Video Essentials

Is Final Cut Pro X Ready for Professional Use?


The release of Apple Final Cut Pro X is the story of the year for video professionals. While excitement was high after the product announcement during the National Association of Broadcasters show in Las Vegas, the response to the actual product has been heavily negative.

Apple radically redesigned Final Cut for this release, offering a new interface and features that greatly speed editing. It also broke from the past by not supporting Final Cut 7 projects and removing some essential features, like multi-camera editing.

With all the controversy, it’s hard to see whether or not FCPX is suited for professional use. To help us decide, we’ve called in two industry heavyweights, Larry Jordan and Jan Ozer, to battle it out.

First Impressions

Pro
“I think that Final Cut X is precisely targeted to people who are delivering videos online, and while the term professional covers a wide gamut of individuals, the people that can benefit the most from Final Cut X are those who are being paid to deliver video to the Web,” says Jordan, who has already produced 11 hours of online FCPX training.

In other words, it is for professional use, but not for all professionals. While it’s great for online use, don’t try to use it for event videography or Hollywood filmmaking.

“This first release of Final Cut X is clearly targeted to the professionals that are creating Web video, as opposed to the professionals who are creating Hollywood blockbusters,” Jordan adds.

Con
“I think it’s a cool consumer program,” says Ozer. “I’m not saying that as a high-and-mighty pro guy that charges for his work. You can make movies with it because you can make movies with anything, but in terms of professional work, it’s just not there.”

Ozer points out the lack of multicamera editing, the poor DVD support, and the lack of Blu-ray that make FCPX unsuitable for pros.

“That doesn’t mean you can’t create great movies on it, but this is the first misstep that Apple has made in the whole market. Look at its overall rating in the App Store – it’s awful.”

Interface

Pro
“Even small interface changes can draw great passion,” notes Jordan. “Interface changes cause bar fights and to say that you really like or dislike an interface doesn’t mean that it’s really good for really bad for everybody.”

The changes here were so great that Jordan is still taking them in.

“It’s still too early for me to say I really love or really hate the interface. It’s like using ice skates. The first time you get up on ice skates you fall off. It’s early enough in the learning process that I’m still learning how to ice stake,” he adds.

Con
While Jordan isn’t that much for the new interface, Ozer isn’t that much against it.

“For me as an experienced editor, it’s much ado about nothing. It’s definitely easier to use than Final Cut 7, but the most relevant comparison is to Premiere Elements, which is also easy to use, but fully featured and cheaper” says Ozer.

Missing Features

Pro
FCPX’s missing features are a huge problem, concedes Jordan. He can’t use FCPX to edit his video podcasts because he needs multicamera support, and he can’t use it to edit his audio podcasts because he needs multitrack audio.

“Apple has said that they’re working on multicamera for the next major release,” Jordan notes.

He understands why people are furious that they can’t import their Final Cut 7 projects into FCPX, and thinks that Apple should have kept the older editor around and offered a project conversion utility.

“I think it would have been better if Apple had thought through the impact of instantly obsoleting all their existing Final Cut 7 projects,” Jordan says.

Con
“I can’t do my work without multicam,” says Ozer. “For me, the type of stuff that I do, I can’t do my work without multicam. Maybe they’re visionary and they’re looking down the road three or four years when DVD isn’t important anymore.
For now, for event videographers, it’s important.”

Ozer also knocks the program’s inability to import Final Cut 7 projects and guesses that the developers who created Final Cut Pro X have never done multicamera editing.

New Features

Pro
FCPX is simply a much faster program, with its speed improvements and background rendering, and that’s something that Jordan appreciates.

“A lot of the mind-numbing minutiae of editing video is gone, and I think for a lot of editors that’s a good thing,” he says.

He also likes the ability to customize keyboard shortcuts and the wider format support.

Con
Not everyone likes what Apple has added to FCPX.

“The magnetic timeline is a solution looking for a problem,” Ozer says, adding that he’s never had a problem with keeping elements in sync. He did, however, applaud the color correction tools and audio integration.

“I think there’s good stuff in there,” Ozer says. Adobe Premiere Elements had background rendering three versions ago, though, he says.

Conclusion

Pro
“Final Cut X shows a lot of potential for people creating Web-based video. It still has a lot of growing to do. It still has a lot of growing pains to live through. But it’s positioned for the future and as Web professionals we need to keep our eye on it,” says Jordan.

Con
“The features gaps go beyond subjective opinions. This isn’t Jan Ozer saying this tool sucks – this is an uproar in the professional video editing market. Have you ever heard of any product that couldn’t load projects from previous versions? That’s crazy! But because it’s Apple, some people are willing to give them the benefit of the doubt,” says Ozer. “If this program was by any other software vendor, we wouldn’t be talking about it right now. It’s just nothing special at all.”




Discussion

Comments for “Is Final Cut Pro X Ready for Professional Use?”

  1. I put my copy in the trash last night at 3am after using it for a few days and it’s no longer in my applications folder. It’s the most horrible app that I’ve every used. I’ve never liked the new iMovie and I feel that Apple did a awful job on this one, so I’ve downloaded a free trial of Premiere Pro and will start using it along with FCP 7.

    Posted by Kenneth | July 15, 2011, 12:12 pm
    • I use both, but have preferred Premiere lately. I think you’ll like it. It has a MUCH better browser/project window, and is MUCH more compatible with different media.

      Posted by salimbag | July 16, 2011, 7:51 pm
  2. The editors at my place of employment (primarily focused around broadcast production as well as corporate level feature films) have been given an ultimatum: learn Avid or Adobe Premiere within the next two years or your skills will be obsolete.

    Also, according to a coworker who has been in the industry for the last 20 years, the consumer-targeted FCPX will saturate the market with amateurs who think that skill with the new program means they operate at a professional level, making the words “proficient in Final Cut Pro” an instant resume killer within the next 6 months because no one wants to hire an amateur for professional post work.

    Posted by Pete | July 15, 2011, 6:14 pm
    • The “resume killer” that you describe is what worries me most.. I have been a long time user of Apple products, but they have really killed the professional editor with this release. Its sad when the company and product that you have so long relied on, is sold out to the amateur. Wasn’t that the point of iMovie..?

      Posted by J$ | July 20, 2011, 10:35 am
  3. I have not seen so much fear in an industry since digital took over the photography industry. People can call it iMovie Pro or amateur, but the reality is that talent is talent and no piece of software, no matter how simple or complex, will make a someone talented. FCPX is an incredible piece of software that allows freedom of creativity. It’s not for everyone. I am fully embracing it and I love it. I am also keeping my copy of FCP 7 for all my previous projects. If you want to cry like a child because your toy has been changed, then go on with Avid and Adobe. Otherwise, grow up and move on. True professionals and talent will prosper no matter what lies in front of them.

    Posted by J. Vogel | July 16, 2011, 1:24 pm
    • Thank you very much! I agree that behind the uproar is fear because more people now have access to what was once exclusive. The industry does have options and the fact that it is hell bent on verbally killing final cut x sounds like an ulterior motive; after-all, if you don’t like it, don’t use it; but, why do you have stop someone else from having a go?

      We have to accept that things are changing in our industry and its called growth, development, progress – inevitable. Like you, I am going to hold on to my copy of Final Cut Studio but I FULLY intend to support Final Cut X.

      I just gotta end by quoting you. “True professionals and talent will prosper no matter what lies in front of them”.

      Posted by Sid | July 16, 2011, 3:11 pm
    • The issue for most pros is not that it opens up the floodgates to amateurs but that you can NOT produce a feature film, documentary, multiple camera edit or colaberatove edit with fcp-x. You can’t, period. Anyone defending fcp-x doesn’t get it. I would love to use some of the features in it and am open to learning the new paradigm that is fcp-x but I can’t until it will allow me to successfully finish a project professionally.

      Posted by Suttles | July 17, 2011, 4:25 pm
      • First off, why would I switch versions of any NLE in the middle of a project? That’s not very professional. Second, we are almost done completing a feature length documentary using FCPX exclusively. So you can’t tell me you can’t produce a feature film with this software. Maybe YOU can’t. Just because we choose to use FCPX doesn’t mean we “don’t get it”. I would say running a highly successful multimedia company for the last 15 years and having revenues over $300k per year usually means “I get” something. If you can’t produce a professional project unless you have a certain version of a certain software and only by using certain techniques, maybe you “don’t get it”.

        Posted by J. Vogel | July 20, 2011, 8:46 am
    • i agree with what you say about true professionals, but you can hammer in nails with a bowling ball and the thing built may look good – but show up on a job site with a bowling ball instead of a hammer…well, no one is going to hire you.

      The turbulence to the industry is a huge factor. Confusion over which version you use…
      Facility management and software budgeting…
      Archiving of old projects – and updating them when necessary….

      I could go on.

      Posted by Paul Cuciti | July 21, 2011, 1:53 pm
      • This is what I’m talking about, thank you Paul. You make a good point without regurgitating the same old crap that’s being thrown out there. I don’t agree with you, but I respect how you put it out there. We too will be using FCP7 as FCPX continues to grow and we’ll also be using FCPX for some of our new projects. Good luck!

        Posted by J.Vogel | July 25, 2011, 9:04 pm
  4. It also has no EDL support, making it basically useless. What are you supposed to do with it? What a waste of development/marketing time and effort.

    Posted by John S | July 16, 2011, 2:31 pm
    • Don’t use it. No one is forcing you too. Use Final Cut Pro 7 or switch to Avid or Premiere. Just because you like chocolate and I like vanilla doesn’t mean that neither is right or wrong.

      Posted by J. Vogel | July 16, 2011, 4:32 pm
  5. I pushed myself to edit with final cut pro x 3 days after it’s release, while at the same time look ŵt online tutorials from ripple training.

    I must stress that training is the way to go. You cant judge a software if you don’t know how to use it.

    I love final cut pro x, it made my work flow so much faster and the quality after colour correcting and especially slow mo shots with optical flo enabled is just awesome.

    If it’s this good on release imagine what it will be lo,e after a few updates

    Posted by Brian | July 16, 2011, 8:57 pm
  6. I don’t consider it “crying like a baby” when an editor has made an investment of time and money into a product that has been undergoing continuous improvement to stay current with the industry and then to have the product pulled out from under you. Yes, a professional can work with any tool, but Apple has kicked its current professional user base squarely in the croth by releasing this pathetic version “upgrade”.

    Posted by Mark | July 19, 2011, 8:29 am
    • Hmm. Last time I looked, Final Cut Studio 3 is still in most of my Macs. They all seem to function correctly. My editors all are still using it very successfully. I don’t see how the product was “pulled from under me”? I installed FCPX on one of my MacPros where one of my main editors and I have been working on a documentary exclusively with it. I still get top notch service when I contact my local Apple Store’s Business manager regarding any issue. I don’t feel like I’ve been kicked in the “croth” ( I believe you meant crotch). There seems to be a lot of anger from you over this. It sounds like maybe the issue with you is the ability to learn new technology. That shouldn’t stand in your way of making a living. When something doesn’t work for me I don’t sit around being angry. I’d rather spend my time making my company successful.

      Posted by J. Vogel | July 20, 2011, 8:58 am
  7. If Premier modified their program to accept FCP projects ( i dont know if this is technically feasible) it would be a great rescue to the pro community. FCPX is not for those who make a living editing video beyond the net

    Posted by CC77 | July 19, 2011, 8:48 am
  8. As the Tech Director in a small multimedia company I am continually researching and investigating the latest products and upgrades. I have not tried the new FCPX but everything I see indicates that this is more of an upgrade to iMovie than an upgrade to FCP7. This is a smart move for Apple financially as the user-base for FCP7 is pretty much saturated (- maybe there are a 100,000)However the potential Market for getting iMovie users to upgrade is much larger(probably in the Millions) Apple can also save money by combining the 2 business units into one and then gradually rolling down features from FCPX to the new editions of iMovie. iMovie willthen become the loss leader to get people hooked on the $300 upgrade program. Apple has abandoned the Professional community in the short term in order to go after a totally different market segment. Maybe three editions from now they will have a product that is once more worthy of professional use, and by then they will have captured an entire new generation of editors. In the short term, we are moving to AVID and Premiere for our professional work.

    Posted by Roger Wetherall | July 19, 2011, 9:52 am
    • While I applaud you for making the move to another piece of software because it suits your business better, I don’t understand your feelings of being abandoned? Specifically how were you abandoned? This is the same rhetoric I continue to hear, but without any specifics. My son is a budding film maker and uses iMovie to make spectacular amateur documentaries. So you are right, he is on of the new generation of editors, but is this a bad thing? I don’t consider FCPX an “upgrade”. It’s a whole new way of editing and thinking. It challenges me and my staff and challenges are what has made us successful.

      Posted by J. Vogel | July 20, 2011, 9:06 am
      • I’d like to see one of your FCpX productions. I’m curious about it’s potential, but I’m not diving in the waters, until I know. Please point us to one. (I hope it is as spectacular as you say.)

        Posted by Paul Cuciti | July 21, 2011, 2:07 pm
  9. Slice & dice it any way you want. This release is a toy trying to slip through the back door of professional users, plain & simple. Apple clearly doesn’t care for the pro community. They upgraded imovie to the point where it might entice a small segment of the pro users while telling everyone else to go to Avid, Premiere or even M100. 2 Million worldwide users of FCP vs 20 million users of imovie. In the words of Frank Zappa, “they’re only in it for the money.” Apple…the next great Chinese toy manufacturer. Just don’t lick it, it might kill you.

    Posted by Gregware | July 19, 2011, 10:01 am
    • In the immortal words of FRANK ZAPPA…”It’s the stupidity, STUPID!” (Not tryin’ to flame here…just a Zappa lover)

      Posted by RockinRalf | July 19, 2011, 11:49 am
    • I don’t think Apple sits around thinking about how it’s going to screw the “pro community”. It’s obvious you are just belching out the same nonsense that most of the naysayers are throwing out. I have many friends in the industry, some who love FCPX and some who hate it, but the majority are true pros and do not feel like they are being screwed. BTW, I don’t think I’m running my business because I don’t care for making money. That is why I’m a pro. If I didn’t care about money I would still be an amateur.

      Posted by J. Vogel | July 20, 2011, 9:13 am
  10. Great article. I think Roger and GREGWARE kind of sum up the feeling of a lot of the professional community.

    In a recent blog post I described it as the feeling of betrayal. Like the spouse who gets dumped in a mid-life crisis for the hottie and the sports car. Apple has dumped the pros for the sexy mobile/consumer market.

    As they say, all good things…

    Posted by kwazyark | July 20, 2011, 2:39 am
  11. Vogel, how do you like working for Apple?

    Your points are well made, but.. Called out!

    Posted by J$ | July 20, 2011, 10:44 am
    • I know, right! This “Vogel” character is such a shill for Apple. Sucking it from skin to core. It’s not so much the opinion rather than the presentation.

      Personally, editing is in the heart and in the mind not the software. I work on all platforms and choose the best for the good of the project like any sensible editor would. Avid, Apple, Adobe are all the same in essence but ask yourself, “What works best for the work-flow and the client?”

      Posted by Adam Bostic | July 20, 2011, 9:09 pm
      • I’m a shill because I enjoy a product? Sucking up because I enjoy the service a company is providing for me? If Apple every screwed up one of my machines (which has happened once) I would rake them over the coals. So, let me get this straight, if I push Adobe Premiere or Avid, I’m a pro, but if I’m for FCPX and don’t think it’s as bad of a piece of software as everyone is saying it is, I’m an Apple Employee? Someone compares not liking a piece of software to getting dumped by a spouse and it’s okay, I simply state the obvious that any professional knows: it’s the operator not the car, and I’m some kind of Apple Fanboy? You all need to start working on your business instead of bitching and moaning about software.

        Posted by J. VOGEL | July 21, 2011, 1:58 am
  12. Wow.. Good points all around. My 2 cents will echo some of the other contributors. I started on Premier years ago, then jumped to FCP and I’ve noticed one constant, the STYLE of editing.. In other words, “Its the operator”.

    Good discussion guys,
    PEACE

    Posted by @wicktones | July 20, 2011, 2:29 pm
  13. If Vogel isn’t a full-time employee of Apple, then he’s one of these social media wonks that trolls the internet looking for negative posts so he can perform damage control for his clients. His arguments are ridiculous. It’s obvious Apple has abandoned the professional market for the iMovie kiddies. I’ve wasted years digging into Final Cut. I also use Photoshop and After Effects, so I might as well switch to Premiere. I used it once a year ago though, and didn’t like it. All I can say is this sucks.

    Posted by Graeme Rylee | July 21, 2011, 5:40 pm
    • My arguments are ridiculous? Okay lets look into your in depth, well-thought out arguments for not using Final Cut: “It’s obvious Apple has abandoned the professional market for the iMovie kiddies.” Wow. Incredible thought was placed into this statement. Let’s look at your highly prepared conclusion: ” All I can say is this sucks.” Hmm. You must dazzle your clients with such repertoire.
      I’m so amazed that when someone doesn’t agree with all the naysayers, they are simple pushed aside as being an Apple employee or Apple Fan Boy. Doesn’t sound like many of you have the spine to make it as a professional, so maybe you “troll” the internet spewing your negativity because you can’t get work.

      Posted by J. Vogel | July 22, 2011, 11:44 am
  14. It would have been redundant explaining my negative remarks because the above article and previous posts already made the best points. I was just emphatically agreeing. Hence, I concluded the direction of the new FCP does suck (for me) even though I’m sure Apple will make much more money with their new target market. And you’ve outdone yourself in ridiculousness by claiming that people you don’t even know “can’t get work.” I still contend that you’re ridiculous, as is your assertion that any negative comments about FCP must all be attributed to sour grapes and out of work editors. Ridiculous. You may not be an Apple employee, or a free-lance defender of your clients, but you sure sound like one.

    Posted by Graeme Rylee | July 23, 2011, 5:06 pm
    • So, you take some time, look up some definitions in the dictionary and you’ve made your argument look better in print, but it’s still pretty much without substance. You’re right, I don’t know you, but I’ve been in business long enough to spot someone who is so obviously not what they claim to be. You are a sheep who follows whatever the popular thing to follow is. You obviously are not a true professional and you are ridiculous even thinking that your ludicrous claims about me have any affect. Do me a favor and go back to whatever little hole-in-the wall, non-creative, lack of talent editing you think you are capable of. At least when the day is done I know what my accomplishments are and I’ll be handsomely compensated for them.

      Posted by J.Vogel | July 25, 2011, 2:47 am
      • Everything Apple does is right. Stop criticizing them and go make some money loser!

        What’s that? It’s the end of the line for pro software that thousands of editors invested years and money into? Boo-hoo. Apple can do no wrong, stop saying bad things!

        So there’s no multicam and you can’t open any of your old projects. Facts aside, sounds like you don’t have any talent. We made a documentary with Hypercard – grow a pair!

        OK, just having a little fun since this thread has gone off the rails. FCP X does hold promise if you’re making single cam videos for the Web – which I do, and which more of us will be doing. But for day-to-day work I’m still completely reliant upon FCP 7.

        Posted by V. JOGEL | July 25, 2011, 1:46 pm
  15. I am a high school career tech teacher. I teach multi-media production and having been using FCP for a long time. I am certainly saddened by FCPX. The original FCP suite of programs was the PERFECT teaching tool to discuss workflow and how to (sort of) seamlessly integrate one part of a production into another.

    Without the suite components FCP X is useless to educators (unless you are using FCP X as a simple work tool like iMovie or Movie Maker)

    I would love to hear other thoughts.

    Thanks
    John Ginter

    Posted by john Ginter | August 3, 2011, 11:15 pm
  16. I have read a majority of the posts, but there is little talk about how much the industry is changing over the next few years. I think the REAL fear is not coming from Apple or Final Cut X. The real fear is that delivery mechanisma for ALL media aremoving to the web. The fact tjat Apple recognizes that while others choose to ignore that is the coee issue.

    Traditional video is going the way of the printed newspaper.

    Posted by Keith McKenzie | August 7, 2011, 5:23 pm
  17. Yo Vogel. Give us a link to your website.

    Posted by Erik Brown | August 11, 2011, 7:54 am
  18. Funny. This Vogel guy who is claiming it does all these wonderful things, disappears when asked for his demo reel. A “documentary” is not your senior class yearbook video. Idiot shills and trolls I tell ya.

    Posted by Paul | August 11, 2011, 5:03 pm
  19. Good points. All around but, I believe that hardware and software are making it easier for amateurs to cross the bridge. My quad core macbook pro is faster then my old G5 and final cut pro x makes editing easier and faster.

    Photoshop is professional, but the same thing can get done with other software. The fact is some things are becoming easier. Take music for example. Deadmau5 makes music on his mac while old school producer use large studios.

    Over time things get easier and the proffesionals hate that, especially when amateurs get a taste of proffeional.

    Posted by Carlos | August 12, 2011, 1:23 am

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