The present and future of post production business and technology | Philip Hodgetts

CAT | Apple Pro Apps

As you probably all know, I have two day jobs heading Intelligent Assistance Software and Lumberjack System. We’re very proud of the work we’ve done through both companies. We make a decent income from them for sure, but what makes us particularly happy when our tools get people’s work done faster. They get to go home to their families earlier and production has less drudgery.

So it pleases us greatly when that gets recognized, as it did this trip.




A little FCP X Project

Mostly I edit Lunch with Philip and Greg, product videos, or the occasional The semiSerious Foodies video. This last week I put together a demo piece for a friend, that was much more fun/creative.

It’s a competition piece, so if you’d all like to go to and vote for Marlon Braccia, we’d appreciate it.

Edited in FCP X I used significant amounts of speed change, chroma key, crop and blur on the background. Those in LA can see it in person, and learn how it was done in detail at the August 24 meeting of LACPUG.



Editing Audio in FCP X

When I discovered I could do in two keystrokes what took 9 mouse clicks and keystrokes in Soundtrack Pro, I never looked back and now edit all my audio only projects in FCP X.

I got together with Marcelo Lewin of DigitalMedia Pros and explained how I do it.




What we take for granted

I cut a short 30 minute competition entry for a friend today. A relatively simple single-take green screen over a Pond 5 background she purchased.

Except we used a bunch of technologies that were all non-existent just a few years ago.

Starting with some Blackmagic Design ProRes files, we:

  • Sped up the talent about 20% with no visible or audible artifacting
  • Keyed out the green background by using the built-in keyer in FCP X at the default settings
  • Repositioned the talent to better fit the background shot
  • Slowed down the background to 66% with no visible artifacting
  • Applied a real time blended mask and gaussian blur on the background (over a duplicate, not blurred copy to simulate depth of field
  • Used the Color Board to reduce the exposure on her face, while using a mask so her eyes continued to sparkle

all in real time on a 2015 Retina 5K iMac and Final Cut Pro X.

It wasn’t that long ago that applying a soft edge to a mask; or any gaussian blur, or any chroma key meant a render before playback.

Like in the machine learning/AI field, the video technologies also keep getting better all the time.



Automating Final Cut Pro X

Since starting work on the Lunch with Philip and Greg I’ve battled a little with the multicam. Largely because I’m using it in an atypical way, although I suspect setups like mine will become more common in the future.

My solution was Automator actions, triggered by Function keys and activating an AppleScript, so that the mode is first switched to Video Only (for angles 1 or 2) or Audio only (3, 4 and 5) before switching to the angle.  It reduces a lot of repetitive strain injury potential!

The tutorial is over at, but here’s a little background.


The Final Cut Pro X Creative Summit is on again in October this year.

Three days of cutting-edge training on the latest FCPX and Motion.
Hear directly from Apple Product Managers. Learn from top industry experts.

Apparently I slip in as an ‘industry expert’ with these sessions

10:30am Saturday Using Transcripts in FCPX
10:30am Sunday    Production Kit in a Bag

Greg and I will also be showing the Intelligent Assistance Software apps, and will have some amazing things to show with Lumberjack System.

Use this discount code to save $125.

Use this discount code to save $125.



Keywords and Roles: friends or adversaries?

We were discussing metadata in Final Cut Pro X after dinner last night, as one does, and Greg challenged me to think about the difference between Roles and Keywords (Ranges).

I’d spent time thinking about how best to translate metadata from Lumberjack into FCP X before we gained organizational folders for Keyword Collections in an Event, and was mildly surprised we didn’t have anything we thought would map well to Roles.

And that was the last time I thought about it until last night. It took a minute or two, but then it hit me, and it was totally obvious why there was no place for Roles in a “logging and pre-editing” tool.

Keyword Ranges (and Collections) are for organizing Clips.

Roles are for organizing a Project (timeline), and I guess for exporting information to Producer’s Best Friend where we make good use of Role information.

In this episode I get to spend a lot of time talking about the background the Lumberjack System, in the context of  the very unsexy topic of workflow, particularly automating the workflow. I share many of the background decisions related to Lumberjack System – our logging and pre-editing system for Final Cut Pro X – including why it’s limited to FCP X.

Other topics include automation; Digital Heaven’s announcement of SpeedScriber; how Lumberjack has developed based on user, and use, feedback; the post NAB development of noteLogger; Prelude LIveLogger and the Premiere Pro ecosystem and NLE market shares; how development resources are allocated.

Patently Apple reports Apple have filed for Trademarks for: ‘Mac – Works with iMovie’, ‘Mac – Works with Final Cut Pro X’ & Combo of Both.

This certainly isn’t the first time Apple have filed for “Works with” Trademarks, and that’s what makes it interesting. Previously these type of trademarks have been for Apple Ecosystems, like iPhone, iOS, iPad, CarPlay, AirPrint, et al.

While I have no idea what it might mean – developers have no clues yet – it is interesting that iMovie and Final Cut Pro X are being considered as part of a larger ecosystem. For those who don’t know, these days iMovie is a version of Final Cut Pro X with a simplified interface.

Terence Curren and I recorded our thoughts on NAB 2016.  Topics covered include general impressions of NAB 2016, and why Terry did not attend this year; Blackmagic Design Resolve; Avid’s business; market fragmentation; HDR and expanded color gamut; Studio Daily’s Top 50 influencers (including Philip); Zcam; Lytro cam; VR; innovation; Apple watch and NDA’d Final Cut Pro X preview.

Episode 71: NAB 2016

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