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Training for Editors on the Mac

Kevin McAuliffe wades through the training tools to find some gems By Kevin McAuliffe

One of the questions that readers e-mail me all the time is "How do I learn to be an editor?" or "Can you tell me the best way to learn After Effects?" These days people are moving more toward self-education, as they can move at their own pace, day or night, and even twenty-four hours a day if they want to.

I decided to sit down and look at some of the major players in the training business, take a look at the pros and cons of the training, and give you an idea of which ones I think are worthy of your money and why. We're going to break this down into three categories, which are Final Cut Studio 2, Adobe Products, and the third category I'm going to look at is Shake, as with it's price tag coming in at $499, I think it's almost an absolute buy if you ever plan on doing any keying or compositing work.

Final Cut Studio 2
Your Choices:
Digital Media Training Series from ZioPro

I am going to tell you a funny story about the Digital Media Training series, and it starts like this. I had taken a look at one of its DVDs about two years ago and was pretty impressed from what I remember. When I sat down to start writing this article, I wanted to include them, and I obviously needed to get the material from them to look at, and see what they have to offer. After MONTHS of being promised that I would be sent material for Final Cut Studio 2, I finally had to tell them that they were too late, and I would not be able to include their material in this article, and the reason that I was given for why they could not send it to me was that they were working on getting a new website up and running, and they were on a lot of business trips, and they were "truly sorry we didn't get you out additional dvds in time for your article." I first asked for the material on October 25, 2007, and finally gave up on January 27, 2008. In three months, they couldn't ship me one box set of their FCS/FCS2 material to take a look at. If this is how they treat the press who are interested in writing about their material, I can only imagine what customers go through.


  • I really can't tell you


  • They wouldn't send me any FCPS2 training to look at

My 'Two Cents' : Stay Away
Since you are reading my article on the Digital Media Net, you are familiar with Lynda.com's training, as it is featured on a semi-regular basis on the site. To be perfectly honest, I wasn't very familiar with their training before I wrote this article. I had heard of them, but had never really given them a "shot" Well, needless to say that on one hand, I was very impressed with what they had brought to the table, and on the other hand, I was a little surprised at what they did offer.

We're going to take a look at the actual training in just a second, but first, I wanted to mention that I was very, very happy to see that Lynda.com offers three tiers of payment for people who might be on a budget. The first payment package is $25 paid monthly, and that gives you access to the entire library of training that Lynda.com has to offer, minus the ability to download exercise files, so you can work along with the instructor as you go. The next package up is $250 per year, and that gives you $50 off the monthly fee if you were going to pay that for a year, but you still don't get access to the project files. The highest priced package is $375 per year, and that gives you full access to all the training that Lynda.com has to offer and complete access to all the downloadable exercise files to work along with the instructor. As well as the online training, Lynda.com also offers purchasable DVDs for a lot of its training materials, and with that you receive the DVD and all the exercise files as well. For me, I prefer the web training, as $25 per month is very manageable, and I normally never use the exercise files, as for me, it's like rubbing my head and patting my stomach at the same time. I just can't do it. O.K. On to the training. This is where I found things a little surprising. When looking for training for a package like Final Cut Studio 2, ideally, you would want training that covers Final Cut Pro 6, Color, Soundtrack Pro 2, Motion 3, Compressor 3 and LiveType 2, as that IS the Studio package. That being said, here is the training that Lynda.com offers for Final Cut Studio 2.

  • Final Cut Pro 6 - 24 hours
  • Color - 8 hours
  • Soundtrack Pro 2 - None
  • DVD Studio Pro 4 - 9.25 hours
  • Motion 3 - None
  • Compressor 3 - 4.75 hours
  • LiveType 2 - 3.75 hours

I was very surprised that they offer no training for Soundtrack Pro 2 and Motion 3. They do offer training for Soundtrack Pro (version 1) and Motion 2, which for people who have never used the application before will definitely help them out, but there have been major feature updates to both STP2 (Surround) and Motion 3 (3D) that people will definitely require training on, and I'm surprised that this long after the package has been released, there is still no training for these two applications.

Larry Jordan handles the training for Final Cut Pro 6, Compressor 3, LiveType 2 and DVD Studio Pro and his training style is very easy to follow, and he goes into great detail to make sure that every aspect of the application you need to know is covered. I highly recommend his Compressor training as I learned alot of things in there that I never knew before! Rounding out the training, Robbie Carmen handles the Color training duties, and again, he gives a very in depth, detailed look at not only the in's and outs of Color, but also how it fits into Final Cut Studio 2.


  • Very knowledgeable, easy to follow instructors to train beginners to experts
  • Monthly payment plan is great for users on a budget
  • Legacy training included (Final Cut Pro 4.5, DVD Studio Pro 3, etc)
  • E-Mails sent out when new training becomes available
  • You can try before you take the monthly or yearly plunge
  • Offer Closed Captioning on select training for the hearing impaired


  • Where are Motion 3 and Soundtrack Pro 2 training???
  • $125 extra per year for exercise files
  • No discount on DVDs for Online members

My 'Two Cents' : Pay monthly as you need it
Apple Pro Training Series from Peachpit Press
DVD and Online training are all the craze these days, but it doesn't mean that they are necessarily the best option. The Apple Pro Training series from Peachpit Press covers all the basics and then some.

For the purposes of this article, I looked at APTS - Final Cut Pro 6, APTS - Motion 3, APTS - Soundtrack Pro 2, APTS - Color, APTS - Compressor Quick-Reference Guide and APTS - DVD Studio Pro 4 2nd edition. For me, this is really learning at your own pace. These six books will give you the foundation of each application in the Final Cut Studio 2 family, and have you up and running in no time flat. Along with the books, you get a DVD that contains projects for each lesson in the books, which are easy to follow along with. What I like to do is to read the chapters first, then open the project and work with it. The other big plus to book training is that I can take it with me on the road, or even just down to my basement, and read.

Each book covers not only the fundamentals of each application, but new features and how to fit them seamlessly into your workflow. From what I have been able to find, the Apple Pro Training Series is the only complete training series for Final Cut Studio 2 out there that includes each program, what you need to know to be up and running quickly, and how to integrate the new features into your workflow. Probably the only major downside I found in these training books was that the APTS - Soundtrack Pro 2 book dedicated four pages in the appendix to surround sound mixing. I found it weak, but at least they covered it. Also, I want to mention here that if you head over to the Peachpit Press website, you can pick up the six main books that I mentioned before at a 35% discount (once you create an account), which ends up working out to $168.47 U.S., which for these six books and the included discount is a great deal. I find all the books very easy to follow along, and would recommend them to anyone looking for a good, solid starting point to learn Final Cut Studio 2. One other thing that I want to mention is a book from Peachpit Press that I read when I first started editing on Final Cut Pro two years ago, and that was "Final Cut Pro for Avid Editors", which was an excellent read for any editor looking to either make the switch, or just learn a new application. The book is still offered by Peachpit, and is a great read.


  • Complete training series for Final Cut Studio 2
  • Covers basics and new features alike
  • Signing up for an account at Peachpit gives you a 35% discount on one order
  • Take the books with you and read them anywhere
  • Peachpit offers other books that revolve around Final Cut Studio 2 (i.e. APTS - FCP for Avid Editors, APTS - Logic Studio, APTS - FCP6 Beyond the Basics)


  • You can't update and give new lessons to a book
  •  Each year you need to purchase a new set of books

My 'Two Cents' : Pick these up!
My Overall Pick
Apple Pro Training Series
In the end, I liked the Apple Pro Training series, as it gives you the most complete training for Final Cut Studio 2 that you will find on the market today. For more information on the Digital Media Training series, you can head over to www.ziopro.com, for more information on Lynda.com's training, you can check them out at www.lynda.com and for more information on the Apple Pro Training Series, you can check them out at www.peachpit.com for our US readers, and our Canadian readers can check them out at www.amazon.ca or www.indigo.ca.


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