By Daniel Restuccio
To many, Apple’s Final Cut Pro editing application died in June 2011 when they announced Final Cut X. Derided as an odd version of iMovie, it lacked many of the features of Final Cut 7 and fell out of favor with many editors looking for an alternative to Avid Media Composer.
Nearly four years later Final Cut Pro 10.1.4 is fully resurrected and, for the makers of the Will Smith caper Focus, a godsend that provided a flexible, efficient and cost-effective workflow to post their feature movie shot on the Arri Alexa.
Less than two years since releasing the new MacPro “cylinder,” Apple claims that they have upgraded Final Cut Pro X to the level where it can be taken seriously again as a post production solution for features and episodic television. According to Michael Cioni, CEO of Light Iron, Final Cut Pro X is the first NLE designed around a data-centric ecosystem. Previous NLEs were
timeline-based systems that sat on-top of a database, something that is ideal in a videotape world.
Final Cut Pro X is the reverse: an advanced database system that sits on top of a timeline, which is more ideal in a data-centric world. In addition, one of the biggest advantages of Final Cut Pro X is the ability to edit native 2K+ without the need to transcode to proxy or “offline” files. For time-pressured productions, such as episodic television or web series, the reduction or elimination of an online conform translates to a measurable time and cost advantage.
Convincing Warner Bros. to allow Focus to be posted using Final Cut Pro X was challenging, according to Focus associate producer Jeffrey Harlacker, but what finally convinced them was to “mirror” the FCP X system with an Avid in case of an unforeseen issue…which never happened. In fact, according to Harlacker, “It really does work well and the interaction is a really great creative tool that satisfied the creative way this team works.”
Cioni, whose Light Iron provided on-set digital dailies and DI services, notes, “I’ve heard some say that Focus is Apple’s new Cold Mountain, but Focus is different because Cold Mountain was about getting Final Cut Pro 3 to do exactly what Avid Media Composer did using a film workflow. Using Final Cut Pro X to edit Focus is about getting FCP X to explore an entirely new world of workflow potential and do everything better than other NLEs.” Jan Kovac edited Focus. Mike Matzdorff was assistant editor.
In order to highlight Focus‘ post workflow, on March 7 Light Iron, along with Arri and Apple, hosted a VIP Case Study. The event began at Hollywood’s ArcLight Cinemas with hands-on production demos and was followed by a panel discussion — featuring Focus‘ associate producer, co-director, DP, DIT and editor — and ended at Light Iron’s facility.
Check out the videos below showing the Light Iron and Apple presentation called Focus on Advanced Workflow with Final Cut Pro, and check out photos from the event here.