Final Cut Pro 3: The Complete Reference
Posted: 6-Oct-2003

Mac Guild Grade

Publisher: Osborne/McGraw Hill


Reviewer: Bill Catambay $59.99

Final Cut Pro 3: The Complete Reference

By Richard Schrand, Jackson West
March 22, 2002 
ISBN: 0-07219-517-7
832 pages, $59.99 RETAIL

What the Book is About
This book provides total coverage of using Final Cut Pro 3. It is an extensive guide that follows the production workflow from pre- to post-production, making it easy to visualize the process. It includes best practices for file saving, adding special effects, preparing for broadcasting, and much more.

Target Audience
This book is for any professional who works with Final Cut Pro 3 and is serious about their work. For the novice user, I think this book might be a bit overwhelming. There is a lot of terminology used throughout the book that assumes the reader has had experience in this field.

What To Expect
Given the size and content of this book, it could have just as easily been titled "The Final Cut Pro 3 Bible". In fact, that may have even been a more appropriate title, because when I think of a reference manual, I think of a manual that you can use for a quick reference to a particular aspect of an application (aka, look up a menu command, and immediately find out it's functionality and use). This book is not organized in that manner, and it incorporates far more than an ordinary reference manual would include.

In that regard, it should be noted that this book is not a Final Cut Pro users manual. Rather, it is a well-written guide in the process of creating movies using Final Cut Pro 3, and many of the chapters go far beyond the scope of just Final Cut Pro 3. For example, Chapter 3 is Preproduction Notes, a blueprint for how to prepare for your movies, and I don't think Final Cut Pro 3 is even mentioned in this chapter.

When it comes down to the process of setting up the multimedia files, using Final Cut Pro 3 to edit and manipulate them, and actually creating the movie production, the book does an excellent job of describing how Final Cut Pro 3 is used. It teaches you how to streamline the setup, color corrections, handling audio and video formats, special effects and techniques, and much more.

The book is broken down into pre-production, production, and post-production; it covers every possible detail involved with the process of making movies with Final Cut Pro 3. Within each of these sections, it is further broken down into the following chapters:
    • Systematic Setup
    • Configuring Final Cut Pro 3
    • Preproduction Notes
    • Capturing Video
    • Working With Audio
    • The Rough Cut - Part 1
    • The Rough Cut - Part 2
    • Advanced Editing Techniques
    • Audio Editing
    • Special Effects Transitions
    • Video Filters
    • Working and Designing with Text
    • Creating Special Effects
    • Project Management Tools
    • Basic File Saving Techniques
    • Saving for the Web
    • Exporting for Analog Broadcast
    • Exporting for Digital Transmission
    • Web Sites
    • Third-Party Products and Software
    • Keyboard Shortcuts

Given the size and magnitude of this book, it's hard to pinpoint the best parts. What will stand out for each reader will most likely be the sections of the book where your talents are weakest, as this book will do a lot to strengthen them. The book covers a tremendous amount of material, and fills in the gaps of knowledge that you might be missing. For me, those gaps are too numerous to list.

That said, my personal favorites in the book were the chapters in the Production section. It provides excellent guidance in the production process, and how to use the Final Cut Pro tools. It goes into great details on how to edit and synchronize audio clips, manipulating video clips, and a myriad of special effects. The book comes with a CD that contains example multimedia files associated with each chapter, allowing you to test your abilities as you go. The combination of the book and CD gives you a hands-on guided experience, the best way to learn.

Mac Guild Grade
A (Outstanding)

Final Words
If you are a hobbyist iMovie user that is considering raising the bar and moving to Final Cut Pro, I would not recommend running out and getting this book first. The book is a bit pricey, and geared more towards the serious professional. Try out Final Cut Pro 3 and learn some of the basics, and if you decide to stay the course, then this book will be of major help and guidance on that course. If you are already a Final Cut Pro professional, this book was made for you. The amount of quality information contained in this book, covering the process of movie production and the details of using Final Cut Pro 3 to achieve your goals, makes this book a wise investment.