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Professional Videographers of the North Bay
Final Cut Pro Special Interest Group
Past Meeting Notes


First meeting:
Tuesday, April 22, 2003, scheduled 7-9pm but ran to about 10 pm, clean up completed by 10:20pm;
by Jim Richardson, Defacto leader of PVNB FCP SIG

Note: I emailed PVNB Chairman Alan Fitch earlier today (April 23) that PVNB may wish to consider creating other SIG's to master additional applications such as Premiere and AfterEffects. Therefore, these meeting notes may prove to be a useful guide to others in future.
True, it may be more details than anyone would want to know about. But we seem to have successfully implemented the democratic process in a way that has somehow avoided the pitfalls which caused the initial PVNB FCP SIG and the ill-fated Sacramento Friday Morning Group to fail. In the long run, future SIG leaders and SIG members may save themselves much time and headaches if they have our information ahead of time.
Therefore, I am jotting down what I can remember from last night before memory fails. As there is probably a 24-hour window before we all begin to forget the details, please try to read this document and offer your suggestions/amendments ASAP. Thanks.
Jim Richardson, Wednesday, April 23, 2003

Note:
future meeting summaries will probably about one paragraph long.
This page was last updated: Thursday, April 24, 2003, 5pm PST
Tuesday, April 22, 2003, 6:45pm
I arrived at Kathleen Quinn's house in Santa Rosa; Mike Rand and Ginny Schropp and their friend from L.A. were already there and had set up Mike and Ginny's G4 in the front room. Mike suggested that the SIG could have two separate meetings, one in the front room and one in Kathleen's studio. I objected in that not everyone could be guaranteed to get the same information and the sun coming through the front room's bay window would make the computer screen hard to see. After some discussion, we moved everything into Kathleen's studio. But on further consideration, her studio seemed too cramped.
So, we moved Mike's gear plus two of Kathleen's computer monitors into her living room which provided:
1) a wide front seating row:
   a-great for linking all three (3) monitors to Mike and Ginny's dual1 ghz G4 with Mike's box -- box featured the connections of the VGA 15pin type
   b-no sun glare (unlike front room)
   c-this meant that everyone would be able to see easily
2) we had the latest: FCP 3.0.4 running on OS X 10.2.5

7:15pm
Although it took more than half an hour to work out the set up and room usage to everyone's satisfaction, we now had a meeting space that was comfortable and highly usable.

Present were 15 members (16 had RSVP'd via email they'd come, one withdrew, 2 or more no-showed and 2 walk-ins did show); so, the final 15 attendees were (in order of their RSVP): Leonard Johnson (Santa Rosa), Randy Kneeland (Santa Rosa), Leo Barahona (Windsor), Patti Brunelle (Forestville), Jim Richardson (Sebastopol), Kathleen Quinn (Santa Rosa), Poul Stabell(San Rafael) , Ginny Schropp (Petaluma), Mike Rand(Petaluma), Stuart Lee Kiehl (Santa Rosa), John Madrosen (Davis), Karyn Kleinman (Novato), Margy Boyle (Petaluma), Kim Hix (visiting Mike from Los Angeles).

I opened the meeting by introducing myself and proposing that, although we were all expert in some area(s) as I am in theatre (most present are professional videographers), we are all at different levels in our mastery of the challenging FCP3 non-linear video editing application.

For additional perspective, I then gave the history which lead up to this meeting: I joined PVNB in Feb. 2001 and on a ride down to South San Francisco to a WEVA town meeting with Randy, Kathleen and Rob Brooks had asked if they had a Final Cut Pro study group as coincidentally all of us in the carpool were interested in the same editing program. Randy expressed an interest and said he'd help me out once I acquired the program. Well, I finally got FCP 2 in December 2001 but did not really get past the interface "wall" until I did all the exercises in every free and for-fee online tutorial, book, and CD I could get my hands on over 2 weeks in October 2002, working it 24/7.

Flashing backward, in December 2001 at the annual PVNB Xmas party at Kathleen's, I had notice that Poul was helping her install some plug-ins but was not using keyboard shortcuts. Poul suggested an exchange of services, computer skills for FCP instructions. By August 2002, we changed that to him shooting my speeches. In December 2002, Stuart emailed the PVNB list, asking for iMovie help. As I had used iMovie to edit a client's comedy show November 2001, I answered that email and advised Stuart that [IMHO] learning iMovie is a waste of time because of its limitations, plus you eventually have to unlearn the iMovie interface when you begin to learn the radically different FCP interface. As several of the SIG members are transitioning from iMovie to FCP, I recommended the atomiclearning.com free tutorial which focuses on this transition issue.

In fact, my initial impulse in contacting Stuart was to help other PVNB FCP users get up to intermediate level ASAP so they (like myself) could better appreciate presentations at SFCutters, MacFilmmakers, etc. Revatilizing the FCP SIG 5 months later happened by accident when I asked FCP users at the April 15 PVNB meeting if they were interested and was frankly surprised that they were as only a few members had been interested in attending the FCP user group meetings. By the end of the April 22 meeting, we would discover some of the problems members had with the FCP user meetings and attempt to address those concerns. Read on!

Note: for references like PVNB, atomiclearning, MacFlimmakers, SFCutters, etc., please see links on main PVNB FCP SIG web page.

To round out my theme, I told the group how I had urged Kevin Johnson for months to offer a basic demonstration of the FCP interface. (Johnson is President of MacFimmakers.) When he finally agreed, he covered his bets by asking Kevin Monahan to offer an advanced techniques session at the same time in another room during the October MacFimmakers meeting. Johnson's jaw dropped when only 20 of the 150 members present left the room with Monahan. To me, this was an epiphany: everyone had been listening to speakers raptly for 8 months, yet few were at advanced level on FCP.

Kathleen broke the ice by agreeing that we were all at different levels and stating that she would get great benefit in a total review of the application. In the initial PVNB FCP SIG, she had learned one technique in FCP from the group that she had missed while studying the program on her own. And she still uses that memory to help her editing work to this very day.

That initial PVNB FCP SIG began with 5 members, met a few times, then elected to disband when their last meeting had 3 attendees.

John expanded the discussion of failed FCP groups by referring to the Friday Mornings Group lead by Joe Fong in Sacramento which had lacked structure. I backed this evaluation, relating an off-stage comment I had overheard the one time I'd visited that group. The presenter from Apple was urging Joe to invite vendors to demo so members would be motivated to attend meetings. Joe disagreed, stating that the members liked things kept casual. John also felt that the Friday group's failure was due to a majority of members being hobbyists.

Poul had suggested on April 15 that I offer a structure to the FCP SIG meetings as he felt the initial PVNB effort had lacked structure "and we ended up just staring at each other, wondering what to do next."

John suggested that after members got more into the program, that we might want to offer assignments to be completed between monthly meetings; i.e., offer everyone a copy of the same footage with a specific technical editing problem to solve, then compare solutions at the next meeting. Members with the better solutions could then be asked to present a step-by-step breakdown of how they arrived at their solution. Patti liked the specific assignment idea. I agreed but cautioned that if a member did not find time to do the assignment, that they should not be shamed into skipping the next meeting. After, this is not an Adult Education class. John agreed: always come to the next meeting!

I asked tonight's group if they wanted to invite vendors to future PVNB FCP SIG meetings. Immediate objections were raised about inviting sales persons to sell members products. I pointed out that the raffle prizes vendors offer are pretty good, myself having won over 2.5 years almost $5K worth of software (I actually won Adobe AfterEffects twice!), books, instructional CDs, and 3-day seminars. The members were amused by my good luck but firmly against inviting vendors.

However, after self-teaching myself up to intermediate level in FCP I did find that I got a lot more out of attending monthly meetings of the two SF Bay Area FCP user groups, MacFilmmakers and SFCutters. So, I asked the members if they would like to have the gurus from these groups address our SIG in future meetings. There was some mulling over this notion.

So, I changed the subject. Poul had asked me to create a web page for the group with links to online FCP tutorials. Most everyone seem good with this notion.

Next, I suggested that we not try to define the goals of our SIG until we had attempted to follow the schedule of demonstrations inside the FCP application which I had pre-announced in the several emails I'd sent out to solicit RSVP's and volunteer presenters. After we got a feel for this approach, we could decide what to do at the next meetings.


Members asked for an update to those emails, and it was this:
The forum for the first meeting will be open:
please bring your questions, problems encountered, etc.
If you have found solutions, please bring them to share.
... I will push that the FCP application should be open for How-To demonstrations vs. the results-on-VHS oriented approach at PVNB meetings; so far, everyone seems ok with that.
... Poul has suggested that he will present his solution for bringing CD sound into FCP and converting appropriately--then, ask if others have found a different way to do this.
... If you also have your favorite How-To(s) which you would like to present, please email me same ASAP so we can alert the FCP SIG ahead of time; i.e., give other members a heads-up so they can begin mulling the issue prior to the SIG meeting.
Tentative Demo Schedule:
7:00 pm
Jim Richardson opens meeting with a basic over-view of the FCP local N. CA resources, free online tutorials, etc.
7:10pm
Then, open the meeting to member questions: Problems encountered and then, members can suggest solutions.
7:30pm Presenters and their How-To issues to be demonstrated within the FCP
application; other member's alternative solutions always welcome.
BEGINNER LEVEL:
FCP interface:
1) relationship between Viewer-Browser and Canvas-Timeline windows, plus log and batch capture. Volunteers? If not, Jim'll do it.
2-A) Jim -- "I have noticed from reading the SFCutters listserv that
the issue getting the most questions/problems is: how to co-ordinate
Source-Capture-Sequence settings."
7:50pm
INTERMEDIATE LEVEL:
2-B) Mike -- "tutorial instruction on the 4 primary timeline editing tools (ripple,roll,slip,slide)"
3) Poul Stabell -- how to import CD audio into FCP, then change CD audio
settings to conform to project audio settings
4) Randy Kneeland -- "show how to go about the compositing I did for that
little piece I showed at the last PVNB meeting April 15. We wouldn't want
to render anything - it's amazingly long!"
8:10pm, return to general discussion.
... We need to determine a time, date, location and set up requirements for next month's meeting -- probably in Petaluma or Marin County???
... Jim and other PVNB FCP SIG members will be attending SFCutters on Wed., 4/30: do we want to invite their gurus to address our group in May???
9pm or so, meeting ends
--------------
Above is just a wild-eyed guess at how the time will flow and topics to be covered!

Members elected to be polled for level. So, I suggested that a beginner would be someone who was mystified by the four window FCP interface, did not know how to coordinate settings, had never logged and captured from mini-DV tape, and had never printed out to VHS video tape. An intermediate level user would be someone who had mastered all these basic tasks. An advanced level user would be someone who thought the question was ridiculously entry-level. Kathleen added that anyone who did a lot of compositing should also be considered advanced. Turned out that the group was equally divided, about 5 of the 15 members present fit into each of the three levels.

Note: many members who might be beginners in FCP were already advanced users in other NLE's.

Poul seconded Kathleen's earlier proposal that the best thing was to start with the FCP interface and go on from there. Even the advanced users like himself could use the review.

7:30pm
I demonstrated the basic FCP interface relationship between the four windows: Browser-Viewer and Canvas-Timeline with John, Randy and others interjecting expansive comments as appropriate.

At this point, Stuart objected that he had heard all this before at product demos and an $875 Apple authorized 3-day seminar, and what he wanted was instruction on how to capture the footage and begin actual editing. Patti also wanted us to put the brakes on. I asked if Stuart was looking for a chronological order. He replied, "Of course!"

After some discussion, Mike offered to take Stuart and Patti into Kathleen's studio to get them up to speed.

We then continued, with the exception that advanced user John suggested a more detailed discussion of matching: Source-Capture-Sequence settings. He [presented the settings part of the meeting so he could] include additional camera setting problems (Source) that could become gotchas on Capture. John also covered Preference settings. There evolved an even more spontaneous and open group structure [as different members offered their real-world experiences.] The setting discussion could stop when a member had a question, suggestion and/or work situation to bring up, etc.

9:20pm
I went to Kathleen's studio to retrieve Mike and his two charges for our summarizing session.

I opened this part of the meeting by suggesting that members would best benefit from what they had learned by immediately applying it to a very short project, maybe 30 seconds to one minute long.

This is the approach that Kevin Monahan, Certified Apple FCP Instructor and President of SFCutters, had offered at his "Stump the FCP Gurus" session in the FCP Theater at MacWorld in San Francisco, January 2003. Whether you take a class, study tutorials from the web or off a CD, after completing just one tutorial, immediately do a small practice project that incorporates the tutorial lesson. Then, refer back to the tutorial to make sure you understood how to do that particular technique in different situations.
   Hot tip: whereas Final Cut Pro 3 for Macintosh: Visual QuickPro Guide by Lisa Brenneis may be a hard read cover-to-cover, it is an invaluable reference guide whenever you are doing one of these practice projects. "Have her book on your knee as you work; so, whenever you get stuck, you can flip through her book and quickly find out what to do next. It's a great tool!"

Randy suggested that next time we begin with the Tools. I agreed and pointed out that even if we only got half way through the proposed topics, it was still good to over-schedule in case next meeting's presenters experienced a last minute illness or had to skip because of sudden work-overload.

I asked the members if once a month was enough or too much. Kathleen pointed out that with wedding season upon the videographers, once a month was about right.

Randy offered his place for the next meeting, but later had to retract when he was unsure if his remodeling would be done in time. Leo volunteered his place but we both wondered if the extra ten minutes to either Windsor or my place in Sebastopol should be avoided; we left it that Leo's would be a better back up as he has a larger set-up than I do. (Next day, Mike and Ginny offered their place where we now plan to meet at 7pm, Tuesday, May 27, 2003.)

I asked Stuart if he felt up to speed now and could join the main group next month. Stuart said he'd have to practice what Mike had taught him and Patti before he could answer that with confidence.

As Poul, John and I will try to attend the April 30 SFCutters meeting on FCP4 which comes out in June, I polled the members: "Should we ask the SFCutters gurus to speak at our next FCP SIG meeting.?" The general feeling was that we were not there yet.

In any case, our group identity is NOT that of a FCP users group; rather, we are a study group mastering a program from the ground up. Mike pointed out that once we master FCP, we can decide what to do next: invite speakers, disband the group, whatever.

I had limited promotion of this event to PVNB but there may be some local members of SFCutters, MacFilmmakers or NCMUG who might be interested. However, the group was firm that the group at 15 members (and 10 additional members or potential members of PVNB on the FCP SIG emailing list) was a good limit.

This way, everyone could have easy access to the three monitors mirroring the FCP application and could see the mouse cursor movement--too many user groups have seating where if you cannot see, it is not worth attending.

I had to agree because great as the SFCutters and MacFilmmakers programs always are:
1) you cannot interrupt and suggest a different course in mid-presentation.
2) And with 50-150 people in the room, it is considered just plain rude to suddenly jump up from your seat and push your nose up against the projector screen for a better peek.
... In a member's living room, none of these visual/social limitations applies.

I summarized, "Congratulations: this has been more interactive and more real than any user group I have ever attended!"

10pm
Meeting ended, most everyone helped put chairs back where we got them. Mike and others made certain that Kathleen's monitors got back exactly as they were before the meeting. Mike announced that wherever we held future meetings and whether or not he and Ginny could attend, his box which made the mirroring between the 3 monitors possible "would always be available!"--Whew! Major techie problemo solved.

Patti was very enthusiastic about the meeting and felt she got a lot of information. I advised that we start to forget things in about 24 hours, so try to incorporate what you can remember some time tomorrow. She smiled and replied, "I can hear the clock ticking inside my head!"

10:20pm
Kathleen had her house back, and we were out of there!

Success!

11pm
I authored "http://www.jimrichardson.com/fcp/index.html" in Dreamweaver; then, went back over all the links and made them generate pop-up windows; so, the "fcp/index.html" page could stay open for reference.
I then emailed the members:

Subject: Links in follow-up to first meeting of PVNB FCP SIG
Message:
Hi gang,
Hope you wake up and get to work on FCP while all that new information is still in your head.
. . . Studies show that it will probably remain there for about 24 hours!
8-)
The secret behind all education is captured in one word: reinforcement.
To help you with this timely concern, I have roughed out some resources and will add more later after I check my FCP bookmarks; so, for now, please hold off on your suggestions until I call for them.
OK?
OK.
Here's the web page I promised you:
"http://www.jimrichardson.com/fcp/index.html"
This works, too, and is easier to remember:
"http://www.jimrichardson.com/fcp"
Jim

The next day, Bernard emailed me some printing to video tape issues which resolved after an exchange of emails with advanced members.
Patti asked to be taken off the email list except for FCP SIG meeting announcements which I did.
The email exchanges calmed down after the following feedback:

Hi Jim
Thanks for last night. Once we got rolling it was informative. Picked up
some tips I am anxious to start working on.Couple of questions.
What was the book you kept referring to. I would like to buy it. Where
is a good place to look for it.
Also a specific question on FCP.
I am working in FCP 3. I have a Mac duel 800 G-4. I have completed a movie
and am ready to transfer it to VHS. I am coming out of my computer with a
USB cable to a Sony converter box and then monster cables to a Panasonic
1970 deck. I have clicked the print to video button per the manual and the
movie seems to process properly. But when the screen comes up that says push
the record button on your deck nothing records to tape. Am I doing something
wrong.
Last night I heard all of you mentioning Firewire with no mention of USB. Do
I need to use a Firewire instead of USB. Everything is ready to go to print
if I can just get the signal to the deck.
I have transferred movies this way to tape using I movie and haven't had any
problems.Thanks again for last night. Looking forward to next month.
Leonard

Hi all,
No USB connection is available on the MAC for video transferring, only firewire.
When printing to tape, go from your G4 via firewire to converter box, digital deck, or digital camera and then out (1) to a VHS deck by composite RCA yellow, red, and white jacks or (2) to a S-VHS deck by S-video and RCA red and white audio jacks.
This is basically the same procedure as capturing video, but in reverse.
John

hi
here are some numbers that will explain why USB 1 is not sufficient.
USB version 1: PC uses 4Mb a sec; Mac uses 12 Mbs.
Most Firewire is at 400 Mbs
Uncompressed video requires over 30MB a second. Note: MB not Mb
DV's codec is just over 6 MBs which requires a minimum of Firewire 200
Mb = Mega bits
MB = Mega bytes There are 8 bits to a byte
There is now USB 2 which is at 480 Mbs, but it is new and not widely
available, as well as, there is compatibility issues
New Mac Powerbooks are now shipping with Firewire 800 and have new
connectors.With FCP you can 'Print to Tape' (under 'File') Only through a
Firewire equipped Camcorders such a Canon XL-1, GL-1, GL-2 and more;
Sony DCR VX 1000 & 2000; PD150 or DV Decks (Sony DSR 25, or 45)..... I
could go on,
In short, You have to come out of the computer via firewire to the
camera or DV deck and then out of the SVHS or Composite Video to your
deck. There are such boxes like the Dazzle Hollywood DV bridge, but I
highly recommend NOT to getting one, as FCP will not recognize the
device for video in. You really need a deck or camera that has time
code and firewire control capabilities
Good Luck
Bruce
One more note:
If he has a Dual 800, then it probably has a SuperDrive. If so, make a
DVD, far superior quality.

Hi Jim
I am making DVD's but some clients still like the VHS.
Thanks a bunch for all the help. Good suggestions and info from all.
Sounds like I do need the firewire. Oh well always something.
Len

Jim,
Good start overall (in spite of the early confusion on setup) last night.
Just to get an early fix on the next meeting, Ginny and I are willing to
host the next meeting here in our studio on the day suggested at whatever
time seems to work best and go until whatever time at least 6 or 8 die-hards
want to hang in there.
I think we should use a similar format as last night's - which is to hold
the group together for pre-announcements and group organization issues and
then break into whatever sub-groups provide the greatest support for the
greatest number. Then reconvene at the end for a wrap-up discussion and
review.
I suggest we organize into 3 basic groups for the learning portion:
1. support any raw beginners in a semi-private tutoring session emphasizing
careful step by step handholding instruction with an advanced user
volunteering for the evening,
2. a general user group to work on functional tools and basic editing -
driven by specific questions and demonstration emphasizing when and where to
use the tools
3. an advanced group helping each other with more esoteric creative
techniques and ideas.
At the end, the advanced group can 'show and tell' anyone interested in
seeing the end result examples created with the specific techniques that
group learned about during their session. How does that sound?
Mike

Mike,
Not sure about number 3 as we (when you were out of the room helping the 2 newbies) seemed to need the advanced users to verify/clarify the presentation to the intermediate users. ... But number 3 is a good idea, just have to make sure we bring along the intermediate types with a minimum of confusion.
:-)
Anyway, I am currently writing up my notes on the event while it is still fresh in my mind.
I also liked your comment that we are primarily learning the app. Perhaps PVNB can form other SIGs around other apps. Then, these notes might be a helpful guide on how to successfully get a group off the ground and running. Important as the initial PVNB FCP SIG a couple of years ago and the Sacramento Friday morning group failed--really helped to have the negative history behind us so we can avoid pitfalls, etc., and continue to make the current FCP SIG a positive experience for most everyone.
Will let you know when notes done and posted so you and others can amend what I have forgotten.
Jim

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