A couple of weeks on from the second FCPX Creative Summit and Patrick Southern takes time for a personal look back at what he calls 'The best weekend vacation one could ask for in 2016.'
The FCPX Creative Summit may be the absolute best weekend vacation one could ask for in 2016. There were great presentations, a cocktail party, and a pretty sweet expo. But the absolute best part of the Creative Summit were the people. You could take five steps and run into 7 or 8 of the best and brightest in the Final Cut Pro X community, AND THEY WOULD TALK TO YOU!
People like Jan Kovac, Thomas Grove Carter, Mark Spencer, Steve Martin, Bill Davis, Felipe Baez, Peter Wiggins, Mike Matzdorff, Sam Mestman, Richard Taylor, Gergana Angelova, and Sady Paulson were all there and were just as excited to meet you as you were to meet them.
When I first got to the Juniper hotel, freelance editor Bradley Olsen and instructor Alex Kaloostian from FMC had the Apple Keynote up on the screen in one of the presentation rooms. The three of us sat in the dark like the characters of Mystery Science Theater 3000, joking about the five pounds of dongles needed for the new MacBook Pro.
At the end of the Keynote, a Kevin Bailey texted me that the new version of FCPX had hit the App Store. Bradley Olsen and I ran up to his room to start downloading. Like the nerds we are, we started started discussing the release notes before the app hit our docks. About five minutes into playing with 10.3, Richard Taylor from Final Cut Pro Radio knocked on the door. The three of us played with the software and discussed the new features for a while and then headed down to the lobby.
There we ran into FCPX legends like Sam Mestman, Philip Hodgetts, Gregory Clarke, Bill Davis, Marcus Moore, Peter Wiggins, and many others. Mike Matzdorff joked that if someone put a bomb in that lobby, they would take out all of the FCPX community. Obviously that isn’t true, as you weren’t there, or you wouldn’t be reading this article.
Abba Shapiro, Mark Spencer and Steve Martin in the lobby of the hotel.
Sam Mestman recommended we all go to dinner, and so we did. The group took over Armadillo Willy’s BBQ next door to the Juniper. I sat next to Marcus Moore, the only other person at the table to order a rib plate. Marcus edits children’s programming in Canada. Working mostly in hour to two hour long TV docs, I’m pretty jealous of his 7 minute runtimes. Everyone at Armadillo Willy’s seemed very excited about the FCPX 10.3 update. It was clear that the biggest update was the overhaul to the magnetic timeline.
Philip Hodgetts and Roger Bolton discuss...
When we got back to the hotel, Bill Davis was looking at Facebook and realized that Richard Taylor was live streaming from the hotel. We looked at the background and determined it was either in a hall or a room at the Juniper. Someone recalled Richard was on the third floor, so we decided we’d try to prank him.
When we got to the third floor, there was no sign of Richard. Brad Olsen recalled that Richard’s room number, so we went up to his door and started knocking loudly. Apparently knocking loudly on one’s door during a Facebook live stream doesn’t really work as much of a prank. Richard let us in and started interviewing us.
Getting on the bus for the short trip to Infinite Loop.
Friday we were bussed over to Apple Campus. Felipe Baez, Bradley Olsen and I snuck outside to wait on the busses so we could be the first ones on the bus. It was pointed out that being the first ones on the bus would make us the last ones off the bus, but we weren’t up to thinking logically and stayed at the front of the line.
The bus ride over wasn’t very long. Once inside DeAnza Theater…well, I can’t tell you exactly what happened inside DeAnza. But I can say that it was cool and that Apple is doing another similar presentation at LACPUG at Barnsdall Park in Hollywood on November 30th.
After the presentation we got a first look at the new MacBook Pro with Touch Bar. Apple had a few tables lined with the new MacBook Pro, along with two Edit Suites off to the side that were decked out to the max. The MacBook Pro was connected to two Pegasus RAIDs attached via USB-C, along with two of the new LG UltraFine 5K Displays. One of the members of the Final Cut Pro X team was there. He pointed out that one of the UltraFine 5K Displays was actually running power to the MacBook Pro via its USB-C connection.
Getting a look at the Touch Bar on the new MacBook Pros.
Good to get a hands on demo of FCPX 10.3 with Apple products that are not released yet!
He then showed us the new FCPX functions in the Touch Bar. They are incredible! For starters, you can now play video back in Full Screen and use a mini-timeline in the Touch Bar to navigate! They’ve also added shortcuts for various trimming tools. You can now add and remove audio fade handles at the press of a button in the touch bar, and they even added master audio fader for making overall volume adjustment or even making keyframes!
On our way out, we ran into a few of the FCPX Engineers. Man, are they smart! It seemed like every little bit of feedback we threw their direction they’d already thought of. It became clear that they have a lot planned for FCPX, but that it takes time to make great software.
There was time to visit the Apple Store on the campus.
Friday evening we had a great big cocktail party and expo. I got to hang out with Ben Brodbeck at the LumaForge booth for a bit. That guy is awesome. We played around a bit with the Jellyfish. Meanwhile, Jan Kovac took over the FCP.co booth while Peter Wiggins wasn’t watching. And Sady Paulson, the editor from the new Apple Accessibility video showed up for a bit.
Somehow, at the end of the evening, I found myself talking to Thomas Grove Carter about the structure of the British government and the amazing Harry Enfield characters of Kevin & Perry and Loads o’ Money.
The cocktail party on the Friday evening.
Then on Saturday, things got super crazy. It started with breakfast with Sean & Stefanie from Rampant Design, talking about Disneyland until Trevor Horton insisted we start talking about FCPX 10.3 again. We obliged and started conversing about the exciting intricacies of rigging Titles, Transitions, and Effects in Motion 5.
Sadly, I was not able to make all of the sessions on Saturday and Sunday because there were just so many! In fact, most of the time there were three sessions going at once! And each session was given by a veritable “Who’s Who” of Final Cut Pro X. So I prioritized the sessions I knew were areas of growth for me and accepted that I wouldn’t be able to see everything I wanted to see.
Steve Martin takes a session in the Juniper Hotel.
I started by heading over to Mark Spencer’s session on “Building a Show Open with Motion”. I have a basic understanding of Motion, but Mark Spencer is a Master of the software. He made creating mask shape, working with particles, and tracking look like child’s play.
From there, I jumped over to Gergana Angelova’s session on organization. She demonstrated how to organize footage for both feature films and music videos. And then she opened it up to discussion and we had an awesome talk about the different ways to organize footage for corporate video.
Gergana Angelova's session at the Summit.
After her session, Sam and I got together for a bit to discuss and rehearse our presentation for the afternoon on “A Modern Way to Tell Your Story with FCPX”. We made a few changes to some slides and then headed downstairs. The session went great. We came in under time and even had a few minutes to grab some water before Thomas Grove Carter started his mind-altering demo.
Thomas Grove Carter in full ninja mode.
That dude is a Magnetic Timeline Ninja. I’d learned and forgotten the “Trim to Selection” command, but watching Thomas made me want to use it all the time! He demoed how you can re-arrange your audio roles in vertical space, focus in on just a single role, and can quickly audition various audio effects in realtime during playback in FCPX. We sat and watched him use the various trim tools in FCPX to take a 60 second commercial and turn it into a fairly polished 30 second commercial in no time at all. It was insane!
Ché Baker came on after Thomas Grove Carter and talked about creating the film adaptation of his novel ‘Blue World Order’. They cut the entire thing in FCPX and did a lot of the VFX and color work right inside FCPX using awesome plugins like Track-X and Slice-X from Roger Bolton’s company, Core Melt. Roger took a little time to demo the use of his plugins with tutorials he’d made in collaboration with Iain Anderson. Roger even showed us some tips and tricks to get the best possible motion tracks.
Sam Mestman and myself talking workflows and Jellyfish.
Jeff Greenberg and Abba Shapiro presented “The Insane Tip Show: 30 Tips in 30 Minutes”. It was, as advertised, insane. They were followed by Steve Martin and Mark Spencer who had a “Secret Session” demoing the many new feature of FCPX 10.3. My favorite was Steve’s quote, “Each clip is its own mini-mixer.” You know, since FCPX 10.3 handles audio signal flow completely differently than FCPX 10.2.3. Thank God, Apple had already published a white paper on the subject, but I didn’t have time to read it Saturday night because we were so busy.
That evening, we walked over to BJ’s just across from 1 Infinite Loop. Not sure how, but I found myself sharing a pizza with Sam Mestman and Trevor Horton while listening to Jeff Greenberg pontificate on the best and worst of indie cinema into the wee hours of the morning.
It was a table for over 20 at BJs in Cupertino on the Saturday night.
Sunday was full of hard-core learning. For the first time, I had time to start reading White Papers (over lunch…that’s the ‘extra time’ I had). Truth be told, I wouldn’t have read the white paper over lunch, but Sam and I had to prep for his session on Roles that was at 1pm. I probably spent an hour reading the white paper on Audio Roles in 10.3, and probably spent another hour talking to a member of the Apple FCPX team talking about what the hell it all meant.
In essence, Roles are now like audio busses for Sub-Roles, which can now be edited, merged, or deleted. If you apply an audio effect to an individual Sub-Role on a clip, that Sub-Role passes its audio through untouched. However, if you apply an audio effect to the entire clip, it mixes all of the Sub-Roles together on that clip. If all the Sub-Roles belong to the same Role, they get mixed to that Role. If there are Sub-Roles that belong to different Roles, they get mixed to a new Role called “Mixed Audio”. This all makes a lot more sense when you select everything in your timeline and turn it into a Compound Clip. This then allows you to mix either the individual Sub-Roles together, or you can mix everything through parent Roles.
After Sam’s session on Roles, I ran into another FCPX Engineer and spent the remainder of the day talking about coding languages and efficient ways to learn coding. It may still be way over my head, but that doesn’t mean I paid any less attention or was any less excited.
Overall, the FCPX Creative Summit was amazing. Denise Miller and the FMC team put together a fantastic event. The sessions were great, but the real value was getting to hang out with the best and brightest in the FCPX community. No where else can you talk to Mark Spencer and Steve Martin as though you’ve known them for ages. No where else can you discuss your favorite parts of FCPX with people who work in documentaries, feature films, corporate video, music videos, and commercials all in a matter of minutes. Nowhere else do you get to meet the team behind Final Cut Pro X and get to play with the new Apple toys before they even hit the shelf. Regardless of whether or not you made it to this year’s Creative Summit, you aren’t going to want to miss it next year.
Patrick taught FCPX as a Trainer at an Apple Store in Tulsa, Oklahoma when it came out in 2011. He in now an Editor and Assistant Editor in Los Angeles.
You can follow him on Twitter @jpsouthern