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When the two Steves started Apple back in 1976, they dreamed of making a computer that people could use as a tool to change the world. Final Cut Pro is an Apple program worthy of the founders' vision. A community has formed around this tool, and people are making movies who weren't able to before. FCP is changing the way stories are told, because it changes who's telling them.

The year 2001 was a big one for the FCP team. Final Cut Pro 2, the first major revision of the program since its debut in 1999, was released in April 2001. Before the end of that same year, the team turned around and did it again.

Final Cut Pro 3, released in December 2001, ships with two versions of the program on the CD: the first OS X–compliant version of FCP, plus an OS 9–compliant version. The feature set is the same in both versions, but there are a few minor differences in program operation between the two operating system environments.

The Final Cut Pro team never stops (well, they did take a week off at New Year's), and no doubt we'll see Final Cut Pro continue to evolve at a feverish pace—kinda like that guy in The Fly.

If you are already using FCP, the good news is that FCP 3 is still Final Cut Pro as you know and love it, even if you move to Final Cut Pro for OS X. Even though the basic operation of Final Cut Pro has not changed, there are changes scattered throughout the program, and a couple of major new program features.

This book, Final Cut Pro 3 for Macintosh: Visual QuickPro Guide, is the second revision of the original Final Cut Pro for Macintosh: Visual QuickPro Guide. This edition describes the operation of FCP 3. If you are using FCP 2, this book should remain a useful guide, but if you are using Final Cut Pro version 1.2.5 or earlier, you'll need a copy of Final Cut Pro for Macintosh: Visual QuickPro Guide.

“New in 2/3” sidebars appear throughout this revision, pointing out significant feature changes in FCP 2 and the new round of changes in FCP 3.

Who should use this book

Final Cut Pro 3 for Macintosh: Visual QuickPro Guide is designed to be used by intermediate to advanced Mac users with some basic knowledge of video editing terms and procedures; explaining basic video production and editing is beyond the scope of this book. Final Cut Pro is designed to be easy to use, but it's still a professional-level video editing and compositing program. If you are not new to the Macintosh, but you're completely new to video editing, consider some basic training in the fundamentals of video editing before you plunge into this program. Try Apple's free iMovie program—it's a great way to get a taste of basic video editing in a stripped-down program that's a little easier for beginners to use.

What's in this book

The first part of the book covers hardware setup, program installation, and specification of program preferences. You'll also find “Touring Your Desktop Post-Production Facility,” a quick feature overview for the entire program.

The next section introduces the Log and Capture, Browser, and Viewer windows—the Final Cut Pro tools you use for logging, capturing, and organizing media in preparation for an edit.

The third part of the book details the variety of ways that you can use Final Cut Pro's editing tools to assemble and refine an edited sequence. This section covers basic editing procedures and the operation of the Timeline, Canvas, and Trim Edit windows; and it includes a chapter on rendering techniques and strategies.

The fourth section includes chapters on creating final output, making the best use of Final Cut Pro's media management tools, and using the program's special effects and compositing tools.

In the last chapter of the book, you'll learn the essentials of running Final Cut Pro under OS X.

How to use this book

This guide is designed to be a Final Cut Pro user's companion, a reference guide with an emphasis on step-by-step descriptions of specific tasks. You'll encounter some of the following features:

  • “Anatomy” sections introduce the major program windows with large annotated illustrations identifying interface features and operation. If you are not a step-by-step kind of person, you can pick up quite a bit of information just by browsing these illustrations.

  • FCP Protocol” sidebars lay out the protocols (the programming rules) that govern the way Final Cut Pro works. These sections are highly recommended reading for anyone interested in a serious relationship with this program.

  • Sidebars throughout the book highlight production techniques, project management ideas, and tips for streamlining your workflow.

  • Tips are short bits that call your attention to a neat trick or a cool feature, or that warn you of a potential pitfall in the task at hand.

Learning Final Cut Pro

Here are some tips to help you get up and running in Final Cut Pro ASAP.

Basic theory

Two sidebars, one in Chapter 2 and another in Chapter 4, are referred to throughout this book. You don't absolutely have to read these to operate the program, but understanding some of the basic concepts underlying the design of the program will make Final Cut Pro much easier to learn.

What Is Nondestructive Editing?” in Chapter 2 explains how nondestructive editing works and how it affects the operation of Final Cut Pro.

FCP Protocol: Clips and Sequences” in Chapter 4 explains the protocols governing clip and sequence versions, which are one of the keys to understanding how Final Cut Pro works.

FCP is context sensitive

The Final Cut Pro interface is context sensitive, which means that the options available in the program's menus and dialog boxes can vary depending on any of the following factors:

  • The external video hardware you have attached to the system

  • The setup configuration you specify when you install the program

  • The program window that is currently active

  • The program selection that you just made

The logic behind the context-sensitive design is sound: to simplify your life by removing irrelevant options from your view. However, because the interface is context sensitive, the menus and dialog boxes in your installation of Final Cut Pro may occasionally differ from those in the illustrations shown in this guide.

Test, test, test

Many times, what you are able to produce with Final Cut Pro depends on the capabilities of your external video hardware and the video format you are working in. So before you rush out and submit a budget or sign a contract, take your entire Final Cut Pro system, including your external video gear, for a test drive.

Keyboard commands

Final Cut Pro was designed to support a wide variety of working styles ranging from heavy pointing, clicking, and dragging to entirely keyboard-based editing. More keyboard commands are available than those listed in the individual tasks in this book. You'll find a comprehensive list of keyboard commands in Appendix B.

Shortcut menus

Final Cut Pro makes extensive use of shortcut menus. As you are exploring the program, Control-clicking items and interface elements is a quick way to see your options in many areas of the FCP interface, and it can speed up the learning process.

Refer to the manual

I'm happy to be able to recommend the official Final Cut Pro User's Manual that ships with the program (that's why the box is so heavy). Apple documenters packed the second edition with basic FCP information and added explanatory sections for beginning editors, complete lists of FCP filters, shots of every shortcut menu in the program, 100+ pages devoted to working with audio, and so on. The FCP 2 manual was so huge that it's been split into four volumes for the Final Cut Pro 3 release. I'll occasionally refer you to specific sections of the official manuals that cover a topic in much more detail that this book can accommodate. (Still, they did miss a few items covered here, and this Visual QuickPro Guide is much easier to carry around.)

Check out the Knowledge Base

Apple posts a steady stream of valuable Final Cut Pro articles and updates in its Knowledge Base (formerly known as the Technical Information Library). The company also posts information about FCP “known issues” (that's corporate-speak for bug) as Knowledge Base articles. See Appendix A for information on locating the Knowledge Base online.

The Web is your friend

Using the World Wide Web is an essential part of using Final Cut Pro. Apple, as well as the manufacturers of the video hardware you'll be using with Final Cut Pro, relies on the Web to inform users of the latest developments and program updates and to provide technical support. You'll find a starter list of online resources in Appendix A and specific Web references sprinkled throughout this book. There are some great sources of information, technical help, and camaraderie out there. If you get stuck or encounter difficulties getting underway, go online and start asking questions. After you've learned the program, go online and answer questions. Helping other people is a great way to learn.

Where to find more information

Check out Appendix A,“Online Resources,” for a list of helpful Web sites.

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