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vimeo vs youtube

Which Video Site Is Best for Business?

If you’re interested in exposing your business or brand to a potentially huge audience, then you’ll want to have a presence on video-hosting websites like YouTube and Vimeo.

But which of these sites is best for your business? The answer depends on a number of factors, including the type of videos you produce, your target audience, and , your budget.

This article weighs the pros and cons of two of the most respected options to help you decide which video hosting platform is best for your business.


YouTube: Pros youtube

With an estimated 450 million unique, monthly visitors worldwide, it’s almost impossible not to consider YouTube for your video-marketing campaign. This type of popularity makes YouTube one of the most visited sites on the web, and certainly the number one video hosting site in terms of traffic. YouTube has the added distinction of being owned by Google, so it probably doesn’t hurt to have video content that’s indexed by the world’s largest search engine. In other words, you’ll likely increase the odds of your video being seen if you host it on YouTube.

You can set up a YouTube account for free, and customize its look and feel to reflect your existing company brand. You can also upload an unlimited number of YouTube videos to your account. These points may be important considerations if you are concerned about budget, flexibility, and ease of use.

YouTube offers a number of advertising opportunities for your business, including display ads, in-video ads, and even promoted videos. You can pay to have your ads or videos appear when people use specific keywords to search for videos. Given the sheer volume of people visiting YouTube on a daily basis, a strategically crafted ad campaign on YouTube can reap excellent results. Check out YouTube’s advertiser’s guide for more information about your advertising options.

YouTube: Cons

Precisely because of its popularity, the subject matter of YouTube videos run the gamut from high-definition masterpieces to low-end filler. Sometimes it can be hard for a viewer to find the diamonds in the rough. Any potential customer trying to find your video on YouTube will be inundated with video distractions — often of a very unprofessional nature.

While you are clearly not responsible for anyone else’s content, your audience may have to steer through a lot of clutter in order to see your message on YouTube.

Advertising may also be considered a negative attribute for YouTube. There’s always the potential for a competitor to advertise its own products and services within your videos or to display its ads when a customer is searching for you. Because advertising appears in every video on YouTube (to support the free application), customers may be distracted by these ads when they’re viewing your business videos.

Although YouTube offers a built-in analytics tool called Insight, some have suggested that the analytics data is too basic, or provides more of an executive summary than actionable data. On the other hand, others have suggested that the interface for Insight is cumbersome and difficult to use. Of course, in order to make a fair judgment, you should compare the analytics capabilities of YouTube with other video-hosting sites.

Vimeo: Pros 



Vimeo bases its impressive reputation on quality and customization. For example, with a paid, “Pro” account, Vimeo offers what it calls “2-pass encoding.”According to Vimeo, this process makes videos much cleaner, requiring less bandwidth to view.

Priority uploading, also offered with Vimeo Pro, means that you can skip the queue and upload your business videos ahead of other unpaid accounts. This may be important to your business if you have timely videos which need to be uploaded without any delays.

Vimeo also offers “complete customization” of its video player, allowing you to embed your logo and branding into the player itself. This differs significantly from YouTube, where videos always carry the YouTube logo (potentially diluting your brand). In addition, we believe the analytics package offered by the Vimeo Pro account is superior to YouTube’s Insight application.

The Vimeo community is also a marketing aspect that Vimeo uses to promote its service. Paid-account holders can choose to disable in-video advertising in order to focus on the content of the videos they’re watching. Members can create their own channels, start groups, and organize all of their videos into different albums. In general, this makes for a much more engaged audience than on other video-hosting sites.

Vimeo: Cons

At just under 17 million unique, monthly visitors worldwide, Vimeo has significantly less traffic, and is less well known than YouTube. With less overall traffic to the site, your business videos may see fewer views on a platform like Vimeo

Videos with higher views, hosted on sites with higher traffic, tend to be treated more favorably by search engines. It’s possible that videos hosted on Vimeo will appear lower in search engine results when compared with similar videos hosted on a more popular platform.

Some of Vimeo’s best features are available only with a premium, paid account. In fact, Vimeo’s Terms of Service document states that if you intend to host commercial videos promoting your product or service, then you must purchase a Vimeo Pro account.

Pro accounts also come with restrictions. With a Pro account you are limited to a maximum of 50 GB of upload space per year, with a cap of 5 GB per uploaded video. Video views are also capped at 250,000.

If you want to upload additional videos or allow additional views beyond the specified caps, you have to purchase upgrades from the Vimeo “Store.” If budget is a concern for your video marketing campaign, you’ll have to pay close attention to the fine print with Vimeo.


Which is Best? Video Marketing


Online video has become synonymous with YouTube. Its size and high profile make it an obvious consideration for hosting your business videos — and of course, it’s free. On the other hand, Vimeo has built its reputation on providing a professional platform with advanced features and a more engaged audience.

When choosing the best platform to host your business videos, consider the goal of your campaign (views vs. engagement), your budget, and your brand itself. YouTube may be more suitable if high volume and high exposure are key considerations for your videos. If brand reputation and detailed analytics are more important, then Vimeo may be the better choice. In either case, your business will benefit from being part of the vastly popular, online video movement.

youtube vs vimeo










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Every company wants to engage and grab the attention of their viewers, but how can you do that?


Almost every site you go on, visiters are bombarded with something. Whether its  fancy text, a ton of text or even graphics everywhere.


Keep your site simple, don’t let your visitors lose site as to why they came to your website in the first place. One of the top reasons why bounce rates are so high is because visitors are overwhelmed with the amount of information being placed in front of them.


A great way to introduce your company and brand to your viewers, upon visiting your site is with an introductory video. According to The Deep End, “a website has ten seconds to capture a visitor’s attention before losing them forever“. A video is just the thing you need to keep them engaged and on your site.


Benefits of an Introductory Video


Your homepage leaves an impression on your visitors, so what do you want that impression to be? It should be amazing, make them want to keep coming back. Just remember to keep your video between 1-2 minutes, no one is going to want to watch an hour video.


Why video is valuable:


Improved user engagement

Brand awareness

Search engine optimisation


The impact of videos can be seen, especially since your visitors attention span has decreased from 12 seconds to 8 seconds. With the right script, you can maintain the attention of your visitors after those 8 seconds.




There is so much information on your site, with an introductory video, it’s an easy and interesting way to provide your target audience and visitors with an understanding of what the company does without them having to read through a bunch of text. Still not sure if you should add a video to your homepage? tmg Custom Media, says that “60% of respondents said they would watch video previous to reading text on the same webpage, and 22% said they generally liked watching video more than browsing text for examining business information”.


You can provide information with your homepage video by:


Summarising who the company is
Explaining your product or service
Explain your terminology




Engage and Connect with Viewers


The main objective of your introductory video is to get your visitors to engage and connect. The best way to do that is by telling them what its like to work with you and the members of your company. And a great way to show people what its like to work with you is through your personality. All that text on your website makes conveying the personality of your company limited. Whereas videos give you an opportunity to show viewers exactly how you look, sound and act. What a great way to project your core values. Visitors and other companies want to know, are you young and fun? Bold and assertive? You can answer their questions about your personality and the culture of your company through your introductory video. Another benefit of using video, is being able to  reach out to your visitors in a more personal manner, really let them get to know you.


Now that you’ve told them about your company and they understand your culture, you can further engage and connect with each visitor by showcasing people using your product or service.


User engagement is achieved through:


Appraisal of meaning
Evaluation of meaning
Emotional response



Give them Direction


Do your visitors know what to do next after landing on your homepage? Sometimes they have no idea where to even start. With your video you can provide each visitor with some sense of direction. You may have talked about something that interested them. This especially comes in handy when showing people using your product or when mentioning how your service can bring them results. They will want to learn more about that product or service.


Something interesting and different that some companies have implemented into their introductory video is lead capture forms. Everyone wants to generate more leads, some companies actually ask you to enter your email to continue watching a video. According to,  “Approximately 30% of page visitors watch your introductory video and 50% of those viewers watch the video in its entirety“. Another added benefit of adding a video is that sites that actually had an introductory video on their homepage saw a 10% increase in their conversion rates.


With your video encourage visitors to:


Visit other parts of your site
Share your video through social media
Act on some next steps that were mentioned in the video


If you still need some convincing, check out these six brands that created amazing introductory videos that will  grab your attention and reel you in.


6 Brands with Amazing Introductory Videos


1. Dollar Shave Club


2. Color Me Rad


3. Tough Mudder


4. Shopify


5. GoToMeeting


6.Information Technology Group



article by:  IMpact Branding & Design


Digital video is one of the fastest growing formats for travel industry marketers in 2014.

According to eMarketer’s report “The U.S. Travel Industry 2014: Digital Ad Spending Forecast and Trends,” digital video is expected to account for up to 30 percent of marketers’ total digital budgets by the end of 2014.


And that’s little surprise when considering that branded video content is the most watched type of travel-related video watched by U.S. travelers today.

Based on a survey of almost 2,500 business and leisure travelers, branded videos were more popular than videos and trip reviews produced by experts, regular travelers, and even friends and family.



Perhaps due to the rapid growth of the format, digital videos produced by the travel and lodging industry attract more viewers than most other industries today.

Travel and lodging-related videos attracted more than 270 million views in the fourth-quarter of 2013. View volume was beat only by the automotive and electronics industries.

Seeking to capitalize on the impressive growth, digital video publishers are creating new ways to track views and deliver more personalized messages.

One example cited in the eMarketer report explains how travel advertisers are now ending ads with real-time airfare prices based on viewers’ current locations.


Travel brands are using video to reach customers and build loyalty.

Released February 2014: Online video is rapidly eclipsing television as the most effective channel for travel marketing, especially for brands targeting younger demographics. What can marketers learn from the success of travel industry leaders?

  • Find out why creative video marketing is more important for airlines
  • Understand best practices for YouTube and alternative video platforms such as Vine
  • Learn how to develop a consistent, cost-effective video strategy from influential marketers

Online video is rapidly enclipsing television as the most effective channel for marketing, especially for marketers targeting younger demographics. For a largely commodified and opaque business, video marketing is more important for the airlines than most travel-related business. As a result, airlines are among the most successful producers of video marketing in the travel industry. Even the once boring in-flight safety video is assering itself as a chance to define and defferentiate the airline brand.



Branded videos have proven effective for a variety of products and services in a variety of markets. The big issue, however, is how to create a branded video that will be effective for your product or service in your market. As you’ve already learned or suspected, there is no single formula that works in all instances. However, if you read through the ten tips below, you’ll learn how to set reasonable goals and expectations, and what it takes to produce and distribute a highly-successful branded video.

Know that Going Viral Isn’t the Only Road to Success

The current high water mark in low-budget high-traffic branded video success is the Dollar Shave Club’s first video from 2012. However, rather than being an ideal that all companies can achieve, the Dollar Shave Club video was the “perfect storm” of branded videos, according to David Murdico, creative director and managing partner at L.A.-based SuperCool Creative. “You have a disposable, consumer product that men use every day, a simple and easily explainable value proposition, a CEO with comedy training, and friends with production experience. Unless your circumstances are very similar, you shouldn’t expect similar results,” he says.

While lofty aspirations are great, it’s best to realistically look at your product or service, target market, and even your CEO, and try to come up with meaningful and achievable goals.


Start With a Realistic Goal

DoveWhen formulating your goals, the first decision is whether you want the video to raise brand awareness, like the Dove Real Beauty Sketches, or to sell product (Dollar Shave Club)? Obviously, both approaches can be fabulously effective, you just need to decide up front which direction you’re going.

Beyond this, the next consideration should be the value you hope the video will deliver to the customer. “Value can include information, or making viewers laugh or feeling a strong emotion, “ says Ken Gumbs, from Chicago-based production house Fresh Giants. “Just remember that once you try to create entertainment, you’re competing with movies and TV shows for the same eyeballs. The creative and production quality bars are definitely a lot higher.”

Know What You Want, But Be Flexible

Whether you produce your own video, or rely on an outside production company, you should

EpicSplit have a pretty strong idea of what you want before you get started. For example, when they walk in the door, most of Murdico’s customers have three or four existing videos that they want their video to emulate in some form or fashion. This simplifies the creative process by providing concrete examples of what customers want or don’t want.

That said, don’t be married to your initial concept. The role of the creative agency is to come up with fresh takes on how to achieve the customer’s goal. “After hearing what the customer is trying to accomplish we create three to five concepts supported by a mood board, or rough storyboard, to explain what we’re thinking,” Murdico explains. “Most brand professionals stay true to their initial concepts, which makes sense, because they’re experienced and know what they’re trying to accomplish. Clients without that brand or production experience are usually better off choosing one of our concepts.”


Know that B2B is Different From B2C

In Mashable’s Most-Shared Ads of 2013, 19 of the 20 ads are B2C (business to consumer), with the sole exception of the Jean-Claude Van Damme Epic Split Volvo ad, which targets buyers of tractor trailers. There’s a clear reason for this.

“The web is great for wide targeting, but B2B [business to business] companies typically have far fewer prospects than B2C companies, and usually you can reach them more effectively using other mediums,” says Josh Warner, president of video seeding company Feed Company. This isn’t to say that you can’t produce humorous or otherwise compelling B2B branded videos (for example, this IBM video Murdico created). However, when producing B2B branded videos, your expectations regarding potential viewer count and the ability to go viral just need to be adjusted downwards.

Find Viewers, Then Produce the Video

If you want to produce a video that resonates with target viewers, Gumbs recommends finding a problem they’re experiencing, or a particular area of active interest, and then producing a video that addresses it. For example, visit blogs frequented by your target viewers and find the content they’re engaged with, whether via comments, views, tweets, likes, or other social engagement. Then create a video that will address those problems, concerns, or interests.

Don’t Sweat It — There Are Few Universal Rules


PoopouriSome pundits say you should always minimize mentions of your brand, but the Dollar Shave Club and PooPouri brand videos do that early and often. Some experts recommend keeping videos under a minute long, but the Grand Theft Auto V: Official Gameplay Video (over 30 million views) is 4 minutes and 50 seconds, while the Dove Sketches ad (over 62 million views) is 3 minutes 1 second. The average length of Mashable’s Top 20 branded video ads for 2013 was 2:24.

Regarding branding, Murdico notes that “Audiences have gotten really smart; you don’t want to trick them, you don’t want to take them for a ride, and you don’t want them to feel like your video is an ad, unless of course, it is, like the Dollar Shave Club.” Regarding time, “As a rule, shorter is better, and 1 to 2 minutes is optimal, but if the story is really effective, you can go as long as it takes to tell the story.” Gumb recommends keeping branded videos used as pre-rolls to under 15 seconds, but feels that they can go as long as they keep providing value to the viewer.

While it’s simple to identify rules that apply to some types of videos — for example, heavy branding early on would likely have diminished the strong impact of the Dove Sketches video — there are few, if any, universal rules that apply to all videos. Have a strong vision of what you’re hoping to accomplish, and to stay true to that. If you don’t have the experience to trust your creative vision, get help.

Remember, It’s About the Customer

Humorous advertisements aside, like those for PooPourri and Dollar Shave Club, most branded videos focus on the customer and don’t trumpet product features. One great example is the series of customer-focused advertisements that IBM produced for The 2014 Masters. According to Jesse Dylan, who produced many of the advertisements, “Normally, when you do a commercial, there’s a very set structure to how they are made. Here we really had to listen to the clients to get an intrinsic understanding of where the client of IBM was coming from. And then we had to make interesting, compelling commercials that came out of those underlying interviews.” In other words, it wasn’t about producing a video that IBM wanted, it was telling the true story of how IBM helped the customer.

Particularly in a B2B setting, if you want viewers to share your video, you’re almost always better off showing how your product helped a customer than trumpeting its features and benefits. But even for B2C branded videos, most succeed because they focus on the customer, not the product itself.

Have Experience On-Hand

A successful video needs to be well-produced. This means you have to respect the process and the skills of the personnel involved. Before producing a video, Murdico follows a set process that includes creating the mood boards discussed above, finalizing a script, often (but not always) creating a storyboard, then going through a casting call and location scouting to identify the ideal actors and locations. His shoots always involve an experienced DP (director of photography) along with lighting and sound personnel, with him as director.

The less experience you have, the more you need to bring in professional resources to ensure the production quality you’ll need for your video to succeed.

Price Out the Pros

Working in L.A., most of Murdico’s large-brand productions range in price from $25,000 to $150,000, although for startups and smaller businesses that require less polish he can produce a branded video for as low as $10,000. In Chicago, Gumb’s price for simple, short productions can often be $5,000 or less. Even if you decide to produce in-house, price the cost of professional services. They may be cheaper than you think.

Buy Some Eyeballs to Go Viral

When production and editing is complete, marketing has just begun. Few super-successful brand videos have completely organic views, says the Feed Company’s Warner. Most used a video seeding company, such as the Feed Company, to prime the pump. Warner likens it to the promotional money spent launching a movie. “Even if you have the best movie ever made, if you don’t have a marketing budget to create a buzz, it’s never going to realize its full potential.”

There are two levels of paid views: pure numbers and actual qualified prospects. Both are important, says Murdico, whose company also offers blog and publication outreach and social media strategy and management. The pure numbers are simply window dressing necessary to make the video feel interesting; “Few people want to eat in an empty restaurant, and potential viewers are more likely to watch a video if it has a few thousand views.” For these types of views, companies like Virool can provide viewers with plans starting at $10.

The second level of seeding reaches well-qualified prospects who can meaningfully share the video with other well-qualified prospects, or actually buy the product being advertised. While services like Virool can help you reach these viewers, as well, expect to spend more for this level of targeting.

Beyond this, video seeding companies rely on paid placements, as well as earned media strategies such as pitching bloggers, outreaching to key influencers, leveraging potential celebrity tie-ins, and other creative marketing and social engagement strategies.

“There are thousands of videos uploaded each day,” Warner says. “To get the video seen, you need a strategic seeding plan that includes both paid views and a range of other creative marketing outreach.”







Timecode is a 2000 American experimental film directed by Mike Figgis.

The film is constructed from four continuous 90-minute takes that were filmed simultaneously by four cameramen; the screen is divided into quarters and the four shots are shown simultaneously. The film depicts several groups of people in Los Angeles as they interact and conflict while preparing for the shooting of a movie in a production office. The dialogue was largely improvised, and the sound mix of the film is designed so that the most significant of the four sequences on screen dominates the soundtrack at any given moment.

The movie was shot on videotape. This was transferred to film for the theatrical release, but the VHS and DVD releases present the original videotape stock.

The film was shot 15 different times over a period of two weeks and Figgis selected the best version for theatrical release; this version was recorded on November 19, 1999, beginning at 3:00 p.m, and ending a little after 4:30 p.m. The DVD release includes the first attempt as a bonus feature. Additionally on the DVD release, viewers have access to all audio tracks to allow for custom sound mixing, rather than the mix of the finished film.



The film takes place in and around a film production company office, and involves several interweaving plot threads which include: a young actress named Rose (Salma Hayek) who tries to score a screen test from her secret boyfriend Alex Green (Stellan Skarsgård), a noted but disillusioned director. Meanwhile, Rose’s tryst with him is discovered by her girlfriend Lauren (Jeanne Tripplehorn), an insanely jealous businesswoman who plants a microphone in Rose’s purse and spends most of the time in the back of her limousine parked outside the office building listening in on Rose’s conversations. Elsewhere, Alex’s wife Emma (Saffron Burrows) is seen with a therapist (Glenne Headly) debating about asking him for a divorce. In the meantime, numerous film industry types (played by Xander Berkeley, Golden Brooks, Holly Hunter and Kyle MacLachlan), pitch ideas for the next big hit film.

A homage to this film can be heard during another of Mike Figgis’s films, Hotel, in the first moment the screen is split into four quadrants. The sound of milk being steamed in one quadrant and the sound of an actor tapping beats onto a paperback novel in another quadrant, combine to create a very subtle imitation of the sounds and music heard during the first few minutes in Timecode.


FilmComment Review


In the vernacular of multi-camera television events such as live sports programs and live-to-tape daytime dramas, the motion picture Time Code resembles what is known as a “quad split”: a live-television director chooses the feeds from four simultaneous camera sources, selecting on the fly the best action to air. It’s a vastly under-appreciated art that bristles with the excitement of possibilities continually lost and found, of editing a story in the moment, behind the scenes. In Time Code, Mike Figgis has painstakingly—and often strikingly—coordinated the action of four uninterrupted and interrelated feature-length narratives, then presented the illusion of a live quad split on a single movie screen rather than four TV monitors. Time Code renders the effect of watching four movies in a single gestalt from a broadcast control room or production truck—or, perhaps closer to the director’s intent, from the vaguely voyeuristic catbird’s seat of a security guard’s throne. The movie itself is sort of a lighthearted Altman-movie manqué meets Hollywood Squares (wherein the imaginary contestant might say to the host, “I’ll take Stellan Skarsgård to block yet another unmistakable reference to Short Cuts’ earthquake-as-metaphor”).

Having witnessed or participated in hundreds of hours of such TV production, here’s a subjective and hopefully relevant observation: despite what is so often presupposed by proponents of multiple-angle TV broadcasts and interactive narratives, one is struck by just how often in a live event there’s only a single best shot for telling the story. Or, rather, the setup and selection of that shot and its conversion from randomly arbitrary to seemingly necessary defines directorial sensibility—in a word, vision.

Telling a story is inescapably undemocratic; what Figgis has done in Time Code seems equally undemocratic, but divided or multiplied by four. Almost incidentally, it’s been shot on digital video. The structuring of story, not the medium, is the message here. Figgis foregrounds the process of editing without a single cut.

During the title sequence, Figgis fills his quadrant frames with examples of experimental minimalism—video editing timecode numbers and VU-meter patterns that, bereft of scale, could be pulsing runway lights or an Ernie Gehr effect. Those object-oriented shots, with no “story” content, frame the action slickly when juxtaposed with narrative frames, but fade as the movie(s) start(s) in earnest.

Actress Lauren (Jeanne Tripplehorn) and aspiring actress Rose (Salma Hayek) are lesbian lovers descending from the Hollywood Hills by limo, Rose to an audition, and Lauren, under the pretense of running errands, to keep tabs on her girlfriend, whom she suspects is having an affair. Across town, Emma (Saffron Burrows) unloads in therapy. Meanwhile, at the Sunset Boulevard offices of Red Mullet Pictures, production executives and their assistants, played by Xander Berkeley, Holly Hunter, Danny Huston, Golden Brooks, and a hotshot director played by Richard Edson, among others, await the arrival of Alex Green (Skarsgård), a mogul powerful and egocentric enough to put his sycophants through exasperating paces. Green is conducting an affair with Rose, all the while distraught at his estrangement from his wife, Emma. He and Emma are having coordinated nervous breakdowns. If the movie does have an imaginary, schizophrenic P.O.V., it’s either his or hers.

The story, by Figgis, is effervescent, enterprising and Altmanesque. It’s fun, for a Figgis film, combining elements of The Player and Short Cuts. Figgis’ direction imparts an overarching tone of improvisational, light (soap) opera. It’s an object-lesson in television “Q” ratings: when the screen’s full of stars, they compete for the eye less through emphasized action than with charisma. Figgis orchestrates the action as fascinating choreography (e.g., complementary shot-reverse shots of Alex leaving one room and entering another) and awkward silliness (groups of actors huddle close together, like a covey of anxious quails, when moving as a group).

But the implicit claims of breakthrough experimentalism fall short of exciting. Figgis himself seems cognizant of this when Red Mullet entertains the pretentious pitch of an avant-garde French director who references everything from Gropius’ Bauhaus functionality to Leibniz’ monadology to support her theory of the digital filmmaking revolution (“Art/technology, a new unity!”), sending Alex hilariously over the edge. But to avoid a confusing cacophony of four audio sources at once, Figgis usually emphasizes only one source per scene, so he’s directing your attention toward a single story anyway. And he drains as many as three screen quadrants of any compelling narrative content at a time. If there’s a story-meeting discussion in one corner with sound, but the other three silent quads contain Hayek putting on her makeup, a closeup of Tripplehorn’s lovely cocoa-brown eyes, and an empty office lobby, one might as well be seeing only one movie, edited in a parallel montage. In that sense, Time Code is not as advanced or beautiful or exhilarating as Abel Gance’s Napoleon triptych of 1927; it’s far less complex and innovative than the trippy pop experiment of Andy Warhol’s Chelsea Girls or Brian De Palma’s modern, artful split screens in such conventionally watchable movies as Sisters; and it’s not as boldly breakthrough as the widescreen, multiple-character, multi-track conversational overlays of Altman. Because Figgis skillfully mounted four simultaneous 93-minute takes with no cuts, the use of digital video is refreshingly purposeful in contrast to the Dogma95 artists’ self-aggrandizing scams. But, unlike Hitchcock’s attempts to create claustral tension in movies like Rope and Lifeboat, to what narrative purpose has the actual movie-length take been applied? The eye “edits” every conventional shot in the cinema by its focus anyway. Cinema is anti-monad. A shot is irreducible to a word, or even a simple sentence.

The Los Angeles Directors Guild’s top-notch video projection system was employed for Time Code‘s premiere at the Yahoo! Internet Life festival. But since then, Figgis has bumped up the resolution and transferred the video to film for theatrical release. In the process there hasn’t been much discernable gain in image quality. The use of single lenses to capture a range of compositions results in odd angles and unflattering uni-filtered lighting (at least the skin tones could be color-corrected). Frequently tape-to-film transfers lock in the worst characteristics of each media, interframe flicker and feeble image structure. So there’s a case for viewing Time Code in high-definition digital video. It will lose something of its essence—and much of its integrity—otherwise. Video’s psychologically hypnotic properties—as opposed to cinema’s dreamlike quality—reinforces Figgis’ aesthetic of unbroken takes and TV-dramedy tone. It’s honestly video, not film, particularly in the way it evidences its hand-held means of production. Finally, video has an immediacy, which, combined with larger-than-life image size, imparts a strange intimacy to the performances.


Mike Figgis. Time Code, Narration and the Art of Film Leacture



Procure multimedia workflow

A relatively large 3rd party ecosystem has sprung up around Final Cut Pro X (FCPX). Here are some of the programs, apps and FCPX plugins I really enjoy.



  • Event Manager X: A must have application from the guys at Intelligent Assistance. It allows you to choose which events and projects you load up when you open FCPX. This is easily the FCPX-related app I use most. You can get it here.
  • Sync-N-Link X : This is another awesome app from the guys at Intelligent Assistance.  Sync-N-Link X allows you to import an event XML and will automatically sync your second source audio through timecode to your video. The best part is that when you bring your XML back into FCPX, all your synced clips will be titled according to how you originally named them before using Sync-N-Link X. This app pays for itself on the first day due to the amount of time you save, especially if you’re doing a lot of work where they’re jam syncing timecode. It’s available on the App Store here.
  • X2Pro: There’s a blatantly false rumor circulating that you can’t use Pro Tools if you cut in FCPX. In fact, with X2Pro, it’s actually better than before because it uses AAF format, which is an improvement rather than sending .omf’s from FCP7.  You can buy them both from the Mac App Store here.
  • Backups for Final Cut Pro: You know how you’re really mad that there’s no auto save vault in FCPX anymore? This fixes that. Get it here.
  • Lumberjack: Yet another Intelligent Assistance App. While it hasn’t been released yet, I have a feeling it’s going to be really useful for people in the reality television and documentary world.  It’s all about on-set logging and metadata that you can bring into FCPX. They explain it a lot better than I do, so if you want to know more, check them out here.
  • 7toX: Got a project in FCP7 that you want to move to FCPX? Use this app. Available here.
  • Xto7: Also from Intelligent Assistance, this app allows you to move back to FCP7 if you need to. Available here.
  • myFiles (Free): A cool little app that will turn your event or project XML into a spreadsheet. Currently, the metadata columns that come through are slightly limited. Did I mention it’s a free app? Side note: I’m hoping someone out there is going to make an app that gives me ALLof my event and project metadata and keywords in spreadsheet form. myFiles is proof that it can’t be too far away. You can get it here.
  • FxFactory (Free)This is the plug-in management app from Noise Industries. Once you get to the plug-ins listed below, you’ll see that many of them come from this app. Why? Because it’s really easy to load, demo, and test out the plug-ins from FxFactory while seeing if they’re useful or not. And if you don’t like a plug-in, it’s really easy to turn it off and not have it affect the ones you plan to use.

Colour Suites

  • DaVinci Resolve (Free): If you live in a 1080 HD world, it’s time for you to learn this app. Not only is it pretty much the industry standard for color work, but it’s also FREE if you’re not working in 4k and if you don’t need noise reduction. Not many people know this, but it also works really well with FCPX better than it does with Premiere or Avid.
  • Magic Bullet: Okay, I really wanted this to be higher on the list. I used to love Magic Bullet in FCP7. Supposedly, it works with FCPX; however, I had some difficulties with my trial installer.  Not only that, but the whole download process is pretty archaic, topping of the fact that they don’t make it very clear exactly what you’re downloading. Too many packages, too much clutter, and nothing works. So, to the people at Red Giant Software, I would love to be able to use your product, but for some reason you won’t let me. I find this confusing. Please fix this and I’ll write something nicer about you.


  • Pro Tools: As I mentioned above, you actually can get your work into Pro Tools with FCPX.
  • Reaper: A cheaper audio app than Pro Tools (that I actually haven’t used) that, apparently, a lot of people are starting to use with FCPX. If you want to bring your audio into Reaper, you’ll need to download Vordio here.

Data Asset Management

  • Cantemo Portal: If you’ve got large data management needs and you want a solution that’s going to take advantage of all the metadata you’ve built in FCPX, you’ll want to check these guys out. More integration is coming soon on top of what they’ve built in. The price tag is a little high, but the functionality is good.
  • CatDV: Not many people know this, but CatDV still works with FCPX, and you can use it with your existing FCP7 based libraries. It’s going to give you the option to send something like 14 metadata columns, along with notes and markers into X. To take advantage of it, though, it’d be best to start in CatDV, and then send an XML in FCPX. If you need a lower cost DAM solution that lives outside of FCPX, though, CatDV should still work great for you.


  • Smoke: Here’s another thing many people don’t know, Smoke actually accepts FCPXXML.  Now, if I could only export an FCPXXML out of Smoke my ideal workflow of editing in FCPX, coloring in Resolve, and doing VFX in Smoke would become a reality. Someday, I’ll be able to pass my projects freely around to all three and everything will run smoothly together. We’re almost there. Autodesk, if you’re listening, please make this happen. It’s the missing piece and will make it MUCH easier to recommend Smoke for my clients’ workflows.

FCPX Plugins (Must haves)

  • SliceX with Mocha: While the price tag might seem a bit steep, the amount that you can do with this plug-in is staggering. It allows you to have DaVinci’s Power Windows and tracker directly in FCPX—not to mention all of the other masking, blur, and compositing advantages it allows. The fact that it gives you this much functionality directly within your NLE saves you an absurd amount of time over having to conform, go to another program, and then send it back to FCPX for finishing. If you only buy one plug-in ever, this should be this one. It’s worth every cent. You can get SliceX with Mocha here.
  • Tokyo Split Animator: A split screen with no key frames. Enough said. Available from the FxFactory Store here.
  • Tokyo PiPinator: A picture in picture with no key frames. Again, enough said. When used in conjunction with Split Animator, Squid FX Borders (see below), and Compound Clips in FCPX, you can do some pretty amazing stuff really quickly. Available from the FxFactory Store here.
  • Nattress Levels and Curves: If you want Curves in FCPX, you want this. However, I will say that I’d love to get more control over the functionality of this plug-in. Ideally, I’d get access to more than just five points and I’d be able to move them horizontally. It’s really useful as it is, though. Available from the FxFactory Store here.
  • Dashwood Editor Essentials: There is a lot of really useful, random stuff for editors here. The ability to move along the 3D Axis, custom scaling from 4:3 to 16:9, RGBA levels which approximate the advance control primary panel in Apple Color, a White Balance filter (really useful), Luma Levels, countdown leaders, and quick slate generators make this a really great investment for the average pro editor. Available from the FxFactory Store here.

Awesome, But Overpriced

  • UNVEIL from Zynaptiq: This plug-in is pretty awesome and really powerful, but it doesn’t come cheap. While it allows you to do some amazing things with your audio, the purchase price is actually more expensive than FCPX itself. If you need this kind of control over your audio, UNVEIL may be worth the price. You can get more info here.
  • FxFactory Pro: Tons of useful effects, generators, and transitions here, though the price tag is pretty steep. The package and functionality is comprehensive, but the price vs. performance in comparison to some of the other tools listed here isn’t very high. That being said, I really do love the Sharpen range filter. Get it here.

Really Cool and Very Specific

  • SquidFX Borders: I love this package. Why? Well, FCPX has this really annoying bug with its borders effect. You can’t crop a shot while having the borders read the crop settings. Not only does this package give you a lot of cool functionality, but it also gives you a way around the bug. Here’s how: when you put the border on, select “Fit Method – Custom Crop – On Screen Controls.” Then, if you drag on the OSC controls, it’ll change the border size and if you drag onto the picture, it’ll reposition it within the border. You can also do a ton of stuff with SquidFX Borders if used in conjunction with Tokyo Split Animator and PIPinator. Get it here.
  • Lock & Load X: If you need really high quality stabilization that’s better than the built in FCPX filter, you’ll probably want this. You can get it here.
  • SUGARfx Subtitles: This plug-in makes it WAY easier to do subtitles. There are a bunch of different ways to do them in different formats, but I thought the most interesting was using FCPX’s Chapter Markers to automatically create them. It’s a big time saver rather than doing subtitles manually. The tediousness opying, pasting and modifying titles becomes totally unnecessary. Get it here.
  • Ripple Training’s Callouts: If you do a ton of industrial or tutorial type video, you’re going to love this. It has custom arrows, pointers and whole bunch of other really useful things. Available from the FxFactory Store here.
  • Ripple Training’s Timelines: If you do a lot of corporate or presentational work, these customizable transitions are amazing and will save precious time. Available from the FxFactory Store here.
  • Industrial Revolution’s ParticleMetrix ($99) and Volumetrix ($49): Particlemetrix adds some useful particle effects and transitions while Volumetrix is all about glows and light rays. They’re great for fast effects, especially titles that need to look good without spending a ton of time on them. You should use these in conjunction with each other for fast and easy Particle and Title FX. Available from the FxFactory Store here.
  • Dashwood Stereo3D Toolbox: If you need to do 3D within FCPX, you’re probably going to want this. Side note: You can do stereo 3D in Resolve if you need another option. Available from the FxFactory Store here.
  • Luca Sprocket Slip: They have some really high-end transitions. Great for trailers. Available from the FxFactory Storehere.
  • Luca Lo-Fi: Lo-Fi is a customizable and easy to use plug-in that allows you to create vintage-type looks. I don’t like most “look” plug-ins, but I thought this one was cool. Available from the FxFactory Store here.
  • Luca Light Kit: The Light Kit has a number of nice lighting effects. Like most of the Luca packages, it’s useful if you do a lot of music video or trailer editing. Available from the FxFactory Store here.
  • Luca Light Leaks: There are tons of Light Leak packages out there, but you only need to buy one. This particular one gets the job done. I imagine there are others that are just as good, but I enjoy how customizable this one is. Available from the FxFactory Store here.
  • Luca XOverlays: XOverlays has lots of compositing and overlay presets that are cool and easy to manipulate. Available from the FxFactory Store here.
  • Conner Productions: They specialize in making easily customizable FCP X Templates for non-professional editors to use in the post-production process.  Available here.
  • Luca Grunge Effects: This one contains a bunch of customizable generators that you can use to composite over your footage for a “grunge-y” look. Grunge Effects is great for music videos, etc. I really like the Luca packages because they avoid the cheese factor. All of their stuff is slick and well designed. Available from the FxFactory Store here.

Almost Worth It:

  • Ripple Tools 1: Color wheels, 8 and 16-point matte, simple 3D and 3D text. Available from the FxFactory Store here.
  • Ripple Tools 2: Brings back the blink filter and scroll text title, cloner, and repeat. I just wish Ripple Tools 1 and 2 were part of the same package. Available from the FxFactory Store here.
  • Stupid Raisins Block/Panel/Shape/Slide/Title Pop: I’m not a big “transitions” guy. However, if you do need them, these are worth checking out. They are highly customizable. Although, honestly, I feel like all of these should come as one package, with fewer overall plug-ins. Available from the FxFactory Store here.

Free Plug-Ins:

There are tons of great free plug-ins too. The best place to start looking for these is on FCP.CO’s free plug-ins forum here. My favorites tend to come from Alex 4D.


Article by Sam Mestman in MovieMaker



Article by David Leitner Filmmaker



Four years ago, I titled Filmmaker’s first digital cinema camera round-up, “Digital Motion Picture Cameras For The Rest of Us.” (Published as “Does Size Matter?”) I mentioned the advent of HDSLRs, citing the example of Canon’s 7D used to film Lena Dunham’s breakthrough Tiny Furniture. New cameras on the block were Sony’s NEX-VG10, NEX-FS100, PMW-F3; Panasonic’s AG-AF100; RED’s Epic-M; ARRI’s Alexa; and Aaton’s Delta Penelope.

2012’s camera round-up, “Good Things in Smaller Packages,” noted shrinking cameras, improved HD from DSLRs, and the advent of 4K and Ultra HD. Welcomed were the Sony NEX-FS700 and F65; Canon EOS 5D Mark III, EOS C300, EOS C500 and EOS-1DC; Nikon D800; ARRI Alexa-M and Studio; and RED Epic-X and Scarlet-X. A banner year for bread-and-butter cameras.

Last year’s round-up, “Back to the Future with 4K,” looked at advances pulling us towards 4K, including pixel count, sensors, lenses, digital media, frame rates, compression and latitude, camera design and control, and post workflow. New cameras included Sony’s F5, F55, and NEX-EA50. I was skeptical towards the Chinese KineRAW S-35, Blackmagic Design’s Cinema Camera, and Panasonic’s 4K modular “balsacam,” mocked-up under glass at NAB. I ended on an admiring note, describing not a new camera but monitor/recorder concept: the disruptively affordable Odyssey 7 from Convergent Design, with flexible touchscreen controls as simple to operate as an iPad.



A lot can change in four years, as the thread of these topics indicates. Scrappy nofilmschool recently pointed to the fact that three of five 2014 Oscar nominees in Directing and Cinematography were ARRI Alexa projects (the remaining two in each category, 35mm ARRI Arricams). For Best Picture, the Alexa-Arricam ratio was greater than 2:1. (Whither Panavision?) Meanwhile, Debra Kaufman’s recent obituary of the era of big film labs makes clear that we’ve decisively turned the corner on the analog chapter of cinema history. Think 1927 and the arrival of sound.

What happens to revolutionaries who win? They shed their sabers to form the new establishment mostly. I took the ten all-time highest grossing films worldwide and sorted them by date. The three most recent originated on ARRI Alexa. Two others were shot on Sony HD cameras. Meanwhile RED Epics are the recent camera of choice for blue-chip directors like Peter Jackson, Steve Soderbergh, David Fincher, Guillermo del Toro, Sam Raimi, and Ridley Scott.

That leaves most of the technology churn, the red tide of disruption if you will, to the minor leagues, those farm teams of low-budget, student, and indie filmmakers who populate festivals like Sundance and SXSW and fill the channels of YouTube and Vimeo. Plus ça change…. the more this is an exciting place to be!



All of the cameras mentioned above are still active products, save for one. This is the first year I’m sad to report the death of a digital camera project, Aaton’s Delta-Penelope. Days after last year’s NAB, the storied French company declared bankruptcy purportedly due to quality and delivery issues surrounding Dalsa’s S35 CCD sensor. Another death in the family, from Sweden, is Ikonoskop’s A-cam dII, a tiny extruded box, originally C-mount, that was the digital answer to Aaton’s S16 A-minima. It fit the palm of your hand (with a big cut-out for your thumb) yet captured 1080p as uncompressed 12-bit RAW using Adobe’s CinemaDNG file format. (Ikonoskop were the first to record to CinemaDNG).

Although introduced circa 2008 and seen at every NAB since, Ikonoskop could never quite bring its bantam trailblazer to market, or for less than $10K. Meanwhile, the market moved on, as it always does, serving up cheaper alternatives, and Ikonoskop sought bankruptcy protection last July. I didn’t include A-cam dII in past camera round-ups because I chose to limit coverage to cameras with S35 sensors, which were breaking important new ground at the time.



But, as cell phone forefather Alexander Graham Bell once remarked, “When one door closes, another opens.” (True, he originated this line!) This last year has seen the unlikely rise of crowdfunding, namely Kickstarter, as an engine of camera development. Perhaps the best known example is Digital Bolex, whose inaugural D16 just happens to incorporate the same S16-sized Kodak CCD as the A-cam dII, as well as the same uncompressed 12-bit RAW to CinemaDNG recording.


Digital Bolex, who licensed the Bolex name for North American sales only, has no more to do with the classic Swiss firm than the design of their D16 has to do with the iconic spring-wound H-16 Rx. Announced at SXSW in 2012, its shape, which has been described as “ray gun,” embodies an aggressively retro attitude, including a crank and detachable pistol grip, and all but assumesyou own a collection of vinyl too. Clearly the first digital motion picture camera conceived by Millennials and generated by today’s democratic start-up culture.

There’s no viewfinder really, and audio XLR inputs are on the traditional “operator side” of the camera. An internal battery powers the D16 for four hours (a 4-pin XLR next to the audio XLRs accepts external power), while an internal SDD, 256 or 512GB, undertakes recording. There are two CompactFlash slots, but at present they’re only for offloading the SDD. CinemaDNG files can also be downloaded via a USB 3.0 Micro-B connector.

Philip Bloom, an early adopter who took possession of one of the first batch of C-mount D16s in December, repeats like a punch line in his charming 40-min. video review that the D16 “is not a low-light camera.” Of the current 100, 200, and 400 ISO settings (800 is promised), he states flatly that 200 is optimal. Maximum frame rate at full resolution, 2K or HD, is 30 fps.

While the ill-fated A-cam dII offered HD-SDI, timecode, viewfinder, and a rock-solid build, the Digital Bolex team has brought their product to market for a third the price, namely, $3299 (256GB version), which meets their stated principle: “Must Not Be More Expensive Than a Top of the Line DSLR.”




It’s easy to poke fun at a camera in which function follows form (worse, pop styling), but the Digital Bolex team are clever and thinking outside the box. For example, they’re developing a set of 10mm, 18mm, and 38mm ultra-compact C-mount lenses with a fixed f/stop of 4 and no moving parts. At $300 each, lacking internal coatings to prevent flare, sharing a 40.5mm outer diameter, they invoke the simplicity of classic Switars. (They’re designed by Sadhvani Kish, who started as a lens designer for Cooke.) Exposure can be controlled with a variable ND with step-down ring, and a novel rail system in the camera body slides the lens in and out for focus, operated by the crank. A prototype three-lens turret takes this innovation to the next retro level.

Digital Bolex cites Silicon Valley entrepreneur Eric Ries and the “minimum viable product” concept touted in his 2011 book, The Lean Start Up, as inspiration for a product that intentionally doesn’t do everything, but pares down critical functions to achieve dogged simplicity at low cost. This example of the democratization of camera manufacture by way of the DIY ethos represents a potential seismic shift from the way video cameras have been created ever since inventor Vladimir Zworykin handed a working Kinescope to David Sarnoff of RCA. Ironically it also harkens back to an era of small shops designing and building early motion picture cameras a century ago.

Perhaps the beau idéal of DIY, funded not on a crowd but individual scale, is Black Betty. “Just two dudes,” self-described, in Boston cobbled together a Silicon Imaging SI-2K Mini Camera head bought used off eBay and an Apple Mac Mini to create an ergonomic digital incarnation of a 16mm camera. (Makes me want to put tape around the “magazine.”) It takes 16mm lenses and records 2K Cineform RAW to common SSDs. Best of all, there’s a simple start/stop button on the handgrip, that’s it.

Yet another crowdfunded camera project under sail, the 4Kapertus° Axiom Alpha, promises, if built, a 4:3 S35 CMOS with global shutter and uncompressed 4K RAW output.



Speaking of 4K: a year later, how’s it doing? Momentum is snowballing. Don’t confuse 4K’s prospects with the 3D debacle four years ago, when the industry bet its resources on a supposed consumer hankering to wear dark glasses and watch overpriced 3D TVs. 4K simply brings my digital motion picture camera in line with my aging Canon 7D, which snaps images greater than 5K. Why can’t my digital motion picture camera do that, only 24 times a second?

Enter Gordon E. Moore. Each couple of years brings us faster silicon — more CPU cores, more powerful ASICs and FPGA’s, denser VSLIs, faster read-outs from CMOS imagers, lower power draws — which enable brawnier camera operating systems and ever more efficient codecs.

The upshot is that affordable 4K camcorders are invading the consumer market at the very time they’re popping up in our professional realm. (More below.) This exposes the obverse side of Digital Bolex’s “minimum viable product” coin. In the process of paring down, what are you giving up? For example, what kind of digital motion images will the D16s’s $3299 buy in a current DSLR?



This last question is salient in light of this year’s third notable development in digital motion picture cameras: mirrorless, interchangeable-lens still cameras that also capture 4K. Technically not DSLRs — no reflex mirror flips down for direct viewing — these new designs are variously called MILCs, for mirrorless interchangeable-lens camera (sounds vaguely pornographic to me), SLDs, for single-lens digital, and DSLMs, for digital single-lens mirrorless.

Whatever the label, a mirrorless, interchangeable-lens paradigm replaces a traditional optical viewing system with an electronic viewfinder and/or large LCD. Losing the mirror and reflex mechanism allows the body of the camera to collapse in size and drop ounces. With no mirror to take up space, lenses are mounted much closer to the sensor, which simplifies lens designs and improves optical performance. The resulting shallow flange focal distance permits cheap mechanical adapters for virtually any lens that covers the sensor: Nikon, Canon, Pentax, Voigtländer, Zelss, PL, the list goes on.

Two mass-market mirrorless cameras in particular are poised to make 4K inroads, one based on the Micro Four Thirds system favored by Panasonic, the other Sony’s E-Mount system.




Micro Four Thirds gave us Panasonic’s popular Lumix DMC-GH2 and -GH3 mirrorless cameras as well as Panasonic’s first large-sensor camcorder, the AG-AF100. In February Panasonic announced the 4K Lumix DMC-GH4 — $1700 for the body and $2000 for an optional DMW-YAGH Interface Unit with pro video connections – both of which I previously detailed in Filmmaker.

Using 8-bit 4:2:0 high profile H.264 compression, the GH4 internally records HD (200 Mbps intraframe), Ultra HD and 4K (both 100 Mbps, long-GOP) to turbocharged SDXC cards. Uncompressed 10-bit 4:2:2 Ultra HD and 4K can be output to a third party recorder via HDMI 2.0 or with four 3G-SDI cables (quad output) using the optional video adapter.

Since it arrived four years ago, Sony’s E-Mount has straddled still and motion cameras. On the motion side it has given us the FS100 and FS700, as well as economical large-sensor camcorders like the APS-C NEX-EA50 and full-frame NEX-VG900 (each about $3300). This underscores the key difference between E-Mount and Micro Four Thirds: sensor size. While an E-Mount sensor can be either APS-C (same as S35) or twice that size, full-frame, an MFT sensor falls about halfway between S35 and S16.

What’s more, the GH4 achieves its Ultra HD or 4K image by “windowing” a smaller center section of its sensor. In the case of 4K, this area equals 4096 x 2160 pixels. (Canon’s 1DC DSLR does the same.) The GH4’s cropped 4K scan is barely larger than a S16 frame, yielding S16-like depth of field, which can be terribly advantageous in hand-held documentary production.




At NAB Sony has announced the Alpha a7S – an Ultra HD version of its E-mount, full-frame Alpha a7R, the big buzz in photographic circles at the moment.

What sets the a7S apart from the a7R is pixel count. Where the a7R ($2300) boasts a whopping 36.4 megapixels, the a7S introduces a new 12 Mpixel full-frame Ultra HD sensor with only a third of the a7R’s pixels – which means its pixels can be three times larger! This translates to low noise, high dynamic range, and astounding, see-in-the-dark sensitivity: an ISO range of 200-102,400 for Ultra HD. Is there a faster camera out there, 4K or otherwise? (Canon’s 1DC tops out at 25,600 in 4K mode.) It also means that, unlike an a7R, there’s an Optical Low Pass Filter to defeat aliasing and high-speed readout to defeat rolling shutter.

Internally the a7X records HD using XAVC S, Sony’s high level H.264 codec, at 50Mbps (8-bit 4:2:0 long-GOP) to SDXC and Memory Stick cards. Ultra HD, not recorded internally, is output 8-bit 4:2:2 via HDMI 2.0 and must be recorded using a third-party recorder. Maximum frame rate is 30 fps. Professional features include S-Log2 gamma, picture profiles, timecode/user bit support, and optional XLR audio inputs. When shooting 720p, frame rates up to 120 fps are possible.

At NAB you’ll find an a7S featured at the Atomos booth. I’m pretty sure the just-announced Ninja Blade, hardly larger than its 2.5-inch SSD media, will be on the receiving end, even though it’s designed to capture uncompressed HD to 10-bit 4:4:2 ProRes or DNxHD. An Ultra HD version of Ninja Blade perhaps?

In comparison to the GH4, the full-frame Ultra HD image of the a7S – no windowing — produces shallow depth of field and more than twice the horizontal angle-of-view for any given focal length. Both camera bodies are remarkably light – 19.8 oz. for GH4, 14.3 oz. for a7S – ideal for gyro-stabilized hand-held systems like Freefly’s MOVI M5, with its 5-pound maximum payload, and compact aerial drones. When it comes to drones in particular, however, twice the horizontal angle-of-view confers a distinct advantage on the a7S.

Except for a blue “S,” the a7S looks like exactly like the a7R. It has the same startlingly clear 2.4-million dot OLED viewfinder (GH4 has similar), which would pass for optical if not for superimposed symbols and characters. And I think it will be priced to compete. But even if it were to retail $1000 more than the a7R — to stay competitive with the GH4, I don’t think it can — it would still cost no more than a Digital Bolex. How’s that notion of minimum viable product looking now?



The smaller sensor areas of the Digital Bolex and windowed 4K in the GH4 represent a fourth trend this year: a return to the classic look of 16mm. Those who shoot documentaries or fast-moving subjects hand-held, where greater depth of field is a godsend, as well as those who own 16mm and S16 glass are paying particular attention to this development.




At last year’s NAB, Blackmagic Design introduced its mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Pocket Cinema Camera with a S16-sized sensor. Hardly larger than an iPhone, it records to an internal SD card either 1920 x 1080 RAW to lightly compressed 12-bit CinemaDNG, or HD to 10-bit ProRes HQ. Best of all, it retails for under $1000. The perfect RAW crash cam?

In December Sony released a free firmware upgrade (Version 3.0) for the F5 and F55 that adds “2K Center Scan” windowing for use with S16 lenses. Sony will soon bundle a third-party B4 mount adapter with the F5 and F55 to permit use of 2/3-in. ENG zooms in 2K Center Scan mode, with a mere 2/3-stop light loss. Available recording formats are XAVC HD or 2K, HDCAM SR, and 2K RAW.

Of course RED invented 2K windowing for RAW capture with RED ONE in 2007. Since RED ONE’s 4K topped out at 30 fps, windowing at that time enabled 120 fps whenever needed. Epic bumped the windowed frame rate to 300 fps. So even though it has been possible to shoot entire projects with S16 lenses on RED cameras since the beginning, the ergonomics beneficial to long stretches of hand-held technique is not what RED is known for. And those drawn to RED’s 4K and 5K sensors were, and are, mainly interested in large-sensor cinematography.

It’s also worth noting, for sake of context, that a 2/3-in. sensor is roughly equivalent to standard 16mm in terms of image size. Put another way, the two formats match when it comes to horizontal angle-of-view. But it also goes without saying that the highly compressed, over-sharpened, shallow-bit-depth, color-subsampled look of ENG video is exactly what we’re trying to escape from when we shoot RAW or use Log gammas with today’s digital motion picture cameras.




I mentioned consumer 4K (actually Ultra HD) camcorders: Google the Sony FDR-AX100 or FDR-AX1. Or GoPro HERO3+ Black Edition. Or pro version of the Sony FDR-AX1 called PXW-Z100, which I profiled in Filmmaker last September. While not S16 exactly, they share S16’s deep focus aesthetic.

Looking like a slightly swollen member of Sony’s current Handycam line-up, the Z100 with a street price of $5500 “would seem to do for 4K what Sony’s epochal HVR-Z1 did for HD almost a decade ago…” The Z100 impressively records 4K and Ultra HD as 10-bit, 4:2:2, intraframe XAVC, up to 60p, using new, fast solid-state media called XQD, developed by Sony, Nikon, and SanDisk to replace the 16-year-old CompactFlash.

These consumer camcorders are advance troops for what the industry hopes will grow into a home invasion of 4K. But the Z100 with its almost ½-in. sensor demonstrates an interesting roadblock. Smaller 4K sensors pack smaller pixels and smaller pixels are less sensitive. They shrink as targets and fewer photons hit them. The only solution is to boost gain at the cost of noise. Which is why the Z100 is a poor performer in low light, reminiscent of the old Sony V1.

Perhaps pro 4K sensors should stick to size S16 or larger.



Two heads are better than one, no? Last year’s balsacam becomes this year’s VariCam as Panasonic at NAB bounces back with a new system that manages to be both 2/3-in. and S35.

No, not interchangeable sensors, a never-realized goal of early digital cinema cameras… Panasonic instead introduces a 2/3-in. head for HD and a S35 head for 4K, which use the same recording module. The recording module docks to either of the identical cameras by V-mount. It can also be tethered by cable for remote use. Like an Alexa and Alexa M but in one package.




The S35 PL-mount head is called VariCam 35 (no global shutter). The 2/3-in. three-chip B4-mount head is called VariCam HS for high speed. If you don’t look too closely, you might mistake them for a Sony F5 or F55, or even an Alexa. (Hint: Alexa is always the one with a built-in shoulder pad arch, attachment rosettes and front holes for 15mm rods. ARRI, you see, knows a thing or two about hand-holding.)

On the operator side you’ll notice VariCam’s small rectangular user interface display screen — in the style of Alexa’s assistant-side U.I. with its convention of three control buttons top and bottom, homepage camera status in big characters, and monochrome look. The F5 and F55 moved their version of Alexa’s U.I. to the operator side, directly below the handle. Panasonic’s version is also on the operator side, but located on the recorder. In other words, these new VariCam heads must be used with the VariCam recorder module, which also contains the video outputs — quite unlike F5 and F55 cameras, which incorporate video outputs and can stand on their own. (Notably, VariCam’s U.I. is detachable as a module for remote control.)

Panasonic says the VariCam recorder module is capable of variable 4K frame rates, ramped up to 120 fps. This would involve one their H.264 codecs, likely AVC-Intra Class 100. For 1080p, variable-speed frame rates climb to 240 fps. Higher AVC-Intra and AVC-Ultra bit rates achieve 10-bit 4:2:2 and 12-bit 4:4:4, coupled with a new Log gamma to preserve dynamic range.

A fast new P2 card called expressP2 debuts at NAB, which holds over two hours of 4K at 24 fps. VariCam’s recorder provides two expressP2 card slots for 4K and high frame rate recording, as well as two microP2 slots (same size as SD) for HD and 2K. VariCam’s recorder also outputs 4K and Ultra HD via four 3G-SDI cables (quad output) and RAW via two 3G-SDI cables. This indicates the need for a third party recorder to capture RAW.

I’m particularly impressed with VariCam’s OLED viewfinder design and can’t wait to try it. VariCam availability, per Panasonic, is this fall and price is to be determined. If the price is right, this third-generation VariCam system could be a big hit.




Add a baseplate with rods and shoulder pad by Movcam, Vocas, or ARRI to a VariCam 35 and it joins the F5 and F55, and Alexa before them, in defining today’s shoulder-mounted large-sensor camera. This drive towards sensible ergonomics includes Fujinon’s compact, servo-driven Cabrio zooms – 14-35mm, 19-90mm, 85-300mm — with rocker-switch control (think inflated ENG lenses) and a similar new compact zoom, CINE-SERVO 17-120mm, which Canon will unveil at NAB.

Sony, in turn, is taking modularity in a novel direction at NAB with its new “build-up kit” for F5 and F55. Essentially an L-shaped cradle that wraps around the camera body, the build-up kit converts the F 5 and F55 into an ENG camcorder equivalent, something like an F800. Sony says it takes five minutes to attach.

The build-up kit adds a camera base with shoulder pad, 15mm rods, ARRI-style rosettes, a new handle with mic holder and viewfinder mount, and a rear interface section that shifts XLR inputs to the back. Audio controls are moved from submenus to actual physical knobs on the operator side. There’s also a module next to the lens mount with rows of buttons to control frequent settings like gain/ISO, white balance, and shutter speed, including user assignable buttons. Slots at the camera’s rear accept wireless mic receivers. Sony says the build-up kit is available this fall, price to be determined.




Ergonomics pacesetter ARRI hasn’t slacked off either. At NAB ARRI is introducing its latest belle, Amira, what it calls “the new documentary-style camera” designed to boot up while being picked up. Or as ARRI’s website puts it: “Pick Up > Shoot.”

In a sense, Amira is Alexa on a crash diet. Same 16:9 sensor, same color science inside, same light charcoal spatter finish outside. But the body sans viewfinder has dropped serious weight, from Alexa’s 14 lbs. to about 9 lbs. (For comparison, the F55 body weighs 5 lbs.). Power use, from 90W to 50W. And price has dropped too, from Alexa’s base $75K to $40K for an “entry point” Amira with viewfinder, limited to Rec 709 ProRes 422 and 100 fps.

ARRI will tier Amira models in terms of functionality, with a pricier version around $45K that adds Log C, ProRes HQ at 200 fps and cached pre-record, and a “premium” version for around $50K that adds 2K and ProRes 4444 up to 200 fps, plus custom 3D LUTs. These are base prices; choice of lens mount (PL, EF, B4), battery mount, batteries, baseplate assemblies and other accessories can add another $10K.

Amira’s costs are not for everyone. Others will balk at the lack of a RAW option. (Didn’t seem to hurt the look of Dallas Buyers Club, reportedly shot in ProRes 4444 with Alexa.)




I spent time with an Amira prototype on display at Sundance in January. The build of this camera is ARRI rock solid. Machining second to none. Adjustability is unsurpassed. You simply believe in it. With a shoulder that’s hefted decades of Aatons, SRs, CP-16s, and Betacams, I can report that Amira achieves a deliciously seductive balance – if the lens isn’t competing in weight. The 28mm Zeiss Ultra Prime and lightweight ARRI clip-on matte box I tested were perfect for hand-holding. I’m not so sure how 6.4 pounds of a cantilevered Fujinon Cabrio or Canon CINE-SERVO zoom would feel after a half-hour, though.

To facilitate single-operator run-and-gun work, Amira’s controls have been brought around to the operator side like F5, F55, and VariCam. A novel LCD monitor hinged to the brilliantly sharp OLED viewfinder doubles as the main 6-button user interface to access camera menus.

Amira is pioneering use of a new media standard, CFast 2.0, derived from CompactFlash and intended for pro video recording. The Sandisk Extreme Pro 120GB card I tested is $1200 at B&H. A 60GB version is about half that much.

While you can fantasize about an Amira that’s lighter and cheaper, you gotta love a camera that has a real bubble level built in!



Amira and VariCam 35 and HS turn out to be exceptions to this year’s fifth emerging trend, which is to not introduce a new camera, but rather introduce significant performance upgrades through firmware releases and board swaps, a strategy borrowed from ARRI’s and RED’s playbook. RED, for instance, has produced few camera models but, along the way, incrementally improved the performance of each one. If you bought an EPIC anytime since its introduction in 2011, you can get in line to swap out the original MYSTERIUM-X sensor for a new, larger DRAGON 6K, which the influential website DxO Mark just rated as superior to Nikon’s D800E and Sony’s a7R.

ARRI and RED, in other words, build camera platforms. In so doing, they tap into something fundamental. If a camera is built to last, as opposed to being built to be replaced, the owner feels better about the investment, even, or especially, if it is substantial. The owner also feels better about his or her investment in lenses and camera accessories, which can rival the camera in cost. And not least, the owner feels better about the investment of time and energy it takes to master a particular camera system. Pride of ownership builds brand loyalty like nothing else. Except perhaps free firmware updates that enable fun new features.

Perhaps this is why Canon and Sony have joined the club. Canon are bringing no new digital cinema cameras to showcase at NAB. Instead they will demonstrate the latest firmware updates to their Cinema EOS line of cameras. In December a free user-installed firmware update for the C300 added 15 features including push auto-iris and one-push momentary (not continuous) auto focus for EF lenses, continuous autofocus and auto-iris for Canon EF STM (stepper motor) lenses, movable 2x magnification for focusing, a new wide-dynamic-range gamma with 800% headroom for highlights, a new 1440 x 1080 35 Mbps mode for ENG, and a hike in ISO to 80,000.

I found the one-push momentary autofocus to be of little use in a feature documentary I shot hand-held last December. It is contrast-based and not remotely fast enough for the quicksilver situations I faced. By February Canon had announced a $500 upgrade to the C100 that adds dual-pixel autofocus (a/k/a phase detection) identical to that introduced last summer in the Canon EOS 70D. With contrast detection and dual pixel working in tandem, the C100’s autofocus is now perky and accurate, if determinedly center-weighted. Canon did not announce, but one can assume, a similar C300 upgrade in the near future. A trip to a Canon service center is required.




Sony is following a similar path. They announced in June a Version 3.0 firmware upgrade for the NEX-FS700 that adds 12-bit RAW recording when using Sony’s AXS-R5 RAW recorder (same one the F5 and F55 use). With only a single 3G-SDI cable to connect FS700 to R5 recorder, 2K RAW can be recorded up to 240 fps, and 4K RAW up to 60 fps. An internal buffer even enables a four-second burst of 4K RAW at 120 fps. Also included in Version 3.0 firmware is the S-Log2 gamma found in the F5 and F55. This upgrade requires a trip to a Sony service center and a $400 labor charge, so in September Sony introduced an “R” version of the FS700 with 3.0 already installed.

Enabling a $7700 camcorder to show what it can really do — high-frame-rate RAW — has opened new doors. Anyone who has tried to order a Convergent Design Odyssey 7Q monitor/SSD-based RAW recorder since they arrived in October knows they’re virtually sold out. Much of this demand is tied to the FS700R’s new 2K and 4K (4096 x 2160) capabilities. Therein lies a back story.

Sony’s RAW output is not conventional. To send 4K RAW at 60 fps down a single cable, Sony developed some deft signal compression technology, intended to advantage to its own RAW recorder, the R5. In a spate of behind-the-scenes diplomacy last year, however, Sony agreed, after much internal discussion, to provide Convergent Design with an SDK (software development kit) to permit Odyssey 7Q to also capture Sony 12-bit RAW.

At the outset FS700R’s third-party recording was limited to 2K RAW up to 240 fps. Convergent Design’s March 19th firmware update has just raised this bar: 4K RAW up to 60 fps. Also new with this update is “4K2HD,” in which the FS700R’s 4K RAW output, up to 30 fps, is deBayered on the fly and recorded as ProRes 422 HQ. Both REC709 and S-Log2 are supported. With this latter choice, you get a super-sampled image with extended dynamic range for grading, instantly ready to view. Sweet!

Convergent Design’s March 19th firmware update to its Odyssey 7Q recording platform also adds support for Canon’s C500, including Ultra HD RAW recording up to 60 fps and recording 12-bit 2K/1080p RGB as DPX files up to 30 fps. Uncompressed 12-bit RGB from the C500 has to be seen to be believed, it’s that good. Can 4K ProRes be far behind?




Sony’s F5 and F55 camera platform has not been neglected either. December brought firmware Version 3.0 with 28 new features, including user LUTs, a new S-Gamut3 color gamut, new S-Log3 with 1300% dynamic range, internal Ultra HD recording to XAVC in the F55, Slow & Quick motion for 4K and Ultra HD XAVC, auto-iris for B4 lenses with an adapter, and 2K Center Scan mode for S16 lenses.

This last feature, described above in “16mm REDUX,” is a breakthrough, turning both F5 and F55 into two cameras in one. NBC Sports is reportedly crazy about it, since S16 deep focus facilitates tracking fast action. The last camera to pull off this duality, by the way, was the mid-1950’s Éclair 16/35 Caméflex, which set in motion nothing less than the French New Wave.

Firmware Version 4.0 for the F5 and F55, released April 4, adds user generated 3D LUT’s, access to menus from the user interface display, extensive menu customization, viewfinder markers in seven colors, start/stop with ENG zooms using the RET button, and, notably, implementation (F55 only) of last fall’s HDMI 2.0 standard, which supports 4K and Ultra HD to 60 fps as well as Rec. 2020 color space.




Sony’s platform upgrades are not just software. Exhibit A is the “build up kit” described above that reconfigures an F5 or F55 into an ENG camcorder. In September Sony announced an optional 2K optical low-pass filter, CBK-55F2K, that improves aliasing when shooting 2K with the full F5 or F55 sensor. An interchangeable OLPF is a first for any camera. Changing it takes a tiny screwdriver and perhaps five minutes of the user’s time. Sony even hinted a creative outcome of “softer, more organic” images when using the 2K OLPF to shoot 4K. Sort of like a Tiffen Satin filter, but behind the lens.

In the run-up to NAB, Sony floated the news that ProRes and DNxHD were coming the F5 and F55 – the first time a Sony camera would incorporate third-party codecs. This would require a new compression board. There seems to be discussion about whether or not this includes ProRes 4444, the codec that fueled Alexa’s conquest of episodic TV.



How can I neglect to mention Blackmagic Design’s Production Camera 4K? Introduced a year ago at NAB (down payments were taken), the Production Camera 4K just started shipping a month ago as of this writing. Delays were due in part to problems with the first batch of production sensors. But 4K RAW CinemaDNG has yet to be implemented. More than a work-in-progress, less than promised, the 4K Cinema Camera has had, to date, no practical impact. Will it?

Nor did I mention GoPros, which, like RED, have engendered a testosterone-inflected subculture of cool. Like Apple, an ecosystem of accessories too. Every teen craves one. No 4K camera is more playful. Every light drone accommodates a GoPro HERO3+ Black Edition. But I need a Rosetta Stone to decipher the menus. No thanks.

Action cams, in any case, are a universe unto themselves. DP extraordinaire Anthony Dod Mantle used Indiecam’s recent 12-bit 2K RAW micro camera with global shutter to shoot scenes in Ron Howard’s kinetic Rush. Codex gets into the same game at NAB with their new Action CAM, substituting a 2/3-inch CCD for CMOS, HD for 2K, and halving Indiecam’s length – a result the size of an ice cube. Panasonic just announced the HX-A500, the “world’s first 4K/30p Wearable Camera,” relying on Wi-Fi and NFC (near field communication) to connect to your smartphone. Will it out-GoPro the GoPro?

I have not mentioned 3D. Reports of its death are exaggerated. 4K is the key that will unlock consumer lust for 3D. HD screens simply did not provide the kick 3D needed. 4K screens, with four times the pixels, do. I experienced this first-hand at NAB last year. The difference was dramatic. Don’t give up on 3D camera systems yet.

I mentioned crowdfunding as a left-field source of fanciful digital cinema camera designs, but there is another one, right under our noses. China, home to the biggest cinema audience on the planet, can land a rover on the Moon yet can’t create a new digital camera? In fact the Chinese market is snapping up 4K TV sets faster than any other, according to the trades. Why not fashion a 4K camera? Or a 6K camera? Why not indeed?

There’s also 8K. Sony at NAB will be showing the results of an 8K RAW shoot with the F65.

But hey, I have to save something to write about next year!


Article By David Leitner




A couple of months ago Red Giant innovated the visual effects plug-in market by launching the public beta of Red Giant Universe. With the official release, members are now able to experience all the components of Red Giant Universe.



Red Giant, the provider of many industry standard visual effects plug-ins, created Red Giant Universe as a community that gives its members free access to an ever expanding suite of  plug-ins. It also serves as a subscription based platform for a host of premium tools, many being long standing Red Giant plug-ins and effects which are now streamlined and upgraded to take advantage of today’s CPUs. Red Giant currently consists of 31 free tools, made up of 22 effects and 9 transitions. Premium subscribers also gain access to 19 premium tools, consisting of 12 effects and 7 transitions. The free tools include a variety of blurs, glows, and popular effects like a simple RGB separation. The premium tools offer some popular plug-ins like Knoll Light Factory EZ, Holomatrix, and ToonIt.

Red Giant Universe Labs

One part of Red Giant Universe that was under wraps but is now out in the open is the Labs. This is an area in which Red Giant developers share what they are working on and Universe members can vote on what they want to see. The initial vote is between two effects, one is a Compound Blur, the other is an Edge Glow. It is evident through the sharing of the development process that Red Giant is actively working to expand the offerings of Red Giant Universe.


The free membership includes a wide range of tools that compatible with Adobe Premiere Pro, Adobe After Effects, and Final Cut Pro X. All updates are conveniently managed through the Red Giant Link utility. Premium membership in Red Giant Universe costs $10 per month, $99 for an annual membership, or a lifetime membership for $399.


Article in VideoMaker by Chris Gates 

Editing Procure multimedia


It’s easy to get into a routine when video editing and as a result form some habits, and not necessarily good ones. Video editing is an art form with rules, or more realistically guidelines, that help define the difference between what’s good and what’s bad. Even though what is considered good or bad for video editing is subjective and somewhat arbitrary, there are some basic principles that can be followed to help make a video successful. When bad habits break the rules there’s trouble to be found. Here are 10 video editing habits to give up as the New Year rolls around.

1. Winging It

A lot of creative people like to wing it, take things serendipitously and let a project unfold as they work on it. This is a habit that’s easy to fall into as a video editor, footage shows up and the editor sorts it out as they go. The danger lies in the fact that a project may consume more time than necessary when a video editor is winging it, and they run the risk of missing the point. Instead of shooting from the hip, be prepared and make a plan. Learning to have a few contingency plans that can apply to multiple projects will a make a video editor more productive and help them to stay on task.

2. Scaling It Up

The excitement of a new project is exhilarating and it’s easy to jump right into the mayhem of video editing. This is the problematic habit of starting before the project’s ready. To avoid it, know what the goal of the project is and most importantly, know the deliverables. Ask, “How is this project going to be delivered? How long should it be? At what resolution and format does it need to be?” A project that runs too long and is in the wrong format presents a world of problems that are avoidable with some simple knowledge up front.

3. Keeping in a Cluttered Workspace

It’s no lie, video editing can be messy. It’s also a bad habit. That doesn’t mean a video editor has to like it or live there. A video editor who keeps their workspace, virtual space, and their projects well organized will be more proficient.

4. Overusing Transitions

Transitions are a fundamental element of video editing and every video editor has their favorite go to method of moving from one shot to another. It’s easy to get into a groove, use editing defaults, and transition the same way between different shots. A video editor should consciously break the habit of default transitions and use what the project calls for, not what they’re comfortable with.

5. Using Jump Cuts

Speaking of transitions, jump cuts still abound in the world. Sometimes a video editor gets complacent with the lack of footage that they have in their edit bay or there is the habit of being lazy, just doing enough to get the job done. Be prepared and ready, always think of interesting ways to cover jump cuts. Use b-roll or an interesting transitional device, such as a custom graphic, to avoid the jump cut.

6. Ignoring Audio

Audio is one half of video and it doesn’t always get the attention it deserves. Mixing audio as a rote technical process is a bad habit that kills a lot of good videos. A good audio mix is a skillfully crafted element of video editing. A video editor should at the least make sure that there are no audio cutoffs, that audio levels remain appropriately consistent, and that any music bed used enhances the edit.

7. Underutilizing Graphics

Graphics are now an integral part of a video editor’s arsenal. This adds one more hat to the video editor’s ever growing list of roles, that of graphic designer. Not every video editor is a graphic designer and that’s okay. The danger is that an editor picks up the habit of using the same graphics and graphic techniques over and over again. When the habitual graphic gets used one too many times or grows old, past its stylistic lifespan, the video editor walks into trouble. The best way to avoid this habit is to be a perpetual learner and always try to come up with something new and fresh.

8. Abusing Effects

Just like graphics, effects are used regularly in the edit bay. A well crafted effect adds a certain amount of flair, flourish, and polish to a production. Effects can also be habit forming and used gratuitously, becoming ineffective. Don’t use effects for effects sake, use them sparingly to make a point or subtle exclamation.

9. Stealing Ideas

The great thing about the internet is that it’s easy to learn just about anything, including video editing techniques. A bad side to the internet is that everybody is learning the same thing, including video editing techniques. Self-improvement is a good habit to have but straight out imitating others is not such a great habit. A video editor should be mindful of what they learn when watching tutorials. A carbon copy effect or graphic from an online tutorial can be spotted a mile away. Personal growth is accomplished by incorporating a technique learned from a tutorial and taking ownership of the finished result, while making it wholely unique.

10. Attempting to use Every Shot

A video editor’s job is to edit, to reduce, repurpose, rearrange, and craft elements into a cohesive message. A bad habit that many young editors form is they like to paint the world. They want to use everything they’re given. If there’s a good shot, they make sure to include it in the final edit, even if it doesn’t fit with the overall message or takes away from the finished piece. This is where good videos go on to become extended pieces, with montages of unnecessary footage. Break the habit of painting the world by only using what’s needed, be selective and don’t feel the need to use something just because it looks good.


Article in VideoMaker by Chris Gates

Chris “Ace” Gates is a four time Emmy Award winning freelance writer and video producer.


Hard to believe, but FCP X is well over three years old and already into its 10th iteration.

Its popular multicam tool arrived with version three a year or two ago. In the past 2 years  no less than four new versions have been released, bringing dual viewers, a unified import window, support for native REDCODE RAW, MXF, Sony XAVC (up to 4K) and optional Rec. 709 display of ARRI ALEXA ProRes captured in Log C.

Recent improvements also include a handy freeze-frame tool, chapter markers for QuickTimes and DVDs, better audio channel editing tools, and FCPXML 1.2 to facilitate audio and metadata export/import. (FCPXML uses Extensible Markup Language, or XML, to exchange Project and Event data and metadata between FCP X and third-party applications.) Plus, there are a host of bug fixes and performance improvements.

Apple claims its 64-bit FCP X has outsold all previous 32-bit versions of FCP combined, and there’s no reason to doubt this, for two reasons.

FCP X is faster and less confusing to set up than FCP 7, to which I can personally attest. It better hides the sprawling technical complexity of today’s HD, 2K and 4K formats. In fact, in conversation over the past year with several popular digital video experts — recognizable names all — I’m struck by the fact that all admitted using FCP X, at least for basic editing. One mentioned — and I think this is key — he felt guilty because using FCP X was too easy.

Many “pros” still dismiss FCP X out of hand, typically with no experience using it, and I’m reminded of “serious” PC users who once vehemently disparaged Mac owners (like me) because real computing required command-line entry. A mouse-driven GUI was for amateurs. Not that long ago, really.

Consider this: FCP X is a feature-rich 64-bit pro app with a challenging learning curve (I’m still climbing), which, at the same time, provides a relatively easy interface for those otherwise intimidated by professional NLEs. This includes a worldwide market of young media makers, many without editing preconceptions or prior professional experience, a new generation who often shoot with DSLRs or tablets or smartphones, and who wouldn’t object to editing on tablets or smartphones either, technology permitting.

A broad, new user base, growing laterally and exponentially. That’s reason No. 1 for FCP X’s mushrooming popularity.

Reason No. 2 is its low price: $299. Apple offers a free trial, too. For 30 days only, FCP X is as gratis as DaVinci Resolve Lite (which, with a superficially similar user interface, plays very well with FCP X). If broke, cut fast!

Convenience, too, plays a role: FCP X is readily downloaded from Apple’s App Store, while subsequent notices of version updates (always free) are automatically pushed to your Mac. This way, every FCP X user stays up to date.

FCP X shares effects files called Smart Motion Templates with Apple’s motion graphics app, Motion 5 ($50). These include most of FCP X’s built-in effects. Smart Motion Templates can be created from scratch or customized in Motion, which has given rise to Internet swapping of homebrew FCP X effects. That’s how, in a pinch, I downloaded a free 8-point garbage matte a year ago. Saved my bacon.

This summer, I edited two unusual projects in FCP X. In one, I shot 4K with a Canon C500, recorded as 4K ProRes to an AJA Ki Pro Quad. Thanks to Thunderbolt, eSATA and USB 3.0, I was able to edit and view 4K ProRes on my 17-inch MacBook Pro. Upon import, I also made low-res 2K “proxies,” which are mostly what I edited. I graded the flat Canon Log images in FCP X as well. You can see my workflow depicted and footage displayed in the video below.


I also shot a 22-minute reel for Canon and Cooke Optics demonstrating the “Cooke Look” obtained by mini S4/i primes on a Canon C500. The results were recorded as 1920 x 1080, 12-bit, uncompressed, again using Canon Log. The extremely high data rate required a Codex S onboard recorder. Using Codex’s Virtual File System, I backed up both original uncompressed files and also ProRes 4444 copies with a 3D LUT applied. I edited with the latter.

My early 2011 17-inch MacBook Pro, tricked out with an internal SSD and 16GB of RAM, kept up just fine. Over the course of both edits, I had only one crash, which happened immediately after final review of the second project, just before rendering for output. Yes, I was backed up. But one of the most extraordinary features of FCP X is one of the least mentioned: Crashes are rare but when they do occur and FCP X is restarted (after automatically sending a report to Apple), not a keystroke or edit is missing. I consider this close to magic.

Admittedly, if this summer’s 4K shoot were repeated now, I’d entertain an alternative, more capable FCP X workflow. On the horizon — in a matter of weeks — is a new release of FCP X to accompany the introduction of the radically reconceived Mac Pro workstation previewed in June at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference, with the possibility also of a new 4K Thunderbolt Display.

You’ve probably seen pictures of it: black, barrel-shaped, 10 inches tall. Hollow like a chimney, which is what it is, its airflow facilitated by a silent turbine hidden under the top. The whole thing is about six-and-a-half inches in diameter.

Inside are up to 12 cores of CPU horsepower, dual GPUs with up to 6GB of VRAM and third-generation PCI Express with 40 Gigabyte/sec internal bandwidth to support internal flash storage that’s 10 times faster than today’s 7200 rpm SATA hard drives.

In other words, 7 teraflops of computing power. Remember Cray supercomputers? Top speed, circa 2004, Cray Inc.’s massive X1 (size of a Sub-Zero fridge), developed with NSA funding, naturally, was 5.9 teraflops.

I/O includes six Thunderbolt 2.0 ports (25 times faster than FireWire 800, twice as fast as the original Thunderbolt), four USB 3.0 ports, two Gigabit Ethernet ports, and the very latest HDMI, version 1.4, which carries a 4K signal to a 4K monitor in a single cable. Per Apple, the new Mac Pro drives at least three 4K monitors at once and permits daisy-chaining up to 36 devices via Thunderbolt 2.0.

New horizons indeed for FCP X.



David Leitner