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Issue: August 1, 2011

Post Script: An early adopter of FCP X

By: Marc Loftus

Chris Duke is an independent producer whose auto-themed how-to programs air on satellite and cable services. Duke Networks (www.duke.net) is based in San Diego and produces Motorz, a half-hour series that airs on The Pursuit Channel and shows viewers how to modify their cars and trucks using tools that are readily available at their local Sears retailer. The program is shot in Duke’s two-car garage/studio, and he handles all of the modifications, serving as the on-camera talent. He’s also the program’s editor, and recently switched to Final Cut Pro X, having cut the show’s first few seasons using Final Cut Studio.

Like many out there, his initial reaction to FCP X was less than positive. “I took a look at it and thought what everybody else thought: this is just iMovie, and I don’t like iMovie.” But he had trust in Apple, seeing the innovation that they brought to other products, including the iPhone. “I said, ‘It’s Apple, give them the benefit of the doubt.’”

After some experimenting, Duke still wasn’t getting the results he desired, and as a self-taught editor, realized he needed to learn more. He did some reading online and then spent $40 on a series of video tutorials from Ripple Training. “It was a no brainer, and there are 30-plus videos that you can watch,” he says of the series.

“I did what they said,” he recalls. “And when I was all done, said, ‘This is awesome!’”

Duke notes that FCP X isn’t perfect. “It crashed a few times. There are some bugs. It definitely wasn’t a polished Version 10 release, it was more like a Version 1 — beta — but Final Cut Pro 7 had issues too.”

The benefits, he feels, still outweigh the negatives. “I didn’t have to go through this process of converting [files] to ProRes before I could start using [them].” And the “64-bit-ness” of the app meant everything worked fast. Duke says he trimmed 30 to 60 minutes off the time it took him to cut his first show, and thinks he’ll be able to further streamline his edits.

“I was sitting here with a big grin on my face thinking, people need to stop bitching about the software and educate themselves on how to use it, because once they do, they are going to be way better off!”