For The Digressions, Final Cut X Levels The Playing Field [Interview]

For The Digressions, Final Cut X Levels The Playing Field [Interview]

In the last decade, Apple’s revolutionary consumer products have done quite a bit to put high-performing devices in the hands of the layman and provided amateurs the chance to perform at professional levels without the necessity of cost-prohibitive equipment. Not all have seen the “consumerization” of pro products as a good thing, however, and nowhere was this more apparent than the moving of Final Cut Pro X, in its most recent release, toward the look and feel of iMovie. As a result, many industry professionals are now choosing to work with previous versions instead of the new-and-improved Final Cut Pro X.

Despite the professional market, in the entertainment capitals of the US, young filmmakers are finding these new tools liberating. Indie creators are afforded unprecedented direct access to their audiences and completely bypassing the studio system in the meantime. Today, we talk to Eric Pargac, co-producer and director of one of these exciting new projects: NYC-based web series The Digressions. Pargac and his team used Final Cut to develop the entirety of their web series and MacTrast is excited to get the details.

The Digressions Logo

Tell us who you are and what project are you working on.

My name is Eric Pargac. I am one of the directors and actors in a new comedy web series called The Digressions, which I also edit. We’ve already shot the first season — a total of 15 episodes. The first three episodes premiered online Tuesday, February 12 at www.thedigressions.com, and we are releasing one episode every Tuesday from now until May 7th 2013. The episodes are all 3 to 5 minutes, so it’s a quick way to catch a few laughs.

What is the series about?

The Digressions is a short-form comedy series about a group of five friends struggling to confront the challenges of their impending adult responsibilities. Their attempts to face (and avoid) these challenges provide much of the humor in the episodes. Or, as we like to say, “it’s about-almost adults, almost discussing what’s important.”

What components did you use to create The Digressions?

We shot the series on a Canon 5D Mark II, and we edit with Final Cut Pro X on a MacBook Pro with a 2.2 GHz Intel Core i7 processor and 4 GB of RAM. I often wish I had the 7200 RPM drive because I find Final Cut sometimes hangs, so I have to restart my computer to alleviate the issue. My co-director, Andrew Dahl, edits on his computer as well, and he has a 7200 RPM drive and 8 GB of RAM.  He’s getting much better performance out of his Mac.

What’s your previous experience with editing software?

I learned how to edit on Avid, in a post production house that did national commercials and music videos, and also worked on a few Avid-based reality TV shows. I started using Final Cut back when Final Cut Studio came out. Since then I’ve edited a number of projects, including a full length feature, on Final Cut 7.

What was your experience using Final Cut X versus Final Cut 7?

Initially, I found it frustrating because it had become so overly simplified and I couldn’t find some of the functions I was used to. But, as I continued to play around with it, the ease of use and magnetic timeline made it fun to work on. I missed the bin structure of Final Cut 7, at first, and found it hard to organize my projects on Final Cut X until I discovered how to use the keywords function. I now sort all my shots by keywords and, when I need a specific shot, I can find it very quickly.

The Digressions' Eric Pargac
The Digressions’ Eric Pargac

I was also able to teach my co-director, Andrew Dahl, how to edit. He had no experience editing before this project, but after watching me edit for awhile, and getting a few pointers, he was able to pick up and edit on his own. It’s been a tremendous help moving the project along, and drastically increases our turnaround time for final cuts of episodes.

Would you recommend Final Cut X? If so, to whom and for what projects?

I’d definitely recommend it, especially to someone who hasn’t edited before or who has only used iMovie. It’s very user friendly and is much more affordable than the previous versions of Final Cut, which is helpful when you are working on a tight budget. It works better with footage from the 5D so I’d also recommend to anyone shooting on a DSLR camera.

What’s happening with The Digressions right now and where are your hopes for the series going forward?

We had a fantastic premiere and launch party at The Village East Cinema in New York City on February 11. It was great to have the theater filled with so many friends and supporters. Our footage translated really nicely to the big screen; it gave us a lot of faith that we could use what we’ve learned throughout this process to make a feature film. We’re also already in the planning stages for the second season of The Digressions. We are exploring submitting to festivals to find a development deal, or raising money through a crowdsourcing platform like Kickstarter or Indiegogo to cover our production costs going forward.

How can MacTrast readers keep up with The Digressions?

The easiest way to keep up with us is to subscribe to our YouTube channel and follow us on Twitter @LeDigressions. If you are into friending people and things, Facebook is also an option. …and for the readers, we post a new blog every Thursday. Thanks for interviewing The Digressions and we hope you love the web series!

Thanks to The Digressions for giving us an end-user view of Final Cut Pro X. It seems like Apple has done an amazing job by packing lots of professional features into a user friendly piece of software. Make sure to take a look at The Digressions in action if you enjoyed the trailer, here is episode one! As tomorrow is Tuesday, episode 4 will release tomorrow.

  1. X Doesn't Mark the Spot says:

    Final Cut X (iMovie Pro) is literally the worst editing application on the market and soon Premiere will be dancing on the grave of Final Cut.

    1. Gabriel Spaulding says:

      Really? And how many hours have you spent editing with it?

  2. MRonin ⚜ says:

    Final Cut Pro X isn’t the worst program ever zomg!!1!1!!!!!11!! despite what you’ll hear on forums near and far. At the same time, Final Cut Pro X is not what Final Cut Studio was either. They are in reality two different classes of video editing program. Same as Garage Band isn’t in the same class of music production software as Logic. Sure both programs perform the same root function, but the difference lies in how it gets done, the tools to make it just as you want it, and it’s ease of getting the job done.

    I appreciate the interview though since it gives perspective on what the differences are in terms of the projects that can be safely tackled with FCP X vs. FC Studio or Premire.

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