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Walter Murch on Final Cut Pro X: 'I Can't Use This.' What Should Students Learn?

10.31.11 @ 12:29PM Tags : , , , ,

I know, I know, Final Cut Pro X has been slammed by many, so what’s the point in posting yet another article about it? Well, one question I’ve been asked a lot since the release of FCP X is, “I’m a student, what NLE should I learn?” Before, the answer was easy: Final Cut Pro. Now, not so much. Should a student commit to FCP X, assuming it will become the future standard despite being woefully incomplete at present, or should they learn Adobe or Avid, assuming Apple’s role in the professional, wage-earning editing world as we know it is over? It’s a tough question, and I’m curious to hear your thoughts in the comments. In the meantime, here’s famed editor Walter Murch (The Conversation, Apocalypse Now, The Godfather II, and The English Patient among many others) talking about the X at the Boston Supermeet:

I know people who know people on the FCP X development team, and I’ve heard they were dismayed at the response. Real people work on these products and it can’t feel good to have the entire internet bash years of your hard work. So, now that you’ve heard Murch’s thoughts — and even he’s not sure what to think — what do you think students should learn if they’re starting from scratch today? Keep in mind Adobe’s Mac editor is up 45% since FCP X, and that FCPX recently added XML interchange, though it still doesn’t offer an official solution for backward compatibility.

More details on Much’s appearance at Chris Portal’s blog, including the tidbit that his edit for the upcoming ARRI ALEXA-shot Hemingway & Gellhorn includes 255 repositioned or blown-up shots (a practice many consider “unprofessional” in its own right). The times, they are a-changin’.

[via Filmmaker Magazine]

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  3. Final Cut Pro X: How We Got Here (and Where It's Going) in an Entertaining Hour


We’re all here for the same reason: to better ourselves as writers, directors, cinematographers, producers, photographers... whatever our creative pursuit. Criticism is valuable as long as it is constructive, but personal attacks are grounds for deletion; you don't have to agree with us to learn something. We’re all here to help each other, so thank you for adding to the conversation!

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  • I rather like FCPX and so does everyone else in the office (about 30 editors working with a lot of stunt footage and CGI). But that said, we got it over the summer knowing that it was very different than FCS3 and with zero intention of doing anything more than perhaps cutting a couple of trailers or BTS stuff on it for the next year. This is our learning time and Apple’s real world debugging time.

    Back in April we already knew that we might need 10 more seats for an upcoming project and since we had the money we spent it. So we are good on FCS3 for the meantime.

    Others we know hate FCPX and switched. Whatever. in the end it’s not what you use but what you create that really matters. So if you can do the job in Avid etc, go for it.

  • Trying to figure out which application will garner the most job prospects is really tough. What is marketable today might not be so in the future. FCP had a 10-year prime, but who knows what app will have its prime. Students do not have it good right now. A lot of you suggest learning all three, and maybe throw in Vegas too. Ultimately I find that a person who knows or claims to know several high-end applications isn’t very good at any of them beyond the basics. It’s a watered down approach to editing. Take a chance and become immersed in one? Yeah, risks and predictions could make you poor or rich, and a lot of students might not be ready to work for a few years, and they’ll need a reel to show their application-specific skills.

    Also, given the filmmaking industry is in turmoil, it might not matter what anybody knows if there are no films to edit. With students graduating with debts as high as $120k, that’s something else to ponder. Will there be jobs available? Probably not. There will be fierce competition for few gigs. Veteran editors will retire and not be replaced.

    For students: 1) What software? and 2) Should you even pursue this discipline? Good luck!

  • I think the last thing any student should be worried about is which particular editing program to “master” in college. Learn as many as you can get your hands on. You are only limited by your access to software and at $300, FCP X is very accessible. But also sit down in front of Avid, Premiere and Vegas if you get the chance. Remember, these are just tools and film school is about learning technique (or at least it used to be). You will have plenty of time AFTER college to perfect your skills with your tool of choice. Be ready to tackle whatever platform becomes the industry standard for the NEXT decade.

    When Walter Murch was learning editing there was only one choice: cutting on film! When I was in film school we had 2 choices: cut on film or linear edit with 3/4″ tape. (Mostly it was tape, because the old film gear kept breaking and the University refused to replace it.) Even though Walter Murch and I don’t edit the same type of media, we do have one thing in common. We both have made our living the past 10 years with a tool that DIDN”T EVEN EXIST when we were college aged. But we are both still working.

    If you choose to go to a film school, go to learn TECHNIQUE, not tools. And there is no better time in your life than college to learn and develop editing technique. Take advantage of it.

  • FCPX is the worst tool for students to learn on. It just hides the complexities behind tools that make decisions for you and hide information about where everything really is.

  • I really don’t like FCPX, but i’m willing to give it a shot in a few more months.

    I am a student, and a guy who helped develop FCX came and “pitched” it to the higher ups of the college. I sat in on the meeting, but didn’t really learn anything new. 64 bit, magnetic timeline, etc..

    But even the guy said its not about what program you use it’s actually HAVING the ability TO edit!

    That said, I REALLY like Premiere CS6 and am bit saddened that the school decided to go ahead and upgrade to FCX

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