Director Juanjo Giménez very kindly answered our questions about the post production of Oscar nominated live action short film Timecode. It was his first movie project on Final Cut Pro X and he was keen to try it out!
When we first heard that a film cut on Final Cut Pro X was amongst the favourites to win the Best Live Action Short Oscar at the 2017 ceremony on February 26th in Los Angeles, we wanted to get the news out there quickly!
We were also very curious to know more. In the busy week in the run up to the awards, the director of Timecode, Juanjo Giménez, very kindly answered our questions about the post production process.
What made you choose Final Cut Pro X to edit Timecode?
This is our first project with FCPX. PreviousIy we used to work with Premiere (and before with FCP7), but I wanted to try FCPX, and a tiny short film is a good opportunity to try things like that.
Are people surprised when you mention it was cut on FCPX, is it just a tool to cut with to you?
Not really. Only some people that know that we used to work with Premiere asked about it. But as I told you, I wanted to try, that’s the main reason.
Had you used FCPX on previous projects?
Only in a 30" trailer before this one. This is the first movie we cut in FCPX.
What was it cut on? MacPro? MacBookPro?
MacPro 2010, 16gb RAM with a nVidia GTX970 and 8TB RAID (4 disks x 2TB). Some of the editing was done on a 2008 Macbook Pro (6Gb RAM) with an eSata card attached to the same RAID disk as well.
I would imagine for a short you didn’t use dailies and started editing after shooting?
Yes. The shooting took only a weekend, two days. We started editing after that.
How long did it take to edit?
The editing took about 3 weeks. The whole post-production process took 8 months, mainly because the complexity of the process and the lack of money. The whole CCTV system was built in post-production, thanks to Toni Mena and his team, Marc Gorchs, Daniel Benavides and Toni Sola.
(Images and video courtesy of Toni Mena)
The final length of the short was above 18 minutes. In the last moment I cut 3 and a half minutes in order to be considered by Cannes, whose limit is 15 minutes including credits. After the selection, these 3 minutes never returned to the film.
Could you describe your workflow? (I believe it was shot on RED, did you have proxies?)
Yes, it was shot on a Epic RED Dragon, 5.5K. The CCTV cameras were in fact GoPros, attached to a long stick. We mixed the two sources, RED and H264 GoPros in FCPX without issues. And yes, we worked with ProRes proxies.
We used compound clips in order to link the sound. We bought the ClipExporter 2 app in order to send the footage for postproduction in Nuke and After Effects.
Another app, X2ProLE from Marquis Broadcast was used for exporting the FCPX audio (AAC) into ProTools. These two tools made things really easy. The grading was made in DaVinci Resolve by Toni Mena.
Final resolution was 2K Scope (2048x858), and some shots were reframed or stabilized taking advantage of the 5.5K original resolution. All the audio was edited and mixed using ProTools. The final 5.1 mix was made at the FigTree studios, in Barcelona. We’ve made the DCPs ourselves, out of the DCDM DPX that DaVinci exported.
What benefits did FCPX give over other NLEs?
The main benefit was working directly with different kinds of footage without transcoding. We got used to the magnetic timeline easily.
Did you get a better product or were you able to try out more things in the edit by using FCPX?
I don’t know really. I think that software is only a tool, but maybe if edited with another tool Timecode would look different… Anyway, we didn’t have too many options, since we shot very little footage.
Any problems with FCPX?
Nothing to do with FCPX, but during one of the sessions the RAID got corrupted, and we had to retrieve all the clips from a backup. Fortunately, FCPX makes copies of the projects on the system hard disk, and that saved us from losing many days of editing work. Thank goodness during the shooting we made double backups of everything.
Are there any additional features you would like FCPX to have?
Exporting to different image and audio platforms without the use of external plugins or apps would be great. Sharing libraries in order to work with other editors should be easier too.
A very big thank you to Juanjo for taking the time to answer our questions. All that is left is for everybody at FCP.co to wish him all the best for the awards on Sunday night.