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Final Cut Pro 5 First Impressions

Two biggest wants now included By Stephen Schleicher

If you missed out on Apples NAB unveiling of Final Cut Pro 5, you didnt get to behold the new wonders of this great editing application.  What you didnt see in the event was one of the more requested features of Final Cut Pro.

The wonders of multicam editing are now easily within your reach with Final Cut Pro 5.  For several years now, I and thousands of other Final Cut Pro users have been begging for multicam editing in the application.  Personally, I usually end up editing four or five multicam programs every three months.  These range from sports shows, to on location events, to the rare multimedia event.  Previously, I would have to sync all these cameras up in the Timeline (see Final Cut Pro Quick Tip #28 to read how I do it), and then spend time with the Blade Tool slicing out the parts of each track I didnt want.  Tedious certainly; a pain for a client to sit through to be sure.

So now we have multicam editing in Final Cut Pro 5.  Hoora!  But how does it work?  You will certainly want to come back to this site once it has shipped for more precise tutorials, but in a nutshell here is the workflow.  Probably the best way to capture synced Timecode on all of your cameras is to use Time of Day Timecode, this way no matter which camera starts 10 seconds late, they all have the same coding based on the 24 hours clock.  After digitizing these clips, you select them and choose make multiclip.  The multiclip will analyze the footage and find out how much of a difference in Timecode there is, and then compensate, syncing all of the clips together.  Final Cut Pro 5 allows you to create a multiclip containing up to 16 different tracks.

From there, you add the single multiclip track to the Timeline.  In the Viewer Window you can see all of the cameras at the same time.  If you have a second high resolution monitor attached to your G5, you client will see the multiple cameras as well.  You begin the playback of the Timeline, and in the Viewer Window you select each camera with your mouse, or (even more impressive) you can map each camera to the numeric keypad and tap your edits into place.  Very Cool!

When you are done with this rough assembly, and stop the playback of your project, all of the edits show up in the Timeline for you to refine and improve upon.  If, for example, your client wants Camera 2 instead of Camera 1, you select the segment in the Timeline and from a pop up menu select the alternate camera for an instant redo.

Having the multicam capabilities in Final Cut Pro 5 will certainly lead to the editing application being used more and more for television programs.  Scrubs is currently using Final Cut Pro in a very fast turnaround environment.  I expect FCP5 to help the editors complete shows much faster than can currently be done in FCPHD.

The other big feature that I have been asking for is the ability to use an outboard console to control audio levels.  While you can use a standard mixer to change volume of audio coming in or out, you havent been able to make a smooth fade without using a mouse.  This is frustrating to me, because with audio Im a tactile, visual person.  Final Cut Pro 5 now gives you the ability use a Midi based mixer (like one from Mackie) to control all of the inputs.  Im excited about this!  Even though I may have to spend some money for the board, when it comes to making my own precise fades and transitions between audio tracks, this is the only way I work best.

Whats more the same board can be used in the new SoundTrack Pro.  At this time, I cant go into a lot of detail about SoundTrack Pro, but I can say that for the editor who is visual, and who doesnt know everything about audio mixing, this application will save your butt and make you look like a genius in front of the client.  I can not wait to get my hands on this application and extol the virtues of the workflow between Final Cut Pro 5 and SoundTrack Pro.

There are certainly a number of other features to be found in Final Cut Pro 5, and I will certainly look at them much more closely in the next couple of months.

One of the features that seemed to have been broken in Final Cut Pro HD was clip naming during capture.  If you didnt name the clip, Final Cut Pro would give it the default name Untitled, Untitled 1, Untitled 2, and so on.  I asked if this had been fixed to force the user to name the clip before it was saved, but spokes people for Apple were not certain of this at the time.

The other question I had about Final Cut Pro is does it have the ability to work with mixed resolutions and formats on the Timeline.  The answer was yes, but no.  Yes you can have multiple formats on the timeline (HD, SD, etc), but you had to render it in order to watch it.  Im a little disappointed in this as there are far cheaper editing solutions on the market today that do it all without the need to render.

Still with these two problem areas, I can easily say is the most robust, solid, and still favorite editing application I have used in the last five years.

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Stephen Schleicher has crossed the country several times over the last couple of years going from Kansas to Atlanta , Georgia, and Southern California. In his time traveling, he has worked as an editor, graphic designer, videographer, director, and producer on a variety of video productions ranging from small internal pieces, to large multimedia
corporate events.

Currently, Stephen shares his knowledge with students at Fort Hays State University who are studying media and web development in the Information Networking and Telecommunications department. When he is not shaping the minds of university students, Stephen continues to work on video and independent projects for State and local agencies and organizations as well as his own ongoing works.

He is also a regular contributor to Digital Producer, Creative Mac, Digital Webcast, Digital Animators, and the DV Format websites, part of the Digital Media Online network of communities (, where he writes about the latest technologies, and gives tips and tricks on everything from Adobe After Effects, to Appleā??s Final Cut Pro, LightWave 3D, to shooting and lighting video.

He has a Masters Degree in Communication from Fort Hays State University in Hays, Kansas. As a forward thinker, he wrote his Thesis on how Information Islands and e-commerce would play a major role in keeping smaller communities alive. This of course was when 28.8 dialup was king and people hadnā??t even invented the word e-commerce.

And, he spends what little free time he has biking, reading, traveling around the country, and contemplating the future of digital video and its impact on our culture. You can reach him at

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