Rebecca Boyd

Exploring the universe, one frame at a time.

The Entire Internet Is Raging Against Final Cut X

Posted Sunday, June 26th, 2011
Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

…but I’d like to take a moment to rage against iMovie instead. I haven’t tried FInal Cut X yet, and – based on the reviews it’s getting – I’m not likely to. I have been forced to wrestle with iMovie lately, though, and it hasn’t been pretty.

I actually began my video editing career in iMovie. The year was 2004, the place – Charlottesville, VA. I was a fourth year Astronomy major at the University of Virginia. The Astronomy department had been trying for the last few semesters to get undergraduates to make senior thesis movies instead of writing senior thesis papers or doing senior thesis experiments. (Astrophysics majors, on the other hand, were still required to do research projects.)

I jumped at the opportunity to do a video instead of a paper or experiment, and the movie I made became the first undergraduate film ever to be approved by the faculty for screening to the public. Despite that, I’m embarrassed by it in hindsight. I don’t even feel particularly confident in calling it a movie. It’s more like the love child of a movie and a Power Point presentation. (And not even in an Al Gore kind of way. (Although, to be clear, I liked An Inconvenient Truth. Not knockin’ it.))

Anyway, the point is: I made that first film… er… video… er… videopoint… in iMovie. I bought my first Mac after I got tired of being kicked out of the public labs at night, and taught myself how to use it. It was simple and intuitive.

Oh, how things have changed.

Fast forward through a few years of youthful career meanderings, and I’ve now spent four years using both Adobe Premiere Pro and Final Cut Pro in professional and academic settings. A fellow grad student used to say that I was a Final Cut Wizard, and I quickly developed a reputation amongst my undergraduate students as The Person To Ask about editing. In saying this, I don’t mean aggrandize myself, but rather to illustrate that I’ve spent the last several years amassing a respectable amount of know how about non-linear editing.

And that makes it very irritating that I’ve had so much trouble with iMovie lately. Not only do I, of course, long for the features that are missing from the new iMovie altogether – keyframing, for example, which was included, in a very rudimentary way, in the old version of iMovie I used at UVa – but I’m also really irked by the lack of basic functionalities.

For example: There is no way to save your project in the current version of iMovie.

No, I’m not smoking crack. No, it doesn’t make any sense at all. No, I don’t blame you for not believing me. So, here, let me show you:

See? The Save and Save As options are not just grayed out. They’re not there at all. If you’re thinking, as I did, “Surely there’s another way”, here’s what the Help files have to say on the matter:


Now, look.  I know that iMovie is a consumer level product.  I know that the good people at Apple are trying to make it easy for parents to make movies of their kids’ soccer games.  But not having a Save option?  Who makes a program without a Save option?

I guess if the mystical Autosave feature WORKED, then there wouldn’t be a problem.  But it doesn’t.  Every time I’ve reopened my project, some of my changes from the last session (always to text items) have been lost.

The same thing has repeatedly happened to a friend and colleague who is working on the same project with me.  We are each using our own laptops – mine a MacBook Pro, hers a MacBook, and both running the latest versions of both iMovie and Snow Leopard – and we are both losing changes to text items between sessions.

I also find the non-proportional Timeline enraging.  And the different functionalities you get when the clip is outlined by a thin yellow line versus a thick yellow line.  And the inability to layer clips on top of one another.  And the inability to share files from one computer to another.  And the fact that the damn thing crashes.   (An Apple program!  That crashes!  WTF?!)  And… and… there’s just so much I hate about this program!

But, unfortunately, it’s what we’ve got to work with.  We’re teaching adolescents video production and editing.  We only have four 3 hour sessions in which to do it.  And only about 1 and a half of those sessions will be available for editing.  There’s no way we can possibly teach them Final Cut or Premiere in that amount of time.  (Although, after all the nonsense I’ve endured with iMovie lately,  I can’t say I haven’t been tempted to try.)

Anyway, if you’re still with me after all that ranting, here’s why I’m using iMovie in the first place. It’s my mockup of what we’ll be doing with the Juvenile Arbitration kids later this summer.  The kids will be choosing and writing their own stories and doing their own photography and editing.  I just did a run through on my kitchen table to see what problems we were likely to encounter.  Most of them, as you might have gathered, are in the editing.  But, on the photography side, it also proved very tricky to keep the dolls standing up.  Ultimately, I put them in empty glass jars…  jam jars, pickle jars, mason jars, etc. … and resolved not to shoot them below the waist.  One of my colleagues has now procured some dedicated doll stands, though.  So that will make things easier.

Anyway, here it is:  Barbie Fights Back.