So, I have a confession to make. Apple released Final Cut Pro X in June of 2011. I remember the moment well. In April 2011, the University of Chicago Film Studies Center was lucky enough to score a talk with the legendary editor and sound designer Walter Murch, and the very first question he took in the Q&A was someone who practically leapt from his chair to ask him what he thought about the new program. Murch seemed uncertain, and equivocated in his response, attempting to soften his obvious distaste for the new UI. And, in the coming months, as the software was commercially released, that distaste spread far and wide. Editors weren’t picking up Final Cut Pro X. They were teaching themselves Avid, or Adobe Premier, or announcing that Apple could pry their Final Cut Pro 7 from their cold, dead hands. And Apple did, in fact, continue supporting Final Cut Pro 7 for an unusually long time.
And I stuck with it. At first, I wasn’t editing video much in graduate school, so it made sense to just keep old software on my computer, rather than to attempt to learn a new UI. But then I started making things again. This and this and this and this were made on FCP 7. Less than 4 weeks ago, I made a video on FCP 7. I put up with countless headaches in my continued devotion to software released in 2009. I put up with agonizingly slow rendering. With severe lag that frequently made frame-by-frame viewing of clips untenable. With the program’s complete inability to deal with MPEG-4, which meant hour upon hour spent on transcoding. With the fact that the program would instantly crash to the desktop any time I tried to use some of its titling features. And with the fact that I couldn’t upgrade my main computer to High Sierra, because Apple had finally dropped support for FCP 7 on its most recent operating system.
Well, no more. I got FCP X two weeks ago, and already edited parts one and two of “Let’s Study Half-Life 2” on it. I think I’m adapting pretty well, so far. I have minor quibbles with the UI, but that’s true of any piece of software. And, seven years on since its launch, its benefits far, far outweigh any tradeoffs when it comes to replacing the now-fundamentally-broken FCP 7.
Anyway, just a small life change for me. Probably not worth sharing, but, what do you expect? This is a blog, after all. Oversharing is baked into the format.
When teaching cinema studies at a whirlwind pace, my next stop after the lesson plan on basic terms I posted a few weeks ago is to devote a class to montage. The particular lesson plan here is one I used in my Avant-Garde Film and Video Art class, so it’s geared toward giving students a vocabulary for digesting for some of the more striking forms of associative cutting we’ll see over the course of the class.
This particular permutation on my usual lecture occurred following a screening rich with films composed either in whole or in part from found footage: Take the 5:10 to Dreamland (Bruce Conner, 1976), The Exquisite Hour (Phil Solomon, 1994) and Is This What You Were Born For?, pt 7: Mercy (Abigail Child, 1989). The readings I had students do were “Montage as the Foundation of Cinematography,” a chapter from Lev Kuleshov’s The Art of Cinema, Sergei Eisenstein’s “The Cinematographic Principle and the Ideogram,” and Abigail Child’s “Locales” interview with Michael Amnasan, reproduced in her book This Is Called Moving: A Critical Poetics of Film.
Playing like a pint-sized mashup of Wong Kar-wai’s Fallen Angels and Gaspar Noë’s Enter the Void, Bendon Chung’s Thirty Flights of Loving (Blendo Games, 2012) packs more scintillating and beguiling details about its characters and their world into its hallucinatory, hyper-concentrated ten minutes of gameplay than most games manage in 30 hours. Bootleggers, an airport, a rooftop party, shootouts, memories, regrets, a violent end … or several? A love affair … a betrayal? All of this and much more (including a highly educational demonstration of Bernoulli’s principle) jostle together wildly in this tantalizing gem of a short.
Okay, I’ll step out of “breathless, enraptured critic” mode. Thirty Flights of Loving is an interesting game for many reasons. One of these reasons is that it steals quite a lot cinematic language—including some very interesting and unusual applications of the forms of cinema, like first-person cutting. Quick example of what this actually looks like below the jump:
What follows is a lesson from my 2013 course “Comparative Media Poetics: Cinema and Videogames” at taught U Chicago. On the docket for this week: displays of intelligence and expertise in cinema (from Buster Keaton films to contemporary action cinema), and the ways in which the needs for interactivity force a very different visual style in games than we see in contemporary cinema.
The screening/play-session hybrid that lead up to this class included clips from The General (Buster Keaton with Clyde Bruckman,1926), College (Buster Keaton with James W. Horne, 1927), Casino Royale (Martin Campbell, 2006), and The Bourne Ultimatum (Paul Greengrass, 2007), the latter of which is our primary concern here. It also included students playing portions of Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception (Naughty Dog, 2011) and Mirror’s Edge (DICE, 2009). Readings for the week included selections from Noël Carroll’s book on Buster Keaton Comedy Incarnate, and a chapter from James Paul Gee’s book Why Video Games Are Good for Your Soul.