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A Response to the Walter Murch Supermeet Post

First off, wow! I go away for a weekend and come back to find my first “viral” post. Apparently, I was the first to post about Walter Murch’s talk at the Boston Supermeet last Thursday, and the only detailed write up to date apparently. While I expected a bit of interest, it’s safe to say the interest exceeded my expectations, making my site go from an average couple hundred page views, to a few thousand:

Given this, let me first say thanks to everyone who took the time to read and comment on the post. I’m happy people have been finding it useful, and that it has sparked a number of lively discussions in various editing and Final Cut Pro circles.

On the flip side, I’ve been catching up on a number of forums and frankly, I’ve been a bit disheartened how much of the post has been taken out of context, sensationalized, or statements subjectively extrapolated and then attributed to Walter Murch. Since my post is being quoted and referenced in various places, I feel compelled to reiterate a few key takeaways, and clarify some of the commentary out there, based on what I heard and took away that evening…

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Walter Murch won’t use FCPX? Not quite. Walter Murch did not say he was or wasn’t going to continue using Final Cut Pro. Although he stated early in his talk that “Hemingway & Gellhorn” might be the last time he uses Final Cut Pro, it was said more as an aside than anything definitive or suggestive. When the focus of his talk later shifted towards FCPX, he acknowledged he hadn’t had the time to use FCPX on a real world project yet, implying he still intended to explore it some. He indicated he was cautiously optimistic, and encouraged by the FCPX 10.0.1 update in September.

Walter Murch ponders where the “pro” is in FCPX? True, but this statement requires context. The comments he expressed with respect to feeling traumatized and confused, were all in the context of describing his reaction to the FCPX release in June. It was not made in the context of the September FCPX update. In fact, although he is still recovering from the shock everyone went through earlier in the year, he found the September release encouraging, despite FCPX still having a ways to go.

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A video of Walter Murch’s FCPX discussion is available below. Bear in mind this video does not contain all the mentions of FCPX from his talk. He touched upon it once during his “Hemingway & Gellhorn” discussion early on, and another at the very end of his talk when a question from the audience posed the hypothetical if you don’t use Final Cut Pro, what would you use.

[iframe: width=”640″ height=”360″ src=”http://www.youtube.com/embed/0C8Kdm32btg” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen]

According to Daniel Bérubé, one of the Boston Supermeet organizers, a full presentation of Walter Murch’s talk will premiere later today (Tuesday), so keep an eye out for that.

An important thing worth noting in all this is Walter Murch’s curiosity with new technology. This is one of the reasons he is curious to look at something new like Adobe Premiere. It is also the reason he looked at Final Cut Pro years ago (version 3 I believe), when he was one of the first mainstream editors to use Final Cut Pro on a Hollywood feature (“Cold Mountain”). At the time, when asked why he decided to use Final Cut Pro, he stated:

“Over the last 30 years or so, it seems to be a pattern with me that I will plunge into a new technology, both for the benefits that it can bring me directly, but also because I’m very interested in systems, and how they work within a creative environment. I was one of the first people in the U.S. to use flatbed editing machines in the late 1960s, after having used the upright Moviola. At the time that was seen as a radical departure.” – Walter Murch, An Interview with the Editor of “Cold Mountain” (~2003)

Personally, my takeaway is Walter Murch hasn’t formed a definitive opinion on what NLE he will use for his next project. He expresses optimism on the future of FCPX, while keeping an open mind towards other NLEs. I suspect, like everyone else, he will come to understand FCPX in his own way and in his own time, and where it does and doesn’t fit. Until then, it’s premature to use Walter Murch’s name on the pro or con side of the FCPX debate.

If you’re interested in some additional discussion on this topic, here are a few places discussing the original post I put up:

For more information on the Boston Supermeet, here’s a nice overview of the event by  Mike Tomei.

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