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Discussing the editing of all formats with FCS, FCP, FCE

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Old July 5th, 2008, 07:24 PM   #1
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Final Cut Pro Learning Curve

Pardon me if this has been answered already somewhere else however I have a question.

I'm considering purchasing Final Cut Pro as my editing system. I'm a newbie with moderate technical skills and I'd say moderate ability to learn programs.

I believe I'll eventually be using FCP to the point where it extends beyond the limits of Final Cut Express although I will admit I'm not overly familiar with either program.

My question is: Should I purchase and learn Final Cut Express first and then upgrade to Final Cut Pro or should I just use the money I would spend on Express and just get Final Cut Pro?

One Apple salesman told me to definitely get comfortable with Express first and then upgrade to Pro while another salesman told me I'd be better off taking the money and simply learning Pro from the start since they are basically based on the same program.

I understand Final Cut Pro has a steep learning curve. Is it so steep that I'll be trying to run before learning how to walk?

Any suggestions?

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Old July 5th, 2008, 10:27 PM   #2
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If it is within the budget, I would just get Final Cut Pro and figure it out. Anyone can learn it.
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Old July 6th, 2008, 01:40 AM   #3
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I haven't used FCE before, but I'd say 95% of the learning curve is exactly the same as FCE is just a stripped down version of FCP. I'd say just get FCP.

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Old July 6th, 2008, 01:48 AM   #4
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I've just started learning FCP6 etc. (within the FCS2 package). There are some excellent video tutorials on the web and books with tutorial discs in them and I think anyone with moderate technical skills (and more importantly, the will!) could do it. If you think FCP is where you'll end up (and your budget is up to it) just go straight in. This is the third editing package I've used in the last 12 months (Ulead VS10+, Vegas 7e, now FCS2) and, although they all have their differences you soon get the hang of how things can be done. This time I went right in and got the full suite with FCS2 - because I know that's where I'll end up and I did not want to waste any money getting there in stages.
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Old July 6th, 2008, 02:03 AM   #5
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If you have the budget and the need for it: go straight for FCS2.

Editing itself (cutting, pasting) is dead easy, a baby can do it.
It's getting a good cut, that's more difficult.

And that being said: FCS2 is just a great package in comparison with FCE.
It works better with all the codecs you can imagine, it has a complete dvd authoring program, a professional (although sometimes buggy) color correction program, a graphic program (don't really know the power of that one), a complete soundtrack editing program, ...

If you can: go for it. You'll be fine. Learn on the internet. There are really great tutorials out there.
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Old July 6th, 2008, 03:39 AM   #6
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FCP...I have both, and feel I could have applied that $300 from FCE directly to FCS and been much happier. They are the same program with the same learning curve (as mentioned above). The only difference is the supported formats and a couple of things you probably won't even notice at this level. Except for the lack of a 3-way color corrector in FCE which is a selling point for me.

To learn it most efficiently, Learn to:

A) capture footage by bringing up the log and capture window (apple-8), marking in (i) and out (o) points for your takes (j,k,l to navigate the clips - k stops) then logging the clips (log clip button bottom right of footage). After that Batch capture (button bottom right of window).

B) preview your footage (j,k,l to navigate the clips - k stops) in the "viewer" window, set your in (i) and out (o) points there

C) drag to your timeline...if the in point of the clip touches the out point of the previous clip, you have a cut.

This is enough information for you to do 90% of your editing. That part is no harder than figuring out how to use iMovie!

import, preview, in&out points, add to timeline with a cut transition (no actual transition, just 2 clips touching at the ends)

When finished, you export and you're ready to upload to youtube or here or your website.

BTW, I've given you the keywords to search the online help for FC to get instructions on how to do each bit :) Happy cutting!
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Last edited by Cole McDonald; July 6th, 2008 at 03:42 AM. Reason: added button locations and key strokes.
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Old July 6th, 2008, 06:42 AM   #7
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if you get FCPS2, bookmark this site, and read read read; it has saved me countless times when things have (inevitably) gone south... i think the learning curve goes beyond learning just the 'program' if you are interested in video. i used to think 'codec' was a Zeppelin album and that 'judder' was a character from Star Wars...
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Old July 23rd, 2008, 03:21 PM   #8
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Thanks Everyone!

Thanks for your responses, everyone!
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Old July 24th, 2008, 04:49 PM   #9
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Just to reiterate - get FCS2 (i.e. FCP6) it's not hard to learn the basics of editing - the hard part is the creative side, do things flow, composition and design skills etc. Then you also have the bonus of a suite of 6 or 7 programs...
MBP 15" 2.6Ghz, 4GB RAM. 2TB storage. FCS2. Canon XH-A1.
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Old July 25th, 2008, 12:20 AM   #10
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If you take a class at an accredited school, FCS2 is like US$500-$700. Makes the decision a little easier I hope. As for the learning curve, I'm currently in a six week editing course using Final Cut Pro and it has flattened the learning curve like a pancake. It's only the second week and I'm using keystrokes 80% of the time, which is really kinda cool. Great way to get past the tool and focus on the art of editing. The funny thing is because of the editing class, I'm learning how to use Sony Vegas better.
"Ultimately, the most extraordinary thing, in a frame, is a human being." - Martin Scorsese
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Old July 25th, 2008, 10:13 AM   #11
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No offense to accredited learning centers, but your best investment in learning FCS or any software is online at

This can get you up and running in FCP especially in no time. You can follow the tutorials online, or in a lot of cases you can purchase the DVD for the course, which has media on it to do the tutorials using the same media.

Besides tutorials on FCP, this site has tutorials on practically any software package out there.

And best of all the cost is practically nothing per month.
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Old July 25th, 2008, 10:40 AM   #12
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There's really only a few basic things you need to know to start editing in Final Cut Pro - if you take a course you might get lost in unnecessary details. I'd get it, have a project to start working on right away, and just learn it as you go. I've taught several people how to use FCP and usually it's just a few hours of pointing out the basic tools and then letting them use them and get familiar with it.

The cool part is that as you grow in your abilities the depth of the program will grow with you - there's not much you can't do with Final Cut Pro.

Also the Pro version has DVD Studio Pro and Motion, which as you get familiar with them are invaluable to have as well. Final Cut Express will leave you tied to iDVD.

As a side note I found a legit copy of Final Cut Pro 2 inexpensively on Ebay and used that to get the upgrade price, which will help reduce your initial investment a little bit. Just don't get an academic version...

Another note - if you're used to another editing system, Final Cut Pro is like taking off all the restrictions. It's pretty fun.
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