Thursday, May 26, 2011

Boston Final Cut Pro User Group meeting recap: 5/25/11

My coworker, Kevin, and I attended the Boston Final Cut Pro Users Group meeting on May 25th, so I figured I would post a quick recap for all of you.  The venue was Rule Boston Camera Rental, and as usual, Daniel Berube put together a fun and informative event.  The featured speakers were Philip Hodgetts speaking about the new Final Cut Pro X and Yan Shvalb speaking about some new features in Adobe After Effects CS5.5.  The evening ended with a few screenings of shorts made with DSLR cameras, and of course, a nice little raffle.

Crummy cell phone pic of Philip Hodgetts presenting at the 5/25 BOSFCPUG meeting

Philip Hodgetts was invited to talk about the new features in FCP X, but since Apple's released no new news since the SuperMeet at NAB in April, Philip made it very clear that he would be talking about features talked about at SuperMeet, educated guesses he has, and complete speculation.  He mentioned that he doesn't have a copy of the program to show, and even if he did, he would be bound by non-disclosure agreements from Apple.  Since I was lucky enough to attend SuperMeet in Vegas, and I've read many articles and blog posts about FCP X, I really thought he would just be rehashing news that I already knew, but that turned out to not be the case.  Philip's really examined all the FCP X news out there with a fine tooth comb, even going so far as transcribing the SuperMeet presentation and reviewing high def footage shot at SuperMeet to really explore every screenshot.  Philip's not only a video production pro, but he also is a software programmer, so he really likes speculating on the new programming architecture of FCP X.

Again, much of this is simply educated guesses from Philip, but here's a quick list of his points that I found interesting:
  • FCP X will work on any Intel based Mac.  He heard from a beta tester that he was having good luck using it on a Mac Book Air.
  • As you can see in this screenshot, there's an AJA KiPro listed using the H.264 codec, rather than the ProRes codec it actually records to.  I'm sure it was just a mock up screenshot released by Apple and was a simple typo, but still funny.
  • Even though many people are calling it iMovie Pro, FCP X doesn't share any code with iMovie.  iMovie is QuickTime based, and FCP X isn't.
  • FCP X is very metadata heavy.  It relies on source (camera created) metadata, as well as derived (user created or auto created by FCP features like face detection) metadata.  As you can see on his blog, Philip is very into metadata.
  • You will be able to disable the footage auto correction features at ingest (audio correction, color correction, etc.)
  • Rolling shutter correction will be included in the program
  • Using keywording features in FCP X is essentially like creating a subclip.  You will be able to tag a portion of your footage, creating a searchable subclip.
  • In the motion options for a clip, there's actually a button labeled "Ken Burns effect", to add zoom and pan motion to stills.  I guess that phrase is now a generally used term, like Kleenex.
  • Philip thinks FCP X will be easier to use than previous versions of FCP, unfortunately resulting in less work for his friends that are FCP trainers.
  • He heard (from an informed source) that there's still a way to create fixed audio tracks, so you can have set tracks for V.O, music, SFX, etc.  Handy for those that have to output to something like ProTools for a final mix.
  • Changing the speed of a clip will be much easier than in previous versions of FCP.  No more clumsy speed changing graph.
  • Philip did mention that some of his software programs that he's created will become obsolute because of new features in FCP X.
  • He believes that the new program will incorporate gesture support via an external touch pad.

Crummy cell phone pic of Yan Shvalb presenting at the 5/25 BOSFCPUG meeting

The second presenter of the evening was Yan Shvalb, telling us about some new features in Adobe After Effects CS5.5.  He started by showing us a great wedding video that he created for a couple that had a destination wedding in the Bahamas.  He shot the video using Canon 5D Mark II DSLR cameras.  It was a very nice looking piece.  Yan used a close up shot of the wedding rings on a twig to show us all AE's new Warp Stabilizer effect.  I won't rehash all the features on here, but I will say that it's very impressive.  Yan even used it to stabilize some shaky iPhone footage, and used the effect's rolling shutter correction to fix some iPhone jello.

Yan also showed us the new Camera Lens Blur effect in AE CS5.5.  Rather than simply blurring your image like other blur effects, Camera Lens Blur will create a more realistic looking blur, as if it was created by an out of focus camera lens.  Lights in your image will be blurred simulating the iris blades in a lens.  Yan also used a ramp matte to control the location of the Camera Lens Blur effect, and give his image some great, simulated depth of field.  You can animate that to give the effect of pulling focus.  Yan is a very creative and knowledgable guy, and I look forward to hearing him speak again in the future.

The next portion of the evening was three screenings of shorts shot using DSLR cameras.  The first screening was a trailer for The Visualmakers, which is a short film being produced and directed by Paul Antico.  This short film will look at the creative video professionals that have embraced DSLR cameras to shoot video.  It features interviews with many creative video pros, including Philip Bloom and Vincent Laforet, and was shot during the 2011 NAB convention in Vegas.  I look forward to seeing this film, which has a target release in July and will be free on Paul's Vimeo page

The next short was edited by Colin (sorry, didn't get his last name) and was a new video from The Super Secret Project.  This comedy group produces some pretty funny videos that go viral, and they're based out of Boston.  This screening was a Law & Order based music video that was very funny.  Keep an eye on their YouTube page for it.

The final screening was a pretty moving short from Rick Macomber titled One Day on Earth 10-10-10 Salem.  It was a great piece about a homeless man in Salem, Mass, that's dealing with overcoming alcoholism.  Rick shot it using his Canon T2i.

The evening ended as BOSFCPUG meetings usually do, with a nice raffle.  Unfortunately, I went home empty handed.  The large prizes were a copy of DiVinci Resolve, and a copy of Adobe Production Premium CS5.5.

Daniel mentioned that future BOSFCPUG meetings will feature Adobe and Avid presentations, and the July meeting will be dedicated to FCP X, which will have (hopefully) been released in June.  If you live in the Boston area and you're involved with video production, you should really attend the BOSFCPUG meetings.  Don't let the name scare you, there's plenty of Avid and Adobe users there too.  It's always an informative and inspiring evening.

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