If you didn’t have a chance to read it, here is the first entry from this journal:

Entry #1

So now on to finding the criteria to reach my goal. The search begins with me, what I do as a filmmaker, the content I produce and how I post-produce.

I’ve been using FCP (Final Cut Pro) since version 4 or 5. I can’t really remember which exact version. I first worked on one of Apple’s first multi-core offerings, the PowerMac G5. In 2009 I upgraded to the MacPro Nehalem. Literally this week, I downgraded to the new iMac 21″. It’s not a huge step down for the things I use it for. And what I use it for is precisely what I’ll be getting into. The following is a list of the criteria that I need to find complete or near complete in the open source alternative to keep doing what I do. It’ll also lay the framework for this journal series. I’ll research each of these criteria and see if in fact they are a met.

Codec Support-I know about the revered ffmpeg of the linux world. I have very specific codecs that I use for recording, editing and delivering. My next post will cover what I use in FCP and if there are decent equivalents out there in open source.

Quicktime Pro/Compressor Equivelent-ffmpeg offers command line transcodes but I want to see if there’s a good GUI that’s feature packed that’ll take care of my needs.

After Effects-For animation of course. I also use 2D motion tracking and filters that add granular texture to an image. Creating new light sources is important too. There’s also some smaller silly stuff.

Adobe Illustrator-I make storyboards in illustrator but sometimes I create 2D images in illustrator that I will then animate with after effects.

Soundtrack Pro-I usually use this for foley and dialog mixing. I don’t usually use more than stereo as my projects are seldom surround.

Final Cut Pro Equivalent

The following are features in FCP that I’d want to have in an open source NLE to sufficiently fulfill my editing uses.

Color Correcting/Image Control-3-Way Color Corrector in FCP has made the process very easy. I like it a lot but I don’t need an exact replacement of this feature. I don’t, however, want an alternative that significantly adds time to my workflow.

Motion Key-framing-I like to make neato opening credits that glide across the frame or follow a moving object in the frame. I also use this for documentaries with still images. Again, this is a feature that Apple makes very simple for the end user.

Chrome-keying/compositing-I do this less often but if I say goodbye to Apple forever then I’d like to know that I could use it in open source if I need to.

Media Management-This is mostly because I’m compulsive but I like FCP’s bin, sequence file system. I usually edit by scene in separate sequences and then combine all the scenes into one master sequence. This is a nice feature but not a dire one.

Low Quality Playback-This is helpful when editing something at a high bitrate and resolution with a lot of rendering going on. This would be a pretty important feature to have.

Customizable Short Cuts-This too would be pretty important.

Customizable Window Layouts-Depending on the task, I find it critical to have a layout that allows best access to the content and controls you need to complete the task.

Sub-Clips-When I capture things in bulk, I like to chop them up into their independent shots. Then label and organize those shots, making notes of things like, “best take.”

Slug-In FCP there’s a thing called a slug. It’s just empty space that you can manipulate. I usually use it for things like title sequences and the like. You can crop it, resize it, change the opacity and animate it. It has become an everyday component for me. I suspect that I can just make a slug with Gimp and import it. That being said, I’d still want to be able to manipulate the same ways.

I’d say that’s enough criteria to get a good starting point. If I can meet all or most of this criteria, then at the end of this series I want try and produce a short film completely post-produced in an open source environment. Stay tuned for the next post when I’ll discuss codecs!

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