Another tutorial DVD! Oh no!
That's what I thought when I saw this product. I have to admit, I'm a bit skeptical about tutorial DVDs, being as I have lots of tutorial DVDs on my shelf at work. Some are pretty good, while others put me to sleep. But, what do we do when we are learning a new software program such as Final Cut Pro? Fumble around, curse at the computer because the computer didn't do what we wanted, and take hours upon hours to find out later that it could have taken only minutes to do something. I'm sure you've been there. I know I have.
It's nice to see that Bessie and the fine folks at Creative COWs have seen the light and jumped into the tutorial DVD field. Besides, I love the Pop-Up Bessie thing they have going on from time to time. Shane Ross came to them and proposed a DVD for them on his workflows and techniques. Now, let me say that I've been using FCP for the past four years and I still don't know every way possible to use this software. So, I'm always looking for way to learn new things about Final Cut Pro. And, I will admit that I have admired the work that Shane has done over the years, too. There wasn't any arm-twisting in getting me to take a look, so here goes.
"Getting Organized in Final Cut Pro" is just that. We all need this. Don't we? I know that I do. We all get projects all of the time that stump us and we sit for a while figuring out how to formulate a workflow that will make this project easier to work with, right? In my own experimentation, I thought I might have found the Holy Grail for workflow in my shop. BUZZZ! WRONG! I was close, though.
Shane takes us though the entire process of formulating a workflow and using that workflow to our advantage. We all have differences in our workflows and coming to a final product, but Shane's techniques can be applied to all forms of video production, not just large scale features and documentaries that Shane works on.
Ok -- Let's get started.
First, you have to open the DVD on the desktop and click on the icon, "Start_Mac." The DVD opens with an animation showcasing Bessie. Cute! I love the moo-ing sound effect.
The DVD has ten chapters, which includes an introduction to Shane Ross and the DVD. Right off the bat, I noticed Shane's sense of humor. I knew I like that guy for some reason. His desktop icons are labeled in a Johnny Quest theme. For those of you that are too young for Jonny Quest, it was a cartoon the 1960's. Turner networks tried to revive it, but to us purists, it doesn't work.
Oops -- Sorry for that sidetrack.
Like I was saying, the introduction to the tutorial DVD gives great information about how to improve your organizational skills, or lack of them as it may be. I have to admit that mine could use a little more work but that's another story.
Before even getting started, good organization is the most important step of any new project. Bad organization can leave you with some serious problems down the road that will bite you when you least expect it. And it ALWAYS does!
This DVD takes you into setting up your scratch disk, capturing footage (there are hundreds of ways doing this), organizing your project, organizing a narrative project, large project organization (i.e. feature films), SAN organization, organizing audio with iTunes (I'm sure you're thinking, "What?" Just watch you'll see), and archiving your project.
Whew-- That was a long list. Well, this DVD is very thorough. It will work with any version of Final Cut Pro with some minor adjustments when using the new Final Cut Studio. Otherwise, the basic ideas will work perfectly for your style of editing.
Shane interjects his wacky humor into this everywhere he gets a chance. Besides, I found it quite amusing looking at his iTunes list. Shane sure does like his 80's music!
Chapter Zero: Introduction.
Shane shows some examples of messy computers that most of us currently use and how Final Cut Pro places your media and other files needed to run. Of course, we need to start with the basics before we can use Final Cut Pro to our advantage.
Chapter One: Setting up your Scratch Disk.
This is an important step in your organizational skills. If you skip this, you could get bitten later down the road. Trust me. I have teeth marks to prove it. Shane shows you what gets stored in each folder and where those folders should be. Next, Shane discusses where you should keep you project file.
This is where we differ a little. I like to keep mine in two different places, one on the SAN, and one on a backup Firewire drive. But that's my personal preference. See, there is more than one way to skin a cat.
Chapter Two: Capturing Footage.
Shane discusses methods of capturing your footage. Now, this is where it gets really sticky for most of us. For those using FCP 5.14 or earlier, pay close attention here. For users of FCP 6, mixing formats is not a real issue anymore. Just means more render time, right?
Anyway, Shane talks about the way to capture, which depends solely on you final product. This is where most of us choke. Why would you want to capture Uncompressed HD when the final product is going to DVD? Like I said earlier, there's more that one way to skin a cat. This is one of those areas that have many, many ways of doing this. None of them really wrong… Okay, I take that back. I have seen some that were really wrong. Sit back and give this some real thought before you start your nightmare, oh... I mean project.
Chapter Three: Organizing your Project.
This is another area that can REALLY go awry. If you don't set up your bins and sequences carefully, you could be spending lots of time looking for that one shot that could have only taken a couple of seconds to find, if you had organized your project. We've all been there at one time or another. Shane shows you his "madness" for organizing his projects. I know that I learned a thing or two here.
Chapter Four: Organizing your Narrative.
The same as above but this time Shane is talking about narrative projects, which take on a whole other feel than standard projects for broadcast. Narratives introduce a whole new set of issues and complications that Shane "tames" for you.
Chapter Five: Large Project Organization.
Shane talks about his experience working with large projects and sharing the workload. It is paramount that organization has to be taken here, or you're going up that creek we all know without that paddle. Shane talks about separating your sequences by Act or Reel, consolidating your separate sequences using copy and paste, and nesting your sequences for a much better workflow while keeping your project files on a the small side.
Chapter Six: SAN Organization.
There are some of you out here that don't have one of these. DON'T skip this chapter. The skills that Shane talks about can be used equally as well on your RAID.
You do have a RAID, don't you?
Shane talks about naming schemes here. Naming your projects in a fashion that everyone can read is another important organization skill. If you use names that only mean something to you, how is it that the other guy you are working with going to know what you are talking about? Don't use weird names, either. Use the KISS method (Keep It Simple, Stupid). Shane also goes into the process of organizing a reality show. Now, that's reality.
Chapter Seven: Organizing Audio with iTunes.
I know many of you are thinking you can't use iTunes with Final Cut Studio. Yes, you can, and Shane shows you how he uses it for his projects. I've used it for years on my projects and will do so until I stop editing. It's easy to use and it's FREE! Shane shows you how to use a temp music folder for those who need a professional soundtrack to be added later, importing from a CD, and converting files from mp3 to AIFF. And it's FREE!
Chapter Eight: Archiving your Project.
This is one chapter that everyone needs to watch. What do you do when you finish your project? Do you just leave it on your drive and hope for the best? I hope not! At least, for your sake.
Shane talks about the methods he uses for archiving, which we can all use. Last year, we got a SAN in our facility and archiving became a real necessity since storage is at a premium. What do we archive? Hopefully everything EXCEPT your field tapes or discs. (They can be recaptured very easily.)
Chapter Nine: Conclusion.
Shane concludes this DVD by showing us setting up his latest project, using the methods he has talked about on this DVD. BUT, at the beginning, Shane cuts in and shows us one more organizational skill that is really important. I'd tell you, but then you would have to buy the DVD.
In conclusion to this review
Shane Ross is a master of organizational skills. But then again, in his line of work, you'd better be organized. All of us can take a few things from this DVD.
Yes, I said all of us, even those of you who have been at it for years. All of us can improve our organization in some form of fashion.
Overall, I give this DVD, five out of five COWs. It's an excellent DVD for your library.
By the way, I would have said, "I give it two snaps and a circle" but I thought I might have gotten in trouble for copyright violation.
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