Apple has some new marketing materials speaking with the team behind Focus, the new film starring Will Smith that opens this weekend. The film was edited on Final Cut X. It’s full of effusive praise from directors John Requa and Glenn Ficarra.
“We got exactly the film we set out to make,” says Requa. “What I love about Final Cut Pro X is that it allowed me to be involved with, and in control of, every aspect of making our film.”
Take the whole thing with a grain of salt. I’m yet to meet an editor who prefers Final Cut X to any other tool. In fact most editors I know still laugh it off. The truth is that the application is much better today than when it was introduced, but the stigma has stuck.
From a sheer workflow perspective, the whole piece is an interesting read. I think the filmmakers overstate how much better Final Cut X at certain tasks than the competition (remember that this is a marketing page paid for by Apple) but there are some compelling items discussed. The film was shot on an ARRI Alexa, for example, which puts out ProRes files that can be cut instantly in Final Cut X. While that is technically true of other editing systems, it has always been FCX’s ace in the hole, and I can see why that would impress filmmakers looking to cut on location.
Here’s the strangest line:
The directors were happy enough with the animated opening credits — created by editors using the standard text tool in Final Cut Pro X — that they decided to use them in the final movie, which is extremely rare for a high-production feature film.
That’s nuts. I kind of need to see these titles on the big screen now. The text tool in Final Cut Pro was largely unchanged from versions 1.2.5 through 7: it was terrible. And now FCX’s text tool is good enough to bring to the big screen? I don’t actually believe that.
The other big question I have is how Requa, Ficarra and lead editor Jan Kovac dealt with color during the edit. The article mentions a few times that there’s no transcode necessary with Final Cut X, but raw footage is extremely flat and not very nice to look at. The film’s color was finished on a Quantel Pablo Rio, but I wonder what they did in the meantime.
The transcodes that happen in between production and post will usually apply a color shift to make the picture easier to look at when editing. What’s FCX’s strategy, then? Is there a standard color filter that gets applied to all Alexa footage ingested? I don’t know because I, too, am yet to work on a whole project in the program. It’s nice to know that it’s possible, though.