Final Cut Pro X hampers progress

At the beginning of this project I noted that a significant part of it was to jump in with Final Cut Pro X. It has been 18 days and I haven’t talked much about the software, so here it goes (and here is why I have no creative results today).

As far as editing goes I really don’t mind FCPX. There are some lazy bugs relating to the timeline zoom control, but it has done everything I’ve asked of it (not that I’ve pushed it too hard). Applying effects and transitions is easy, as is retiming a clip to run faster, slower or in reverse.

The larger problems I’ve had with FCPX is with the importing workflow. I’ve been importing files from the Finder, and up to now it has been fine. But today I have been trying to import a new clip and it plays back jerkily – and I have no idea what I can do to rectify the problem.

The clip came from a Quicktime Player export, and it plays back fine in the Quicktime Player. But FCPX insists on processing it on import, and then offers up daft project settings when the imported clip is moved to a new project. Subsequent playback is jerky and pixelated, like the FPS value is wrong.

Hence no real progress today. And little useful support info on the web – the Apple forums are chocked with sloppy questions and poor answers. Will have to return to it with a clear mind tomorrow.

Two videos in as many days! Back on CreativePact day 13 I was thinking about where this project was headed and mentioned filmmaker Martin Arnold.

That thought was brought on by finding a segment from Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey which I felt would lend itself to some Arnold-esque treatment. So today I did that.

As you can see, the result is a bit mindbending. The camera panning was the original inspiration to use this material, with my goal being to keep the scene moving in the same direction. This was achieved using three dimensions – film playback direction, horizontal presentation and vertical presentation.

The film’s creation was actually quite mathematical. I needed to work out the settings required of the three dimensions to achieve the same camera pan direction, and then sequence those on the timeline. Editing it together was relatively easy in FCPX (though I imagine it must have taken Arnold days to do the same with film stock).

The employment of these processes brings about some interesting effects, which I will dwell on in a future CreativePact post.

My second looping video, which is actually a loop within a loop – a flux while Dr. Mark Hall worries about the detonation key around his neck, then the loop expands out to zoom beyond Dr. Hall towards a pensive Dr. Jeremy Stone.

The mirror effect is getting a bit cliché now, but in this case has a purpose – creating the tunnel effect that links the extended loop. The short loop of Dr. Hall is (fairly obviously) made up of a forwards/backwards motion, with the direction change linking to the peak in the audio.

Mulligan (and the life vs. CreativePact mix)

Whoops, looks like my CreativePact didn’t progress at all over this weekend. For me, while the ideal is to move forward everyday and post about that, the reality is that dedicating sufficient time to the Pact each day just isn’t possible.

Therefore, I am calling mulligan on this weekend. May I improve over the next week.

Moving forward

As this project moves forward towards its second-half I just wanted to give an idea where I might go with the video element.

For the last week I’ve been working on these forever looping videos. After I complete the next one of these I want to look at a different type of videonic beast: advancing loop pieces.

The best example of this I know of (and indeed the inspiration for my investigation) is Martin Arnold’s experimental film practices, typified by his pièce touchée:

The technique is simple: while a piece of film is looped its start and end points are advanced, along with optional reversing and horizontal/vertical flipping. (Well, simple in concept, but a huge challenge if not working with a scriptable video processing system.)

What is created (with the right source material of course) is a time-bending edit of a short film clip that pulls viewing focus toward movements and gestures that would not have been noticed before (this is a key facet of looping in audio also).

I have captured a short segment of the classic film 2001: A Space Odyssey, with a view to process it using such techniques (this clip I found while searching for suitable material for my last audio loop). I will come back to mess with it in a few days.

Material for the spacey loop

Because today I have been turfed out of my studio for it to be painted I have not had access to FCPX. But I have thought about what a video to yesterday’s spacey audio loop might be like.

What I’d like to base it around is one of those in-between moments in a film that is visually striking – like a memorable head turn or reaction shot. Something that carries weight out of context.

Finding one will be a challenge, and as I won’t be back in my studio tomorrow I may dedicate my CreativePact time then to the search. Wish me luck!

A spacey loop today (which is actually a loop within a loop), which I may add some video to later this week. Still not hitting the ‘Nobody Here’ attributes with this one though, particularly the recognisability necessity.

Why is ‘Nobody Here’ a successful forever-looping video?

In an earlier post I mentioned that Oneohtrix Point Never’s forever-looping video 'Nobody Here' was the primary inspiration for the current direction of my CreativePact. So why is it so good?

I won’t spend ages on this, but I think there are three important components here:

  1. The audio part is something taken from pop culture, and if you have ever heard Chris De Burgh’s ‘Lady in Red’ you should recognise it’s source fairly easily. This recognisability imports certain aspects from the original material that the listener intrinsically picks up on.
  2. The video material not only naturally loops, it is also just so weird, a factor enhanced by being shown out of its original context.
  3. The audio and video mix together in such a great way, and the pitched-down and effected audio lends an other-worldliness to the end result.

So, does my first attempt succeed on the same score? I don’t think so – on a technical level the video works, but it doesn’t quite fit together as successfully as ‘Nobody Here’. Hopefully I can get closer to this in the coming days.

Nothing today

Just checking in to say no CreativePacting for me today. Just been too busy and my brain is mush. Bring on tomorrow!

On the way to developing another looping video I began a new audio loop. And here it is, in raw form. It needs some sculpting and fettling, but could produce a nice contrasting basis for a further piece.