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September 1st, 2009

What we now know as Apple Final Cut Pro, now in version 7 while the Studio package is in version 2, was actually created by Macromedia. That’s the company that took over the venerable FreeHand vector drawing program way back when, and also brought Dreamweaver (née GoLive), Flash and a few other goodies along when Adobe absorbed them in 2005.

Long story short, Macromedia brought a beta version of a program called KeyGrip to the National Association of Broadcasters convention in 1998 (NAB1998) but found no takers. In somewhat of a strategic move, Apple bought up the KeyGrip code and the team that birthed it, added Firewire and DV support, continued developing the product and released it at NAB1999 as Final Cut Pro (FCP).

Meanwhile, its old code and low optimization took Adobe Premiere’s Mac market share steadily downward, to the point that Premiere Pro became a Windows-only product at about the turn of the millennium. Starting then, however, FCP began making serious inroads into the Hollywood movie scene, and by 2007 it had just about half (49%) of the domestic professional editing market, compared to 22% for Avid.

It began with a teen flick

Demonstrating the power and potential of a consumer (more like “prosumer”) product, the teen movie Rules of Attraction was edited on a beta release of FCP3 in 2001. This made the film’s director, Roger Avary, something of an unofficial spokesman for Apple’s editing software, which caused a few industry pros—editors, directors of photography, directors, producers—to take notice. The entertainment world as a whole then noticed, and FCP won an Emmy in 2002 for its “impact on the television industry.”

Mac Rental with Final Cut Pro (FCP)All the Macs that CRE rents—from MacBook Pros to the Mac Pro towers—are able to run FCP, so professional and amateur moviemakers alike can work on their latest masterpieces at home, on a soundstage or on location. Some of the heavy lifting for special effects may take some extra horsepower, additional time or both, but the fact is that FCP has democratized the filmmaking field more than any other product, service, or invention.

Gaining momentum still

There is no doubt that FCP’s involvement in the production of the 2008 Brad Pitt hit, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, sent a powerful “get on board” message to filmmakers still undecided about the software. The movie led the year’s Oscar nominations with a baker’s dozen (13, remember?) and was noteworthy for the excellent look and seamless special effects. Renting CRE’s Mac Pro with FCP gets you the same power that brought a bucket of Oscar noms to this well-regarded film.

Even before Benjamin Button, however, a long list of first-rate films attested to the growing power and popularity of Apple’s editing package (see Mac Movies List, below), including multiple Oscar-winner Cold Mountain, Clint Eastwood’s Letters from Iwo Jima and the Best Movie of 2008, No Country for Old Men.

Big help for small films

It’s not only big studios and bankable stars that benefit from the Mac’s creative muscle. Able Edwards, made in 2004 by director Graham Robertson and producer Steve Soderbergh, was shot on a small Hollywood green-screen stage in 15 days on a $30,000 budget. It was edited on a single PowerMac G4 with a mere 2GB of RAM, using FCP alongside Maya, QuickTime and Adobe Photoshop. Five years later, the iMacs that CRE rents have many times the power of that G4, so a low-cost rental can put you in the race for Oscar gold—assuming you have a great script, a talented cast and a distribution deal (YouTube may do in a pinch).

As far as a “movie on a shoestring” story, there’s an even better one. Johnatan Caouette made his a 2003 documentary film, Tarnation, on an iMac for a final budget of $281. If you think that’s impressive, he didn’t even use FCP, he did it all with iMovie. Incredibly, the distributor spent over 1,400 times more (nearly $400,000) promoting the flick and bringing it to theaters. Caouette didn’t even have an external hard drive for storage, much less a RAID array like CRE rents, and dealt with iMovie’s limitations by producing 15 minutes of the film at a time. He would then dump each segment onto his Hi-8 tape master, delete it from the iMac and start up on the next piece.

Where there’s a will, there’s a way—but where there’s a Mac, it’ll save the day. If you are thinking of giving Universal and Paramount some competition, and need a little extra post-production prowess, CRE is here with the right solutions. One of our specialties is supporting animators, editors and special effect pros in the entertainment industry, so contact us by filling out the CRE Quick Quote Rental Form , calling us toll-free at (877) 266-7725 or sending an e-mail for a quick, courteous and knowledgeable response.

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Major films edited with FCP:

Black Snake Moan
Burn After Reading
Cold Mountain
Corpse Bride
Full Frontal
Happy Feet
Intolerable Cruelty
Letters from Iwo Jima
Napoleon Dynamite
No Country for Old Men
Open Water
Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow
Super Size Me
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Ladykillers
The Ring
The Ring 2
The Rules of Attraction
The Simpsons Movie

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