With the Amsterdam SuperMeet this Sunday, FCP.co caught up with the organisers Michael & Dan for a Q&A on how they met, how it all started, why they dropped the 'F' and more...
First of all, let us promote the fifth SuperMeet that is happening in Amsterdam this Sunday 9th September. Some great presentations lined up for the evening and of course the world famous raffle will be drawn again too. If you are attending IBC this year, then don't miss out on a great evening in the Hotel Krasnapolsky. You can save €5 with the coupon code IBCVIP.
We have been going to the SuperMeets for quite a few years now, our first back as The FCPUG meeting at NAB when about 150 people attended in one of the years before FCP got real traction in the market. Masterminded by Michael Horton and Dan Bérubé, the meetings have grown, not only in size, but locations as well.
We thought we would ask Mike & Dan a few questions about the SuperMeet and they were very kind to reply with great answers.
FCP.co We are under a week away from the 5th annual Amsterdam SuperMeet, If somebody has never been to one before, how would you sum one up?
Mike & Dan Good question. We usually say: “SuperMeets are gatherings of Final Cut, Adobe, Avid and Autodesk editors, gurus and digital filmmakers from within the US, Europe and the world over who use or want to learn to use Macintosh-based workflows and solutions in a collaborative workflow environment.” But honestly it’s really all about the gathering and the art of Visual Storytelling and of sharing story. It’s about getting out of the house and away from your work and meeting up with like-minded people, many of whom are probably smarter than you. It’s the networking and learning opportunity. It's that possibility that you will meet someone who will change your life.
FCP.co Although this is the fifth in Amsterdam, you've also staged SuperMeets elsewhere.
Mike & Dan We do annual SuperMeets in San Francisco, Las Vegas, London, Amsterdam and Boston. We’ve also done a SuperMeetUp in Austin Texas, which is basically a smaller version of a SuperMeet. We hope to do SuperMeets in the Far East in the not so distant future. We will go wherever creative people want us to go.
Michael Horton shakes hands with attendees at the 2011 Boston Supermeet
FCP.co How much of a logistical nightmare is organizing a SuperMeet?
Mike & Dan Each SuperMeet is different and presents it’s own challenges. We like to look at each SuperMeet as a separate event with its' own theme reflecting what is happening in the Industry. Each SuperMeet is like a film with its own cast and crew that we bring together to best reflect the "story" we want to share. And we do this at a grassroots level. We both share producer credits for the SuperMeets as we split the producing responsibilities straight down the middle, from concept, pre-planning, sponsor fundraising to event coordination stage show bill and agenda and execution. With each city that we hold a SuperMeet in, we also have wonderful liaisons to assist us, like Claudia Crask of SF Cutters in San Francisco and others.
The first Amsterdam SuperMeet was VERY difficult because we planned everything via the internet and had not a clue if anything would actually work until we landed in Amsterdam 3 days before the event. It ultimately did work, but it was not without a lot of stress and a lot of help from many people. And that is pretty much how we plan and execute all SuperMeets. With a lot of help from a lot of people including our sponsors. SuperMeets are, after all, community events. We rely on each other to help spread the word and even set up the events. Our budget is always extremely lean and we try our best to put every dollar into the event rather than marketing or high ticket prices. We want everyone to be able to afford to attend a SuperMeet.
FCP.co Lets wind back to the first meet in Las Vegas. What made you host the first one?
Mike & Dan Actually, the first "SuperMeet" like event was held in the lobby of a Dentists office in downtown San Francisco, during Macworld 2000. We didn’t call it a SuperMeet back then. Final Cut Pro had just been released and the digital revolution was into full swing and Indie filmmakers were the first to embrace it, and it seemed that night that all of them showed up. The place was packed. We had a projector in the middle of the room, a keg of beer downstairs. We had no screen, only a wall to project the images. We had no chairs, just wall to wall people. And no one cared. They were there to see FCP and what people were doing with it. It was crazy fun and thank goodness the fire department didn't show up or the event would of been shut down! A few months later we held our first meet in Vegas at a small room in the Hilton Hotel. We continued to hold more events bringing all the FCPUGs together. We held what we called the "FCPUG Network Theater" at both Macworld NY and Macworld SF back then, and also at a couple of DV Expos and at what was then known as the NY DV Show. As we held each event they continued to attract more community and to grow in scale. At that point we were brainstorming with friends over how to brand our FCPUG events and the name “SuperMeet” was suggested to us by Boston based editor Loren Miller. We thought that "SuperMeet" was a fitting name for our community events and the rest as they say is history
FCP.co Can you remember who came and what was presented?
Mike & Dan Andrew Baum, who was the original marketing manager of FCP from Apple, presented at the original San Francisco meet. Andrew was great. We also had Ralph Fairweather with us, too. If a history of Final Cut Pro is ever written, Ralph’s name would be up there with the top 5. We also had some show and tells and a teacher from the East Valley of Los Angeles who showed us what his students had created using DV cameras and FCP. Awesome stuff.
Mike (onstage) and Dan get ready for some 3D action
FCP.co How did you partner up with Michael Horton?
Mike & Dan Our humble beginnings go back to when we first met each other in person back at a lafcpug meet held during a DV Expo West, back in 1999 and which featured Brian Meaney and Randy Ubilos together in conversation with the audience about FCP. That was the moment that we met face to face, that we shook each other's hand, and which changed both of our lives, which really goes back to the essence of what SuperMeets are all about. We formed a friendship back then that has led to a wonderful partnership that continues to grow to this day as we realize new milestones with the SuperMeets and our user groups.
FCP.co Who or what has been your favorite presentation over the years?
Mike & Dan That's a tough question to answer, as there have been so many great SuperMeet moments. The best presentations are from users, the ones who are in the trenches using the tools we all use and may want to use, and who are showing us how we might be able to use them more effectively. We love to have show and tells because they are so inspiring. And one of the great SuperMeet moments that comes to mind was a Las Vegas SuperMeet show and tell from editor Jonathan Wells who edited "Playing for Change: Peace through Music." This shy and unassuming editor from LA took the stage to a standing ovation after we played this remarkable video. It was a wonderful inspirational moment and the whole crowd was electrified with energy, you could "feel" it in the room. And of course we love the mentors like Walter Murch. We have had Walter at several SuperMeets, most recently at the Boston SuperMeet in 2011 and Walter never fails to inspire.
Walter Murch presents at a SuperMeet.
FCP.co And without naming & shaming, the worst?
Mike & Dan That's easy. It never works when marketing folks get up and show us a PowerPoint or Keynote presentation that simply sells us a product or shows us what is already on their web site. That's not what a SuperMeet is about. We tell them that it won't work for our audience. We even have a list of do’s and don’ts for a successful presentation. But some don't listen and the result, more often than not, is they crash and burn.
Apple chose the NAB SuperMeet in April 2011 to show Final Cut Pro X to the world for the very first time.
FCP.co Now we can't talk the SuperMeet without mentioning dropping the 'F in the billing. Why did you decide to embrace the other NLE manufacturers? FCP had been good to you over the years.
Mike & Dan Absolutely FCP had been good to us and has played a large role in helping us grow our community. We like FCPX a lot and we see an incredibly positive future for FCPX as Apple and third party developers grow its' feature set and workflow. But look back on SuperMeets you will find that we have featured just about every NLE on stage for years now. We’ve had Avid, Adobe and Autodesk going back to 2006. At the same time, both of our user groups and other "FCPUGs" like Chicago and San Francisco and others have featured the other NLEs early on and we continue to do so as collaborative workflows break down the barriers that our members face. There has even been SuperMeets where NO NLE was featured. SuperMeets have evolved to be not about one tool, but about the user and ALL the tools you need to know. We like to say that no one should define themselves by the one tool they use, but by what they create with that tool (or tools). If you want to compete in this industry you need to know them all. And not just NLE’s, but audio apps and motion graphic apps. Know everything. Doesn't mean you have to be a master of them all, but know a bit about everything if you want to make yourself more hireable as a creative professional. So when we dropped the “F” it was not in reaction to FCPX, it was simply a reflection of what SuperMeets had become and who they are about over the years. In fact, we had been talking about changing the name for about 3 years prior to the release of FCPX as we became ambassadors to a larger creative community. Today, we are the Creative Pro User Group Network and we will continue to focus on all the tools, including FCPX as it continues to be developed, that help us define ourselves as visual storytellers and empower us all in our careers.
One happy raffle winner at a SuperMeet
FCP.co The SuperMeet raffle is almost legendary with its value of prizes, how many dollars worth of kit and software have you got up fro grabs in Amsterdam?
Mike & Dan Right now, we have over €34,000.00 worth of prizes to hand out! And often it occurs that many more prizes arrive on the day of the SuperMeet so who knows what actual total value will be. The raffle is a lot of fun and it's supposed to be, and it’s not to be taken seriously. It’s simply a chance for all of us to let loose and have some fun together. And we found that is a great way for people to learn about the tools we hand out as prizes form our generous sponsors. The crowd at Amsterdam SuperMeets REALLY know how to have fun. It is unlike anything you have ever seen. And we LOVE it.
Many thanks to Mike and Dan for spending the time to answer our questions. We will look forward to catching up with them again on Sunday at this years Amsterdam Supermeet.