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Old February 18th, 2007, 06:33 PM   #1
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Any suggested ways to teach beginning FCP??

I will be teaching a 10-week beginning Final Cut Pro Course starting in 3 weeks, and right now I am brushing up on the manuals and mainly the Mac Academy tutorial cd-roms that I find useful. Basically I was wondering if anyone out there had any luck teaching a non-text book class (I will be teaching a group of 8) and if there was a magical structure that you might have created. I will have a projector to show my computer on the wall and my plan right now is to start with media management on the mac, mac settings, then travel into Final Cut, getting people to capture their own footage. I basically want them working on the timeline for awhile (not trim windows etc.). In the 10 weeks (2 hrs per week), I will be teaching shortcuts, tools, and methods, but I really want to get the students engaged in their own projects (not working from the tutorial footage). Any thoughts? Thanks! Larry
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Old February 18th, 2007, 07:40 PM   #2
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I find the best way is to take a single project from start to finish. This usually allows all aspects to be covered.
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Old February 19th, 2007, 09:44 AM   #3
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highly recommended is the official Apple Pro Training Series manual.

makes a great and thorough basis for any course, and the lesson by lesson approach easily lends itself to adaptation for your own classes.

try to start on lesson one with FCP not media management or mac basics or any of that stuff. give them a project with media in it on their computers and let rip with the basics of editing, marking in and out in the viewer, and using the drag and drop to the overlays in the canvas to make the edit ... leave out all the complexity and make it fun. the aim is that after the first lesson they go away feeling that they can already do it, and gagging for more.

build on that over the next 2 or 3 lessons, and only then look at user preferences, system settings, basic mac skills, media management and the like ... a dull couple of lessons but they can use them also to consolidate the skills they picked up so far.

in the last few lessons you can get into effects, multiclip editing and so on ... funning it up some more and leaving them on a high, hopefully wanting to sign up for your more advanced courses and / or recommending you to all their wannabe editor friends.

hope thats useful
Andy
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Old February 19th, 2007, 01:27 PM   #4
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If your students are complete novices, I find the biggest obstacle is usally not utilizing the software itself, but understanding editing as an abstract concept. In other words, people who have never tried editing before tend to have a very shaky understanding of what a clip is, or a timeline for that matter. Most people can understand word processing and powerpoint, with basic ins and outs on a set surface or slides, but bringing that knowledge to the timeline becomes extremely confusing. Unless of course you have a class full of experienced editors who are just new to the FCP interface.

My recommended reading even for the editing newbie is Walter Murch's "In the Blink of an Eye". It's a great little comprehensive approach to editing, and the newest edition has a full history as well as conceptual applications for Digital Editing systems (though he mostly talks about the Avid of yesteryear). Students can finish it in a week, if not an evening, and it's even sprinkled with a bit of Hollywood name droppery to excite the fame-bound editor.

Beyond that, I have to agree with Andy about getting their feet wet immediately. Just beware that if editing is so completely foreign to them, they'll get lost in Final Cut immediately. Hope this helps, and let us know what worked best. Good luck, Teach.
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Old February 19th, 2007, 10:04 PM   #5
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Thanks a bunch for all of this useful information. Some students are already familiar with FCP and some are not, but it is a beginners course and that is how I am going to approach it. I will make it a 10 week editing project with their own footage and that should get their feet wet in the very beginning- then move into preferences and such to gaher an understanding of what is under the hood. It has to have some fun-factor for the students to get hyped about editing in Final Cut, otherwise they could get overwhelmed easily. My only concern is that there is usually five ways to trim a clip (for example).

Should I teach all five ways of trimming a clip, or just teach them the way I work?

I want them to be able to find their own way to work. I'll keep you posted on this thread on how it goes. It will be starting in about 3 weeks.

Again, thanks for the valuable feeback so far!
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Old February 20th, 2007, 12:43 AM   #6
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5 ways? no, no, no ... teach them 3 ways ... nobody needs more than 3!
seriously though, 10 lessons at 2 hours apiece, with all the farting about at the beginning and the end of the lesson doesn't leave that much time to get across what is a pretty fair chunk of info.
keep it simple. teach them what you think is the easiest way of accomplishing any given task, and add maybe 1 variation on that, just to highlight the fact that there is always another way of doing anything in FCP, let them discover those other variations as homework.
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Old February 20th, 2007, 12:55 AM   #7
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Good luck with that Larry. I am here in Nevada City and still learning FCP.
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Old February 20th, 2007, 10:28 AM   #8
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If they will be editing in a computer lab or on any kind of multi-user system, they need to know how to set up destinations for the various folders and the project file. I used to jump right in to using Final Cut, but I had so many students who had absolute disasters because they didn't know their captured movies, thumbnails, waveforms and backups were going into someone else's folder. When that other person deleted their folder, hours of work were lost. They'll end up hating the class if this happens to them, and they'll probably blame YOU for not telling them they needed to do this. So make the first thing setting up system settings and choosing a codec.

Beyond that, there are some editing exercises out there that have a script and some source footage (Smithee's, Bright Wolf, The Holdup, etc.). Have them edit one of those together, show them how to add music, ambience, effects, etc. Most of them contain more footage than what is needed to edit the basic script together, and there are points where slow motion, transitions and even various video filters are appropriate. In addition, split edits, ripple edits, etc. can all make these projects much better.

Beyond that, there each of these exercises gives reasons to teach match cuts, time compression, expansion, B-roll, continuity and thematic editing (and maybe even complexity editing), and it will be very obvious how the right music can really dramatically enhance the aesthetic (and how the wrong music can destroy the production). So they learn more than just Final Cut -- they learn some basic editing theory.

Another alternative is that you could shoot the footage for a short movie yourself and have them edit it all together.

I would stay away from having a music video project. The students like them, but they're usually pretty dreadful and they don't deal with the difficulties of editing sound.
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Old February 20th, 2007, 11:21 AM   #9
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>....so make the first thing setting up system settings and choosing a codec.

couldn't disagree more :-) IMHO totally totally wrong. sorry Matt.
you'll bore everyone to tears if you do that. you need to set everything up in advance ... the students don't touch the settings at all in the first lesson, so no-one is going to lose anything.

i appreciate what you're saying but, respectfully, if the Mac's are set up correctly then this is a non-issue
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Old February 20th, 2007, 12:24 PM   #10
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The best way to learn is through experience. Get them up and cutting as fast as possible, then you can fill their heads with the technical stuff.

Oh, and don't forget to teach them the 'Mushroom Theory'. Every editor worth his salt knows the 'Mushroom Theory'.
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Old February 20th, 2007, 01:14 PM   #11
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and whats the mushroom theory?
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Old February 20th, 2007, 01:30 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Morikawa
and whats the mushroom theory?
Well, a long time ago and I'm talking a very long time ago, way before the internet and computer editing; when cutting film meant exactly that, I was a film editor in a busy editing house where we used to teach our assistants and trainees the 'Mushroom Theory':

Editing is like being a mushroom. All your life you sit in a dark room and every once in a while someone opens the door and throws a pile of sh*t at you.

Sorry, I know it's an old one.
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Old February 20th, 2007, 04:06 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy Mees
>....
couldn't disagree more :-) IMHO totally totally wrong. sorry Matt.
you'll bore everyone to tears if you do that.
Well, you might. But I teach both FCP and Premiere at a university and stuff gets deleted ALL THE TIME from the computer hard drives. We certainly have our Macs set up properly, and people get whole projects deleted because they had their stuff going to other people's folders. Besides, it only takes a few minutes to teach what I suggested. A FEW MINUTES THAT COULD END UP SAVING THEM HOURS OF LOST TIME. If they get bored that quickly, I don't think they have much potential as students anyway.

Maybe our students are really advanced (I never thought so), but we work with multiple codecs here. You never know which codec Final Cut used last, and if you aren't aware that it needs to be set for the right one when you capture, you'll can easily end up tearing your hair out trying to figure out why you can't see your footage in the capture window.

If I hadn't been doing this for years, I wouldn't have offered advice. I think what you're saying would be fine if everyone was editing on their own Mac, but in an educational institution people usually do their editing in a lab or dedicated suite and that means multiple users.

I have had students in my office in tears because they couldn't find a project they'd been working on for 20-plus hours, and I had to break the news to them that it probably got deleted because all their files were stored in somebody else's folder and that folder got deleted. I've had students beating their heads into a wall because the FCP didn't see the capture device and that was because it was set for the wrong codec. Thankfully, that sort of stuff almost never happens now. It took a couple of years before I figured out you should start with that.

Conversely, I have never had anyone get "bored to tears" in the few minutes I spent telling them how to set up their projects.
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Old February 20th, 2007, 09:44 PM   #14
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appreciate your point completely, Matt, and am not trying to teach anyone to suck eggs here.

remember that the poster was talking about teaching a "beginning fcp" course, with a relatively limited course length, to a small number of students who he'll be taking through a guided workflow ... i'm guessing your situation may be a little different.

just for clarity, and fwiw, in these situations I always set up a new clean user account on every mac, for the student assigned to that machine, no one shares anything.
accounts are stored locally on each mac, and the students are required to always sit in the same place .... i've never had anyone lose anything.

in a later lesson I teach basic mac skills, including how to set up a user account, and also cover fcp's settings and preferences.

were I teaching on a regular basis at a large instituion I may indeed adopt a totally different approach more condusive to that environment, but I'll readily admit that I don't, I only teach when and if required. editing is my day job, but its always fun to pass the skills on to the eager buggers who want my job :-)
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Old February 21st, 2007, 02:05 PM   #15
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BLATENT SELF PROMOTION WARNING.

(ok, now that that's clear...)

About a year ago, I developed "StartEditingNow" - a dvd instructional package designed for BEGINNING editors. It doesn't teach any particular software, rather, it teaches EDITING TECHNIQUES. It talks about what a "cut" is. What are jump cuts. Why do you use cutaways to cover jump cuts, etc.

The coolest part of the package is an idea I had called "MULTI-TRACK MOVIES" which are professionally shot clips purpose-designed for editing instruction.

At our first trade show intro, the largest single group of our customers were TEACHERS. So many, that next week, we're shipping a special "Classroom Workshop Edition" - which is the entire Volume 1 lesson package re-shot with students in mind. It includes teachers guides, lesson plans, and even enrichment activities to facilitate an entire "basic editing cariculum."

It's cross-platform, and not tied to any specific software, but since I'm a FCP editor, nearly all the examples in the lessons are demonstrated with FCP.

If you're teaching editing, or teaching NLE operations, you might check it out.

The MULTI-TRACK MOVIES alone are way more than worth the price of the product and I honestly believe that they are the best way to get engaging and LEGAL (right-cleared) professionally shot content for use in any editing classroom situation.

We're about to launch the website revise with the new Classroom Workshop edition, but you can check out the current product at www.starteditingnow.com.

END OF COMMERCIAL.
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