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NAB has come and gone, but there’s still more to talk about, such as the latest update of Apple’s professional editing software, Final Cut Pro. For several months, the whisper in the industry was that Apple would include a multicam option in the next software revision. To date, it was the biggest piece of the puzzle still missing when comparing Apple and its major competitor, Avid. At NAB, the whisper grew to a roar as Apple finally made public the new release of FCP5 with multicam editing capability.Although FCP5 is still very new, a few users can already speak to its latest multicam feature. John Michel is a highly accredited editor. He edited The Cosby Show for eight years, Love Sidney with Tony Randall, and Spin City with Michael J. Fox, where he met executive producer Bill Lawrence. After the third season on the show, Lawrence left to develop another project. He told Michel, “We’ll work together again.” When Lawrence finished writing the pilot for Scrubs, he sent it to Michel and invited him to come west to be part of the Scrubs team.Much has been written about how Scrubs pushed the editorial envelope using Final Cut Pro. Michel and Scrubs editor Rick Blue have played a prominent role in creating a successful workflow using not only Apple’s editing software, but Apple’s internet instant messaging application, iChat. During the posting of the series, Michel and Blue send files via iChat and playback sequences for approval, while talking to Lawrence or others at the same time. When Lawrence and co-executive producer Eric Weinberg wanted to shoot their new pilot Confessions of a Dog using multiple cameras, editor Michel saw the perfect opportunity to give the new FCP feature a test run.Confessions of a Dog is an example of how a small group of creative industry veterans, in a limited amount of time, can carve a new workflow and shake down beta software at the same time. According to Michel, “We shot on a Friday, started editing Sunday, and had to have a cut on Monday. I had a 20-hour editing session.”For the tight turnaround, Michel worked on a pre-release beta version of FCP5 software. By Michel’s side throughout the post process were assistant editor Tim Serda, who is Michel’s assistant editor on Scrubs, and pioneering post facility, Digital Film Tree (DFT).According to Rami Katrib of DFT, Confessions of a Dog was the first time FCP5 was used on anything. Katrib details the project workflow: “They shot four-camera Super 16mm and we transferred that to HDCAM for mastering [at 23.976 frames per second or fps].”While Katrib wanted to make QuickTime dailies using the HDCAM masters and stay in 24 fps, the audio side of the production wanted to work in standard definition 30 fps. Katrib’s solution, “We made Digital Beta downconverts at 29.97 fps to match the 30 fps audio, and we created DV-sized QuickTime files at 23.976 for offline editing.“When John locked picture,” he continues, “we got his FCP project file. That’s the benefit of working with FCP—it’s an elegant way of going from offline to online. All your speed changes, dissolves, and effects carry over into online editing.”The pilot was mastered and delivered to NBC on 24p. Assistant editor Serda adds, “The biggest thing for John was that the picture quality [DV] was so much better than Avid [offline resolution].”The multicam editing feature on FCP 5 allows you to sync multiple sources by timecode, or by in or out points. Assistant editor Serda used in points to sync the sources for the pilot.Michel’s first acquaintance with FCP’s multicam was under the gun, and although he got the job done on time, the tight schedule didn’t allow him to explore fully the new FCP5 multicam features. “I think the [FCP5] multicam function is very deep as far as what can be done with it,” says Michel. “I don’t think I even got into an eighth of what it can do.” As with any new beta software, there were glitches that Serda and Katrib identified and passed along to Apple, which has since ironed them out for the general release of FCP5.“John [Michel] was the first notable editor to cut multicam on FCP5,” marvels Katrib. “And while he was working on a beta version of the application, he was finishing his work on Scrubs at the same time!”

Written by Diana Weynand

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