer?” [Are there any other kinds? –Ed]

PixelFlow is a cloud-based service that let's you share videos with customers and lets them make comments or annotations. If you work in a situation where you have to give clients the control to intimately review and comment on video projects, it seems like a good idea. Personally, I don't encourage giving clients that kind of control...

  • Viewers can enable playback sync and play through a movie together, even though they are in different locations. 
  • There’s no licensing; you’re billed on a monthly basis for usage based on the amount of material uploaded.
  • They support anything except RED, “so please don't send us your 4K files.”
  • They have a desktop app and a browser version that runs on anything HTML5 compliant. They have an iPhone app and are working on an iPad version that will have additional features.

Up to 200MB upload for free.
1GB monthly $15
5GB monthly upload $60

Ignoring the pros and cons of client review, this is the second presentation in as many months about working collaboratively via the net with others (the last one was Kanen Flowers of Scruffy.TV) The latter was more about editors and VFX people working together, while Pixel Flow seems to be more about working with clients or producers. seems like a good tool for client review, but not really for collaboration between people working on a project; i.e. it's not for sending about your project files and your source clips.

Colin Smith

What's next with Adobe Premiere?
Last up, Colin Smith from Canada – and Adobe – to talk about the nest release on Premiere. “This one doesn’t have a number yet, but we're going to call this the FCP7 version.” He described it as the version for people who loved CS6, but they wanted more FCP 7 features.

There was some discussion about Adobe’s Cloud pricing, and the fact that Adobe thinks it can’t give users any new features after 90 days due to lawyers. “Adobe, Apple, no one can release new features after 90 days,” he said. Given that they are already getting ideas for features from Final Cut Pro 7, maybe Adobe should talk to Apple about how Apple does their releases; they’ve been releasing free updates to FCP X – with new features - for the last year. And I’m not paying any monthly charge for that…just saying.

The demo of the new features was pretty impressive. I thought CS6 was a pretty good update, but this next one should be pretty hot too. Features included:

  • New Relink dialog box for relinking media that looks much better than the old dialog box.
  • “Join Through Edits” allows you to remove cuts in a clip that aren't needed. (i.e. you cut a clip but never did anything to the edit, so the material is contiguous through the edit point.)
  • The Effects indicator on a clip indicates if the clip has a change attached to it, or an effect, or both.
  • They are now supporting more GPUs. “If you have 1GB on any video card, you can use it,” though it will tell you that it's an unapproved card; its up to you to decide to use it. He noted that when editing 4K he turns the display down to 1/16
  • Colin pointed out that Mercury just accelerates the effects; it doesn't accelerate playback of any compressed media.
  • They’ve added Paste Attributes, and added a twist: you can select the filters from a list instead of just applying all of the effects.
  • They’ve improved working with tracks and zooming in and out. “I don't think we could make transitions any harder to edit than we did in previous versions.” Editing transitions is now symmetrical rather than asymmetrical (though you can still do that by holding down the shift key)
  • They’ve added their own audio waveform syncing tool. No more Pluralize.
  • Multicam is no longer a separate window: it’s been added to the Project window rather than floating off in another world. [Why it couldn’t replace the Preview window I don’t know –Ed] And it can collapse the clips and export an EDL.
  • They have added the 32-bit engine from SpeedGrade into Premiere, and added a Shot Matcher in SpeedGrade that takes a Targa file and matches the “look” in the image to the video clip. He said that the results are usually “close, but may still need some work.” They have also added some film emulsions.
  • The control-tilde now does true full screen.
  • There’s now a track mixer for adjusting audio volumes on tracks. Some Isotope plug-ins are included, as well as the plug-in Loudness Radar from TC Electronic to check for loudness and peak levels
  • Closed Captions: .scc file can be added as a track and you can live edit the captions. BUT you can’t output these captions to an HD video file.
Asked when the next release would be available, he said he wasn’t saying... “but shortly.”

His final advice: “Be a problem solver, not a specialist," (and buy the Master Collection...)


H. Paul said...

"They’ve added Paste Attributes, and added a twist: you can select the filters from a list instead of just applying all of the effects."

Great example of how Adobe almost gets there, but always skimps out. The almost-there feature I was actually looking forward to is selecting deleting effects/filters from a list, rather than the ability to paste discrete ones onto clips. So once again, I wait a year or two for something they'd gotten 90% of the way into...

Ben Consoli said...

Thanks so much for this post. I had a lot of fun presenting. The future is bright for video production professionals!