FCPX diary 3

The third instalment of the FCPX Man Diary catches up with our FCPX newbie as he starts a series of tutorials whilst at 30,000 feet. A smooth ride or does he encounter turbulence?


City of Angels and Demons

There is a scene in the BBC comedy series Blackadder where the eponymous hero has a duel with the Duke of Wellington using mini canons placed about 10 feet apart. While the Duke very efficiently goes about loading, priming and elevating his weapon, Blackadder is reading the introduction to the instruction manual which says ‘"Congratulations on choosing the Armstrong Whitworth four pounder cannonnette. Please read the instructions carefully and it should give years of trouble free maiming." Not surprisingly the rubber-faced butler loses the duel.

On a flight to Los Angeles and thence onto London, I know that I am passing  30,000 feet above thousands of latter day Dukes of Wellington, already enjoying a bit of trouble-free maiming with their Final Cut Pro X edit systems. Having failed to inflict so much as a scratch when I tried to operate X without any prior knowledge I am having to get some instruction from a series of video tutorials provided by a colleague.

Instinct tells me to avoid the “Congratulations on choosing…” opener but I am determined to do this properly.

Always follow your instinct. The drinks trolley has arrived just in time to prevent me leaping to my feet and throwing either myself or my MBP out of the plane. I need a rum & coke to remove the sound of that very earnest man’s disembodied voice from my clogged brain. Still, some key knowledge from his instructions has seeped into that valuable organ. Within half a dozen lessons I have discovered why my first efforts to import and edit ended in defeat on the scale of Napoleon’s retreat from Moscow (Star Wars last time, early 19th century European history this week !).

FCPX diary 3 los Angeles

It seems to me that the import and organization of material seems slightly more complicated/involved/onerous with X than with 7. That may just be a misconception based on lack of familiarity, but in a way I don’t mind. Over the past few years I have increasingly felt that from a production perspective people have become lazy, feeling it is okay to simply import reams of footage and turn up in an edit with very little organized. There is probably the option to do this with X, but I am hoping that the import process encourages the use of key words and sensible folder structures. (Or no folders! -Editor)

Much has been made of the ability to suck different codecs in and get on with editing but for the most part that is a facility I don’t need. My edits are usually relatively relaxed and I enjoy drinking tea and pretending I am working while Log & Transfer is on the go. But who knows, perhaps the ability of X to get cracking straight away will be useful. I do often shoot separate audio so the ability of X to sync that without me playing around with clapperboards will be useful.

I like the concept of an in-edit database of material: I have a job in a few months time where we will need quick turnaround of in-the-field logged material and am already wondering if there is some logging software for iPad that can be married up to the import process. It would be great to have a production assistant logging next to the camera and be able to pull in that data with the material. Anyway, I digress.

The slight problem with my method of learning is that in a cramped economy seat there’s not much room to whip out a keyboard and drive, and start playing with X in tandem with listening to the lessons, but I hope some of the information is sticking. Also, I only have a few hours left to LA and need some shut-eye. Onwards and upwards.

Falling asleep on an aeroplane is a strange experience and seems to induce very realistic dreams. Let me tell you about mine. I dreamed that I woke up, got off the plane, queued for an hour at immigration with no toilet facilities, was fingerprinted on both hands and photographed by a joyless lady in a blue uniform, was then allowed to walk out of the terminal, go up a flight of stairs, queue for another 40 minutes at security, remove my shoes, belt, kidneys and spleen, get back on the same plane, in the same seat and continue my journey. What a surreal dream, yet here I am back in seat 42c and wide awake.

A few more video lessons and I am beginning to get more of a general understanding of the system. What I am finding immensely irritating is the seemingly pointless re-naming of everything. Quite why a sequence could not remain a sequence, a project a project etc is baffling. It feels as if some geeks have simply decided to do it for the hell of it. Part of me knows that this should be a simple mental switch to flick but it isn’t. The architecture of the file system seems at first glance to be little different to what I was using on FCP7 but maybe it isn’t and maybe the seemingly arbitrary name changes that are disorientating me will prove to have some point.

My guru had told me to forget everything I knew about 7 and approach with an open mind, but for a middle aged chap such as myself it’s a bit like trying to read those damned canon instructions in Mandarin. For now I will persevere with the instructions and the theory. I am even writing notes. When I reach London, get out of this damned seat and find a bit of room for my shiny new keyboard, the real duel will begin.



Written by
Top BloggerThought Leader

I am the Editor-in-Chief of FCP.co and have run the website since its inception ten years ago.

I have also worked as a broadcast and corporate editor for over 30 years, starting on one inch tape, working through many formats, right up to today's NLEs.

Under the name Idustrial Revolution, I have written and sold plugins for Final Cut Pro for 13 years.

I was made a Freeman of Lichfield through The Worshipful Company of Smiths (established 1601). Though I haven't yet tried to herd a flock of sheep through the city centre!

Current Editing

great house giveaway 2020

2020 has been busy, the beginning of the year was finishing off a new property series (cut on FCP) for Channel 4 called The Great House Giveaway. I also designed and built the majority of the graphics as Motion templates. It has been a great success and the shows grabbed more viewers in the 4pm weekday slot than any previous strand. It has been recommissioned by C4 for 60 episodes, including prime-time versions and five themed programmes. The shows have also been nominated for a 2021 BAFTA.

Tour de france 2020
Although both were postponed to later in the year, I worked again on ITV's coverage of the Tour de France and La Vuelta. 2020 was my 25th year of editing the TdF and my 20th year as lead editor. The Tour was the first broadcast show to adopt FCPX working for multiple editors on shared storage.


BBC snooker the crucible

BBC's Snooker has played a big part in my life, I've been editing tournament coverage since 1997. I'm proud to be part of a very creative team that has pioneered many new ideas and workflows that are now industry standard in sports' production. This is currently an Adobe Premiere edit.

amazon kindle BF

Covid cancelled some of the regular corporate events that I edit such as trade shows & events. I was lucky however to edit, from home, on projects for Amazon Kindle, Amazon Black Friday, Mastercard and very proud to have helped local charitable trust Kendall & Wall secure lottery funding.

As for software, my weapon of choice is Final Cut Pro and Motion, but I also have a good knowledge and broadcast credits with Adobe Premiere Pro, MOGRT design and Photoshop.

Plugin Design & Development

I'm the creative force behind Idustrial Revolution, one of the oldest Final Cut Pro plugin developers. It hosts a range of commercial and free plugins on the site. One free plugin was downloaded over a thousand times within 24 hours of release.

I also take on custom work, whether it is adapting an existing plugin for a special use or designing new plugins for clients from scratch. Having a good knowledge of editing allows me to build-in flexibility and more importantly, usability.


Now in its 10th year and 4th redesign, running FCP.co has given me knowledge on how to run a large CMS- you are currently reading my bio from the database! Although it sounds corny, I am pretty well up on social media trends & techniques, especially in the video sector. The recent Covid restrictions has enabled live FCP.co shows online. This involves managing a Zoom Webinar through Restream.io to YouTube and Facebook. 

The Future

I'm always open to new ideas and opportunities, so please get in touch at editor (at) fcp.co. I've judged film competitions, presented workflow techniques to international audiences and come up with ideas for TV shows and software programs!


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