poppy field

Having spent the best part of 40 years looking through a viewfinder of some sort, sitting in front of a computer editing photos or videos, producing websites and managing social media accounts, it’s a very strange feeling to now say when asked, “I’m retired".

Despite no longer taking on commercial paid work, it’s virtually impossible to suddenly stop what you’ve been doing for the best part of your working life so, for the past 24 months I’ve been taking on work on a ‘pro-bono’ basis for church, charity or voluntary organisations. I hope that my experience, skills and equipment can now be put to good use to those who perhaps, don’t have the budget or funding to produce what they want or need for their media requirements.

The following 'blog' items are a mixture, some from when I was working commercially and now, some new items that might be of interest.

First 10 days with Resolve

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‘Forget everything you’ve ever learned using tracks in Final Cut Pro’, that was the advice when Final Cut Pro X was launched in June 2011. I remember that day along with many thousands of others, awaiting the launch of FCPX, I’d been using non-linear editing since early 1994, originally with Media100 from Data Translation which was marketed as the the first ‘broadcast quality’ non-linear editor. In 2001 I switched to Final Cut Pro v2.1 which then, cost around £1600 if I remember. When Apple switched from Motorola to Intel chips, FCP 6 Studio2 was launched and I bought the new version for around £800, then later again the v7 upgrade, luckily I found a genuine boxed version on eBay for £150.

In 10 years I edited hundreds of programs with FCP and authored DVD’s with it’s stablemate DVDStudio Pro, I taught new users starting out with FCP and supported several people using FCP, it was a great package to use as Media100 had now fallen by the wayside and Final Cut was well ahead of it’s nearest competitor, Adobe Premiere.

FCPX looked alien to me, it was more like iMovie on little blue pills, I tried it out, hated the magnetic timeline and the renaming of Projects, Events and Library’s from what I was used to, so I carried on using FCP7 for the next 4 years until it was no longer viable through hardware constraints and software updates. I bought FCPX in 2015, learning the new way of working with FCPX was relatively easy, there were many tutorials on YouTube and I could edit stuff together, but it still felt very much like iMovie Pro to me. Over the following 6 years I bought into templates for Motion, effects and filter packages for FCPX and when needed, updated my hardware and Mac Operating System software. In its favour, apart from the original £299 I paid for the program, I’ve never had to pay Apple a single penny more for software upgrades to the current version 10.5.2.

I used a Blackmagic Intensity Pro 4K card in my MacPro for capturing analogue VHS footage to FCPX so I was familiar with the Blackmagic company, they also produce an edit package called DaVinci Resolve with 2 versions, a free slightly cut down version and a £299 Studio version with more capability and features. I’d downloaded and tried out the free version a couple of times, in use it was everything I’d expected Final Cut Pro v8 should have been, I did find many of the video and audio effects I wanted to use in the free version gave me the message ‘You’ve reached the limit of this version’. For me, the limiting factor of upgrading was the cost, I’m now retired with no regular income other than a pension, £299 for Resolve when I had nearly 3 or 4 times that invested in FCPX that still worked, seemed false economy.

So, where is this going? It started in March 2020, local churches were struggling to produce services for their followers on YouTube. One church near me got in touch to ask if I could throw a few video clips together and upload it YouTube, I said ‘no problem’ and 60 weeks later, I’m still doing it for them.

Producing a weekly edit from many different sources with quality variations, different formats, phone footage (some upright despite repeated requests to shoot landscape!) and commercial edits (used with permission) I got to work with FCPX more than I’d done in the previous few years, it still didn’t make sense to me in the way it worked, a magnetic timeline, edits with handles that refused to accept a transition, weird audio configuration and lots of little niggles I’d never had with FCP7, I really wanted to be using Resolve. A recent (socially distanced) visit from my son, a broadcast engineer and studio manager, gave us the chance to talk about the various edit packages available and I told him of my wish to use Resolve. 3 days later a large package arrived via courier, it was a full Studio version of Resolve along with the new, optional Speed Editor hardware!
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This is more like the editing format I’m used to. It has Projects, Timelines and Bins, the Power Bin is awesome for repeat weekly projects, clips stay where I put them on the timeline, I can close gaps without anything else bouncing out of place, there is a ’normalise audio’ filter for audio from the right click menu on the timeline, the mixer to the right of the timeline is full of quick to use features, transitions no longer inform me ‘there is not enough space to add a transition’, even the familiar Apple+S command gives me more confidence in a program, I could go on but I’ve not even scratched the surface of why Resolve suits my way of working.

Built into Resolve is Fairlight, I don’t have to export audio to Audacity to fix it, Fusion again built in, is similar to Motion, Colour, also built in is far more user friendly than colour correction in FCP and with a full page to view, and work with all the options - the Magic Mask (new in v17) is unbelievable in use, along with the ease of the very advanced colour correction. Everything, including advanced delivery options is within the one package with no need to switch programs.

In just 10 days I’m still learning my way around and discovering new stuff, I’m happier using Resolve than I ever was after 6 years using FCP(X), there are far more 3rd party add ons I’d been unaware of until I started looking and surprisingly these seems to cost less than similar ones I’d purchased for FCP, I’ve only spent £17 on a transitions add-on and a titling add-on. At this moment in time, there is nothing I miss in FCP other than some of the 3rd party add ons I’d purchased but in time, I think some of these will appear for Resolve or I’ll find something similar to continue with the style I’ve used for the current church YouTube services.

I fully admit it’s horses for courses and whatever suits your way of working, there are thousands of ‘new’ editors producing for YouTube who have never known or used anything other than Final Cut Pro. Adobe Premiere in my opinion has out-priced itself, just the app itself costs £238.42 per year prepaid, in the 10 years of FCP, including all updates I've paid £299, but you would have paid Adobe nearly £2400. I do wonder how much longer Apple and to the same extent DaVinci Resolve, can sustain the £299 outright cost for professional software before a new version (and cost) is released or, they go the way of the Adobe subscription model.

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