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If FCPX's film moment was with Focus, then this article is surely the television equivalent. We learn how Copenhagen based Metronome Productions' staff of 200 produce 300 hours of broadcast television using Final Cut Pro X.

 

How a major broadcast production company has embraced Final Cut Pro X… the clever way. 

When you are a one‐man band or you work with a small team, adopting a new post-production workflow is relatively easy.  But things can be a little more complicated when you want to introduce a new and fairly revolutionary NLE as a standard post-­production tool in a broadcast company that produces 300 hours of on‐air content each year with a staff of 200 people. That’s over one hour of finished program, from pre-­production to final delivery, every single day. 

In the past year we have had the absolute pleasure of working together with the “FCP X team” at Metronome Productions in Copenhagen, Denmark. Metronome is a division of Endemol‐Shine, one of the world’s largest content production and distribution groups with a huge catalog of international scripted and non‐scripted hits such as Idols, Big Brother, Black Mirror, Who Wants to be a Millionaire, Code of a Killer, MasterChef, Mr. Bean, So You Think You Can Dance, The Biggest Loser, The Fall, The Money Drop, Kingdom, Police Chase, Wipeout and many more. 

The company has been making popular television programs for more than 60 years. They have set up solid production procedures and they have spent a lot of money on dedicated hardware solutions for collaborative post­production with Avid systems. So why would such a company decide to set up a completely new post infrastructure around Final Cut Pro X? 

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We will hear it straight from the people who have been involved in this process. We will talk in great detail about FCP X and workgroup collaboration, shared storage systems, advanced project management and much more.

We will take you behind the scenes of the post‐production workflow for a weekly television show and you will hear how different people in the production process have experienced learning Final Cut Pro X, from young intern journalists to veteran Avid editors. Be prepared for a long and, hopefully, interesting read.

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 Metronome Productions HQ in Copenhagen, Denmark.

 

We begin our story with Ryan Velin who leads the Metronome FCP X project. Ryan is a seasoned professional who knows every step of the production process. As an expert Avid and FCP editor he has worked on international broadcast programs such as Eurovision and X­‐Factor just to name a few. He was at NAB in June 2011, when Apple unveiled Final Cut Pro X.

Metronome-FCP.CO Page 02 Image 0001Ryan:  When I attended the Apple presentation at NAB I was thrilled to finally see something new happening in the NLE world. I couldn’t wait until FCP X was released. And when it came out… I hated it.

I just couldn’t figure it out. I worked against  it, I got  frustrated and finally I abandoned  the program. I tried Premiere for a while but that didn’t offer anything new or better for me. So I just stayed with Avid and classic FCP. I did keep in touch with the FCP X community, especially on FCP.co, because I really felt the new Final Cut Pro had a lot of potential.

Then 10.0.3 got released and I saw that FCP X was evolving very quickly. So I tried it again, I followed some online training, and I started loving it. The more I worked with it, the more I discovered the real power behind this NLE.

A colleague at Metronome had gone through the same process. When we heard we would be starting a new show for TV2 we asked the head of production if we could edit it in FCP X. She said she didn’t care as long as we met the deadlines and we delivered a perfect program. And we did. We worked on our personal MacBook Pros with attached RAID drives in a corner of the third floor and we delivered our program faster than ever. It was the start of an exciting adventure.

 

How did the other editors and the staff at Metronome look upon what you were doing? 

The reactions were mixed. Final Cut Pro was still evolving and at that time there were people on different forums bashing the application without even having tried it seriously. So everyone here wondered why we ever would want to use FCP X in an enterprise production workflow. But we did, and we constantly proved that it worked at least as well as the “established” systems at Metronome. The journalists and post producers working with us also liked the application a lot because they found it easy to learn and intuitive to work with.

Metronome management noticed this and they encouraged us to pursue this project. In 2013 the company purchased 30 maxed out 27” iMacs with Apple Thunderbolt displays for the FCP X editors, as well as a bunch of Promise and Areca Thunderbolt RAID arrays, MacBook Pros and Mac Minis. They also stimulated the in‐house Avid editors to learn FCP X and we started doing more and more programs on it.

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FCP X training 2015

 

Two friends of mine, Emil Banck and Mads Larsen Nielsen, joined the team. Emil is a graduated movie and television production technician with a vast all-­round production expertise and strong media management skills. Mads has 15 years of experience as an Avid and FCP editor. He has worked for the Danish Film Institute and Nordisk Film and he has handled large productions over X-­SAN networks. Together we set up the “FCP X Lab” in an office on the third floor, where we tested out new workflows.

Metronome-FCP.CO Page 03 Image 0002Mads:  When I joined the team, FCP X was at version 10.0.6. You could only truly collaborate with it if you had an X-­SAN, which was not an option for us at that time. That’s why we edited our programs locally in different corners of the floor, swapping the  attached  RAID  drives  whenever  collaboration was required.

I had server experience, so Ryan asked if it would be possible to create a small  collaboration system. We set  up a Mac Mini with a Thunderbolt RAID attached to it as a media server. The Mini was connected to a simple GigE switch to which we attached 3 iMacs, each also with an external  RAID.

 

 

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As we only had single GigE connections we couldn’t work fast enough with multiple clients off this network, especially when doing multicam shows. So we only used the system for exchanging Projects and Events between editing systems, using sparse disk images. The actual editing was always done locally from the media stored on attached Thunderbolt RAIDs. Via ChronoSync software we established a bi‐directional synching workflow between the client systems, which ensured that every editor always had exact copies of all the media and the latest Project files. This also offered us an automated overnight backup system to the server drive.

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It was not a “real” shared storage system but it worked surprisingly well for us. We were thrilled we could share our FCP X productions over a network instead of having to run around with drives all the time, and we used this little setup successfully on different productions.

 

But the road to success is rarely without any bumps…

The bump in the Metronome FCP X project came in December 2013 when the application was updated to version 10.1, introducing the Libraries concept. The collaboration workflow the team had set up worked fine with sparse disk images, but it caused havoc with 10.1 and 10.1.1 Libraries. In February 2014 Ryan contacted us asking if we could have a look at what was happening. A few weeks later our workflow analyst Anouchka and I flew over to Denmark. We identified the problems, worked out temporary solutions with the team and made detailed assessment reports for Metronome management and for Apple.

Ryan:  All I can say is that Apple has been extremely responsive and very helpful. The 10.1.2 update solved all our issues and we could think forward again. Our little DIY collaboration system still worked but we desperately needed to increase our collaboration capacity. So we started talking about installing a professional shared storage network and about expanding our FCP X post‐production infrastructure. One year later we have achieved these goals and we are happy to see that everything works even better than we had hoped.

 

Today the FCP X team occupies most of the third floor at Metronome Productions.

In a few years time Final Cut Pro has evolved within this company from a controversial NLE only used by a couple of crazy individuals, to an established post‐production and collaboration tool.

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They have an open collaboration space where journalists, post producers, story editors and lead editors pre‐edit, review and assemble different parts of the shows. Each bay consists of a maxed-­out 2013 iMac, a Thunderbolt Apple Cinema Display, a Thunderbolt RAID for local editing and a Thunderbolt2/10 GigE box for editing over the new network.

 

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They have several dedicated editing suites for advanced editing, colour correction, graphics, finishing and QC.

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Final Cut Pro is also being integrated in every step of the production process. Here it is used for on‐set logging and tagging of a scripted multicam sitcom for children. ProRes media are streamed live into FCP X from PIX recorders connected to the HD-­SDI outputs of the studio cameras.

 

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And all FCP X systems anywhere in the building can connect to a new fast shared storage system that allows up to 32 people to collaborate.

 

Anouchka:  Collaboration with FCP X is easy and solid. You need to set up a reliable network and you need to adapt your workflow for multiple users. And just like with any video workgroup setup, the results you get will entirely depend on how well your storage system and your network can handle the media streams you need to work with.

If you carefully prepare your setup, you won’t waste valuable money on under-­‐performing or overkill systems. For many people a simple GigE network or an all-­in-­one NAS solution will be sufficient. For larger setups the input of a video workflow analyst and an experienced video systems integrator is indispensable.

    

Metronome-FCP.CO Page 07 Image 0001Emil:  We needed an efficient collaboration system that would in the first place speed up our post‐production workflows for conceptual and reality shows. Most multicam studio shows or scripted series only require limited editorial collaboration. But conceptual and reality productions can involve a lot of people working on the same program at the same time.  So  the number of editors or journalists being able to connect to the network from different places in our building was very important for us.

We wanted to manage 3 or 4 different weekly shows on this system. So we calculated we would need at least 24 FCP X editing stations connecting to the system at the same time. Not all of these connections need the same bandwidth. Story editors and post producers only need single streams to pre-cut or review different parts of a program, while the lead editors assemble and finish the shows. So we also needed a system that would enable us to allocate different bandwidths to different users.

What about 4K?

We don’t have to bother with 4K for now. 1080i25 is the broadcast standard in most European countries, and this won’t change in any way in the years to come. Our studio entertainment shows and scripted sitcoms are captured with HD studio cameras. Changing the studio setups to 4K would involve a huge investment just for the sake of it, so that won’t happen very soon either. Narrative and fictional series may be recorded in higher than HD resolutions, but they are still edited in the delivery format. If we need to shoot and edit programs in 4K in the future, we can set up separate smaller workgroup systems that are fully optimized for 4K editing and finishing.

Anouchka:  In larger broadcast production facilities it is not uncommon to see multiple collaboration setups, each optimized for one or more specific productions. The more you mix different workflows, applications, hardware and formats, the harder it will be to get ideal performance. Having different smaller setups that are fine‐tuned for specific productions and workflows is more cost‐efficient and it offers a far better performance for each production than just throwing everything onto one big server and network.  

That’s why it is encouraging to see that a reputable shared storage systems manufacturer has recently introduced a range of products that are specifically tailored for working with FCP X. They offer different setups optimized for different formats and for different numbers of users. They are also testing the compatibility of their products with third party hardware and software.

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We started preparing the Metronome setup in May 2014, when these products were not available yet. But we find this an interesting development and we look forward to testing such a system on a real‐life production in the near future.

For the Metronome project we received quotations from different renowned vendors based on our specifications. We also had some demos, but none of them could really convince us. The proposed systems were either too complex (and as a consequence too expensive) for our needs, or they didn’t meet our expectations. Together with the Metronome team we decided that it would be better (and cheaper) to build a custom system that we could fully optimize to give us exactly the performance and reliability we needed for this particular setup.

So we teamed up with Bob Zelin in Florida. He is an authority in setting up professional video collaboration networks and he has built similar custom systems for high-­profile clients such as Disney, FOX, Google, CBS and many, many more. After having received our specifications, Bob sent us a list with a battle-­tested combination of components to build the system.

 

Server and storage

The server is a classic 8-­core MacPro with 16GB RAM and two identical system drives running Yosemite, OSX Server software and NFS Manager. If the active system drive ever fails, a simple re‐boot from the clone drive restores the system in a few minutes.

The server connects to the storage pool via a 6G SATA host adaptor. Each drive array in the pool has 16 drives and can be as large as 128 Terabytes. We can daisy chain up to 8 of these together, resulting in a maximum storage capacity that exceeds 1 Petabyte. That’s 700 TB of effective storage capacity, counting the spare capacity you need for redundancy and the headroom you need to ensure sustained safe performance at optimal speed.

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The drive array is hardware striped to RAID6, providing dual redundancy. This means the system will still  run without any data loss even  when  two  drives  fail  at  exactly  the  same  time. When  a drive fails, the system will restore itself while the editors can continue to work. To reduce the risk of drive failure we use enterprise-­class HGST drives. These  drives  are  more  expensive  than regular drives but they have a far better MTBF (Mean Time Before Failure) and they  are  better optimized for heavy‐duty video editing.

 

Setup and network

The system is set up as an enterprise‐level NAS with an accelerated 10GigE network. A 10Gig Ethernet NIC inside the server hooks up to two special Ethernet switches, one with 12 x 10GigE ports and one with 24 x 1GigE ports. All ports use regular Cat6 cables and all ports are backwards compatible to regular 1Gig Ethernet. This means that any accredited computer anywhere in the building can connect to the network with 1GigE or 10GigE speeds. Single GigE connections can be made using the existing Ethernet ports on any computer. For 10GigE connections we use SANLink2 Thunderbolt/10 GigE boxes attached to the editing systems.

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FCP X works happily both with SAN and NAS solutions. Thanks to fast evolving technologies, NAS has become a cost-­efficient and reliable alternative to SAN workflows these days - especially for small to medium‐sized workgroups. You can use NAS configurations using SMB or AFP protocols if editors only need to share centralized media while working on local Libraries. If you want to create and access FCP X Libraries on a NAS, it is best to set it up as an NFS share.

NFS (Network File System) is a file sharing protocol that allows a user on a client computer to access files over a network much like local storage is accessed. It is built into every Mac running OSX. In 2014, our friend Filip Vandoorne from Belgium has put together a detailed guide on how to work with NFS. If you haven’t read it yet, here it is:

How to share Final Cut Pro X Libraries on a network using NFS

Theoretically, anyone can set up an NFS share using these directions. But you will get much better performance out of your NAS when someone with hands-­on video server experience fine-tunes your setup.

 

Installation

Ryan:  Once management approved the budget everything went very fast. While we were waiting for the hardware components to arrive we contracted a specialized firm to install a brand new CAT6 cable network from our server room to all our FCP X editing stations and suites on the third floor. We made sure that the shared storage network was completely  separated  from  the existing Internet and mail server network.

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When the hardware components arrived, we installed them in a rack in our  server  room. Installing and connecting the units was a breeze. We made sure to power all units via an APC power protection unit to prevent system downtime due to power interruptions. Then we contacted Bob in Florida. In the evening he logged remotely into the system to set up the hardware and software and to fine-­tune the network settings. The next morning everything was up and running and we could start testing the system.

 

Performance

Mads:  We have been working with the system in full production for over 4 months now. After some not so great experiences with older X­‐SAN systems in the past, and compared with the Avid/ISIS systems we use, I am amazed at the performance we get on this system with FCP X.

With our storage capacity filled more than 50%, we get sustained Read speeds of 100 MB/s for 2 GB files on each editing system connected over 1GigE, and 300 MB/s on each system connected over 10GigE. This is far more than we need. The advantage of having this headroom is that we can keep all FCP X Libraries and Cache folders stored on the NAS without any performance hits. Not having to copy Libraries over to the local stations saves us a lot of time and it allows us to keep our collaboration workflows straightforward and solid.

Emil:  The shared storage network is without any doubt the greatest improvement in our workflows since we started using FCP X. I can do colour correction at, what I feel, the same speed as when working off an attached Thunderbolt RAID. FCP X feels fast and responsive, also when editing complex timelines and very large and long multicam clips.

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Ryan:  The system has been running smoothly 24/7 during 4 months now. In all that time we only had one situation where the network started running slower than expected, which had nothing to do with FCP X. Thanks to Bob’s support the issue got solved the same day.

Anouchka:  There aren’t many certainties in life, except this one: computers, drives and networks go down. And of course this has nothing to do with the NLE you use. On the hardware side, having spare drives and parts at hand is an absolute necessity. So is network support. Bob offers excellent remote support, but as he is in a different time zone we also have asked Filip Vandoorne from Double Precision in Belgium to assist us in case we need an urgent intervention.

During recent tests we got constant Read speeds of 300 MB/s on 10GigE over NFS, which is great. But when testing over SMB the speed was much higher. It is clear that since Yosemite, SMB support on Mac has been drastically improved. This is a good thing. Unfortunately it is  still impossible to create or open FCP X Libraries on a NAS using SMB at this time. Being able to do keep everything on the server is a huge timesaver, and it simplifies the collaboration workflow with FCP X considerably. So we will keep working over NFS for the time being. But we have discussed this point with Bob and with Filip in detail, and all of us truly hope that working with FCP X Libraries off a shared storage over SMB will be an option for the near future. Apple, I’m sure you are reading this (wink, wink).

 

Backup system and archiving

Although the shared storage system provides dual redundancy, having an extra backup system is always a good idea according to Murphy’s Law. Tier 2 backup systems can be expensive but the team had quite a few spare Promise and Areca RAID arrays sitting on a shelf now that the editors did not need to pass drives around anymore. So they came up with a creative and cost‐efficient solution.

Mads:  We have connected a Mac Mini to the network. This Mini acts as a server for multiple daisy-­chained 28TB Areca Thunderbolt arrays striped as RAID 5. Every production that is edited over the network gets backed up to a specific Areca array. This includes all the media and all FCP X files and folders for that production. ChronoSync software automatically syncs the shared storage with each of the backup drives. If we ever should have any serious downtime in the network and we urgently need to finish a program, we just have to take the Areca RAID for that production out of the backup system and connect it to any editing system to continue our work.

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We chose ChronoSync over other sophisticated backup software such as Intego and CCC because it can dissect packages (such as FCP X Libraries) and treat them as folders, even over a network. To my knowledge no other backup software does this.

We keep all episodes of a particular season for a show on the shared storage until a new season is started. Then we consolidate and archive the past season onto backup drives in docks. All episodes are consolidated in full to these drives, along with Master QT/MXF broadcast files and all used Effects, Transitions, Titles, Fonts and other relevant files. We don't use the Areca backup RAIDS as source for archiving. We consolidate from the Libraries on the server. Hopefully we will be able to switch to a more professional archive system in the near future (LTO/robot/MAM).

 

Setting up an efficient collaboration workflow

Every production is different. The more people are involved in working together on a program, the more carefully you should prepare the collaboration workflow. Once a production starts running, you are working against strict deadlines and you cannot afford any hiccups or delays. If every person involved in the collaboration process knows exactly what to do and where to find what they need, you will get a smooth production. If not, you are in for a disaster.

There are many ways you can effectively collaborate with FCP X. If you haven’t read it yet, this is by far the best overview of how FCP X can be used in different collaboration situations: FCPX in a Shared Environment

As an example we will look at the post-­production workflow of a popular weekly television show that involves the collaboration of many different people inside and outside of the production company. Giusy Naitana, a Dutch film editor with a vast experience in movie and television editing, manages the editorial collaboration process for this production.

Metronome-FCP.CO Page 14 Image 0002Giusy graduated as a film editor at the Dutch Film Academy in 2005. She went to Athens with her Greek husband where she worked on a television drama series and three feature films using Avid.

In 2011 they moved to Denmark because of the thriving film and television industry in this country. Here she met a Dutch editor who had been working in  the country for over 20 years, and he introduced her to the new Final Cut.

While she never was a big fan of FCP7, she absolutely loves FCP X. In the past years she has taught the application to many students, including a group of autistic children, which she recalls as a magic experience. Now she works at Metronome as the lead program editor for Politijagt.

 

Politijagt (“Police Chase” in English) is a successful conceptual television series that has been running for many years now. The program is produced in collaboration with the police and it shows every‐day stories of how policemen have to deal with serious traffic offenders. The challenge is to transform these stories into a compelling and exciting weekly program where people can identify themselves with the situations they see.

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Giusy:  Every week we have to deliver a completed and approved 43‐minute program to the television network. A program consists of multiple stories that are recorded by camera teams who go on the road with police patrols in Denmark and in other countries. So media gets in from many different places. We get a lot of raw footage because the camera operators often let the camera roll while an interesting action takes place so they don’t miss anything. Besides the footage from the main cameras we also get long POV clips from different GoPros placed in and on the police vehicles, or on drones. These clips are used for multicam purposes to enhance the action and the viewer experience of the different stories.

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During the post‐production process each program goes through many different hands. An assistant editor is responsible for importing the media for all the stories onto the shared storage system and for assigning keywords to all clips. Then the story editors/journalists pre‐cut the different stories.

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Post producers do internal reviews of the edits in progress and lead editors fine-­cut the stories adding music, SFX, temp VO, temp mixes, VFX, titles and graphics.

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Edited stories are sent for approval to the police departments of the different regions in Denmark or abroad where the stories were recorded. Edits are changed when required and sent back for approval.

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When all stories have been approved the program lead editor assembles them into the program master sequence, which gets reviewed by the post producer. It is the post producer’s job to make sure everything is assembled in accordance with the program’s guidelines.

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To create bridges between the finished stories, anchor presentations are recorded on green key in the studio and added to the program. Final VO is recorded and added, trailers are made and the master sequence goes to audio sweetening and colour correction.

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After a final QC by the post producer and the head of production, the assistant editor takes over the master sequence and produces the MXF delivery masters that are sent to the station. When you know that we work on multiple episodes for a season at the same time, you can image that this production requires a lot of planning and organization.

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Ryan:  This show has been running for many years and it used to be cut in Avid, then in FCP7. Since we moved the production to FCP X we have been able to drastically simplify the workflow and to develop a seamless collaboration pipeline managed from within Final Cut Pro.

All the assets for all episodes of the Politijagt series reside in a single root folder on the storage system. The root folder has different sub‐folders such as the FCP X Media folder, the FCP X Cache folder, the Libraries folder, a folder for the custom fonts and Motion Templates of the series and a folder for the exports such as files for external reviews and MXF delivery masters.

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When he receives the footage for one or more stories, the assistant editor connects to the network and in FCP X he creates a Library for each story in the Politijagt > Libraries > Stories folder. He sets the Library Media location to the Politijagt > FCP X Media folder and the Cache location to the Politijagt > FCP X Cache folder on the network and he imports the footage.

No journalist or editor ever needs to access any of the folders on the network. They just open the Library they need from within FCP X or with Final Cut Library Manager, they do their job and they close the Library again. This is a simplified pipeline diagram for one episode:

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When a story has been pre‐cut the Story Library is marked “ready” and a lead editor accesses the Story Library. Here the story gets added music, voice over etc. We have created a dedicated Sound Library for Politijagt on the network. When editors need to add music beds or AFX to a story they open this Library in FCP X and they can easily search through thousands of music and audio clips, which have been carefully organized using Keyword Collections.

As the stories get done the program lead editor creates a new Library for each episode of the production in the Libraries > Episodes folder. She accesses the different Story Libraries for that episode from within FCP X and she copies story timelines into the Episode Library. The lead editor can assemble several episodes at any given time. During the assembly the post producer can access the Episode Libraries for internal reviews.

When an episode is ready for audio sweetening and color correction the final timeline is copied over to a new Library, which now serves as the Final Library for that episode. From here on it is the assistant editor’s job to make appropriate exports for external reviews, approvals and final delivery masters for broadcast.

Because all Libraries point to the same FCP X Media and Cache folders on the network, no media ever gets duplicated and all media are always online. We never need to consolidate or relink anything during the entire collaboration process.

 

Can anyone access the folders on the collaboration network?

Anouchka:  No, only accredited computers and users can connect to the network. We could have gone all paranoia and also add specific folder restrictions to computers and users, but that would have involved another layer of complexity on the server side. This is unnecessary when you only have 20 or 30 clients connected to the network, so we decided to keep things simple and solid.

Ryan:  Everyone who participates in the workgroup gets a workflow training session so they know exactly how we work and how they can access their projects. Thanks to the way FCP X manages the assets in a workgroup environment, people who participate in the Politijagt workflow can do everything right within the application without ever needing to open a folder at Finder level. And they like it this way, they just want to edit and be creative.

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That’s why we always try to make their work as easy as possible. We have strict naming conventions for files and file types. This makes it easier for them to find and group clips based on clip names in the Browser or in the Timeline Index, e.g. to quickly add Keywords and Roles.

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How do the journalists and the Avid editors experience working with FCP X?

Anouchka:  During the year we have been working with the Metronome team now, we have occasionally interviewed the expert FCP X editors in the company as well as journalists and Avid editors who had learned the application. We got a lot of interesting feedback. These are just a few examples of how people with different backgrounds look at the application.

 

Niels Sally has been a freelance editor for over 16 years, principally on Avid.

Metronome-FCP.CO Page 21 Image 0001Niels:  I did a few projects on FCP7 as well, but I never got my head around it and no‐one here really wanted to cut in anything else than Avid anyway. So I did not use FCP that much. When I heard Ryan and his team were cutting Metronome shows on FCP X, I got curious and I started trying it at home.

At first it certainly felt completely different from how I was used to work. But once you get familiar with it, you realize that it’s all in your mind. Actually you can do exactly the same things as in Avid, only in a different way.

The real test came when I got offered to cut a new show, on one condition: I would have to do it in FCP X. I didn’t hesitate and I accepted the offer. The first few days I did have trouble with the audio. In Avid you see all your audio at a glance, in FCP X much of it is hidden. If you want to do serious work on the audio you need to expand the clips. I got my head around this, but I still wish there was a better visual representation and organisation of the audio clips on the timeline. Having colour coded audio clips based on Roles would be great to start with.

I like the FCP X interface a lot. It’s intuitive, it looks polished and everything is easily accessible. But what I like the most is that you can view the content of all your clips at a glance, without needing to double‐click them. That saves a lot of time. Searching is also very powerful. Strictly on the editing side it does not feel very different to me. The magnetic timeline takes some time to get used to, but it can be a timesaver. Trimming works well, different than in Avid but with the same speed and precision. As I said, improving the way we can work with audio is what I would appreciate the most.

How do your Avid colleagues look at FCP X?

Some of them have learned to work with it, they have cut shows on it and they like it. Some others will probably never touch it, but they won’t touch any other NLE either. Honestly, I think they are missing out on something good. I can understand you don’t really need to master multiple NLEs that basically work the same. There is still enough work for Avid editors in our industry. But FCP X has some unique and powerful features, it’s different enough to make it interesting and it is certainly gaining traction in television production. So for me it’s a good addition to my toolset.

 

Karen Hammer and Simon Ludvigsen study TV‐journalism at the renowned Danish School of Media and Journalism. As part of their education they work at Metronome as intern story editors on the Politijagt series.

Metronome-FCP.CO Page 22 Image 0002Karen:  I had already worked in FCP7 before starting to learn FCP X. I found it very easy to learn. As journalist media producers we don’t need to do very complex edits. We need to be able to tell a good story based on the footage we get, and we need to be able to do this fast.

Pre‐cutting the Politijagt stories at Metronome is a good exercise for that kind of work. I like the way we can skim through the clips. Also the fact that you can move clips around in the timeline and everything stays connected and in synch. I do feel I could do more precise audio work in FCP7, but maybe that’s because I still need to get more proficient with FCP X. Anyway, I like it a lot.

 

 

 

Metronome-FCP.CO Page 22 Image 0003Simon:  For every assignment we get at school, we have to do a video production. And everything is edited in Final Cut Pro X. So I started learning it 2 ½ years ago. A teacher showed us the basics and within a week we did our first assignments on it.

A lot of the students, including me, had never edited anything before and we found it very easy to learn. Some others had already edited on FCP7 or Avid. They had some difficulties to adapt, but they got used to it pretty fast. What I like most about it is that it’s very intuitive and fast. You can organize your footage in many different ways and it’s very easy to quickly find shots whenever you need them. You can really concentrate on creating your story without having to worry about anything else.

 

 

How do you see the future of FCP X at Metronome Productions?

Ryan:  We never cease testing out new things that can improve our production processes without making any concessions to the quality of our programs. We are testing out Lumberjack to speed up the organisation process of our footage. We are looking at browser-­based solutions for remote reviewing, editing and collaboration. In short, we are constantly trying to further streamline our workflows. And FCP X offers a perfect interface for integrating these modern metadata driven solutions. Of course there are things we would like to see improved in the application, and we provide constant feedback about this. We always welcome new features, just like anyone else. But in our business, performance and stability are the things that matter most.

No-­one can deny that the media landscape is changing. If we want to benefit from the new opportunities that are emerging, we have to be capable of re‐thinking the way we work. FCP X is one of the tools that enable us to do this. It has everything we need for the work we do today, and it has a big potential for being one of the best tools for the work we will do tomorrow. So I see a great future for FCP X at Metronome.

 

Metronome-FCP.CO Page 22 Image 0001Kent Nikolajsen, CEO Metronome Productions:

The advertising market being under pressure in traditional television, we always have to look for new ways of shaping our business. And we constantly try to find new creative workflows that will allow our staff to offer higher quality at a lower cost.

You know, 25 years ago we were cutting programs with scissors as a matter of speaking. You cannot even compare those days with the technological possibilities we have now. That’s why we always like to discover new opportunities to improve our work. And when we see new ideas that are promising we invest in them, we monitor them and we give them time to mature.

When you consider the choice of equipment, is cost‐efficiency the most important factor?

No, it isn’t. I consider cost‐efficiency as a great bonus, but more important is how people feel working with their tools. Do they get frustrated with the technology? Or do they get in looking forward to a long working day where they feel creative and they get a high level of satisfaction? If they are happy, our programs will look great and our customers will be happy.

In a multi-­discipline company like ours, many different people work closely together with editors to create compelling television content. The more brilliant brains can contribute to a creative product, the better. And technology should never get in the way of this. So before anything else, we need intuitive tools that everyone feels comfortable with and around which we can set up solid collaboration workflows without technical barriers.

How does Final Cut Pro X fit into this corporate vision?

From what I hear from our staff, FCP X is such a great tool. The editors who work with it find it brilliant because it’s powerful and stable. They consider  it  as  an  upscale  of  their  toolset.  But  also  the other people in the production process -­ the producers, the post-­producers, the directors and the journalists -­ find it satisfying to work with because it’s very visual, it’s easy to learn and it’s good at pushing your creativity. It has enabled us to set up very efficient new workflows for rather critical and complex post-production processes.

 

Conclusion

The introduction of FCP X at Metronome Productions has been a success. Part of this is thanks to the perseverance  of the key people  behind this project. They  were able to prove  from the beginning that working with FCP X they could meet with ‐and even exceed-­ the high quality and productivity standards of the company. Even though FCP X was a completely new NLE that was still in full evolution when they started using it.

Another part of it is thanks to the clever way the Metronome management has allowed this project to grow: being open to trying out new ideas while also being able to fall back on existing workflows if things would go wrong. But things didn’t go wrong. Embracing FCP X turned out to be a wise decision. And we are proud we have been able to contribute to this.

Many thanks go to Felixia Banck for taking the photos for the article. You can see more of her work here: felixiabanck.com. I also would like to thank the Metronome management for allowing us to disclose the details of this project. Starting with the Olympic Games in 2012, we have been involved in quite some collaboration setups around FCPX. And we are working on some very interesting projects right now. I am very happy that, for once, we have also been allowed to talk about this in public. I hope you have enjoyed the read.

 Ronny Courtens

 

©2015 Ronny Courtens/FCP.co

A big thank you to Ronny from FCP.co for putting together such an amazing article, we are sure it will be used in the industry as a reference for other setups. It takes a lot of time to put together such a comprehensive write-up and we think the whole FCPX community will be very grateful for Ronny's work and writing.