|Tom Wolsky's Final Cut Pro 2 Editing Workshop is a new release from CMP Books, and is a winner. Everyone has a different way of learning software applications but all of us learn faster by doing. This book/CD combination makes it easy and fun to learn the depths of a very sophisticated piece of software.
Tom's logical layout of a step-by-step tutorial is a natural for beginners and intermediate level users of Final Cut Pro 2. Tom is clearly a master user of FCP and freely gives sage advice taken from his many years of professional experience. One of the many things I like about Tom's approach to the subject is the addition of not only how to use each of the tools that you have at your disposal in the software, but WHY. That's right, not just what they do, but WHEN to use them as well as HOW.
So many software instructionals tell you what a function does but give little, if any, real-life uses of the tools. Time after time during the course of the book, we are given examples of esthetics as well as step-by-step instructions of how to achieve desired results -- and how they might be used in another scenario. Outstanding.
Along with the text, you are given a CD on which all of the course's media assets are stored, as well as timelines, project files, filters and effects used -- and some freebie goodies such as Boris' Keyframer program and more. As you progress through the nearly 500 pages, there are step-by-step written instructions along with screen grabs to keep you on the right track. Anyone who can read, and has the desire to learn the software WILL learn the software. You learn by doing, and in incremental steps that make it all understandable. Each lesson builds on earlier lessons and you WILL learn by doing and reading using this resource. Isn't that the point? This book will teaches you not only how to run the software but when to use effects, edits, transitions -- in a context that makes it all easier -- and you will no doubt create more esthetically effective edits as well.
Final Cut Pro 2 Editing Workshop delivers. There is no doubt that a novice could pick up this book and -- after doing all of the lessons -- learn everything you need to produce a professional level program for delivery in any format. It's full of tidbits of information like: How to use all of the logging functions (and how they will help you make better edit decisions), filters (and how they will tell the story with more punch), transitions, encode for CD, DVD, Web delivery, and on and on and on... producing and editing for optimal compression anyone? How about using the FX Builder and create your own effects? It's all supplied by Tom's book.
This book is a bargain when you consider the cost of professionally led classes that in a matter of a day or two could never teach you everything this tutorial will. If you have a question for Tom, he's very present on the COW's FCP forum. I don't think you will need help from him once you start your lessons because they are understandable, fun and informative. "Complete" comes to mind here. Tom even plumbs the depths of the compositing modes.
I teach FCP part-time at a local university and will no doubt assign this book as the text for my next session of classes. Whatever level of user you may be, there's something for you in this book -- including the YAK!!!! I didn't know about the yak, and a host of other not so apparent functions, but now thanks to Tom, I do.
In my opinion, the absolute best way to learn FCP is in a classroom. The next best way is Tom's book with Philip Hodgetts' DV Companion for FCP.
-- Jerry Hofmann