"The Avid/FCP 2-Step" – LA Final Cut Pro User Group meeting, 11-18-2009

Posted By Barry Goch on November 20, 2009 12:00 am | Permalink
A capacity crowd came to the LA FCP UG meeting at the Barnsdall Art Park in Hollywood to hear Academy Award® winning editor talk about his experiences going back to Avid.

As is almost always the case, I was coming from work and running a bit late so I missed the start of the meeting that featured Shane Ross demonstrating the new multi-format capability in Avid Media Composer 4.0. It's something that I've seen at previous demos and is a great new feature in this version.

I arrived when editor Steve Cohen was demoing a crowd pleaser in v.4: the ability to hold transitions when moving clips around on the timeline. In the past, the transition would simply vanish. He also demoed Advanced Keyframing, an older feature but perhaps new to the FCP crowd and some fine points of trimming in the Avid.

The crowd was very attentive. It seemed that the FCP crowd was intent on catching every detail about the world of Avid. Even Mr. Murch asked a question from the audience about transition corner display, a trim view that Mr. Cohen was demonstrating as part of his presentation.

There was then a short break, time for a bit of networking, then on to the main speaker, Walter Murch.

Mr. Murch stated that he felt that Avid had become complacent, resting on their laurels, and not listening to their customers. His high-profile choice to use FCP on Cold Mountain, an $80 million dollar film, was to energize the dialog in the professional editing application arena.

He then went onto a detailed Keynote presentation of his workflow on his previous film, Tetro, which he cut for Francis Ford Coppola. They Shot on the Sony HD F900 using Zeiss lenses. Mr. Murch had 165 hour of dailies, the equivalent of almost 900,000 feet of film. He edited the feature in FCP on location for 9 months in Buenos Aires. He used ProRes720 after testing the best codec for image quality and rendering speed. Later he showed photos of his cutting room and went into great detail about his personal workflow when cutting films. He likes to take notes during dailies to try and capture the "flame in a bottle" moment when you see something for the first time. Later, he does a meticulous breakdown of each take and uses frame grabs of key moments in takes in addition to a flow chart of the picture to help construct the story. He relies on a documentary approach of using found moments in the performance to build the narrative.

When Mr. Murch was brought into edit Wolfman for Universal, the project was already built inside the Avid and thus began his reacquaintance with the Avid. In his methodicical approach to things, he presented slides of his likes each system. Both Final Cut and Avid have their strengths and weaknesses but the competion between the two of them improves the tools for everyone.

Mr. Murch was a great sport as he stayed after his presentation to call out number in the "world famous" LAFCPUG raffle. He also handed out fortunes like those found in fortune cookies from an old cigar box. After the raffle, he stayed to autograph books.

There seemed to be a palpable shift of momentum from the feeling that FCP is taking over the world to one where it's important to know both systems to be a successful editor.