If you want to implement a powerful new technology in your existing production pipeline, you also should be willing to step out of your comfort zone, and to adapt your workflows, so that every aspect of your production process can fully benefit from this new technology. That's what the post-production team of Producciones del Barrio in Barcelona has been doing since they moved to Final Cut Pro in 2016.
Producciones del Barrio is a leading international producer of factual programs for prime time television and online platforms. Their flagship production, Salvados, has evolved from a popular investigative news show in Spain to a multi award-winning international television program that dives into current political, social and economic issues around the world. It is now broadcasted in more than 30 countries with a potential of over 300 million viewers, and it is featured on Netflix.
Constantly optimising their workflows to increase their productivity has allowed the company to grow very fast, and to take on more productions without affecting their high quality standards. Until recently, they needed to go to external post houses for their collaborative editing. But this had a negative impact on their productivity because the technical infrastructure in these facilities was not optimised for the fast workflows they had developed with FCP X.
As the company kept growing, they decided to move into a much larger building where they could do everything in-house. And they invested in a brand-new technical infrastructure with only one goal: to create a powerful collaboration network for their team of 70 people, using Final Cut Pro as their central media hub from ingest to delivery, seamlessly integrated with After Effects for GFX/VFX, ProTools for audio, and Resolve for grading. With great success.
This story will give us a closer insight into the particular challenges faced by production companies that work around factual programs. Because these programs are based on news and current events, the editorial staff and the production teams have to be very flexible. And they need to work together very efficiently. Sometimes they even need to adapt their content before the program goes on air, as the events evolve.
This is a production environment that comes close to live news and event broadcasting, where everything has to work perfectly all the time because there is simply no window for errors. Their success relies on their skills, the efficiency of their workflows, and the reliability of their tools. That's why their choices are always based upon objective criteria and careful testing. They can clearly explain why they choose certain tools above others, and they are not afraid to re-evaluate their choices. So we were very interested in finding out why the team of Producciones Del Barrio moved to FCP X a few years ago, and if they still consider it to be the best tool for their work today.
We talked with Noemí Agustina, Post-Production Director David López, and Technical Director Iñaki Sanz. They will tell you all about their productions, what cameras they use, what formats they work with, how they work with multicam recordings and multichannel audio, how they organise their projects, how they integrate different tools in their workflows, how they collaborate over a high-speed shared storage network that is designed to run 24/7 without any downtime...
So grab yourself a very large coffee, and I hope you will truly enjoy this article.
1. The Company
Producciones del Barrio is an audio-visual company led by Jordi Évole and Ramón Lara, who have worked in this industry for over 20 years. We specialise in factual programs for television and digital platforms.
Our multidisciplinary team of 70 people can manage the entire production chain of our content: scriptwriting, editorial, production, post-production, documentation, promotion...
We also hire freelancers on a project basis: camera operators, focus pullers, light technicians, sound recordists, music editors, etc... We usually handle three projects at the same time, with 17 people in post- production.
“Salvados” is our flagship program. We have been producing this prime time program for 11 years now, which is a real challenge for us. Seeing the huge audiences we have reached and maintained during these 11 years, and the international recognition we have received, makes us super proud.
Beyond the millions that watch the show on television on Sunday night, many more follow Salvados on the web and on social media. Jordi Evole, the creator of the program, has 3.4 million Twitter followers who make sure the show is Spain’s top 'trending' topic on Twitter every Sunday.
As the company evolved, we started developing more productions: a program dedicated to political corruption; two weekly programs about the independence process in Catalonia from the perspective of some real nice grandmas in Catalonia and Andalusia; or a series for Spanish Television called "Project Arkano" where we had the challenge of reaching younger generations and their parents...
We also produce feature-length documentaries such as "Astral", the story of a luxury sailing ship turned into a rescue boat for refugees, which has been screened in over 250 cinemas and festivals worldwide and has received numerous awards. Or a program for an American broadcaster about the Latino community under Trump... just to give a few examples.
One of our latest productions, 'Matchday', is a prestigious series of eight 45-minute episodes around FC Barcelona. The series will premiere in Europe in November on Rakuten TV (one of the leading VOD platforms in Europe), to be followed by the Asian-Pacific region and the United States. FC Barcelona have also reserved the rights in Africa, Latin America, MENA and Canada. Our challenge is to continue to add new projects and to keep growing.
2. Production and Post-Production
I am the Post-production Director of Producciones del Barrio. My main function is to analyse the technical requirements of any client we work for, either a broadcaster or any type of streaming platform. From there, I establish a workflow that ensures the editing is carried out without any problems. I am also in charge of the finishing and mastering required by any client.
We work close to the news, with a highly demanding post-production. Our deadlines are always very tight. We need to deliver our shows in time every week, without any excuse, always with the high quality standards that people demand from us. And we have to handle many hours of footage every week. As an example: for "Salvados", we record an average of 10-12 hours of footage for a 50 minute show. This adds to the pressure.
So it’s very important for us to be able to easily share assets between everyone involved in a production. And to have multiple editors working simultaneously on a program, together with journalists and producers. That’s why we’ve always needed production tools that enable us to seamlessly work together, without having to worry about any technical or workflow issues.
Why did you move from classic Final Cut for editing to Final Cut Pro X in 2016?
FCP7 was getting obsolete for us. It did not deal well with the new video formats and the higher resolutions we were shooting, it had issues with Blackmagic cards, etc... And there were round-tripping issues with Resolve, our standard grading tool. The old XML didn't work with Resolve. So we had to use EDLs instead, which made us lose a lot of our metadata. It was really tedious having to reconnect all the media all the time. That was a decisive factor for us to stop using classic Final Cut.
We had used Final Cut Pro X on “Astral”, a documentary about the drama of refugees who try to cross the Mediterranean in search of a future in Europe. Jordi liked the application very much because it was much faster and more intuitive than FCP7. So we had already considered moving to FCP X in 2015.
But you know how TV production is, there is never time to stop. You need to find a spot to do all that workflow redesign. And we also had some doubts about collaborative workflows in FCP X. To make sure we made the right decision for the future, we started testing a wide variety of NLEs. We wanted everyone in our post-production team to be happy with our final choice.
We all had learned Avid in film school, so this was the first solution we tested. But it was too tedious and not flexible enough for our work. Also, it does not handle iXML metadata properly. This is very important for us because we always work with multi-channel dual system sound with usually 5 to 8 audio channels.
Premiere Pro was fine but it wasn't a big evolution for us from classic Final Cut. Also, there were some performance issues. We work with huge amounts of footage and with really long clips. When we started to throw lots of stuff at it, Premiere Pro couldn't handle it very well. Export times were also frustratingly long, which is a big dealbreaker for us. And Premiere has the same limitation as Avid with regards to iXML.
Finally, I got in touch with people from Blackmagic to discuss implementing Resolve for editing. It seemed like a good choice because Resolve kinda looks like classic FCP with a touch of Final Cut Pro X. So it would have been an "easy" transition.
But DaVinci was not adopted because of several issues. Just one example: when you create a multiclip, you can't adjust the audio level in each channel separately. I can't work around that. Even if I send an AAF to ProTools later, I want to hear decent audio when editing. Furthermore, Resolve does not have the ease of use and the fluidity and speed of Final Cut Pro X.
Although we could have worked around many of the issues we had with the other solutions, none of them gave us the same overall experience as we had with Final Cut Pro X. So I said: "That's it. We are moving to FCP X." In the beginning, not all of our editors were happy with our choice. But they quickly changed their minds once they started working with it on real-life productions.
Let's go through your production workflows in a little more detail. What cameras do you use, what recording formats do you work with, and how do you deal with multicam recordings and with multichannel audio?
David: Because our productions are factual, the production teams record a lot of interviews and discussions. Depending on the subject, the location, and the situation, interviews are generally recorded with 2 to 3 cameras. Although we have worked with 6-camera setups as well.
We often work with freelance camera people and we let the production team decide what formats they shoot, as long as the codecs work natively within Final Cut Pro.
Until recently, we have done most of our work with the Canon C-300 Mark II. But in our latest projects such as the "Matchday, Inside FC Barcelona" series, we have used the Sony PXW-FS7 along with Red Digital Cinema cameras and cameras of the Arri Alexa family. The new ‘Salvados’ team has also incorporated the Sony Alpha A7 III now.
To maintain the highest video quality from recording to delivery, we use the best settings on cameras that record XAVC or other highly compressed video formats. With the Sony Alpha A7 III, we use Atomos devices to be able to record in ProRes. We have adopted the following recording codecs as a standard for each camera type:
- Canon C-300 Mark II: MXF XAVC-Intra 444 12-bit.
- Sony PXW-FS7: AVC Intra 422 10-bit.
- Sony Alpha A7 III: Apple ProRes 422 or Apple ProRes 422 HQ recorded on Atomos Shogun.
- Arri Alexa Family: Apple ProRes 422 HQ.
On-set, we synchronise all cameras to a master timecode. To ensure that this timecode is exactly the same for all cameras without any drift, the sound recordist generates the master timecode on his recording device and sends it to the cameras using specialised tools such as Lockit Sync Box or Tentacle Sync.
We always hire dedicated sound recordists for each shoot, even for the simplest setups. We use a mix of wireless lavalier mics, and boom mics. Depending on the situation, we also use extra microphones to capture ambient sounds. We always record multitrack audio files.
The fact that FCP X works perfectly with the iXML metadata from multitrack audio is very important for us. Before we start filming, the sound recordist assigns metadata to every audio source (such as the name of the interviewee, the type of microphone, etc...). When the multitrack audio file is imported into Final Cut Pro, the NLE will use the data that were set in the recorder to create subroles and assign them to the corresponding audio components in the imported clip. This helps the editors a lot in keeping track of who is recorded to each audio channel.
Given the sheer number of productions we handle every week, the iXML support in Final Cut Pro saves us a tremendous amount of time.
Who imports the media in Final Cut Pro X?
The ingest is usually done by an assistant editor and/or the Postproduction Coordinator. Media from camera cards are imported directly into the Library and stored in the program's Media Folder on the server. When we record on Shogun Atomos devices, everything comes in on a hard drive. In that case, the content of the drive is first copied to the program Media Folder on the server. Then we rename the clips and we import them into the program Library, leaving files in place.
When the footage is imported, the assistant editor creates synchronised or multicam clips from the camera footage and the multitrack of the sound recordist. The existing tools in FCP X work perfectly for this. When we need to synchronise large batches of non-multicam clips, we use Sync-N-Link.
Do you create optimised media while ingesting?
We usually don't need to create optimised media. FCP X handles the AVC Intra 422 10-bit codec from the Sony PXW-FS7 without any issues, even in 4K. Native RED footage is no problem either. And the ProRes 422 and 422 HQ files from ARRI cameras, or from the Sony Alpha A7S III with the Atomos Shogun, play flawlessly on our iMacs.
The Canon C-300 Mark II does cause us more problems. Although it plays natively in FCP X, the XAVC Intra 444 12-bit codec in 2K is very unfriendly for editing. Especially with large multicams. In these cases, we generate our own specific 'proxy' media: Apple ProRes LT, which we use for editing. For grading and finishing, we just reconnect to the original XAVC Intra 444 2K media.
How do you organise your media in FCP X?
Every production has a “Master Library” with pre-defined Events and custom Smart Collections, that we use as a template for all episodes of a program. This ensures that all Libraries for a program are organised in the same way. We duplicate the Master Library for each episode, rename it properly, and start working on that episode. Sometimes we split long episodes over several Libraries.
We use custom Smart Collections based on "Media Type" and "Format". They help us automate the organisation process, filtering audio only and video only clips, and finding media from each camera very quickly. This is an example of how you would filter out all Video with Audio clips from a Canon C300.
Another type of Smart Collection is based on "Text". Every file that we render out of After Effects has the word 'GFX' in its file name. Using the “Text > Includes > GFX” filter, all motion graphic clips are automatically organised in the FCP X library right after import:
We use the same method to automatically organise all WAV files coming from ProTools. These clips always have the word 'MIX' in their file name. The filter “Text > Includes > MIX” automatically adds these clips to the "MIX" Smart Collection in the FCP X browser whenever they are imported into the Library.
Finally, we have two Smart Collections with the filters “Type > Is > Multicam” and “Type > Is Synchronised”. These Smart Collections help us separate multicam and synced clips from the raw video and audio clips.
If you spend a little time identifying your needs and setting up custom Smart Collections properly, they tremendously alleviate the tedious task of organising your footage. Final Cut Pro automates and speeds up the organisational process like no other NLE.
For deeper organisation of the media, we make extensive use of Keywords. As you can apply multiple keywords to the same clip, keywords help us find the right clip or shot in seconds. We don't waste time searching hundreds of clips in a Bin, or scrubbing through long select sequences, like in other NLEs.
Then we use Favourite ranges to identify great shots or sound bites we know we will use at some point in the program. This also helps us immensely when we need to build the promo edit for that week’s episode.
In a show like Salvados, where the interviews are really long, adding Markers and Comments help us differentiate between what is essential and what is not. Sometimes the edited segment is only 7-10 minutes long. But in order to reach that point, we have to go through 90 minutes of content or more (sometimes over 3 hours!).
We use markers to add annotations about interesting topics or questions during the edit. Adding markers is something you can do on the fly, without stopping playback. If we want to add a comment, we stop. Once the markers are set, we can see all of them at a glimpse in the Timeline Index. This helps us see the actual content of the edit without having to navigate through a long timeline. When we want to listen to a particular bit of content, we just click on the marker and the playhead instantly jumps to that point.
Factual television is everything but patient. It’s a fast turnaround environment with very high quality demands. Everything that helps us reach our deadlines is more than welcome.
- The powerful organising tools that we discussed earlier, and the fact that we can find clips or parts of clips extremely fast in the browser, certainly speed up the entire editing process. Clip skimming in FCP X is unparalleled.
The Magnetic Timeline allows us to make fast and precise editing decisions without ever needing to worry about things going out of sync, which is a tremendous timesaver.
Also, the sheer performance of Final Cut Pro allows us to perform on-the-fly edits and to smoothly play native high-resolution media with effects and titles without the need to render, even with long multicam projects.
Do you mix the final audio in FCP X?
We use ProTools for all our final audio mixes because we prefer to have a dedicated audio engineer handle our final audio, and most of them prefer ProTools. But some effects, such as radio effects, telephone effect, noise reduction, gain... are often applied directly to the dialogue in Final Cut Pro during the edit so we can have a better idea of the final audio before it goes to ProTools. In this respect, the Audio Effects filters in FCP X are very useful for us. For the same reason, we use the FCP X audio tools during the edit to balance audio levels between different clips or multicam audio lanes on the timeline.
Of course, we always organise all our audio in FCP X by assigning audio Roles and Subroles. This gives the editor a clear overview of the audio during the edit. Correctly assigned Roles and Subroles are also essential to create an AAF for ProTools, which we do with X2Pro.
How do you prepare the FCP X timeline before sending an FCPXML to X2Pro?
All previous audio work done by the editors is reviewed before sending an XML to X2Pro. Some audio Roles and Subroles are re-ordered, sometimes renamed, or deleted. This way, we make sure that the audio engineers will only receive the audio tracks they need, ordered in a clear way.
What do the audio people think about the quality of the AAF exported from X2Pro?
They are very happy with it. When done properly, the names of all audio Roles and Subroles in FCP X are perfectly preserved in the audio tracks in ProTools, and all tracks are correctly organised. This is unique.
And how do you bring the mixed audio back into the FCP X timeline?
The audio engineer bounces 4 WAV files out of ProTools, which we import in FCP X:
- Stereo WAV mixed
- Stereo WAV dialogue
- Stereo WAV fx
- Stereo WAV music
Having dialogue, audio fx, and music as individual tracks is necessary because the technical specifications for delivering masters to our broadcasters and OTT platforms require this.
Are there any improvements you would like to see in this process?
It would be useful to have X2Pro as an Extension in FCP X so we can just drag and drop a Project from the FCP X Browser onto the Extension without having to create an intermediate XML file.
Also, X2Pro does not respect the order of the Roles and Subroles established in the FCP X project. So we always need to re-order the audio in X2Pro before creating the AAF. This may not seem important when you have 2 or 3 Roles. But we often work with more than 20 Subroles. Having to re-order all these makes us lose time.
Do you use the colour tools in FCP X?
Our program master sequences are graded in DaVinci Resolve before coming back to FCP X for finishing. But all our masters for social networks, for external communication, and for promotion, are graded using the native colour correction tools in Final Cut Pro.
We find the colour tools to be very powerful, especially the colour wheels and the tools for selective correction as well as the comparison window. In some cases, where we had no time to send our edit to Resolve, the FCP X colour tools have been a life saver.
Explain the round-tripping process from FCP X to Resolve and back.
We make a copy of the final timeline and divide it into different segments. We separate and remove the audio, we remove any video effects, and we export and FCPXML to Resolve. We leave all the parameters for scale, rotation, and position untouched because DaVinci respects these. At the same time, we originate a low resolution QT that we can import into Resolve as a reference. It's a fairly straightforward process.
Once the grading is done, each segment is exported from Resolve via FCPXML. All clips are exported with handles, which allows us to still make slight corrections when making the final master in FCP X. We export all clips from Resolve as Apple ProRes files with the same resolution as the original material.
Are there any improvements you would like to see in this field?
Final Cut Pro really should have an option to finalise ("collapse") multicam edits, eliminating the extraneous angles from the edited timeline. Just like we can finalise Auditions. Many colourists with whom we work have made this remark on several occasions. They prefer not see camera angles that are not used anyway. It would also be useful for anyone who needs to send clips from multicam sequences to VFX. So, Regardless of Resolve, it is an option that the FCP X team should consider for future updates.
What about graphics and VFX?
Most of our graphics and VFX work is done by our Graphics Division, using After Effects. They create special titles for intros, motion graphics, inlays, labels, etc. We use a lossless export setting (ProRes 4444) to send clips from FCP X to After Effects. To get the comps back into FCP X, we export discrete layers out of AE, with or without alpha, which we import into FCPX. In some very specific cases, we also use XML with SendToX to roundtrip with After Effects.
Couldn't you do the same using Motion, which is much better integrated with FCP X?
We are aware of the possibilities that Motion offers. But our Graphics Department still prefers After Effects because it is a standard throughout the sector. Some lower thirds, animated watermarks, or promo titles, are created in Motion and published to FCP X as adjustable title templates. This gives us the flexibility to have master templates with specific layouts, fonts, and formatting, for each program. Every editor can access these templates right inside FCP X and change the adjustable parameters of the template (such as the name and the function of a person, or the title of an episode...) on the timeline according to their needs.
Are all programs finished and mastered in Final Cut Pro?
As the Post-production Director, it is my job to prepare all edited segments of a program for audio, grading, and VFX, and to compile the final sequences for every episode into one master timeline for delivery.
Every program we deliver to our clients is finished and mastered in Final Cut Pro. Masters for Broadcast delivery are always supplied as HD interlaced MXF XDCAM HD 422 50mb/s files. Masters for OTT platforms are supplied as UHD Apple ProRes 422 HQ Rec.709 files.
How do you deal with captions?
Subtitles for foreign languages are sent to us as SRT files by the translation companies we work with. Final Cut Pro has no issues with generating closed captions from these files. But we usually convert them to regular burnt-in titles instead, using Subvert. None of our clients have asked us for closed captions in the final master so far, although we have offered that possibility on different occasions.
3. Integration and collaboration
David: In all our productions, several editors work together on each episode of a program. We have had up to 10 people or more working at the same time on the same project. Some making introductions, others cleaning up edits, editing interviews, etc... Our journalists and producers do not usually edit. Although many of them use Final Cut Pro to view and select clips before the project goes to the editor, or to review edited content in more advanced stages of the project.
Exactly for this purpose, we have added Frame.io to our workflows this year. This allows journalists who are not on a Mac, to also be able to review the FCP X edits as they proceed and to give useful feedback to the editors.
We come from a previous stage at an external post house, and we had a lot of problems with their shared storage system. For example, we could not ingest and edit at the same time. So we had to ingest at night. Or, if we had an urgent ingest, we had to stop editing and dedicate the entire system to ingest because parallel processes were not possible. That meant a huge effort in terms of scheduling, in order to meet our deadlines.
We also had problems with long timelines, which demand a very fast cache response. That made editing difficult, it was a constant stop and go... We were getting frustrated about this and we told the engineers at the post house about our issues. Obviously, they blamed Final Cut Pro X.
We knew they were wrong, so we contacted Jesús Perez-Miranda from Cut People and asked him if we could test a Jellyfish shared storage system with our FCP X workflows at the post house. A few weeks later, you and Jesús arrived in Barcelona with a Jellyfish Mobile in a flight case, and we installed the system in the server room at the post house.
The engineers at the facility were totally surprised to see how this little 8-bay server outperformed their 24- bay system. We could edit our 4K multicam footage natively with 4 editors at the same time, and we could ingest extra footage while we were editing. The response in the timeline was also much better. That's when we decided that, as soon as we would get our own facility, we would invest in a new collaboration infrastructure that was fully optimised for our workflows. And we did.
I am the Technical Director of Producciones del Barrio and my job is to manage and supervise the technical infrastructure in post-production.
We have two Jellyfish servers with 240 TB of storage capacity each. One is our main system and the other one is a mirrored backup system. As we usually have very tight deadlines and weekly deliveries, we cannot afford any downtime. That's why the team from Lumaforge has designed a high-availability configuration for us. Each night, the backup server makes an incremental copy of the main server. So we always have two identical copies of our media, our cache files, and our projects.
Should we have a problem with the main system, all we need to do is point to the backup system via the Jellyfish Connect app and we can continue to work without any performance loss. Besides the automatic backups, we can do manual backups whenever we want. As we also keep local backups of our Libraries, we never lose any work. It’s one of those investments you do for security reasons.
We have 17 users, 15 of which are constantly working off the server at the same time. There are several profiles: multiple editors, a colourist, a sound engineer, a graphic designer, researchers, post coordinators, promotion, communication... So there is a very high demand on the server. Our workstations, a combination of iMacs and iMac Pros, connect to the Jellyfish over a 10G network.
We work with native footage, 10-bit in many cases, in 2K and in 4K resolutions. Most of our programs are multi-camera projects, which are edited simultaneously on multiple workstations without any performance issues. We even can do one or two high-speed ingests while people are editing, and nobody notices anything. From the moment we receive the footage until we start editing, times have been greatly reduced. This alone has been a really big improvement for us.
The system is also very easy to manage. The Jellyfish Manager gives us an intuitive overview of our entire network: available storage capacity for each share, drive health, network activity, RAM pressure, etc...
Using the same tool, we can quickly create a new volume ("share") on the server for each program, keeping its media and libraries absolutely independent of other productions. And we can easily assign permissions to users and to groups of users for each share, or for certain folders on a share.
When an editor wants to access a certain share, he just needs to mount it on his workstation using the Jellyfish Connect app. Mounting a share is done in a second, and the editor can start working.
David: One of our main objectives when we took this step, was to invest in a powerful system that would work perfectly with all our favourite tools. Above all, we need to be versatile. And we wanted to be able to handle different types of resolutions without any issues, or even consider HDR...
With the system we have now, we can accommodate for all this. Issues that may seem as simple as ingesting and editing simultaneously, are completely solved. Instead of working with local caches, they are on the NAS now and everything is shared. We have maximum speed and flexibility, allowing us to always meet our deadlines.
Betting on a Jellyfish solution has changed our lives for the better. We are working within an optimal technical environment now, and we are very satisfied.
4. Final Thoughts
Your team chose to go with FCP X in 2016. In the meantime, Final Cut Pro and all other NLEs have had significant updates. Do you still think FCP X is the best tool for your workflows?
It is true that all NLE’s have had several updates from 2016 to today. We also note that, besides AVID MC, Adobe Premiere has gained ground in movie and tv production. And many OTT’s are still reluctant to let external producers use FCP X. That is, unfortunately, a remainder of the past. And sometimes it's a problem in the negotiation. But given the impressive references we have, it is not hard for us to convince them in the end that we can successfully deliver any kind of program with Final Cut Pro.
Of course, there are things in FCP X that we would like to see added or improved. Things like multicam flattening, integrated collaboration, dupe detection, internal media management with handles, batch relinking of clips with a different extension but the same TC and audio, custom proxy media, coloured markers, MFI export settings for OTT’s (Netflix, Amazon, etc)... And I am sure that more professionals would consider mixing their final audio inside FCP X if they were able to use a mixing device with it.
But I can make long wish-lists for any other NLE as well. In the end, the real question is: do our tools of choice really make a difference for us in our particular line of work?
With regards to Final Cut Pro, I can honestly say that there have been occasions where we would not have been able to succeed if we had used any other solution.
Can you give an example of this?
Only a few months after we started using FCP X, we had a very difficult job to tackle. It was an episode of Salvados with Pedro Sánchez, the Prime Minister of Spain. The interview had to be recorded on a Sunday morning, and the program was scheduled to be aired on Spanish television that same afternoon!
The interview was shot at 10 am at a cafeteria, we were in a hotel room 10 minutes away. We had a basic edit suite with an iMac, a Thunderbolt RAID, and a monitor. Basically, we were running against the clock. It was a very long 3-camera interview. We had to ingest, edit, add graphics and titles, turn over to colour and sound, and deliver the master to the station by 3pm. On top of that, it was supposed to be a 30 minute episode. But the interview was so loaded with content that the station said: "Let's do 50 minutes instead". Another challenge for us.
It was amazing to sit in the room with the journalists and the director, editing the show while they watched it play, being able to switch angles on the fly, trim on the fly.... We were really trimming and switching without stopping. We even could make audio adjustments without stopping. With other NLEs, you cannot do this. It was a great experience.
Our colourist was in France. So I sent him a self-contained 20MB Library via WeTransfer, with a sample of each camera angle. He quickly graded the samples on his laptop using the FCP X colour tools, and he sent the Library with the graded samples back to us.
Then I opened the Angle Editor in Final Cut Pro and I just pasted his colour corrections onto every angle. The corrections instantly appeared on every instance of the angles in the timeline, without any need for rendering. That was a real eye-opener.
The show was completely edited at 1pm, which is crazy if you think about it. I told you that not all of our editors were happy with our choice for FCP X at first. After this experience, they changed their minds. Because we all knew that we would not have been able to pull this off with any other NLE.
Iñaki: We recently had another great experience with Final Cut Pro, when we did the 'Matchday, Inside FC Barcelona' series. We had over 500 hours of footage for this production, which we had to cut down to 8 episodes of 45 minutes with multiple editors working together on each episode.
We had a tremendous amount of high-resolution footage from many different sources. We had long multicam recordings from their matches. But we also followed the players off the pitch, giving exclusive insights into their private lives, and showing how the world’s best soccer players experience the final minutes before kickoff of a season-defining match. Or how they spend their time off with family and friends, recovering from defeat, training for success, and preparing mentally to perform in front of 80.000 die-hard fans. It was a huge undertaking.
What helped you deal with such a project?
- The fact that FCP X allows us to assign multiple keywords to any clip was essential to create some order in all that material. In the early stages of editing, the fluid skimming tool in Final Cut Pro also helped a lot to quickly browse through long clips and tag the best shots as Favourites.
- The flexibility of the multicam tool in Final Cut Pro revealed to be a life-saver when cutting down the matches. We had a continuous 90-minute angle from the main camera on the field plus a lot of non- continuous shots from different cameras around the pitch, shooting B-roll and reactions. We also had 3 different voice-overs (English, Spanish and Catalan) to work with. Everything synced up perfectly inside the FCP X multiclip.
- Roles and Subroles also revealed to be very useful to maintain control over all the archive footage coming in from different content providers and broadcasters. We assigned different Roles to all the clips from any given supplier. Combined with Producer's Best Friend, this allowed our Documentation Department to keep track of this comprehensive archive.
David: We continue to rely on Final Cut Pro as our NLE of choice and we are eagerly looking forward to the next major update. The speed, the stability, and the flexibility of FCP X have helped us maintain very high quality standards despite our time constraints. Honestly, I think this software is mind-blowing. It's more than capable for broadcast, and it does the job really well.
The way FCP X automates things frees you from worrying about the mechanics. It just handles the mechanics for you, and that makes it very powerful. Looking back now, I can say that Final Cut Pro X has made our lives much easier.
A big thank you to everyone at Produccciones del Barrio for lending us their precious time to realise this case study. And to my friend Jesús Perez-Miranda from Cut People in Madrid, who has helped coordinate the interviews and the BTS footage.
To summarise this story, here's a little trailer that I made about the company. Enjoy!
© 2019 FCP.CO/Ronny Courtens