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The Monolith Has Landed: Only the Bedroom Has Changed

What is Apple up to? On their web site there’s a story about the movie Focus. In the middle of the OMG isn’t FCP X wonderful copy, you’ll find this full-width banner:


Four people took 11 months to cut a movie? We’re not talking Gance’s Napoleon, which runs for six hours, but Focus, a Will Smith comedy.

In the spiel, one of the four editors says, “I’ve cut on all the other systems, and I can easily say I’m three times faster on Final Cut Pro X.” Huh? You mean if he had used Avid or Adobe Premiere, it would have taken 3 x 11 months = just under three years!

I Blame Digital

On film, which costs money, I worked on a 3:1 shooting ratio: shoot three hours, edit down to one.

When I was editing TV documentaries on film, I cut 10 minutes a day. Friday night we did the sound mix. Sunday night it was broadcast. One week, one editor.

Digital is 100:1, maybe 1,000:1. Shoot away, there is no tomorrow—except for four guys slaving away to make sense of it all.

Way back when, I’m making film-originated pop shoots, TV commercials, 60-minute TV documentaries, you name it. I have a busy production office with three rooms. One is the office, one has my cameras, lights and tripods, and the third is my cutting room: four film bins and a 16mm Acmade Pic-Sync.

It’s happy chaos: “Susie can’t make it. I’ve booked a new makeup artist, a guy.” “10:00 meeting with Jackie Hewie tomorrow—not in the city—at her home.” “Dennis is on the phone about a job in February.” “Bandstand has Olivia Newton John lined up for a shoot.” Exciting times.

Editing during the day is difficult—no, it’s impossible.

Nighttime Is My Time

My colleagues go home. I’m alone. I turn off the lights, disconnect the phone and play The Rock Machine Turns You On as loud as I can. There are prawns and fries and a flask of Penfold’s red. I take a deep breath, a swig of wine and chop away.

This isn’t Avid, Final Cut or any of that high-tech stuff, just strips of 16mm film waiting to be joined up. Tactile, real film running through your fingers. Feel it. Live it. Love it.

I edit ’til 4 a.m., keel over exhausted. Sleep on the floor. Better than sex.

Come the morning, I wake up. Go home, shower. Drive back and look at what I’d done.

My 2015 bedroom with my shiny, new 64 TB G-Speed Studio XL storage array.

Wow! Amazing. Did I do that? Unreal…

2015—My Own Space Odyssey

I work at night in my high-tech bedroom. My shiny, black Mac Pro cylinder is surrounded by 42 TB of Thunderbolt drives.

My Time Machine RAID is running out of space. I need more—much more. I buy a new 64 TB G-Technology G-Speed Studio XL array.

The monolith has landed.

Where have all the film bins gone, long time passing?