From reading literally thousands of posts, and directly teaching hundreds of people Final Cut Pro and editing esthetics over the past few years , I've come to a conclusion that learning by doing is the quickest way to master Final Cut Pro (and it's just plain more fun). After you've mastered the tool, it becomes much more enjoyable to express yourself through your edit decisions. Furthermore, there are consistent areas or concepts that seem to give new editors and even experienced editors problems grasping. So in response to this, I wrote this tutorial. It's really for any editor who would like to learn a logical way to make edit decisions, as well as expedient ways to perform them with Final Cut Pro. In many cases, I've talked about workflow that would apply to any editing application, as they are as similar as they are dissimilar.
Not only is this then an attempt at teaching the software to you, it is also an attempt to teach you a technique for editing any project in such way that its goal will be reached successfully. The same principles expressed during this tutorial will apply to any project you may do, be it a narrative film (like we'll edit together here) or any other form of communication, entertainment, or even a commercial project, like a television commercial or an industrial marketing video.
I've always felt that editing was very similar to creative writing. Editing is the final rewrite of the script. When editing a documentary , it is very common for editorial to be where the script is actually written. Certainly, when editing anything shot without a script such as a wedding or other social event of some kind, it is in the editing bay where the story is written. I believe there is story in every use of the medium. It's your job as an editor to write with pictures and sound the story that may or may not have been written before the shooting took place.
I've attempted to write not only for a beginner, but for experienced users of Final Cut Pro as well. If you've some experience with Final Cut Pro or are coming from another editing application, you may find some of the material here already familiar. I suggest though, that you don't skip areas of the tutorial that you feel you know already. I've purposefully peppered the entire tutorial with techniques that you may have not known that Final Cut Pro could do even in what would be considered "basic" areas of the software, and just as important, the discussion of the story-building techniques the book covers, are cumulative. The technical editors of this book were amazed that there was still something to learn even in areas of the software that they suspected that they had previously known or mastered. The text also includes a narrative on what my cognitive process was as I edited the film; hopefully the techniques that I employed will help you with your projects when making edit decisions. At the very least I hope you gain the ability to know how to approach any project you may ever do, by simply asking yourself the questions that I asked and answered to myself as I edited "The Midnight Sun." You'll not only get a solid foundation in how Final Cut Pro works, but how to edit more successful programs at the same time is my hope for anyone who works with this book.
Having the basics down will serve you well as you learn to use the higher end features of Final Cut Pro and this entire tutorial assumes that you've completed the earlier chapters. The first time you start using this tutorial, go through the entire tutorial from the beginning. If you get confused or don't understand an instruction, to check out the way any edit or effect should look, simply open the finished sequence file that is included with the tutorial's project file to see how the finished step should be. When you have finished the tutorial, use the book as a reference in the future. Unlike a user 's manual, this book is intended to serve as a way of learning the interface as you need to learn it to finish editing the film.
I've included all of the available material that was used to edit "The Midnight Sun" on the DVD. Refreshingly, there wasn't a large shooting ratio Once you've finished the tutorial, I think it's a wonderful idea to re-edit the program the way that you find the most effective. Giving the same source material to different editors in my classrooms over past few years has opened my eyes to the fact there isn't a single way to edit a program or movie. The personality and expressions of the editor will show through the edit decisions each editor makes, and it's exciting to see a different point of view especially when expressed with the same source material. So by all means, play with the material, use different shots or shot order and experiment with the footage to teach yourself just how edit decisions affect the emotional impact of this story. Enjoy yourself; let your imagination take you places you simply didn't cognitively realize that existed in your mind. I hope you surprise yourself.
I hope you learn to look at your work from a fresh perspective each time you start another editing session.