Children & Final Cut Pro

Sorry for the lack of updates the past 2 days.  Hit a very busy patch where I wasn’t home, and updating from the iPhone can be difficult.

As a trainer at an Apple Store, I teach people everything from turning on a computer and using a mouse, up to how to create movies and videos using FCP.  One of the more interesting things I’ve discovered is that some families with training memberships are using the membership on their kids.  Yesterday I met with a teenage boy who is fully proficient at iMovie and is planning on moving up to Final Cut.  (I recommended Final Cut Express to his mother, as he has no use for the other programs in FCS.)  We spent the hour talking about how to chroma key, and why blue and green are the usual colors for chroma keying.  One particular boy genius I have is about 7.  He is such a master at iMovie that his parents and I did a test session to see if he was ready to start using FCE.  The result:  a 7 year-old’s attention span isn’t long enough to deal with a complex program like FCE, so he is working on other iLife programs for now.

Training kids and teenagers in Final Cut is always tricky.  I started using FCP when I was 16, but it was offered as part of a Television Production course sequence my school had.  I got to practice shooting, lighting, sound, and editing every day for 2 solid years.  (Junior and senior years of high school.)  That kind of continuity made me so good at Final Cut that when I started college, I successfully got my Communication Studies department to convert from Adobe Premier to Final Cut Pro, and then ran the suites for 3 years as a student employee.  I trace my proficiency with Final Cut to the fact that it was something I used on a daily basis for several years.  I’ve also taught Final Cut for several years – first as an instructor for the NJ Governor’s School of the Arts, and as a support system for faculty in my department – and now I teach it at Apple.

But teaching children a program like Final Cut, whether Express or Pro, is tricky at the store.  We only see these kids at most for 1 hour, once a week.  That doesn’t allow for a very detailed curriculum, which I think kids need.  I won’t make the argument that kids don’t have a need or use for Final Cut.  After 3 years of working with high school students in the Governor’s School, I know that they have the capacity to produce some absolutely amazing projects.  I do think they need a structured plan of how to teach them.  It’s one thing to work with editors, producers, and camera operators.  They already have a sense of what they need to know.  However, with children, you’re responsible for building a foundational knowledge of how video and film work, as well.  What do you think?  How do we approach the phenomenon of children in the editing sutes (or calling the shots, or behind the camera, etc.)?

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