“… Ultimately this documentary is about how a tool has helped democratize movie making. It is also a product of what it preaches. Final Cut Pro X does empower storytellers and that message was what made me passionate enough to take all the time and energy to make this documentary. It’s a real meta sort of thing.…”
A confession: when I first cracked open Final Cut Pro X in its first iteration, I felt at home with it and its magnetic timeline concept in a way I never had with more conventional NLE products including Final Cut Pro.
In 2011 Apple ended Final Cut Pro as we knew it and started over with a brand new video editing application: Final Cut Pro X. The disruption from this change is still being felt by the film, television, and video industries to this day.
With misinformation running amok, Off The Tracks aims to clear the air once and for all.
This documentary features exclusive interviews with the creative professionals who use the software and the developers who created it. Why did Apple make Final Cut Pro X?
Flanders Scientific Inc. – B&H – although movie editors and color graders regard FSI monitors as the best there are, bizarrely B&H does not appear to stock the monitors themselves but only the accessories for them. I hope that this changes soon. Check out the FSI Solutions MediaLight 6500K Bias Light products for lighting your workstation area with light that will not throw your colour judgement seriously out of whack.
GTI Standard Gray Neutral N8 Vinyl Latex Paint (1 Gallon) – B&H – “Standard Neutral Gray Munsell N8,
Made for the Photo and Graphic Industry, Used in Color Viewing Areas, Water-Reducible Vinyl Latex Paint, Eliminates Simultaneous Color Contrast, Reduces Color Pollution of Viewing Area”
Until the arrival of the iMac Pro in late 2017, Apple’s professional moviemaking and photography customers had been questioning the company’s loyalty to them and dedication to meeting their ever-growing high-end graphics computing needs, without unnecessary monkey work.
Today’s release of the Coffee Lake sensor-equipped Mid-2018 MacBook Pro models in 13-inch and 15-inch versions along with the Apple/Blackmagic Design co-designed Blackmagic eGPU will further allay these concerns with a hardware combination approaching the iMac Pro in power and graphics processing speed.
Next year’s long-awaited release of the re-imagined Mac Pro after the Mac Pro range was left languishing since late 2013’s “ash can” Macs will be icing on the cake for creatives and a necessity for production studios needing the ultimate in multi-teraflop processing power.
Meanwhile, the long hiatus until last year’s iMac Pro saw many visual storytelling professionals looking to pre-Coffee Lake 15-inch MacBook Pros for portability and as a stopgap until Apple radically revised its desktop offerings, beginning with the iMac Pro.
Hard choices though when knowing that Coffee Lake processors would eventually arrive in Apple’s portable offerings, but the decision of when and which production computer in which to invest has always been a vexing one, given the need to choose a model as future-proofed as possible.
Apple MacBook Pro Mid 2018
Apple MacBook Pro 2018, 15-inch
Apple MacBook Pro 2018, 15-inch
Apple MacBook Pro 2018, 15-inch
Apple MacBook Pro 2018, 15-inch
Apple MacBook Pro 2018, 15-inch
The Apple computers I have used have always productively outlived all our Windows PCs, and our two current Macs have had long, productive lives though one is nearing its end having endured daily production use since early 2011.
Those lives are about to be challenged by coming software and hardware support demands as well as exciting new standard in video and ever-larger raw files from ever-bigger image sensor-equipped stills cameras such as Fujifilm’s GFX 50S and the coming GFX 100S and GFX 50R.
Internal upgrades of older machines using Other World Computing’s excellent SSDs and doubling the RAM have their limitations in the face of contemporary graphics software’s reliance on graphics processing units (GPUs) so a new 15-inch MacBook Pro has been overdue, preferably attached to a Blackmagic eGPU in the studio and on-location.
Accessories for Apple’s MacBook Pro Mid 2018
Blackmagic Design’s DaVinci Resolve Studio and Blackmagic Design Blackmagic eGPU for colour grading, with MacBook Pro, Blackmagic Design DaVinci Resolve Mini Panel, LG UltraFine 5K monitor and URSA cinema camera.
Loupedeck+ Photo Editing Console for use with Adobe Lightroom CC, Phase One Capture One, Skylum Aurora HDR and a growing number of photo editing software products.
Wacom pen tablets are invaluable for video editing, photograph editing and graphics, and can save you from the ill effects of repetitive computer work.
The really big investment maximisation lesson I learned kong ago is to max out your production computer with RAM, internal storage, CPU and GPU power to cope with the ever-increasing demands off constantly-updating editing software.
Apple has clearly heeded this relentless tendency with the 15-inch MacBook Pro Mid-2018’s up to 6-core processors and 32GB of RAM, and a great choice of SSDs up to 4TB, obviating the need to connect external media drives when working on ambitious video and longterm photography projects.
Invest in a minimum of 1TB internal storage, 32GB of RAM, choose the highest specifications processor, add Thunderbolt external storage for media and scratch disk space, and cast an eye at LG’s excellent UltraFine and UltraWide 5K monitors, two of which the Mid-2018 MacBook Pro can easily handle.
Consider a Wacom pen tablet for fine selection control and to guard against wrist damage, add the Blackmagic eGPU, look at Blackmagic Design’s DaVinci Resolve Micro and Mini colour grading panels, and by doing so create a top-end editing workstation approaching the iMac Pro or coming Mac Pro in power and reliability.
Above all, do not aim low as it will only keep you down as your needs and ambitions change.
Those griping at the price of this versatility and power would do well to consider the past alternatives.
It is significant that Apple has begun collaborating with Blackmagic Design in the eGPU and hopefully other areas given Blackmagic Design CEO Grant Petty’s mission of “allowing the highest quality video to be affordable to everyone, so the post production and television industry can become a truly creative industry.”
When I first read that, I cast my mind back to the very first video editing workstation I clapped eyes on at a top London creative hotshop advertising agency costing, if my memory serves me right, some £100,000 for the hardware and software, barely affordable by the agency much less any creative of my acquaintance then.
The two photographers-turned-directors who had headhunted me for the agency relied on funky old-but-beautiful Super 16mm movie cameras but the cost of the video cameras of the time was astronomical compared to the price of current small cinema, video and hybrid mirrorless cameras.
With personal computers being the centre of our creative lives, it makes sense to spend some of the money saved on free and affordable production software and hardware on the beating heart of your production kit, making it last for years to come.
Speaking of which with Apple now doing right by its professional users on the hardware front, it is past time for the company to do right in video editing software by improving Final Cut Pro X’s audio capabilities now that Blackmagic Design’s DaVinci Resolve’s Fairlight audio page is putting it to shame.
Likewise Apple’s still-smarting 2015 abandonment of photography organizing and editing essential Aperture, was an almost shameful act still with no fully-featured direct replacement anywhere near the horizon whether by dint of third-party software makers or Apple Photos, its erstwhile in-house successor.
“We’re celebrating Apple’s latest iMac Pro with an teardown video! Join Mike and Matt as they teardown one of the fastest Macs ever made and reveal a look into what makes it work and the upgrade possibilities….”
MacSales.com – Other World Computing’s aka OWC retail sales website
Apple is poised to release the first iterations of its high-end production-ready Apple iMac Pro, boasting the choice of 8, 10 or 18-core Xeon processors, turbo boost up to 4.5GHz, up to 42MB cache, up to 128GB RAM, up to 4TB SSD data storage and up to 3GB/s throughput with latest generation I/O including 4 x Thunderbolt 3 ports, 40Gb/s data transfer and 10GB Ethernet.
Any version of the iMac Pro can form the basis of a multiple display graphics, photography or video workstation with the attachment of up to two RAID systems and two 5K displays via its four Thunderbolt 3 ports at rear, allowing you to work on a 44-million pixel machine.
Twelve South – HiRise Pro for iMac & Displays – I have been needing stands like this for the editing machines on my standing desk to get them up to the right level. Twelve South states that there is a “soft supple leather valet tray on top of the stand”. I have been told that the “leather” is, in fact, vegan leather. Non-vegan leather’s extreme cruelty to animals, its liability to equipment-destroying mould infection and its environmental irresponsibility mitigate against using animal leather in any photography and video production equipment and I hope that all manufacturers will follow Twelve South’s fine example.
Is editing slow on your Mac Book Pro or iMac? Add an external Graphics Processing Unit (eGPU)! Movie and television workstation maker Bizon has introduced the very first external Graphics Processing Unit card solution for Mac computers including current and older Mac Book Pro and iMac.
The BizonBOX eGPU is available in two versions depending on the age of your Apple computer, BizonBOX 2S for machines made between 2011 and 2015, and BizonBOX 3, compatible with the Mac Book Pro 2016 and, hopefully, the Mac Book Pro 2017 when the overdue big beef-up MBP upgrade is finally here sometime later this year.
Apple, please give us 32GB RAM maximum in the next Mac Book Pro. A total of 16GB RAM just does not cut it and, frankly, I don’t care so much about the battery when I am editing video or big, fat stills. For that I will always plug into mains power in the studio or on location.
The relentless march of technology
When editing software developers discovered that graphics processing units’ floating point calculation capabilities could be used to radically speed up image and video editing, the writing was on the wall for dependence on non-upgradeable internal GPUs.
The inevitable occurred. Digital filmmaking and photography’s relentless march of press quickly led to 4K video, three-to-seven-bracket HDR photography, massive multi-stitch panoramas, immersive 360-degree VR video, 20MP to 50MP enthusiast through prosumer to professional stills cameras, and democratized Hollywood quality movie grading and editing with the free version of Blackmagic Design’s DaVinci Resolve.
Our computers’ CPUs and especially their graphics processing units are taking a beating and it is only going to get worse. For example, Panasonic’s Lumix DC-GH5 will soon be introducing consumer-accessible anamorphic 6K HEVC video recording via its 6K Photo feature, as UK Lumix Luminary Nick Driftwood has demonstrated.
Bigger, better, more demand on processing power
Moviemakers at all levels of the industry are acquiring, editing, storing and increasingly outputting at UHD 4K and DCI 4K. Editing proxies from 4K footage is becoming a standard practice but it is not the be-all and end-all.
Fujifilm’s GFX 50S camera has arrived, bringing more affordable medium format photography to a proportion of the masses, as it were, and with it 50MP files weighing in at almost 120MB with TIFFs exported from raw processors averaging a weight of over 300MB before heavy image editing begins.
Imagine merging three to seven of those into an HDR image via MacphunAurora HDR 2017 and the size of the consequent .mpaur file and exported TIFF. Open the TIFF in sister photo editor Macphun Luminar and watch file size blow out yet again. Imagine what will happen when the Fujifilm GFX 100S arrives with a 100MP sensor and 200MB raw files.
ON1, Inc.’sON1 Photo Raw 2017’s developer team has wisely chosen to send in-edit image display to the GPU instead of relying on the CPU, a trend I would like to see in more image editors, NLEs and color grading suites, but that bumps potential overload from CPUs over to GPUs.
Some photographers earning a livelihood from big sensor images and big blow-ups are in a snit about Apple’s current generation USB-C Mac Book Pro portable computers and have moved over to the dark side or have dipped their toes in and found WindowsWorld wanting.
A few multi-NLE video editors have expressed reservations about the way that Apple’s latest Mac Book pro seems to play so well with Final Cut Pro X but not with other non-linear editing suites. Has Apple been up to something nefarious, given how old the latest iMacs and Mac Pro computers are now, they ask.
Meanwhile professional users have been wondering whether and how much Apple is committed to its pro customers especially those of us working in video and photography, as reported by TechCrunch late December last year.
Investigating a modern editing set-up and workflow
I have had to suspend much-needed new hardware acquisitions at the moment, not by choice but circumstance given how bureaucracy, lawyers and soon-to-be-gone nasty neighbours have thrown several kinks in our plans to finance Untitled: Stories of Creativity Innovation, Success ourselves. Consequently, Untitled’s soft launch date has been extended indefinitely despite my desire to begin producing those stories in photo essay and short documentary form.
Meanwhile, I remain optimistic and continue to investigate my options for upgrading our current machines as well as essential future new purchases.
I am still making sense of the latest and coming I/O, USB-C, storage, workflow, Thunderbolt 3 and, with macOS Sierra supporting external GPUs like the BizonBOX as reported in a Frame.ioblog entry on FCPX, how to support shortcomings in computers and their hardware with third party solutions.
In the light of all that and the uncertainty as to what Apple will be coming out with this year, knowing that a solution like BizonBOX 3 exists is a relief.