Starting out FCP some general advice


New member

I'm going to shoot a short film (15 min) this August. I'm new to the world of video production and need some advice.

I intend to try to learn a piece of editing software. Either Adobe Premiere or FCP. I've been told since FCP is more widely used that it would be better to have knowledge of that application as a more useable skill.

However, I don't own a Mac. I used to work as a computer tech so I have quite a lot of experience with hardware. Currently, I'm doing a PhD in Sociology which translates into me being poor.

A friend of mine has offered to lend me his G4 Powermac 450 DP with 1.25 gigs of RAM and a 64 meg video card. I have a 500 gig external drive. Looking at the requirements it should be able to run FCP 5.0.

What do you guys think?
Also, in terms of importing DV is the quality affected by the power of the computer?

The other option that I have is I could go with Adobe premiere or I could use the g4 to learn fcp 5 and use the computers in the labs here at my university. They have G5s and intels and I have access to them as a grad student but on a somewhat limited basis (eg when there is no class).

Thank you.


Wow, that G4 is so outdated, and so underpowered, it would run FCP 4.5 if you could find a copy. Personally, I wouldn't even attempt it. As for the Macs at your school, if they have FCP on them, and are G5's and Intel's, they're running a newer version of FCP. Problem is, you can't take an FCP project from a newer version backwards to an older version.

If you did find a 4.5 version of FCP (when it was officially called FCP HD), that G4 would have to be bumped up to 4GB RAM, probably a much better graphics card, and you'd want FW800 drives. Don't think the G4 had FW800, do it'd need a card added for that.

You might be better of, budget wise, sticking with Premiere on the Windows unit you have.

Although the majority of broadcast and independent production studios are FCP now, and FCP is neck-and-neck with Avid for films, FCP is the NLE to learn now if you plan on a career in the industry.

The million dollar question though is, how do you plan to output this video you're shooting? To DVD, to film, to QT files for broadcast? That will have the most impact on how you handle post-production. Anything going to broadcast, or to celluloid film will require a professional production monitor for color and luma grading, period. If you're just showing on computers screens and projector, then you can just grad on your computer's screen, if it's of good enough quality.

As for the quality of DV, it's recorded as 1's and 0's on the Mini-DV tape, that locks the quality, there's no loss of quality for any reason, besides re-compression. And even then, it's very minimal, almost negligible, if it's just once or twice. Computer power won't effect that. Computer power will effect what you can do, how fast you can do it, and how professional your final output will look after color and luma grading.

If it"s only 15 min, consider iMovie, too.