In 2002, an old friend of mine, film producer Nick O’Hagan suggested I have a serious look at his new HD edit suite centred on FCP3.
As a freelance editor and filmmaker, I had been flirting with an affordable alternative to Avid for a while and was watching eagerly as FCP developed, knowing that there was a revolution just around the corner. I had been working in commercials in Soho and was looking to get back to grassroots, hoping that a move closer to my dream of filmmaking would afford me the breaks to get my own films made.
Having made a few short films in the past years (on film, and cut on Avid) I was all too aware of how little time your money bought you in a professional edit suite (Avid) and with all my short films, my creative process was cut short.
So when Nick contacted me with an offer of one of the very first HD cameras in Europe – a prototype Panasonic Varicam – I jumped at the chance to try FCP3 along with it. Without going into too much detail, the camera had teething problems, no-one was using HD with FCP in 2002 (actually no-one was using HD), hard drives were v. expensive and not fast enough and the workflow was totally new. The resellers who sold Nick the edit suite had no idea, so I had to invent a workflow for myself.
The result was a film, ironically called How (Not) To Make A Short Film. It was a kind of short film heist within a short film and starred some great actors and won an audience award at Sydney Film Festival.
That film started my journey with FCP and since then, I have trained and spoken all over the world and advised many clients from the BBC & FIFA to Red Bull & Burberry. Most recently I designed and set-up the Final Cut Pro X workflow for the Tour De France.
Always bridging the gap between tech and creative.
In 2004, I became an Apple Certified Trainer. This allowed me more freedom than as a editor and got me involved with the FCP world and Apple at a very early stage. I was one of Soho Editor’s first trainers and still work with them today.
At the end of 2004, I spent two months editing a Scissor Sisters concert for Julien Temple using FCP4. FCP4 had no multicam – so again I had to invent a workflow – and it worked; layering cameras one atop each other on the timeline and slicing through them to cut. Luckily for me, the director left me to it (my favourite type of editing) and the concert was great with the band on top form.
The concert won a best live DVD Award from the CAD awards. You can see a clip from it here, a kind of surf guitar version of Comfortably Numb (originally by Pink Floyd)
Early 2005, I was asked to the BBC as an FCP expert and spent six months supervising the post on a pilot that would change the world of broadcast editing. Full On Food was a weekly cookery programme with fast turnaround content, produced, shot and edited by the directors themselves. Shooting HDV on Sony Z1’s they were sent around the world to produce mini food films which they had to edit themselves on FCP4.5 (with my help). Not only this, they were working in a collaborative environment with the first broadcast implementation of shared workflow using XSAN and FCP.
Technically, everything worked very well leading to the BBC technical gods blessing FCP as broadcast ready. This sent ructions around the international broadcast community and I was asked by the BBC to write a report about my experiences of helping directors edit their own stories. The report was called PREDITORS AT THE BBC and helped form a lot of the practices that are now in place at the BBC – such as directors doing first-pass edits and then passing them onto “craft” editors. (I didn’t invent that term).
After the BBC, I spent two months working at Siemens helping put together the “creative desktop”, which was a vision for all journalists to have an edit suite connected to one huge central hub. We also looked at the long term aim of archiving the whole of the BBC content. Both schemes were finally shelved in 2012 – I think at a cost of £100m. Whoops!!
Soon after that, I was asked by Apple to become a mentor trainer for FCP and have since then given over 40 train-the-trainer classes around the world in FCP, Motion and Color and regularly present and consult with and for Apple. For more about my training work look at the Final Cut Pro X Training page on this site.
Notable personal FCP milestones since then have been cutting the Sex Pistols 30th Anniversary concert in 2007/8 in an edit suite set-up by myself with the help of good friends 10dot1. This involved me directing some of the live cameras at the Brixton Academy and being backstage with the Pistols is something I will never forget. Julien Temple stayed at my house and there were some interesting times to say the least.
Here is a clip from a song called Anarchy In The UK
In 2008, I finished feature-doc Tantric Tourists, shot in 10 days on the road in India (before the DSLR revolution). The film won the East End Film Festival and a load of other awards and was a massive journey in itself. In a strange way, this film was made possible by FCP – technically, but also because my work allowed me the flexibility to go out and make a film. So thanks FCP.
Here is the intro to the film:
This year saw me fly to South Africa to support the entire FCP-based shared workflow for HBS/ FIFA (across a total of 40 edits). During this highly stressful period, due to set-up problems, I put my neck on the proverbial line and advised changing the workflow mid tournament – not generally something you do. My reasoning was accepted however and all ended well. Certain people know how close we came to catastrophe and I have never really been thanked for keeping the show on the road.
Since that time, Final Cut Pro X has arrived and I have been using it since day 1. Already another whole cycle of early adopters are changing the workflow and smashing industry-wide assumptions again. I have been busy training, consulting and testing workflow across Europe. I have worked very closely with the Apple team and published a couple of conversion courses (FCP7 to X) which have been very well received.
Working with my old XSAN brethren 10dot1, I wrote an XSAN Final Cut Pro X paper, which looks at the much-misunderstood area of shared workflow in Final Cut Pro X. This paper is now available on the Apple FCP resources page and has been quoted all over the place.
Along with all my Final Cut Pro X work, I am shooting another documentary, this time a lot closer to home and about the formative years of the area of Shoreditch in East London. So far we have shot 30 interviews and will probably top 50 by the time we are done. And yes we are cutting on Final Cut Pro X.