Many many many people on the various Final Cut Pro boards I frequent are trying to work on the same project with different versions of the FCP software. The person writing might have the latest and greatest version, FCP 5.1.2, but his partner only has FCP 4.5, and for some reason or another won’t upgrade. It might be because the particular machine they are using cannot run the latest version for some reason, and they cannot afford to buy a new system much less an upgrade of the software. And why should they? FCP 4.5 on their machine works and works great. I am of the opinion that even if the machine and software is old, if it does what you need it to do, then all is good.

But now THIS issue arises. Where they are now needing to work with someone who posses a later version of the software…they need to collaborate on the project. Now, if this project were using a format that the older version did not support nor work with, then you have really no other recourse than to upgrade the software. Like needing to edit HDV but you only have FCP 4.5…or shooting XDCAM @ 35mbs where the only version of FCP that supports that is 5.1.2. In those cases, you either need to upgrade everything to work with that format, or bow out of the project. Unless you can figure out some offline/online workflow that all parties involved will commit to.

Let’s say for arguments sake that the project involves DVCAM footage, or digibeta footage…heck, even DVCPRO HD footage and one party has FCP 4.5 and the other FCP 5.1.2. Both can capture and edit that particular footage..the digibeta requiring a capture card on at least one system, and for both to have that cards codecs. ANYWAY…I am REALLY digressing. What to do what to do. Mess with XMLs…yeah, that is an option. As are EDLs. But that may or may not work…

I have another option. One that I learned from my friend Patrick Sheffield. He has to be one of the most resourceful people I know. I have learned much from him.

His tip? Keep a copy of all the previous versions of FCP on your hard drive. Yes…ALL previous versions that you own. For example, I have FCP 5.1.2 on my system, as well as FCP 5.1.1, FCP 5.0.4 and FCP 4.5. Now, I own FCP 3, but didn’t learn this little trick until I was going from FCP 4.5 to FCP 5. And yes, they can all reside on your system and all load and work normally. At least they do on my and Patrick’s systems.

For example. Someone came to me with a project that they wanted me to help with. They just wanted me to come in and fix the cut and add some style to it that they felt I could do better than they. They liked other projects I worked on and wanted me to “dress up” the cut. BUT they are using FCP 4.5 and don’t want the project “upgraded” to a later version because they will want to still be able to open it up on their machine. Since I have FCP 4.5 on my system, this was no problem. If I didn’t have that version, I’d have to edit on their system, which was in their house in their bedroom…and that would be awkward, to say the least. My bedroom has a few piles of laundry (a pile of dirty laundry, pile of clean laundry and a pile of clean and folded laundry that I have not put away for a reason that I cannot come up with right now…give me a moment). So because I have FCP 4.5 on my system, I was able to accomplish this. And if the person who needed to cooperate on a project with another person also had copies of previous versions on their system, they could exchange project files without a problem.

“But Shane, how do I do this?” You ask. “When I install the later version it OVERWRITES the version on my system already. So all I am left with is the new version. How do I keep the previous version?” I know you asked this, because this is what I asked Patrick.

“Simple,” he said. “Just rename the application from FINAL CUT PRO to FINAL CUT PRO 4.5, drag it out of the Applications folder and into a folder on your desktop that you created and named FCP 4.5. When you install the upgrade, it won’t see the application, but will see the components and that will be enough for the upgrade (a few upgrades don’t require a previous version, just the serial number for that previous version). So when the installation is complete, you will have the new version in the Applications folder, and your OLD VERSION on the desktop in the folder. Now drag that folder back into the applications folder, and drag the old version onto your dock so that you can manually open the version you want to work with and viola!”

I am paraphrasing, but you get the idea. But now you ask “Does FCP 4.5 work with the latest version of Quicktime?” Well, thus far I haven’t had any problems. But I am also prone to having things work for me that don’t work for others. I can, for example, capture DV from a Canon GL1 to my system drive and not drop one frame. Not short clips either, but 15min, 30 min clips. And my internal drive is 5400RPM. This is something I preach AGAINST each and every day, yet I can do it. Most people can’t. I can also daisy chain camera to drive to computer just fine. Most people can’t. I can capture DVCPRO HD using my laptop (deck connected to PCMCIA firewire card, G-Raid connected via FW800) while I am typing this blog and checking e-mail and ichatting with a buddy. Something that I should not be able to do…but I can.

Oop…I have strayed again…sorry. I guess I felt like bragging a little. My apologies.

ANYWAY…FCP 4.5 works fine with Mac OS 10.4.78 and QT 7.1.3, at least on my system. So I am presenting it as an option for others who might be in the situation I have laid out. “But I already have FCP 5.1.2 on my system, how do I get FCP 4.5?” Good question. Well, you can reformat your drive and start from scratch…but I wouldn’t if I were you. If you have a spare drive laying about that has nothing on it, reformat it and install the OS on that, THEN install FCP to that drive. Then just copy the application (after you have renamed it) to your main system. Then upgrade to the next version and do it again. I haven’t tried that, but it seems viable.

OK…I have blathered on for FAR too long. Filled up a blog in a way that only Mike Curtis can do on a daily basis. I am just twiddling my thumbs as I am capturing footage.

Oooo…look, this tape is done. OK guys…bye.