11.04.2009

Final Cut Express 4 / Apple Pro Training Series : 4 of 5

I've done a lot of video editing (mostly fun projects for friends and family, but some of it pretty advanced) in the past (from way back in my iBook days!), all with Apple's iMovie, and although it can be a lot of work, I really enjoy the art and process of editing. So a couple years ago I decided I needed to make the switch to Final Cut Express (the less expensive version of Apple's Final Cut Pro, which is actually used on Hollywood films), just to experience how the "big boys" do it, but it took me a while to find the time. This year I finally took the plunge, and since I'm always more comfortable with a goal in front of me, I bought this excellent book, which I followed to the letter as a full-fledged course. I can see why this particular book is sanctioned by Apple, since it has a beautiful layout with loads of screen shots, and comes complete with a disc of all the files needed (video, music, and projects) to work with each lesson. The lessons are extremely detailed, and always demonstrate multiple ways to do the same thing (such as completing a command via menu, command key shortcut, or contextual menu). They are so thorough that the actual editing doesn't even begin until after the sixth lesson! Everything before that emphasizes project organization, which might have been a little heavy, but definitely useful (and so incredible compared to iMovie). As I followed each lesson I constantly found myself totally amazed at what Final Cut Express can do, and I could see how each technique would dramatically help an editor based on my previous experience. I was thankful for the coverage of the slip, roll and slide tools, as well as simple keyframe animation. There are also excellent advanced lessons (and I did them all) that expand on the physical book, but these are only provided as PDF files on the disc (actually, it was so convenient to open the PDF on my second monitor that I wish the entire book had been included in PDF format as well). I know when I start working on my first Final Cut Express project I will forget some of the techniques I have learned, but I will definitely remember "I've seen that done before" so I can refer to this book. I can't imagine a better way to discover the power of this excellent editing software!

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