Focus: Our Story
For anyone who hasn’t been hiding under a rock, you might have noticed that Focus released this week, and edited on Final Cut Pro X. For Greg and I it is the final chapter in a story that started with an email and subsequent phone call in December 2012. We worked closely with the editorial team to make our software tools meet their needs. What I didn’t realize until recently is that my little book Conquering the Metadata Foundations of Final Cut Pro X had a role in this story too.
Our initial involvement with Focus started long before the movie went into production. That phone call was to encourage us to make a Change List tool that would work with Final Cut Pro X, because you really can’t make a Studio film without one. (Final Cut Studio had Change List functions in Cinema Tools, and of course Change Lists are standard in Media Composer.)
Change List X was the result. And the first time I’ve made the conscious decision to invest and develop an app that would never make the company any money! My intent was a mixture of PR benefit that will certainly help awareness of our other apps, but I have to admit, it’s nice to think that as more movies are cut on Final Cut Pro X (and Premiere Pro CC) then more people will be using our tools.
I should note that the only reason Focus being cut on Final Cut Pro X or Gone Girl being cut on Premiere Pro is news, is because the film is not being cut on the default: Media Composer. The main take-away for me is that it really doesn’t matter which NLE you prefer, you can cut all levels of professional media with it.
Long before Focus went into production we met with the Directors and Editor so we would actually know each other through production, but also I think they were seeking a little reassurance that we would be able to deliver a Change List tool that would work.
As it turns out, both Focus and Gone Girl were in post around the same time, and both using a version of our Change List tool. Having both in post at the same time, worked to the advantage of both productions. Issues raised in one production, were immediately fixed in the parallel version. The app matured quickly.
Change List X is in the app store and works with Final Cut Pro X XML. The Change List tool for Premiere Pro CC is available as an OS X app, but you’ll have to email me and ask. Eventually it will become a Premiere Pro panel.
This wasn’t the first time our development schedules changed in order to facilitate Final Cut Pro X’s move into Final Cut Pro 7’s space. We were encouraged to move the development of Sync-N-Link X up six months so that it would be available for the final season (five) of Dean Devlin’s Leverage.
While only a little use was made of Sync-N-Link X on Focus – because Light Iron handled editorial media – Sam Mestman had been telling us for years that we didn’t know what we had with this app. It’s not until I’ve seen Sam demo workflows for FCPWORKS that I’ve really understood why. Sync-N-Link X (with Change Notes X) and Final Cut Pro X largely replace the need for a Digital Facility for media management.
I only learned recently that Director Glenn Ficarra had read, and been positively influenced toward Final Cut Pro X through reading my Conquering the Metadata Foundations of Final Cut Pro X. I wrote that during a brief preview period Apple extended me before Final Cut Pro X’s initial release. Glenn says:
You are just dealing with files, we cut 2K not because we had to, but because we could. Reading Philip Hodgett’s book on metadata helped too.
Sam Mestman has also commented that the book was helpful for his understanding, and embracing, of Final Cut Pro X. Funny the unintended consequences from our actions.