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Transitioning: An Update on our search to replace FCP

COW Blogs : walter biscardi's Blog : Transitioning: An Update on our search to replace FCP
We’re one week into our search to transition our facility away from Apple and Final Cut Pro so I wanted to bring everyone up to date on where we stand so far. This was a very busy week as you can imagine with both production work in the shop and many MANY requests for myself to speak to national media outlets, podcasts and personal visits to our facility. So the testing will really ramp up this coming week.

Adobe Premiere Pro CS 5.5

This has been installed both on my home machine (27″ iMac) and our testing Mac Pro at the office which also includes the AJA Kona 3G board. Early testing shows that the workflow is remarkably similar to Final Cut Pro and in fact Adobe even includes preset keyboard remapping for Final Cut Pro 7.0 and Avid Media Composer. The new AJA 9.0.1 Plug-Ins for CS 5.5 are working very nicely and Premiere is talking to our SAN. So it’s essentially plug-and play to get going with the system.

Is it perfect? No and the Adobe reps I’ve been talking to have been very upfront about the good, the bad and ….. well nothing’s ugly so far so that’s a good thing. The most difficult part of the workflow is that Adobe might actually give us TOO many choices and settings.

For example, there is no direct equivalent to “Easy Setup” in Premiere so you do have to through several menus and settings to get your Project set up correctly. However, those Project Settings remain with the Project. So to create an “Easy Setup” you simply create multiple Project Templates with all the settings as you’d like them for various projects. So I create a “720p / 59.94 AJA Project” which has all the settings for a 720p / 59.94 project using the AJA Kona board for Capture and Playback. When I have to do a project using those parameters, I simply Duplicate the project and my entire system is set to work. That’s an elegant workaround and with the multiple workstations in our shop, I can create all the Template projects on one machine and share them with everyone else. By the way this was a great tip given by the book “An Editor’s Guide to Adobe Premiere Pro,” which you can find on various websites and even iTunes for download.

The most refreshing part of testing CS 5.5 is the openness and willingness of the Adobe team to admit that they still have things to be improved and they are listening to what editors have to say. I have heard stories of their development team literally watching the editors work through screen sharing to learn the “why” and “how” editors work in their daily sessions. That’s pretty neat.

Oh one last thing, Adobe Premiere Pro is cross platform so I have purchased one copy of Windows 7 Professional for installation in a new clean drive on our Test Mac Pro system. I want to see how this works out because this will open us up to working with freelancers and shops in town that might be Windows based, thus giving us an even larger pool of shops to work with. Much more testing to be done, but early testing has been great.

Avid Media Composer

Honestly don’t have a lot to report just yet as it is being installed on our testing Mac Pro at the facility. What we have done is to install a clean hard drive inside the machine, which we actually partitioned so we can install a clean copy of Snow Leopard on one side and the Windows 7 on the other side.

I wanted to ensure that we don’t create any issues by having Final Cut Pro, Adobe Premiere Pro CS 5.5 and Avid MC all installed on the same drive. Most folks I talked to said they always installed FCP and Avid on separate boot drives, so I followed that advice. This way if we have any issues or crashes I don’t have to wonder if anything is being caused by the other apps. So this will be installed by itself on the drive to ensure we are only testing that software, that workflow.

Of immediate concern to me is that there is no support just yet for the AJA Kona Board. Avid did hint at NAB that support is coming and a recent exchange on Twitter states that Avid is listening. So hopefully we will hear something official in the near future. Secondarily, I’m not sure how / if it will work with our Ethernet SAN. That will be even more crucial than the Kona testing. I’ve been told that Avid doesn’t like third party storage that much, so this will be a good test. The guys from Small Tree Communications happen to be coming to our shop next week so if we do have any issues, they are going to be right there to investigate.

I’m excited to be testing this out actually because this brings me full circle back to the very first NLE I learned back in 1993 / 1994 when Avid was introduced to CNN. And from my conversations with Avid at NAB 2011 and subsequent communication since, Avid is truly listening and responding to years of complaints about being a very closed and hard to work with company. As with Adobe, I’ve heard more from Avid reps since April than I ever heard from Apple in 11 years. More to report soon.

Autodesk Smoke 2012

Autodesk was kind enough to send us an evaluation copy of Smoke 2012 which is something I’ve always known about, really like the interface, but have never had the opportunity to put my hands on. It’s not installed anywhere yet as this will be the last software we’ll be testing. It’s a very new software to me to I want to spend time with Avid and Adobe first, then we’ll test Smoke. Not sure it will be the primary editor for us, but it could very well fit into a finishing role for some shows and series.

It does accept interchanges with both Adobe and Avid so I’m most interested in how well handles the myriad of codecs we get and does it like mixed timelines / mixed formats? We’ll find out soon, but I’m really REALLY excited to give this a test drive!

So that’s the basic update for the moment. On a personal note, I have to be very honest and say that the FCP X roll-out has actually made me re-think some of my overall support of Apple in general.

At a recent event (I think it was the WWDC) Apple reps said they’ve heard from many consumers that they would love to tablets to be their primary and sometimes sole computer device. Well how can that be if Apple has decreed that Flash will not be supported by the iOS devices? Sure it’s a “legacy” format and can cause “performance issues” with the tablets, but since Apple says it’s so, they don’t appear on the iOS devices and we simply accept that. With the iPhone, sure I don’t care because that’s primarily a phone, but if the iPad is supposed to be a “primary computer device,” I don’t think so.

I have visited hundreds of sites that incorporate Flash one way or another and it’s incredibly annoying when you can’t use the site, so I have to pull out one of our computers just to use that site. I hate Flash as much as Apple does, but that doesn’t mean I won’t visit a site that uses it. Try planning a cruise on your iPad, for example, and you’ll find that most major sites like use Flash to display their cabin layouts when you go to select a cabin. Sure the world will probably be going HTML 5 soon but how many years away are we from that? In the meantime it would be nice for the iOS devices to support Flash if I as the consumer who bought the product would like to use a Flash enabled site.

With Final Cut Pro X, Apple did the same thing with third party capture cards and tape formats. Because Tape and Capture Cards don’t fit with the “modern workflow” model Apple dropped all support for them natively inside the application. Without that support for tape formats, I cannot make a living in our workflow.

The same apparently applies to “legacy projects” too. As in “You will not be able to open old projects because we say so.” Apparently Final Cut Pro X is only for “Modern Projects” and cannot be sullied by “Old Projects.”

So I gotta say, while I was really looking forward to whenever the iPad 3 comes out, I’m starting to get very annoyed with “You Can’t Do That Because We Say So” and the “You Will Do It Our Way” attitudes from Apple.

That’s not really “Thinking Different,” that’s “Telling You How To Think.”

With Final Cut Pro X, that was Apple “Telling You How To Edit Video.”

Does any of this remind of you of a certain 1984 commercial from an upstart company? Only now that upstart is directing the minions…….

I’m gonna take a close look at that new Galaxy Tab from Samsung and other tablet options out there that don’t close off part of the internet experience just “because they can.” Also going to take a really close look at Windows 7 when it’s installed on that machine because I have some hard-core Mac fans who are telling me “it’s good.”

The debacle of FCP X has caused me to “lift the blinders” that kept me focused solely on Apple and Apple development. There’s a whole new world out there and I am now open to accept the possibilities no matter where that opportunity comes from.

Posted by: walter biscardi on Jul 3, 2011 at 12:43:01 pm Adobe Premiere, Apple

Professional Video Editor, Producer, Creative Director, Director since 1990.

Credits include multiple Emmys, Tellys, Aurora and CableAce Awards.

Creative Director for Georgia-Pacific and GP Studios, Atlanta. Former Owner / Operator of Biscardi Creative Media. The show you knew us best for was "Good Eats" on the Food Network. I developed the HD Post workflow and we also created all the animations for the series.

Favorite pastime is cooking with pizza on the grill one of my specialties. Each Christmas Eve we serve the Feast of the Seven Fishes, a traditional Italian seafood meal with approx. 30 items on the menu.

If I wasn't in video production I would either own a restaurant or a movie theater.



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