Not quite sure about online training yet? Last week, I taught a certified FCP X class. That may not sound special, but this class was taught live online and to students in a virtual classroom that spanned the globe. From Australia (Hi Peter!) to Brasil (Hey Marcelo), from New York (Yo, Janelle) to Minnesota (Hi Craig), students came to our classroom “in the clouds” to learn FCP X. And we all learned something else in the process. You can't keep a good class down! Students on all sides of the world voted unanimously that it was an effective group training experience on FCP X - even without four walls.
Inside our Hi Def online learning portal, students tuned into my LIVE presentation and also opened our Chat window. With my book by their side, and book media loaded on their own computers, they watched me teach FCP X live in our streaming portal, and entered specific questions in the Chat window. Sometimes, my proctor would answer their questions and sometimes I would take them and share them with the rest of the class members. Those who couldn’t make each live session were able to review the archive movies to catch up. Students learned a ton and were able to put their knowledge to immediate use on their own projects. And along the way we all had fun!
Here is what some of my students had to say about the Rev Up FCP X class they took last week:
"Thank you, Diana, for this massive amount of information delivered to us in a great, relaxed and fun fashion." Tom T
“I've done online training before, and yours was by far the best educationally and technically. It was like being in a classroom. It's actually better, because you can also chat with other attendees and share knowledge, without disturbing anyone. Can't do that in class, and those chats were a valuable part of the training... No one does training like Diana and her group at Rev Up Transmedia. When it comes to my livelihood, I need the best training I can get. Thanks Diana, for helping me stay ahead of the curve! I can't wait for the advanced training class! I would take any class you offered for FCPX in this format, especially with the capability to view the archives if you have to miss a day or two. You're Diana...Can't get much better than that! You kept it moving, entertaining, informative, and I loved the Foley!" Craig L
“Thank you again for yet another informative day of learning FCP X, I'm actually sad the 5-day session is over. Although I've been using X for some time now, I really think the use of your book and interactive class in tandem helped me understand the interface of FCP X and ability to create a much faster workflow. I would advise anyone who uses Final Cut Pro X to take advantage of any future classes you may offer. I felt my questions were answered in a timely matter and the interaction with others in the class allowed a different perspective on how to approach other options I was not aware of. I felt a connection to the students and your positive energy, it was enjoyable, entertaining, lots of information in a short period of time... well worth the money spent! Keep me posted on your next one cuz I'm in!!!" Janelle B
“This really answered a lot of questions, and while I already had both 1st and 2nd editions of your book, the interaction was priceless. I'm no longer confused by the FUD that's being spread and know that I'll be using FCP X and siblings for a long time to come. Being able to chat without interrupting the class flow really adds to the experience. And, I didn't have to deal with TSA to take the class.” Tim J
Has this ever happened to you? You listen to some music and before you know it you’ve got a tune stuck in your head that you can’t get rid of? Feels like an ongoing loop you can’t escape? That happens to all of us. But what do you do about it? Several years I ago, I found a solution. The solution, as is often the case, appeared first as the problem itself. Here’s what happened.
I saw the musical, Cabaret, several years ago. There’s a song that Joel Grey sings called “Two Ladies.” Not sure exactly how you spell the opening lines but in my ear it sounds like this - imagine a German accent:
Beedelee deet de dee – two ladies
Beedelee deet de dee – two ladies
Beedelee deet de dee – and I’m ze only mahn, yah
Nothing against the writers, John Kander and Fred Ebb, but as lyrics go, on paper those lines don’t amount to all that much. Set to the music they created, however, the tune had a worm-like effect in the way it would burrow itself into my inner ear. I felt helpless in driving it out on my own terms. So I had to let it just drizzle it’s way out.
Then one day, another tune got trapped in my head. Could not get it out! But I remembered “Two Ladies.” And I started to sing it! I sang the entire song, or as much as I could remember. And guess what? “Two Ladies” won and it ended up being the song I couldn’t release. But I realized that I was effective in at least shifting the focus of my obsession.
So… the next time a different tune got stuck in my head, I pulled out trusty old “Two Ladies” but this time I sang only the first two lines.
Beedelee deet de dee – two ladies
Beedelee deet de dee – two ladies
Then I stopped. I would not let myself go further. And that’s what did it! My mind went into a whirlwind.
It didn’t know what to do. It didn’t get enough of “Two Ladies” to move in that direction. But it had gotten enough to pull it away from the song I had been repeating. Success!!! My plan worked! So try it and let me know if it works for you, too! (I’ve got a remedy for hiccups, too!)
But what does all this have to do with storytelling? Well, I had to finally ask myself, ‘What was it about that song that made it so easy to stick in my mind’s eye or ear?’ The same thing has happened to me with a scene from a film, a TV show, or piece of art in a museum. What is it about the images and sounds that make it stay with us?
In songs, we call that a hook. Hooks worm their way into your mind. That’s part of what makes a hit song successful. But films also have hooks – but we call them climactic moments, or poignant moments, and they stay with us, too. I can replay Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman in the closing scene from “Casablanca” without having to turn on my DVD or TV. Same with the send-off scene from “Independence Day” or even “Life of Pi.”
When we appreciate something like a section in a song or scene from a movie, that’s great. But if that’s as far as we go, it’s like keeping that piece of art at arm’s distance, as though it were a guest in your house while it occupies your mind for that period of time.
But there’s another option. And that’s to invite it in and make friends with it. Get to know it. Offer it a glass of wine. Talk to it. Have fun with it. Find out what it is about it that makes you personally want to keep it around for a while. Is it the lighting? The script? The camera move or the way the scene was edited? Is it the rise in the chorus? Or the way the bridge balances the song? The way it makes you feel? Or the memories it evokes? Once you figure out what particular aspect or component you appreciate, you as an artist can incorporate that sensibility into your own creations. But first, you have to create a level of intimacy with it, as you would a close friend.
So next time something gets stuck in your head, you know how to get it out – by singing the first lines of “Two Ladies” from Cabaret. But before you do, take a closer look at why it got stuck in the first place, and put those observations in your tool belt.
Part 2 - Searching for Clips
One of the most tedious tasks in an editor's career is looking for that elusive clip you know you've imported but just can't find in all your media. Let's say you did not create Keyword Collections on import. And perhaps you didn't create a Keyword Collection for all the clips about making coffee. No worries. You can utilize the very robust search function and Filter window to search for the clip you need.
In the Event Browser search field, simply enter "coffee" and press Return. All the clips with that word in their name will appear in the Event Browser. If you want to make a Keyword Collection to organize these clips, create a "Coffee" Keyword Collection by adding that keyword to this group of clips. Use the steps from the previous blog if you need help.
And don't forget how powerful the Filter window is. To access the Filter window, click the Filter button (magnifying glass) in the search field.
In the Filter window, you can search for clips without the word Coffee in the name by clicking the Filter popup and choosing "Does Not Include" from the menu. All clips without the word Coffee in the name will appear. Now you can create a Keyword Collection for that set of words as well.
If you want your search to involve additional criteria, click the Add Rule (plus sign) popup to add a rule that will define the criteria you want to include.
With all of this criteria to search for clips, you'll be able to find anything you're looking for. And by adding different rules, you can narrow your search to a very precise set of criteria. When you do that, consider creating a Smart Collection simply by clicking the New Smart Collection button in the Filter window.
If you're ready to move on to editing, don't forget to download the Lesson 4: Building A Rough Cut from my new book on Final Cut Pro X.
In the new version of my Final Cut Pro X book (published by Peachpit Press and being released this week – yay!), I dedicate Lesson 3 to metadata. Metadata can supercharge your entire editing session. I know what you’re thinking. ‘I’m an editor, a visual person. I don’t want to make a lot of textual notes.’ But metadata doesn’t have to be text notes. And by adding metadata to the clips in your project, you can start telling your story before you make a single edit in your project. So just what is metadata?
The widely accepted definition of metadata is data about data. Or because meta is Greek for beyond, it could be defined as data beyond data. In Final Cut Pro X, there will be times when the app itself knows things about a clip, and other times when you will want to go beyond what Final Cut Pro knows and add your own info or data about a clip. The first place to begin is to recognize some of the primary ways Final Cut Pro uses metadata to organize clips.
In the image above, you see purple boxes with white stars. These icons are Events. There are four sets of footage used in the Final Cut Pro X book, and each set of footage is contained within its own event. When you want to organize footage for a project, create an Event for that set of footage and place all media files associated with that project into that Event.
As you import footage, you can ask Final Cut Pro to look at original folder names that contained the clips you’re importing, and add that folder name as a key word to the clips. Clips with the same keyword are placed in a Keyword Collection. Each Keyword Collection is represented by a blue icon with a key on it, such as the B-Roll and Interviews Keyword Collections below. These Keyword Collections were created automatically during import.
You can also create Keyword Collections based on any key word you choose. For example, in the “Delicious Peace” project, there are several shots of the process of growing coffee. By giving a clip the keyword - Coffee, a new Keyword Collection is created and all clips that are given that keyword are automatically placed in that collection. So when it comes time for you to edit a montage of the coffee-making process, if you’ve applied a Coffee keyword to the clips about coffee, all you have to do is look in that collection for footage to cut the montage. Pretty cool and quite a time saver!
After you apply a keyword, such as Coffee, to a clip, that clip will display a blue horizontal line in the Event Browser as you screen it. If the Info Flag is turned on (View > Show Skimmer Info [Control-Y]), you can see all of the keywords associated with that clip as you skim through it. In the image below, the clip titled JJ beans wide has 3 keywords: Coffee, JJ, and Sorting.
In the Event Library, those Keyword Collections appear within the “Delicious Peace” Event like this:
When you take the time to think about your project, you might come up with several keywords that would help you organize your footage according to topics in your story, which would enable you to retrieve those clips when you need them more quickly. For example, in the "Delicious Peace" project, you might fill in some of the keyword shortcut slots in the Keyword Editor with topics you anticipate needing, such as:
Use the shortcut (Command-K) to open the Keyword Editor and then enter a keyword that pertains to your project in each slot. You can then apply keywords to the clips in your project using the shortcut for each keyword slot, such as Control-1, Control-2, and so on. I think you’ll find that once you start thinking about the topics in your project before you begin editing, it will make the editing process itself much more efficient.
I’m just putting the finishing touches on my new FCP X book, revised for the latest 10.0.7 software. You’ll definitely want this book – it’s full of great new tips and exercises that showcase this new software version! The book will soon be off to the printers (it will also be available as an ebook), so over the next few weeks – until it’s on the shelf – I’m going to reflect on some of my favorite parts of the book.
One of my favorite things is how easy it is to do a media mash-up in FCP X. What’s a media mashup? Well, you know what a music mashup is. If you don’t, here’s Wikipedia’s definition:
A mashup or bootleg (also mesh, mash up, mash-up, blend, and bastard pop/rock) is a song or composition created by blending two or
more pre-recorded songs, usually by overlaying the vocal track of one song seamlessly over the instrumental track of another.
So what does that have to do with video? Well, FCP X makes it easy to import just about any type of media to edit your project. And using the Media Browsers in FCP X, you have immediate access to all your still images in iPhoto or Aperture, your songs in iTunes, and don’t forget there’s a ton of sound and video effects you can draw from to enhance your project.
By combining different media elements together, you can create a unique expression in your project – something no one would see in other projects. And don’t forget, when you combine still images with video, in just a few short steps you can apply a Ken Burns pan and scan effect to create some movement on those still images.
So be brave – open those Media Browsers in FCP X and go find some little jewels that might spice up your next project. Something that will be your very own unique media mashup!