Reel Rants / Documentary

Off the Tracks Documentary

 If you haven’t heard, "Off the Tracks" is a documentary created by Bradley Olsen from Salt Lake City. He was nice enough to answer some of my questions. Here’s the trailer: 

  I first heard of this documentary when he was interviewed on the podcast, Final Cut Pro Radio with co-editor of the documentary Richard Taylor. Check out his podcast here. I was fortunate to get a little bit of Brad’s time to ask him a few questions I had. Like him, I was an early adopter of FCPX coming from years of using Final Cut “Legacy” since version 5. Like many, this was years of keyframes and plugins all thrown out the window overnight. I saw the benefits of what FCPX was offering and stayed with it since version 10.0.0 while fading out FCP 7. This is why I am interested in this documentary. FCP X seems to be the underdog of NLE market for many years, but with Apple recently announcing over 2 million visitors, it certainly has been a game changer for many. 

What made you want to tell this story?

 I've been using Final Cut Pro X since its release, and while I acknowledge it had its initial shortcomings I appreciated that there was the potential there. But a lot of people were immediately turned off by it. Not only did they ignore FCPX's development, many of them spread flat out lies. I personally interacted with many clients, producers, and fellow filmmakers who told me I must not be a professional if Final Cut was my tool of choice. As I interacted with the Final Cut community at NAB in 2016 I realized this was a story that I wanted to tell. So I went as big as I could with it.

Documentaries are always interesting to make as they sometimes take on a life of their own, did anything change during production that you'd like to talk about? Anything unexpected?

 Initially I planned to interview everyone I could at the Creative Summit and base the entire project around that. Then, as I got further along, more people came out of the woodwork that weren't at the Creative Summit so I made a trip to LA. The biggest surprise for me was getting the opportunity to sit down Randy Ubillos, who created the original Final Cut Pro and was Chief Architect over X. Now even more stories are coming out from places like Europe. Eventually I'm going to have to call it good and finish my edit, but it's really fun to see the life this takes as the awareness about the project grows.



What cameras did you use? Any other technical aspects you'd like to discuss?

I primarily shot on a Blackmagic Cinema Camera, which is the camera I own. But I've also rented a Canon C300 MKII for some of the interviews and I have gathered footage from GoPros, GH4s, FS5s, and a bunch of other sources. It's a documentary so I've got to make all of those work together, but I don't find mixing formats to be overly complicated. Ultimately the whole thing will be finished in 1080p.



Your kickstarter campaign is off to a great start with being funded in 24 hours. Not only do you have the funding you need, but now you know the audience is there for this. Have you thought about what that means? Do you think you may have single handedly changed the narrative that plagued FCPX from the beginning? 

(laughs) Well, I most certainly haven't 'single handedly changed the narrative'. There's a great community surrounding FCPX that have been actively working on that for years. I certainly hope my project will make a difference in setting the record straight about what FCPX really is.

The response to the Kickstarter and the trailer have exceeded my expectations. I think that bodes well for the documentary once it is released!

What did you learn through all of this?

Lots. I hope this doesn't come off as a motivational poster quote but so far this project has been a great experiment in proving to myself that it's worth taking risks on things you believe in. It's certainly not a comfortable thing to do. A lot of people will tell you it's probably not going to be worth it. But I don't know how anybody succeeds at something great without risking failure.

Anything else you'd like to add?

Just that I hope people check out and enjoy what we're putting together! We just announced a stretch goal on kickstarter and if we hit it we will make the extended Randy interview available to backers which goes into more detail of the creation of Final Cut. Thank you!

Thanks Bradley! I'm looking forward to seeing more on this. (I'm also secretly hoping you'll feature "Lights and Shadows" and "Lens Filters" in it too!)

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