Producing my short films with the help of YouTube

Music for interview / accessible London film

I checked out YouTube for suitable copyright free or creative commons licence music.

YouTube to mp3 converter site – safe so far but block all popups and X extra pages. MalwareBytes does not like this site. Any malware can’t get past the college servers but at home I am dependent on our own resources.

Happy Scottish music

“You’re free to use this song and monetize your video, but you must include the following in your video description:

Fiddles McGinty by Kevin MacLeod is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license (…)


Artist: “

Light music (Sky garden views and around town)

  • “License:

About the license:

You’re free to use this copyright free happy summer background music in any of your videos, but you must include the following in your video description (Copy & Paste):

Coffee by Declan DP:

Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0)…

Music provided by Free Vibes:     ”

At this point, sorry, I am writing down the bad stuff so as to keep it separate from the happy moments which are in the next post. Feel free to skip.


Pro Tools music editor on the college Mac
Pro Tools music editor on the college Mac

The first problem is that the Macs keep crashing or freezing. They either crash or freeze every class, whether using Photoshop or Final Cut Pro. If the Mac crashes I have perhaps lost all my work. I lost half a days’s film making. I am not suggesting that all Macs do this. I am not familiar with Apple products and don’t use any other Macs. The problem is not confined to me. My lecturer suggested the OS might need updating.

The next issue is that we are using Final Cut Pro 10. Also known as Final Cut Pro X. The programme is fine and fun to use but the Help section on it bears no relation to reality. The book I got from the College Library is for Final Cut Pro 7 and has little resemblance to the programme I am using. All it wants to do is teach keyboard shortcuts (which I have not used much since a Windows 80386) when I would rather use dropdown menus and a mouse, and it presumes you are storing all your film clips permanently on the computer hard drive. Googling the answers does not always provide any useful answers, and most of them are aimed at version 7.

I spent an hour sitting there on my own one day just trying every menu and tool, to see what they did and to find a way to save my file without finishing it. I finally got to the bendy arrow on the mid-right of the screen which gave me the option Save As. This was not described in the help section or the book. But this doesn’t always work. Some days it gives the options you need and some days it doesn’t.

Saving can take anything from a minute to forty minutes.

I found that a two minute film took twenty minutes to upload to Google Drive. And it used two gigabytes. The Google Drive is only 15 gig on the free version, and I have stored lots of clips on it. We paid for more storage space as a family, because I am clearly going to need it, and my husband and I spent a weekend clearing any bad or duplicate photos etc. out of our existing space.

Because of this downloading /uploading time I was advised to bring in a terabyte hard drive, USB 3,  which could be formatted to work with the Macs. Our drives are all formatted for Windows OS and don’t talk to Mac OS.

I brought in a spare terabyte hard drive, and lecturer Kenny Leigh checked that there was nothing of value on it – it was for backups of backups – and reformatted it for DOS. I remember using DOS on the 80386 Microsoft computer.  Kenny explained that DOS is earlier than Windows OS or Mac OS (like a parent of them) so both of them will talk to it and I can transfer files from the Macs to my Win 10 that way.  We named the drive with my name (which I also wrote on a label) and it works much more quickly than a flashdrive. Another student brought in a drive with work on it and that had to be partitioned by one of the IT staff before the partitioned part could be formatted to DOS. We just don’t use Macs, by and large.

However, I still had the problem of the computer crashing and the long delays before I could save my work to the drive. The FCP makers didn’t seem to care about students who did not own the computer and had to take their work off it each time. Also we never knew when to start saving and might have to go on to another class. While the lecturers were great, and let students sit in for extra time, they had other classes to go to and couldn’t always be around. 

Another student told me about DaVinci Resolve, a free film making program which she was able to run on her Mac laptop. I downloaded the Windows version to my Win 10 at home, but when I imported a small clip and tried to run it, the program crashed. Macs are just made for processing power it seems.

I had the experience of finishing up when the rest of the class had gone and waiting forty minutes for my rough cut of a twenty minute film to save. It would not go in to the hard drive so I was saving it to the desktop. Then when it was on the desktop I tried to put it into the drive and was told the Quicktime file was a format the drive did not like. So I asked Quicktime to put it into an MP4 format. Quicktime was doing that for 16 minutes and had nearly finished when the computer crashed. It came back up with no sign of my file. I was already late for an appointment and had been texting to explain my absence, so I had no option but to go. I came back the next day but the Mac had been wiped.

I introduced myself to a lecturer who is not my lecturer, Matthew Nolan, while going for extra time to redo the rough cut I had lost, and as he seemed to know what he was doing I asked him how to save my file safely while in progress or uncompleted.  He thought there should be an option on the FCP but there wasn’t, or not a clear one.  The program does make incremental saves while working but that is no use if I can’t take them off. Matthew went and Googled it and told me to watch a YouTube video which would show me how to set up my hard drive as the library the programme used. In other words the file would be opened using material drawn from the drive; and every file save made while working would be saved onto the drive. I would be just using the Mac as a processing tool. 

This was a very helpful video and easy to follow.


Then I asked how to get the file work I was doing, on to the drive library. Matthew said he’d seen that in the YouTube list as well and I should ask YT for exactly what I wanted to do. Up came a video. This was also very helpful and demonstrated exactly what I had to do. I had to mouse-drag the file (at the top of media clips with the clapperboard icon) into the library on the left and store the library on the disc.

Another issue is saving the finished file. The FCP files in production are not viewable by any other program. To resolve this we have to save them in another format. The computer will put them into a format that can be shown by Quicktime, something else I have never used. But I discovered that just because it’s in Quicktime that doesn’t necessarily mean my computer at home can view it. They can all be called .mov so this is not helpful.

When ‘sharing’ – why can’t they call it saving? I am not sharing it – our film lecturer Dragana Jurisic says I have to ask for a master file, name it, go to Settings and ask for H264. It seems pointless that there are many other options it will default to, when none of them seem to be useful. Surely the most useful one should be the default. I’m a logical thinker. But this has tripped me and others up when we think we have saved our work only to find the file is a dud. With a two minute file that doesn’t matter much.

A clue is that the non-H264 files take longer to be made and are more likely to freeze the program or crash the computer. A quick check on Google tells me “An H264 file is a video file encoded with H.264 compression, which is a popular format for high definition video.”

Today the FCP froze while 75% of the way to saving my 11 minute master file. Dragana gave up on it after a while and used Find and Command to do a ‘force quit’ – I have tried before and there is no Control-Alt-Delete.  When FCP went away, Dragana brought it back up again and it still had my file because she had not shut down the computer. We were able to remake a master file which saved more quickly, right onto my hard drive. However I was unable to view it all in class time as I had to go to another class, and at home I found an issue which still needs resolving in my film. When you are not able to be sure what will be saved or in how long, it can be very hard to import the right material, cut it, and have it ready to go in limited time. The partially made film saves are on my hard drive with early incarnations so it is not that easy to find what I need.

I found I just have to keep on taking notes, including the odd drawing. When I get one film class a week I have generally forgotten exactly where I left off or how to do things. I sit down at the program and it takes me a few minutes to get in the swing of it. However, during class time there is a lecturer available to ask for help, and I am also able to give occasional help to other students, because I have determinedly written everything down as I went. This is supposed to be a ‘paperless class’ but I have to say, even a sheet I could print off with the step by step basic guide to FCP 10 and what screens and tools should look like, would be most useful. Calling it a paperless class means the younger students don’t think they need to note anything, or don’t have note taking materials to hand, and there isn’t any alternative provided. Whereas I’ve got multiple notebooks.

Features lecturer James Mackin (another Apple user) shared a link with me to a series of videos showing how to use various features of FCP 10, and I am going through them as I get the chance. I am finding that the visual tutorial is far more helpful than a book. From talking to Matthew and James I understand that some FCP users prefer the 7 version or the 10 version, but Apple has stopped supporting the 7 version.

Sorry about the complaints. I took steps to discover the source of problems and reduce the likelihood of reoccurrence, as you’ll see in the next post. I don’t even want to add links or photos because just reading this back today is depressing me.

You may also be interested in:

Short film project

Filming in London




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