My Final Days with Final Cut Pro X

After returning from Los Angeles, I got back to the work of finishing The Worst of the Worst. Our premiere at Yale is scheduled for December 11th, so we’re hustling to get the film wrapped up. Our colorist Ayumi Ashley came through with really solid work and the film looks great – even fixing up the two interviews that I shot which look much worse than the other interviews. Managed to even bring one of our interviews into sharper focus.

Right now I’m wrestling with our post sound in Final Cut Pro X. Specifically the outputting process. In their infinite wisdom, Apple decided to no longer include the option of exporting your audio to an AAF file – an option available in the previous version, FCP 7. Which continues to communicate to myself and probably others that Apple’s FCP series is no longer a professional editing product. AAF files are standard workflow from an editor to Pro Tools. In our Avid (which, of course, owns Pro Tools), exporting an AAF is insanely simple – just a couple of clicks and minutes later you have an AAF file that opens in Pro Tools for sound mixing.

The solution in FCP X world is to buy a third-party program for about $150 – X2Pro. Fortunately for us Yale’s Digital Media Center for the Arts has it on their computers so I went over to join the esteemed Lee Faulkner in trying to export our audio project last week – which involves actually exporting an XML file which then is imported by X2Pro, which then creates the AAF. This would be all well and good if it worked but of course, after I sent the project to our sound editor Sanjeev Brar, things came out all wacky. This is the problem with not having functionality natively within a program – troubleshooting becomes a full time job and quickly devolves into a nightmare. It’s probably obvious to anyone who has, you know, used a computer that when you need to rely on two programs for one task will likely double the chances of something going wrong.

Which is where I am now. I spent much of Monday trying to figure out the problem with Lee. We’re upgrading FCP X to 10.0.6 and X2Pro and maybe that’ll work, but I would be very surprised. I’ll try to be optimistic.

Through a strange twist of fate, however, I was actually able to talk, face to face, with two Apple engineers who work on FCP. They came to Yale to see what’s the problem and how they can make the program better for users. I was able to air my list of grievances to this two pleasant fellows who, through no fault of their own I hope, are tasked with polishing a turd – as they say in the film business. I explained our workflow at the Visual Law Project, the footage, and then all the problems – which they were familiar with because Lee had told them about it when I complained to him back in March or April. The gist of it was I explained to them that Final Cut Pro X made me not happy to edit. It was un-enjoyable to go in and edit – something I generally really love doing.

And they are aware that VLP will no longer be using FCP and switching to Adobe Premiere. I’m guessing Apple has been hearing a lot of this sort of thing and they’re trying to make things better when they update again. I can’t wait to be rid of it.  But it’s nice they at least heard me out and I wasn’t just sending nasty notes to an anonymous computer each time FCP crashed. They admitted that our process wasn’t the cause of the problem – it was the application that let us down. That, some how, made me feel better actually.

In other news, I’m still in a holding pattern for the NBC Directing Fellowship. Hopefully I’ll find out after Thanksgiving where I end up.

Also, we’re in the works on a screening of American Made and the Oak Creek short in Oak Creek and in Racine, Wisconsin in December.

I discovered that the new batch of American Made DVDs are defective and I’m trying to get a new shipment before that screening. That sort of stinks but hopefully that too will be resolved soon.

And lastly, I’m getting going on this pilot I’m co-writing. Can’t say too much more about it until it’s further along but it’s good to have some time to devote to that. Counting down the days until I don’t ever have to touch FCP X again.

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