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Live human experiment: five hours with Final Cut Pro

Ever wanted to try your hand with a flash editing application, like Final Cut Pro, but been put off because it looked too hard? Our latest live human experiment suggests you should give it a try

Do you have loads of video footage knocking about unedited? Have you ever wondered what it would be like to take the plunge and become a video editor for a day? This morning Crave's work experience candidate, Savanna Rawson, carelessly let slip an interest in video editing -- providing the perfect guinea pig on which to conduct the first in a series of a live human experiments.

We locked her up with a hugely powerful Apple computer, a copy of Final Cut Pro and an intimidatingly large user manual -- Final Cut Pro 5 by Diana Weynand -- and then left her alone for five hours (five hours!). After the designated timeframe, we removed the seals from the broom cupboard in which she'd been incarcerated and concluded our experiment.

Crave: So what was it like?
Savanna: Five hours, one Mac and a really big book… Learning to use Final Cut Pro was one of those things that I always meant to do, as in 'this year I will go to the gym five days a week.' Surprisingly it was actually not that bad -- in the allocated time I learnt some of the basics of film editing.

Weren't you overwhelmed by the software's complexity?
The good thing about Final Cut Pro is the interface -- there are two windows for moving images. One displays the raw material and is known as the 'viewer', the other shows the final edited sequence, known as the 'canvas'. There's also a timeline showing video clips in blue and audio clips in green. An audio clip can also be opened up as a sound wave in the viewer, allowing you to fade sounds in and out.

You didn't actually read the manual, did you? How uncool!
Actually, for a novice a book was good. It doesn't take up any extra window space, the way software on a CD-based tutorial would. There was a disc that contained some useful material I could use in the exercises -- it also taught me plenty of quick, easy keyboards shortcuts as virtually all the buttons on screen can be accessed through the keypad -- but I learnt quicker with the book. It could be repetitive, you don't need to know three different ways of performing one function, but I'd recommend it.

You're serious about the book...
The software was easy to start with as long as you have something, or someone, to guide you. Doing it alone would have been quite difficult. My advice would be to get a book and do a couple of lessons before you're ready to play, it's quite fun after you get over the initial hump.

Crave was disappointed that our work experience candidate shrugged of our little experiment so easily, but that's alright. Only a weak conscience and some pleasingly vague European employment laws can stop us conducting more live human experiments on her -- so watch this space. -MP