Reel Rants

Goal Finding

Career choice is only an option when you stand in your declared future and take actions to get there. All my life I have always wanted to create videos for fun until one day, I realized it was more than just fun, it was my passion. Looking back, I now realize that my passion became a form of art. Just as a painter picks up a brush and paints a painting, they must be skilled, have creativity, and passion to create something that inspires, brings joy, or invoke a change. Photographers know and live by the term “Exposure Triangle” which if applied to your career, you can soar higher than you could ever have hoped. My daily exposure triangle is utilizing my skills, creativity, and passion. If one doesn’t exist for you, it’s time to figure out where to focus.

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 For me, the only reason to upgrade to El Capitan (10.11) is METAL. If you're running any type of Pro-App- you should benefit from the faster graphics performance. However, if you're running a Mac older than 2012, it will not be compatible even though El Capitan could be. 

 What is METAL? This is what Apple's says, 

 "Metal is a new graphics core technology that gives games and apps near-direct access to the graphics processor on your Mac, delivering enhanced performance and a richer graphical experience. Metal speeds system-level graphics rendering by up to 50 percent, as well as making it up to 40 percent more efficient. Metal allows the main processor and graphics processor to work more effectively together, boosting high-performance apps. And Metal is designed to be great for games, improving draw call performance by up to 10x and paving the way for new levels of realism and detail.”

I am looking forward to using Motion 5 on El Capitan with Metal. I will be posting more about my findings once I make the jump.

To learn more about Metal- see Apple’s developer video here:

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El Capitan Commeth

 The latest operating system by Apple is coming tomorrow. As a professional who relies on technology, namely- Final Cut Pro, I am looking forward to the accelerated Core Animation and Core Graphics all thanks to Apple's new graphics technology- Metal which promises to "boost system-level rendering by up to 50 percent, and efficiency by up to 40 percent, resulting in faster graphics performance for everyday apps.* Metal also takes full advantage of your CPU and GPU, delivering up to 10 times faster draw call performance for a richer, more fluid experience in games and pro apps." 

 It is my experience however, that you should upgrade to a new OS very cautiously as many developers are still working toward making their apps and plugins work with the latest operating system. Thankfully, the past few years Apple has been releasing developer beta releases so they can get a jump start on the release, making upgrading a lot more smoother for users.

 My recommendation is to not upgrade your primary machine until you know for sure all of your 3rd party applications, plugins, and effects are compatible AND upgrade after another Pro-App update as well. After all, you can't make money on a machine that doesn't work properly because Final Cut Pro X uses the OS for many of its core tasks. If you're like me and curious about El Captan, you can read more about the free upgrade here and upgrade a secondary machine like a laptop, to get a feel for what the future holds. 



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Lighting is always a factor when filming anything. In fact, for me, it is more important to have good lighting than to have a good camera to evoke emotion so lighting has always been an interest of mine. To shoot something at 1,000,000,000,000 Frames per second- this is amazing! I can only imagine what this technology could be in 10 years. 

 This is what it looks like when light actually hits something: 

 The device has been developed by the MIT Media Lab's Camera Culture group in collaboration with Bawendi Lab in the Department of Chemistry at MIT. A laser pulse that lasts less than one trillionth of a second is used as a flash and the light returning from the scene is collected by a camera at a rate equivalent to roughly 1 trillion frames per second. However, due to very short exposure times (roughly one trillionth of a second) and a narrow field of view of the camera, the video is captured over several minutes by repeated and periodic sampling. To see more, visit their website at

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Ximport vs XtoCC

Automatic Duck announced today a plugin for After Effects users to quickly take a project from Final Cut Pro X to After Effects. There is a 14 day free trial and you can keep it for $199. Visit their site at 

 Personally, I use Motion for all of my graphics, but I know a lot of you love After Effects.

Alternatively, for $49 you can use XtoCC (formerly Xto7) from Intelligent Assistance to do pretty much the same thing- along with going to Premiere and Audition. 

Lastly, let's not forget about Clip Exporter ($109 in the App Store

Feel free to leave in the comments what you prefer and why. 



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Unit 9 Films

You may have seen the video "Most Shocking Second a Day Video" and if you haven't, take a look: 

 After doing some searching around online, I found Unit 9 films. Director Martin Sterling says:  “We wanted to make something that would resonate on a global stage and feel contemporary and relevant to modern audiences. That’s why we took the conflict in Syria and placed it in London.”

 This concept was really amazing- and having a shooting schedule of just two days- even more incredible! I recommend you dig around on Unit 9 films site- to see more influencing films, not just for their high production value, but meaningful stories that impact how we feel. I could spend hours looking at all of their productions. Let me know what you think and which video inspired you! 

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Presenting and Recording a Live Workshop


Facilitating is not for the faint of heart. Many people say that they fear public speaking more than they fear death. Then, to add that, being recorded- most people would say, “No thank you!" What I have created is a network of professionals or Final Cut enthusiasts and my local workshops is something that I, myself would want to attend- for free. Once I made the decision to film myself, I started thinking of more ways to make this workshop amazing and I felt that my workshop was so full of information, that I would want to buy it. Which is why I'm selling it. Also, many people wanted to see it but could not attend. Now they can! I really considered giving it away online but this does take a lot of work. 

Here's what I learned on a technical perspective: 

 First, I wanted to present at the front of the studio next to the screen, instead of behind the HD projector. I went to purchase an HDMI cable that would be long enough to run to the projector- it was about $150 at Best Buy. Of course I could purchase something cheaper online, or just use my Apple TV via extending the desktop. I just did not want to be concerned with low Wifi connectivity. What I found was a wireless HDMI transmitter that did not require wifi. It was also $150, made by ActionTec.

 Although there was a small delay, I had no dropouts or freezes. This was astonishing to me as I was presenting video while recording the screen. I'm using a 2012 High-end MacBook Pro with Retina. The output was 1080p which was exactly what I wanted to put for sale in my store online. The file size is pretty hefty for a 60 minute workshop, but I think the quality of the compression is worth it. I set up 3 cameras, a wireless sennheiser lav transmitting to a Zoom H6 outputting to the camera. The Zoom recorder also had a shotgun microphone for audience questions and recorded both channels separately to an SD card. The output to the camera from the Zoom had both channels mixed together, but this was only to get faster sync when doing multicam editing in FCP X because the quality would be much better than the camera's audio. As a backup audio source I recorded straight into my iPhone using a Rode SmartLav. Yup- I was wearing two Lavs. If you are interested in downloading my workshop, you can purchase it here

Oh, and the secret to filming yourself in front of a crowd to getting over the weirdness, a bottle of Francis Ford Coppola.

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Do Not Update FCP X!

 Apple released updates to Final Cut Pro, Motion 5, and Compressor 4 today. They seem to be bug fixes (thank goodness!) My suggestion is to update very carefully. First, backup. Yes, everything. Also make sure any plugins or 3rd party effects are not affected- you'll have to check to see if the companies who make them are ready or if they also need updating. Second, quit all the apps place them in your Applications folder into a folder of their own. Then, Control-Click (Right-Click) and choose Compress. The older versions are now saved in a zip folder and you can go ahead and delete the parent folder, and empty the trash. Then, go to the App Store under Purchased and re-download them once you're signed in with your Apple ID you used to first purchase them with. This will download the latest version, and you now have the older version backed up- just in case. 

I never recommend updating right away on a machine that makes you money. Go slow- your clients don't care what you do, as long as their product ships on time. 

I hope this helps you, if you have any questions, feel free to contact me. 

Jon Belew

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Filmmakers Drinking Bourbon


Alex Elkins and Branden Faris are filmmakers who just happen to like to drink Bourbon. Mix them all together and you have a podcast that is aged just right. Be careful, its not all fun and games- you might learn something. Join in the conversation:

and here is their website:

Be sure to check out their "Ask us anything" button to- you guessed it, ask them anything.


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Why FCP X works for me.

 I like what Chris Fenwick says on his Podcast FCPX Grill, "FCP X solves problems editors didn't know they had. When I open a project and start editing, I get a sense of the user interface disappearing and the creativity has plenty of room to grow and thrive. FCP X is not for everyone, for me it has many innovative features. Companies like Blackmagic who make Divinci Resolve have blatantly been inspired by the look and feel of FCP X.
 In my opinion, the future is online, cloud based editing. Imagine if bandwidth could handle fast cutting? has some amazing tools that even allow for shortcuts within their online user interface. If Apple could make FCP X a cloud based editing machine, where server farms feed you content after uploading, much like their productivity Apps- Pages, Numbers, and Keynote, then theoretically, an editor could just start editing no matter where or what machine they were on, as long as the network would allow. Perhaps that's what is to come with the iPad Pro?
 On the other hand, cloud based software is at the mercy of a lot more than hardware mishaps such as connectivity strength and password authorization. Just ask Adobe. At any rate, once you break through the learning "Wall" of FCP X like the Kool-Aid man on a hot summer day, you'll feel very much like you're in the future. Oh Yeah!
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