I got an email today from YouTube, notifying me that one of my DVD Talk videos contains copyrighted music that I am not authorized to use. I get emails like this a few times a year. What happens is, because I’ve used free sound effects from the library that comes with iMovie in my videos, and because sometimes these same sound effects are used in pop songs, YouTube’s robot or whatever will mistakingly think I sampled a pop song when I didn’t at all. It’s very annoying.
Anyway, on this such instance of this happening, I realized that its been over two years since I made the show, or even watched an episode. So I decided to check one out.
Some of the jokes do hold up, but there are so many things I wish I had been able to do differently. That probably sounds like a strange thing to say, given that this is a project where I had 100% creative control, but let me explain:
My goal when I started it was to make it look like a cheap Public Access show, kinda like Check it Out. (Although at the time, that show wasn’t on TV yet.) Unfortunately, all I had to edit with was iMovie, so everything just ended up looking like, well, iMovie.
That’s the big problem with that application.. It’s very difficult to create anything unique, or at all like your vision, what your vision may be. It was a little easier in previous versions (6 or earlier) but ultimately, it’s easiest on Final Cut Pro. (And when I say Final Cut Pro, I mean FCP 7. I like to pretend FCP X doesn’t exist.)
I’ve done my best work yet on Final Cut Pro. And yes, that’s largely due to the fact that I’ve just plain gotten better at making stuff, but a huge factor really is that the program is so great, and allows me to do pretty much anything I’d like to do.
Final Cut Pro is like my Ibanez PGM 301 electric guitar. Similar price tag, even. When I’m playing that guitar, I know the only thing preventing me from making good music is me. There are no dead spots, the intonation is perfect, all 24 frets are very accessible, and the pickups are delicious. I sink or swim because of me—not because the water is rigged.
iMovie is like one of those Fender ‘Strat Pack’ guitars that don’t stay in tune longer than a verse, and come with a tiny solid state amp and some thin, useless picks. It satisfies your immediate need for something to hold onto and pluck and strum, but eventually, you must plop down for a serious instrument.
So, my advice to anyone who wants to be a filmmaker: have free fun for a while, dicking around and learning your craft, but put away some money for Final Cut Pro. Because one day, you’ll start having ideas that have legs, and you don’t want to waste an idea with legs on iMovie. That’s what I did with DVD Talk. The show could’ve been great. Instead, it was hit-or-miss.
But it was a hell of a lot of fun, though. The most fun I’ve ever had shooting something for YouTube. Often the guest and I would be in tears laughing. I’m grateful for the experience and the memories.