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Jerry Hofmann reviews the DV Companion for Final Cut Pro 3

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Jerry Hofmann reviews the DV Companion for Final Cut Pro 3



A Creative COW Product Review



Jerry Hofmann reviews DV Companion for Final Cut Pro 3
Jerry Hofmann
Jerry Hofmann
Bat-Mann Productions
Denver, Colorado USA

Article Focus:
One of CreativeCOW's Final Cut Pro™ forum leaders, Jerry Hofmann takes a look at the DV Companion, The Intelligent Assistant for Final Cut Pro 3. What it is, what's new if you're already experienced with the DV Companions and why it's a 'must have' if you're editing with Final Cut Pro 3.


I just received “DV Companion, The Intelligent Assistant for Final Cut Pro 3” today, and it’s aptly named INTELLIGENT ASSISTANT. Running on OS 9 and Classic presently, there will be a free upgrade to OS X when it’s ready. This means if you are running FCP 3 on OS 9 it’s all native, and you can still run FCP 3 on OS X, and have Philip Hodgetts’ help right there when you need it.

Unlike the earlier versions of Hodgetts’ venerable “over your shoulder” electronic helper, this one is its own application. In the past the product has been tied to the help system within FCP itself. When you typed in the FCP online help, next screen came apples stock stuff and the DV Companion’s help together. I don’t find that necessarily bad, because when it was tied to FCP’s online help, I looked at the Companion’s help first anyway.

It’s totally interactive. You see everything from text to QuickTime movies. HUNDREDS of them are packed on the CD; 2 3/4 HOURS of them in fact are included. They are a step- by-step show-me–how-to do-it bunch of movies. You see color stills too, all interlinked in a huge number of links between associated discussions, and you can quickly get a text version of the material just by clicking on the text version button.

Included in Intelligent Assistance’s help, is a nice set of freebee tryouts too from among the nicest stuff for FCP. A person would love any of them.

Make no mistake; in the field of interactive teaching for several Media applications, has no peer. The impressive products notably for Media 100 and BorisFX, and the industry standard After Effects, Intelligent Assistance just keep coming too.

You search a dynamically linked database of TONS of new media data on the subject of the operation of the software. Monomania. It’s cool.

Completely revised for Final Cut Pro 3.0

  • Improved Interface is now always ready

  • Every page and movie has been revised

  • Complete coverage of Scopes, Voiceover and Color Correction tools (the new stuff!)

  • OS 9 version always floats over Final Cut Pro so you can work along with every Technique and Task. Classic version included. (Classic version does not float). Not a problem really though, you can access it by simply clicking on it from your dock. I’ve a permanent shortcut there to the classic version for quick use in OS X.


So what is it? Take a look at the list of helps you get:

  • Now more 2.75 hrs of movies you work along with in Final Cut Pro. No swapping between applications - see it and read it, hear it, do it.

  • Over 200,000 words – equivalent to 2-3 regular books

  • New Chapter on Color Correction and Scopes. Learn the secrets of great pictures with Color Correction.

  • Transition previews

  • Filter and Effect previews. Every control of every effect filter provided with the application.

  • Dozens of Creative Ideas included.

  • Search results have a brief description

  • Intelligent Guide to solving Lost Sync

  • Intelligent Guide to Dropped Frames

  • Intelligent Guide to General Troubleshooting.

  • 70 pages of Jargon Busters. Supplies definitions of words unique to the field of New Media and Files, and a lot of related topics.

I have been using Final Cut Pro professionally for about 14 months now. I have always looked up what I needed to know, at the time that I needed to know it. I’m afraid, like many others, that reading the 1500+ pages of text in the user’s manuals that come with FCP, I keep falling asleep. So as I needed to learn something about the use of the application, I searched the index, and eventually found the answer to my question, or posted a question on the Internet at the COW and asked for help.

In the present set of books that come with FCP 3, there are no fewer than four different indexes. So it’s possible you may have to search all of them until you find the proper information. With DV Companion, you don’t have to do this. It’s there on your computer for a quick and efficient search when you need a quick and complete answer. You even get an enormous number of QuickTime movies to do a “follow along” sort of interaction with the Companion when you run on OS 9.

One of the features of FCP 3 is the new Histogram display contained in the new set of scopes. I’ve always been a video guy, and this measurement tool was a bit new for me. I typed in the word histogram, and up popped a choice between two techniques:



Well, already knowing a bit about analyzing video, I clicked on the one that went right to what I wanted to know, and up pops a full color window explaining the tool, and even had a technique geared toward teaching me what it could be used for:




Not only did I quickly get a complete and accurate explanation of what the tool is showing you, I also got a tip from Philip about HOW TO USE IT, and WHAT IT’S PURPOSE IS. All beautifully displayed in color. Add this to the explanation of the new suite of FCP 3’s color correction tools, and you’ve really learned something.


DV Companion for Final Cut Pro 3 is organized into three basic areas of instruction:

  • Strategies: Provide a sort of overview of the subject material

  • Techniques: Usually explain some sort of workflow.

  • Tasks: Lists a step-by-step instruction.

I’ve been reading Philip’s generous posts at the Creative Cow for quite some time now, and he has very aptly described the product, “Get what you want to know, when you want to know, how you want to know...”

DV Companion for Final Cut Pro 3 is simply easy to use, very concise, beautifully illustrated, and on top of that, just plain nifty. You can either use its search engine typing keywords or entire questions, or look through the logically organized index for the area of your query. The only thing better would be to have a Final Cut Pro guru sitting with you. In fact, Intelligent Assistance IS a Final Cut Pro guru sitting next to you, with literally hundreds of pages of text, hundreds of QuickTime movies, and always at the ready. Talk about a powerful tool.

Philip Hodgetts and Company has a technologically revolutionary tool for what it’s intended to do.

How often do you get to buy one of them for 99 bucks? The upgrade is only 29 bucks… The upgrade is a must have for sure.

A new feature of DV Companion for FCP 3 is the “Test Drive”. You can obtain the DV Companion CD from http://www.intelligentassistance.com/testdrive/ and demo up to 50 pages of the Companion. If you like the product you can purchase the unlocking code. What’s it hurt to try it?

A second 'Troubleshooting Guide', which is now a separate package, will be shipping soon. An exciting new architecture for it is in the works too.

In the thousands of posts I’ve read on the Internet about Final Cut pro and it’s satellite third party products, I’ve never heard anything negative about Intelligent Assistant products, nor any negative remarks about the company after the sale for that matter. Lots of happy users though.

My only gripe with the product, is that I can’t take it everywhere with me for quick lessons. It’s not a book. It’s tied to the computer. Mmmmmmm… Maybe it’s time for a PowerBook?

Learning for each of us is a different journey, and this one’s just right.




-- Jerry Hofmann




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