How Could Documentary Cinema Change for the Better?

How Could Documentary Cinema Change for the Better?

I’ve been sitting on this article for a while, waiting for a gap in the Final Cut Pro X “noise” to post it.

Yes, it is true that we’ve just had one of the best years for documentary ever. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t also more negative issues for the mode than ever before. The thing is, there are so many kinds of non-fiction films and so many kinds of doc enthusiasts that we all have very different answers for the following question: what one thing could change for the better for documentaries?

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It’s hard to say goodbye

Josh Mellicker of posted on Facebook today that it was the 12th anniversary of the release of their first Final Cut Pro training product. Congratulations are in order. It also set me off thinking back.

The first inkling I had was at NAB – my first – in 1998. I had been aware of the Media 100/Apple QuickTime/KeyGrip announcement of a year earlier, of which only the QuickTime team had delivered their part: a cross platform fully featured QuickTime authoring environment. KeyGrip was to be the software that powered Media 100’s Windows efforts, as well as having a Mac version.

As soon as I saw Final Cut Pro, I knew my days as a Media 100 enthusiast would soon be over! It was the tool to grow into and I knew from that first view that it would be a hit.

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Why I think I was wrong about an XML Project format for Final Cut Pro X

When I summarized What I thought I knew about Final Cut Pro X, one item was that the Project format would change from being a Binary format to an XML-based format. Then I got a couple more data points that have led me to rethink that.

The primary data point happened last night when rewatching the Sneak Peek on YouTube and heard Peter Steinauer (Architect of Final Cut Pro) say about Smart Collections:

“The collection is based on Queries”

Queries mean databases in my mind.

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Why Google Should Buy The Record Industry

Why Google Should Buy The Recording Industry

Since the music industry seems to want to stifle every innovation, why wouldn’t Google, or Amazon, or Apple, just simply buy them!  I’ve explored this idea before focused on visual content but it makes perfect sense here.

Another article I read today pointed out that the old industries – Record Labels, Studios, Networks – see themselves as gatekeepers so their immediate response is to say “no” until they can have ultimate control. Instead they should be seeing themselves as the enablers of any service that makes money for them, and more importantly, for the artists they represent. (Yeh, right!)

The fact that this is literally true tells us something that is often overlooked: the music industry is economically quite small and unimportant compared to the computer industry. And yet somehow — through honed lobbying and old boy networks — it wields a disproportionate power that enables it to block innovative ideas that the online world wants to try.

Why not fight the cartel with another cartel?

But that throwaway comment also raises another interesting idea: how about if Google *did* buy the music industry? That would solve its licensing problems at a stroke. Of course, the anti-trust authorities around the world would definitely have something to say about this, so it might be necessary to tweak the idea a little. 
How about if a consortium of leading Internet companies — Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, Baidu, Amazon etc. — jointly bought the entire music industry, and promised to license its content to anyone on a non-discriminatory basis?

However, as Chris Adamson said in response to my Twitter post of this link:

Hard to imagine a Google or Apple takeover of the music industry passing antitrust review, though.

And that’s a very fair point.

Why the Pro Apps – particularly Final Cut Pro X – are important to Apple

As part of the Sneak Peek of Final Cut Pro X at the NAB 2011 Supermeet, Apple updated their user stats to 2 million customs (with 94% satisfaction).

Now, my understanding is (with help from Oliver Peters) that this number includes Final Cut Express and the early individual sales of DVD Studio Pro and Motion. Some customers will be included having paid only $199, while others will have paid the $995 purchase price and one or more upgrades. For a customer who purchased FCP 1 for $995 and paid for every upgrade, then that customer has invested, over the 12 years since NAB 1999, around $3750.

But balance that with those who bought educational pricing, and other discounted opportunities plus those low priced buy-ins and I’ll assign an average income per user of $1000.  I think that’s conservative but the data to make a more accurate assessment isn’t available to me. (If you have it philip @ without the spaces.) Besides, it makes the numbers easy to work with.

So, 2 million customers with an average revenue per customer of $1000 (over 12 years) and that gives a gross revenue of $2 billion dollars or roughly $168 million in revenue per year.

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Preparing for Final Cut Pro X

Preparing for Final Cut Pro X My first (and only??) FCP X seminar. Get in quickly because it’s filling very fast.

Because it’s before Final Cut Pro X ships, I’ll be drawing from my last year of fairly accurate researching and writing about Final Cut Pro X and merging it with the recent preview to give you the best preparation for the upcoming release.

While you’re there, check out the rest of the other upcoming Final Cut Pro X webinars at Final Cut Pro X Webinar Central.

Working with Effects Inside Final Cut Pro X
Presented by Kevin McAuliffe

Media Management Inside Final Cut Pro X
Presented by Brent Altomare

Color Correcting Inside Final Cut Pro X
Presented by Ben Brownlee

What are my thoughts on Final Cut Pro X?

I’ve been wracking my brain for synonyms for “Awesome” and “Jaw dropping” as Larry Jordan described it, but really, that will do.

With the caveat that we’ve seen only a fraction of a brand new app and what we saw raised as many questions as it answered. Walter Biscardi does a good job of enumerating the unanswered questions and I’m concerned about XML out of and back into Final Cut Pro X. We got a very brief overview of some key features – the headline stuff – but no real depth. Heck, we didn’t even see a single menu being pulled down!

For myself, Final Cut Pro X (nailed the name) was everything I hoped for and more. Last September I opined:

With time to consider, maybe that’s too forward looking, but my fondest hope is that Apple has taken the time to re-imagine Final Cut Pro and a NLE interface in general.

Continue reading What are my thoughts on Final Cut Pro X?

What I think I know about Final Cut Pro X

Since the Feb 17 preview of Final Cut Pro X, I’ve got clues as to the new features (well some of them) so this is what I think I know ahead of the announcement. Written on Sunday afternoon but set to publish just before the Tuesday event so as not to ruin Apple’s surprise(s).

In no particular order:

  • Redesigned timeline
  • Integrated browsing and viewing/viewer (no separate viewer)
  • Native DSLR support (H.264 MOV)
  • Probably native MXF and R3D
  • Uses all processors and GPU – really fast
  • Native support for Quartz Compositions
  • Built on AV Foundation
  • 64 bit Cocoa
  • Improved metadata tracking in media files
  • Media management based on a database and metadata in files
  • Display of more metadata from files.
  • File-based workflows only. Log and Capture using utilities from AJA, Blackmagic Design and Matrox.
  • Very fluid interface
  • Render in background
  • Media locations stored with project file, not preferences
  • Support for images and sequences over 4K pixels
  • Better titling – over video I hope.
  • Improved color correction built in (hopefully close to the full Color app)
  • Project file is XML file removing need for XML Import and Export.

    I expect FXscript to be lost to history like Log and Capture and a dedicated Viewer window.

    My in depth analysis of what I’m about to see will be coming Wednesday afternoon April 13, because of the important need to party after the Supermeet, and I’m teaching 10am-1pm Wednesday.

    And I expect to be blown away with what more there is than that list. On the balance of probability it will be in the App store (only?) with a price similar to the last upgrade.

    As for the rest of the Studio. Motion will get an upgrade but I don’t know if we’ll see that shortly or have to wait; DVD SP will disappear, while Soundtrack Pro will also likely get an upgrade.

    What I’ve been saying about Final Cut Pro, AV Foundation and QuickTime

    The anticipation might soon be over. At next Tuesday night’s Supermeet in Las Vegas we may get a sneak peek at what Apple has been working on. For those who aren’t regular readers of my blog, here’s links to my evolving thoughts on why Apple needs to rewrite both Final Cut Pro and QuickTime into a modern codebase, and why they may take this opportunity to not just rewrite, but to rethink how modern NLE software works.

    The posts in bold are the key ones.

    No doubt there’s some things I’ve written that are just plain wrong. But I’m expecting that on Tuesday night we’ll see the 64 bit Cocoa Final Cut Pro (using AV Foundation) that I wasn’t initially expecting until 2012, with a complete rethink of the NLE interface for the future.