Video Essentials

Learning to Love Final Cut Pro X


I’m always amazed at just how fast the hands of time move when we are sitting at our edit suites. It seems like yesterday that Apple stock was $17 and Michael Dell was speculating on what he would do if he were in charge of Apple: “I’d shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders.” It was Oct. 6, 1997, and Apple had recently purchased a pro video editing software package called KeyGrip from Macromedia. In 1998, Apple changed that name to Final Cut Pro and a revolution began. Over the next decade or so we would see Final Cut Pro evolve through version 7 and become the edit platform of choice for professionals everywhere.

Fast-forward to April 12, 2011. I wasn’t at the NAB SuperMeet where Apple had promised to unveil its new NLE, but like countless editors around the world, I waited with schoolboy excitement for the announcement from Apple that Final Cut Pro X (pronounced 10, not X) had arrived.

The Promise of FCPX

A 64-bit application completely rebuilt with a new interface, workflow enhancements, and automation … we all pored over every word of that announcement, so there is no need to repeat it all here. As an FCP user myself since version 2, like so many of you, I could taste the native H.264 processing that promised to rescue me from the time-sucking black hole of transcoding DSLR footage.

Sure, I had Adobe’s Premiere Pro CS5.5, which had been offering 64-bit performance optimization and native DSLR editing for more than a year, but with the promise of Apple’s new direction, for some reason, I just couldn’t motivate myself to get excited about pouring energy into what had suddenly started to look like yesterday’s NLE interface. My ship had come in and I was celebrating the free time I would once again have on my hands as I fantasized about all this newfound power that Apple would unleash in its latest Final Cut Pro release.

The Reality of FCPX

I can still remember that sick feeling I had in the pit of my stomach the first time I opened FCPX. Nothing looked familiar. The UI (user interface) looked more like iMovie than FCP7, the familiar user preferences and system settings tabs that offered so much control were missing and the timeline looked strange. To make matters worse, it was virtually impossible to find words of encouragement in the vast world of the Internet.

I immediately retreated back to the stronghold of FCP7, licking my wounds and apologizing to my MPEG Streamclip application for abandoning it so foolishly. For now, it was back to hours of transcoding before we could even start to edit. I continued to dabble with FCPX from time to time, only to find that the optimism I once shared with so many had turned to despair.

Mother of Invention

It wasn’t until we received a revised timeline for a wedding where we had a same-day edit (SDE) to produce that I felt the need to approach FCPX from a different viewpoint. I desperately needed to find a solution that would provide us with edit-ready footage in a timely fashion without having to transcode.

I decided at that point that I was going to stick with Apple and move in a radical direction that continued to challenge the current mindset of many editors worldwide. So it is from this perspective that I am writing about my experience with FCPX. I have come to recognize the gem that it truly is and will no doubt become over time for so many of us that recoiled from it at first.

The NLE Re-Imagined

Apple has taken the time to reimagine Final Cut Pro in particular and the NLE user interface in general, which was based on the analog tape-to-tape model and has continued to adhere to it since long after we left that old media and editing paradigm behind. Naturally, you cannot re-create 15 years of product development in just 2 short years without delivering a version 1 release that’s missing some features of a mature NLE such as FCP7. FCP7 was built on painfully old technology that would require too much work to salvage, and I’d be the first to admit that it was looking more and more like a joke when compared to Premiere Pro. Apple pretty much needed to take this leap if it wanted to continue to remain a player in the editorial world.

The FCPX Project Library

Apple has created FCPX from the ground up based on AV Foundation, which is Apple’s next-generation framework for doing advanced audio and video applications. If approached from that standpoint, then instead of expecting it to act like a 64-bit successor to FCP7, FCPX is truly incredible. In short, it’s the most feature-rich professional version 1 editing application the world has ever seen.

It’s unfortunate that Apple didn’t communicate more clearly to its customer base that this was, in fact, a v. 1 product based on completely new technology with the intent of once again revolutionizing the way we tell stories through editing. Thankfully, those of us not quite ready to take the leap into an entirely new editing paradigm — or reluctant to suffer through the growing pains of a new editor — can still take advantage of FCP7, Premiere Pro, and MediaComposer while we sit back and watch how FCPX matures over the next couple of years.

I suspect many of you have had a similar experience dealing with the failed expectations of Apple’s release of FCPX. While this is not intended to be an in-depth review or all-encompassing tutorial of FCPX, I hope that it will inspire you to view this revolutionary edit suite from a different perspective and to challenge you to let go of the old and explore the new. FCPX is still a v. 1 product, and as such it clearly lacks some important features you’ll need if you’re working in the pro broadcast arena. It is, however, very exciting to experience something so powerful for only $299.

Not so Different

My first recommendation is to understand that sometimes the impression of change can be more daunting or significant than the change itself. At first glance, FCPX seems to be radically different from legacy FCP versions, but on closer exploration, you will notice that many of the features we have come to rely on are integral parts of FCPX. In some cases, these features are no longer found in familiar locations, and, in other cases, they are simply included as default settings that are no longer changeable.

My second recommendation is to invest in some professional training. I chose to purchase Larry Jordan’s FCPX training series and credit his tutorials with the success I have had with unleashing the power in FCPX to my advantage. For the record, I am using FCP X on a 17″ MBP with 8GB RAM and the Lion OS. I have had no issues whatsoever with the stability or speed of the application in this setup.

Experiment on a Real Project

My 5D footage in FCPX’s magnetic timeline

I think it’s important to schedule some time to learn and to explore FCPX and to use a real project to do so — one that has a deadline to it so that you will stay focused and committed. If you’re like me, you’ll want to dive in headfirst (which is part of the reason so many of us jumped back out just as quickly when we didn’t like or recognize what we saw).

The first thing I couldn’t wait to do was to ingest some footage shot on our Canon 5D Mark II and put FCPX to the test. It was some footage I captured from an interview with two cameras and two audio tracks, both shot on the 5D. For a short while, I was like a kid in a candy store as I skimmed through this footage with ease.

Project Organization

It’s also important to have a good grasp on the different ways that FCPX manages data with respect to legacy FCP versions. FCPX creates what is called an “Event Folder” on each hard drive used. Within this Event Folder, you’ll find a highly complex database that manages your source video clips when they are imported.

Additionally, FCPX creates a Project folder that contains edit decisions, instructions, waveforms, thumbnails, and proxies for each project created. Each of these folders is managed by its respective database structure, which Apple says improves the stability, flexibility, and speed of FCPX.

It is because of this database structure that FCPX is able to organize files faster and better, enabling the user to leverage the powerful metadata and keyword search features that are embedded in FCPX. These search features are the heart and soul of what allows the user to have all source media on all hard drives connected be available to all projects at any time.

Imagine searching through 12TB of video content and being able to discriminately display only those clips cataloged with certain keywords or metadata. This feature alone in FCPX shaves measureable time in the postproduction workflow.

Editing the SDE

As mentioned earlier, my first real FCPX project was a Same Day Edit. After my initial test drive of FCPX, I had roughly three days to become comfortable with the user interface and develop a workflow that I could use in the time-constrained environment of an SDE.

I used footage from a previous wedding to simulate the upcoming event. I copied the individual clips to my external HDD and then started to import the video into the Event Library (sort of like the Browser in previous versions of FCP, but much more powerful).

FCPX’s Color Effects HUD

I then created a new Project (similar to a Sequence in FCP) and began the process of skimming my clips followed by adding them to the project storyline. One of my favorite features in Final Cut Pro X is the ability to skim. I love how I can easily hover over the timeline with my mouse and all the clips in the Event Browser and watch a clip play out as I move the mouse forward or back.

Before we move on, let’s take a moment to look a little closer at the project storyline, which at first glance looks a bit like a very simple timeline in FCP, but is actually far more versatile than that. FCPX’s new magnetic timeline is a joy to work with as it lets me assemble shots with ease. Clips magnetically close, eliminating unwanted black gaps in the timeline. Clip collisions and sync problems are avoided using the magnetic timeline, which allows me to focus more on story creation.

Video and audio tracks can be easily separated to resemble a more traditional timeline look and facilitate adding additional video and audio tracks in a similar fashion to previous FCP versions. You can change opacity and add a variety of video transitions quite easily.

Likewise, with audio you can quickly change levels, adjust fade in/out points with precision, and add many different audio effects that are all easily editable. Keyframing is also a breeze and is done directly on the timeline. The trim, ripple, roll, slip, and slide edits that were an essential part of previous FCP versions are all still available, and work very nicely within the magnetic timeline.

Choosing video and audio effects in FCPX

While many of the keyboard shortcuts in FCPX differ from earlier versions of FCP, it didn’t take me long to familiarize myself with the default settings that I needed. There is also a nifty feature that lets you remap the keyboard to create your own shortcuts so you can mimic those of FCP7 or other NLEs if you like to mirror what you are familiar with.

Working on the SDE, after I add my music bed track below the clip audio, I can immediately start to make further adjustments to the clips in my storyline while adding new ones. I realize that my workflow in FCPX has been much quicker up to this point than in legacy versions of FCP, and then it dawns on me that while I was skimming clips, adding them to the storyline, adjusting audio, and so on, FCPX has been fast at work in the background transcoding my 5D video into Apple ProRes422 while copying it to the FCP event folder on my external HDD. This is truly amazing when you consider everything that’s taking place behind the scenes without slowing or disturbing the edit process.

With the bulk of my edit completed, I need to layer some different camera angles during the ceremony and sync the audio. While FCPX has audio sync capability, I haven’t found it to be as user-friendly as Singular Software’s popular PluralEyes multicam sync application (which is currently not available for FCPX). But during the SDE I was able to sync three video clips to one audio clip from our R44 external recorder fairly easily.

Making color adjustments in FCPX

If your current workflow relies on the use of multicamera editing features then you may find yourself in withdrawal; just as you’ve surely read and heard elsewhere, the current version of FCPX does not support this kind of functionality as in legacy versions. However, Apple confirms that multicam editing — ”an important and popular feature” — is coming to FCPX, stating, “We will provide great multi-cam support in the next major release. So, in the meantime you have to edit multiple camera tracks the way we did before we had multicam in legacy FCP.”

Adding transitions and editing the parameters was very easy using FCPX’s HUD (heads-up display). I found the color grading and correction tools as easy to work with as FCP7’s once I located them.

I cannot stress how helpful it was to enlist some third-party training to familiarize me with the UI and unlock the power of FCPX. I would have spent countless unproductive hours searching on my own — time you simply don’t have when you have an SDE to deliver.

Exporting

Sending the completed SDE to Vimeo

Now, with my edit completed, I’m able to leverage some of the new features for exporting. Apple has included some built-in functionality that will let you post straight to Vimeo, YouTube, Facebook, or CNN’s iReport page. Additionally, there is functionality for burning a DVD or Blu-ray, or exporting to any Apple iDevice or AppleTV as well as a feature that creates a small version to send via email.

Of course, you can export to Compressor just as before, although Compressor doesn’t ship with FCPX as it did with Final Cut Studio. For our SDE, we simply exported the media to a QT movie and then played it from QT on the laptop when the appropriate time arrived.

Worth a Second Look

I have to say that I was guilty of judging the book by its cover initially, rejecting FCPX out of hand because of its apparent dissimilarity from FCP7, and that was a mistake. While the UI looks similar to iMovie, the actual application is far superior to it and warrants a healthy second look. There are lots of misinformation and many half-truths floating around cyberspace about FCPX.

For $299 and the price of some good third-party training materials, you can spend less than $500 and in 3 days find yourself surprised at how quickly you’ve adapted.

Once I made a genuine effort to learn FCPX and leverage the technology that Apple has made available I can honestly say that it has saved me time in my post workflow and ushered me into a new way of editing—and there’s no looking back.

Scott Strimple (scotts@unitedwedding.com) runs United Wedding Productions, a Richmond, Va.-based studio specializing in “Arthouse Wedding Films,” with his wife, Stephanie. Winner of multiple WEVA CEAs — including two 2011 Golds for Corporate Production and Corporate Event Highlights and a Silver for Short-Form Wedding Production — Scott was a featured educator at the “crossover” photo/cinema educational event PSD Experience in April 2011.




Discussion

Comments for “Learning to Love Final Cut Pro X”

  1. I totally. I did two projects on final cut pro X and feel in love with it.

    Honestly the new tools for color correction and the new way of key framing is amazing. If you really want to see an impressive display of FCPX check out my short music video I did http://youtu.be/V00FImlQE3I. This was made with FCPX 1.1. Everything after that video has been made with FCPX and it looks amazing and it was easy to make.

    From then On I have stuck with FCPX and have realized that it isn’t just iMovie pro. It’s so much more. Imagine if you FCP7, Soundtrack Pro, Motion, Color, and iMovie had a baby. It would be FCPX.

    I think it does a very good job at taking all the best parts of those programs and puts them into a program that is bound to grow in time. And it already has revolutionized my editing process and it should for you too.

    Posted by R. Peter Vega | December 9, 2011, 12:01 pm
  2. Very nice and well balanced. Good job Scott.

    Posted by Michael Horton | December 9, 2011, 12:08 pm
  3. Hello, very nice article. I am an editor, and i am working on a feature film. Back in the day wen i was in the trasition from student to pro i downloaded every editing program available and edited something in each one of them. Every one of them was a copy of good ol Avid. Then I tried Sonic Foundry Vegas and stick with it. Every time a new program emerges, i download and learn. Some are big promises but all are grandsons of avid. As time went by, vegas users began to spread the word and went from Unknown to #3. Today I am editing a feature film in FCPX because of the great promise it was. Its much much better than FCP7, for sure. But not yet as usable as Vegas. All the new features in X are very very old features of Vegas. So This is the best fcp yet but by far not the best editing program for professional use. Many apple users simply wont look at windows or windows programs, that was ok back then but now, is just a stupid mistake (even more, now that Steve Jobs, a merchandizing guru is dead).

    Posted by Xavier Candiani | December 9, 2011, 12:46 pm
  4. Scott:

    This is a very nice write-up – and for the kind words about my training.

    FCP X can make editing a lot easier for many editors – once we get past the trauma of its birth. I enjoyed reading your voyage of discovery.

    Larry

    Posted by Larry Jordan | December 9, 2011, 1:32 pm
    • Thanks for taking the time to read and comment Larry. Wouldn’t be able to do anything without your help!

      Posted by Scott Strimple | December 9, 2011, 5:35 pm
      • Hey Scott, great article. I am very green to the world of editing and started tinkering with iMovie, moved on to FCExp 4 (found it very tedious to learn) and now I recently downloaded FCPX. I LOVE this program but found it kind of confusing. I signed up to take a week seminar at a certified Apple training center and wanted to know your opinion if you think this is worth it? I am a film maker who wants to be able to comfortably edit my own projects and perhaps freelance small projects on the side. Once again great article!

        Posted by Hal J. | December 10, 2011, 6:01 pm
  5. I think SDE, wedding and event videos are a main target of FCPX so it does shine in that type of edit. But try and throw hundreds of hours of media into a very long timeline. Dead in the water

    Posted by Shooter Steve | December 9, 2011, 3:09 pm
    • I couldn’t agree more. This is an app made for events: weddings, bar mitzvot, birthday parties, etc… Apple is showing that they want the prosumer market more than the professional market. That’s fine, but don’t believe that it’s an app for professional editors as a whole. It’s the latest version of Final Cut Express and it’s priced identically for a reason.

      Posted by Garrett Gibbons | December 9, 2011, 4:41 pm
      • I’ve been thinking about this comment all day after reading it this morning… and frankly I find it equally depressing and insulting.

        I’ve seen this attitude a lot since FCPX was released, and it boggles my mind. So, because FCPX isn’t currently geared for the broadcast and feature film editor, it must only be good for weddings and bar mitzvoth markets? Well, I hate to tell you, but the market for video production is a lot broader than you think. How about educational? how about corporate? How about ANY kind of production meant for web delivery?

        And let’s be clear here, it’s probably half a dozen features that technically prohibit FCPX from broadcast or feature work, and we know 2 of those (Multi-cam and Broadcast Monitoring) are coming within a few months. Once those features are in place, NOW what’s FCPX’s critical failure?

        Absolutely nothing. It’s not the difference between “professional” and “prosumer”. Smart collections are no less “pro” than bins. Once OMF export is implemented, roles will be just as powerful as managing tracks. It’s a different line of thinking, and a different way to work. And that’s all.

        As an editor, I’m thrilled to see SOMEONE take a stab at something different. That fact that we have more than one paradigm to choose from is wonderful.

        But FCPX as a program isn’t “made” for any specific area of the market.

        Posted by Marcus R. Moore | December 15, 2011, 8:46 pm
      • That’s a seemingly ignorant and condescending comment, Garrett. You are no more professional than someone running a business editing weddings, corporate video, political videos, short films, web content, or anything else. Those people who work for a living producing video content for other people, freelance event videographers, they are not part of this “prosumer” market that you choose to look down at. They are part of the professional video market. Period.

        I’m an event videographer and I have also edited both short and feature length films. I can’t wait to do it with FCPX. I’m smart enough that I’m not about to cast off FCP7 and just throw my business into FCPX yet. It’s not ready, but it will be. So I’ll start learning FCPX now, continue to use FCP7 and AVID in the meantime, and when FCPX evolves further, you’ll be catching up to me and others who chose to be ahead of the curve.

        No, you’re right, as it stands now FCPX is not ready to tackle the entertainment industry. But this is unimportant, as this is a version one of a program in it’s infancy. The original FCP v1.0 was equally as unready to tackle the entertainment market, and it would take years of updates before titles like Cold Mountain and Lord of the Rings would put FCP in the spotlight. It will take time once again.

        In the meantime, FCPX is already very well suited for many areas of the professional videography community, including events, web content, documentary work, political, educational, and corporate work. It’s not suited for every professional, but then again, neither is AVID. The right tool for the job depends on the job and the artist.

        I’m excited to be at the starting point for this powerful program, and I’m excited to see where it goes from here.

        Posted by Ed | January 23, 2012, 9:35 am
  6. “One of my favorite features in Final Cut Pro X is the ability to skim. I love how I can easily hover over the timeline with my mouse and all the clips in the Event Browser and watch a clip play out as I move the mouse forward or back.”

    Um, did you know that this is also a feature of almost every NLE ever created? It’s an issue of grabbing the playhead and moving it across the timeline, vs the FCPX solution of always having to watch the screen change as you mouse over.

    FCPX has a lot of exciting new features, but its “event’-based project organization cripples post-production houses and is useless for project collaboration. For solo editors and tiny 1-computer production houses this might be a usable tool, but it’s not built for the entertainment industry by any stretch of the imagination.

    Posted by Garrett Gibbons | December 9, 2011, 4:39 pm
    • Thanks for taking time to read the article Garrett. I was referring to skimming within the browser long before you put each clip in the timeline. Nice to have 500gb or more of footage to work from and not have to completely load each clip to view it and set ins and outs… fcpx has streamlined that process. But ya either love it or ya don’t. Ok either way.

      Posted by Scott Strimple | December 9, 2011, 5:33 pm
    • The event paradigm is different, but it’s not unusable for collaboration. You can move or duplicate projects or events to different drives, and re-link a project to a new copy of an event if it’s been moved. Otherwise, you can use sparse disk images to hold complete events and projects, load them only when needed, and pass them around to other edit stations easily.

      Posted by Iain Anderson | December 9, 2011, 6:10 pm
    • Wow, I guess your imagination is pretty limited! You have plenty of power in FCPX to edit for entertainment, and we already know that more features are coming down the line. I guess the fact that you have to change your viewpoint and thinking. Just to let you know skimming isn’t grabbing the playhead and dragging it across the clip, its independent of the timeline and works by just moving the cursor over the clip, seamlessly. You must be like those guys who freaked out over Sound coming to film. You know similar people said that video would never work. Stop looking backwards and see what FCPX is really binging to the table and thats a new way at looking at the way editing is done and for that matter the way the production pipeline works. Things change and there are always those that fear and hate change! Watch out for those horseless carriages!

      Posted by Adam Harris | December 17, 2011, 10:18 pm
  7. Scott, I too have been impressed with the implementation of some of the tools in FCP X, but unlike you I simply don’t work on projects that can be completed in FCP X. That’s the elephant in the room that so many ignore. Sure, if you work by yourself and output for the web FCP X is an option; I just don’t know many that make a living doing that.

    To state “It’s unfortunate that Apple didn’t communicate more clearly to its customer base” is both revisionist history and disingenuous. Apple EOL’d FCP 7 the day FCP X was released; Apple was communicating perfectly clearly to its user base on that day. Apple may have partially relented on the death of FCP 7 but the message is still clear.

    I have been an Apple Certified Trainer for FCP since 2002 and am currently an Apple Certified Trainer for FCP X. I make my living in editing but I enjoy teaching. I am fully aware of what FCP X can and cannot do.

    Posted by Duane Martin | December 9, 2011, 5:18 pm
  8. I suggest Lightworks. When you already learn something new. :)
    Beta and Windows only atm

    Posted by John I | December 9, 2011, 6:17 pm
  9. I have grown to appreciate fcpx in similar ways, initially I was appalled by the lack of Pro-features, but very quickly realized that some of those features were either going to be added or I didn’t actually need them.

    I have used many video editing apps over the years, starting with FAST, DPS velocity, pinnacle liquid silver, Fcp v1.2.5-v7, Premiere Pro cs5 and Avid. I must admit I haven’t used Avid MC 5- current. About 10 years ago I got into an argument with a Avid sales rep, I was working as a Post supervisor at a local cable news outlet, I asked the avid rep why it couldn’t do x,y & z features when FCP 2 or 3(I think) could do them. His response was, it doesn’t have to do those features, “it’s Avid”. Tried to stay away from Avid ever since. I remember vividly Avid fanboys badmouthing FCP3. FCP has always been a force to reckon with, It has turned Avid into a different company, but even looking at Avid 6, I haven’t seen a reason to switch.

    Now I can’t run a timeline in Premiere Pro longer than 45 minutes because of Kernal Panics constantly, FCP 7 gets clunky sometimes buggy on a 2 hr+ sequence. Right now I’m working on 3 documentaries using FCPX all pulling from an Event with 50+ Hours of footage. I also work with other gigs, corporate videos, commercials, and multi camera seminars. I haven’t noticed a speed issue yet with it. I have found that a lot of my editing workflows are significantly faster in FCPx. I do go back to FCP 7 for Multi cams with 3 or more cams. Once multi cam is added to fcpx I will be using fcpx full time.

    Of course Fcpx is not perfect, no software is. I can’t wait to see how much better the software gets.

    Posted by Mike | December 10, 2011, 11:20 am
    • Mike, I’m a little ashamed at my initial reaction, but I have to agree. I’m in almost the same situation as you. Many of my projects are 1-hour tv shows out of our studio, with some delivery going directly to web, and most going directly to cable. I just completed my first professional project on fcp x and it shaved well over 4 hours of my time, and that’s just on one of my 14 projects. I’m giving it more attention now.

      I really felt professionally abandoned with this software, but it deserves some respect. Especially on same day edits. I downloaded Avid MC 6 after my child-like tantrum over fcp x (and it was child like, complete with tears and throwing objects across the bay;-) and I’ve run the same project back to back with Avid and fcp x delivers, and fast!

      I’m still not a 100% over the pain, but the time I have gained is winning me over.

      One thing this has taught me…I don’t want to let myself get to comfortable with just one NLE. I’ve been cutting on FCP for over 10 years…imagine the muscle memory confusion and cussing that shrouded my editing bay.

      Anyway…its nice to see some positive comments.

      Cheers.

      Posted by Dylan | December 11, 2011, 12:32 am
    • This fall I finished a documentary in FCP 7 after months of editing and picking around. Two weeks ago I loaded up FCP X and already I’m hooked. I wish I’d had it last year. Just the way you can riffle through your clips allows for a much more intimate grip on the material. Okay – I don’t need multi-camera and multi-track sound but I’m sure there will be ways around those problems. I also miss some of the precision of noise removal available in SoundTrack Pro. But plusses far outweigh the negatives – this is just way faster, more stable and altogether sweeter to use.

      Posted by John Parks | December 19, 2011, 7:37 pm
  10. I was one of those people who was excited about FCPX and got it as soon as it was available. Of course I downloaded it and said WTF????

    Then, I got a job teaching media at a High School and the school had FCPX installed on the computers and I was forced to embrace it and teach it.

    Now I am going to give it a try on some weddings and event videos, and I know it will get better. Using any version of 1.0 software is a challenge, but I am up for it. Thanks for your great insight.

    Posted by Chip Dizárd | December 10, 2011, 11:42 am
  11. Thanks for the post. I am very much in the same place in my thinking about FCPX after finally giving it fair trial in recent days.

    i’ve been a FCP user and trainer since 2000 –and i was initially very excited about long overdue ‘new version’. then i bought it and was disgusted — looked like iMovie, it did not respond to my cutting habits like i expected it to, etc. from there, i downloaded the trials for premiere and media composer to pick out a new tool…

    had pretty much given up on it for personal use (independent production), but my teaching job required me not to abandon it entirely. then the deadline to re-cert as an Apple trainer came, and I decided to give a real chance, just in case.

    a week of evenings immersing myself in it has me convinced — there are a few things (multi cam) that are seriously lacking, but for a v 1.0 release, it is pretty phenomenal (note that, like many, i am not working in a broadcast environment).

    once you get over the hump of it being so very different, it feels more logical, more intuitive than ‘old’ style NLEs. you can access content easier, and the whole thing feels less like a ‘process’ — and more just a tool that enables you to shape with. and then you start to realize that a lot of what is different is still quite similar — you can still set in/outs, roll/ripple/trim, fade, customize titles, mix audio, etc. (the stuff we do all the time). in fact, with universal skimming, thumbnails, etc — it even reminds me of some things i loved about editing on a flatbed.

    the simplified preferences seemed amateurish at first, but it is clear now that the software is just smarter — and most of those prefs (which, if you got wrong, were a headache) — are no longer necessary.
    and then there is the power. i run an 8 core iMac, and everything is happening on the fly. the fact that i can not only preview the look of an effect (without clicking), and then adjust the SETTINGS of said effect, in thumbnail, before adding it to the cut… pretty great.

    from here, i am stoked to cut some real projects with it — and am pretty excited about this being my main tool for years to come.

    Posted by tim wojcik | December 10, 2011, 7:43 pm
  12. Scott, I so much relate to you and the other editors initial reactions to FCPX. I was expecting a FCP7 upgrade.(FCP8) I believe it was Apple’s miscommunication and PR positioning of X that set us all off. We were expecting and extension with enhanced features of FCP7. Not what we got. After my first reactions and temper tantrums that included writing scathing reviews that got me kicked off “Apple Insider” I actually started to use FCPX and went through the training on Lynda.com. I would as well highly recommend our friend Larry Jordon or any of the Lynda Trainers. They are all skilled teachers that provide valuable hands on visual learning of all the great features of FCPX. After all we are visual people right, that’s why we do what we do in video production. OK bottom line, I LOVE FINAL CUT PRO X as a quick single camera editing tool! It is missing key parts in the multi-cam editing (which promises to be corrected soon) If Apple adds multi-cam editing and figures out a way to export FCP7 projects that can be read by FCPX that would be great. I now understand the way X works and how it is so different from FCP7 and the compatibility issues for back projects. Looking objectively now at FCPX I would recommend FCP editors to take a second look at FCPX and reconsider this valuable tool in your toolbox. This is not iMovie on steroids but a full featured editor with components that still need to be added. It is Version 1.1 NOT 10.
    I have a new excitement about editing now. I actually shot an event and came home and started capturing the footage right away the same night so I can begin to work with my new found TOYS!! I felt like a kid again! Apple, I sort of owe you an apology after I went off on you old Friend, however I know you now know your PR blunder gave us all unrealistic expectations. We all learned from the process but we need to reevaluate our initial reactions and responses. Have a new fresh look at FCPX, you won’t be disappointment.

    Posted by Chris K | December 14, 2011, 11:06 am
  13. Thanks for a thoughtful and balanced introduction into FCPX. I held out until I bought a new 27″ iMac and it wouldn’t accept my old FCP disks.

    I spent yesterday screaming at the computer screen as I unravelled FCPX for the first time and tried to grok its completely alien form. I was pining for yesteryear.

    Today, I am sanguine and relaxed, discovering some of the old keyboard shortcuts still work. Your review has tempered my indignation and shined some hope that at the end of this bilious learning curve, there will be light at the end of the reel.

    Posted by Jamie Kelley | December 15, 2011, 12:02 am
  14. I appreciate the point of view. It is the reason I paid no attention to what I perceived as whining by FCP users after FCPX’s release. I figured, “Well it is new and different and of course there are going to be people who cannot, or will not, adapt.”

    So I waited until I finished one job and then downloaded FCPX fully functioning demo, and decided to play with it on my new project. In fact, this was after my husband had started playing with the demo and pushed out a 30 second teaser as a test. He had a few issues with it, but nothing earth shattering.

    So I figured, why not? I dove in and after some disorientation, I began to move fairly easily. (I’ll leave the question of why I can’t organize my files the way I like for another day.) After a week or so, I was on my way to believing that I might actually enjoy this new way of working for some projects. That feeling began to fade the morning I woke up to find that FCPX had forgotten where the clips were located. At that point I was annoyed, but figured, as in FCP previous versions, I simply had to re-link by having the program locate the clips again. No emergency. Except that it was because that feature was missing. I just knew this had to be a mistake, so I started searching the forums, looking for the answer. No answer, but lots of comments from people in the same position. The consensus was that I was screwed.

    I tried figuring out a work around and the result was having FCPX eat 50% my original clips and replace them with the aliases, even though the aliases were named with “copy” as opposed to the originals. This happened in the background with no warning. One I saw what was happening, I had no way to stop it that was evident, so I closed FCPX and then rebooted my Mac as it apparently was continuing to overwrite the files despite having closed the program.

    I finally recovered the deleted files and, having missed my deadline, kept researching to find out how to reconnect the remaining clips. I tried a couple of work-arounds proposed by others but was unable to get anything to work. In the meantime, I am editing my new project in FCP6.

    Not everyone who lost patience with this program is resistant to change. I have no doubt that I’ll look at it again down the road, if, for instance, this feature is included again. But I have to say it left a bad taste in my mouth. I lost over a week trying to figure out how to fix something that I didn’t break. If I had moved the clips before checking on what would happen if I did, that might be different. But a feature like reconnecting and alias is so basic, it seems like it would almost take work to leave it out. In earlier versions, it is usually fixed with a few clicks of a mouse.

    All of that said, if I have simply overlooked this feature some how, I’ll be happy to admit that it was my bad, and I’d be grateful for the answer.

    Posted by DaVette See | December 16, 2011, 6:15 pm
  15. Fcpx is a dream come true for pros, we’re loving it, we’re not moaning because others ae moaning and haven’t even opened it up, Steve shooter above says it’s dead in the water when you throw hundreds of hours of footage in the timeline, hmmm enough said.
    It’s a dream come true, so before you whine people should you ? Keep using fcp7 and lee using that PowerPC Mac because I’m sure you’re probably still on the bench with the PowerPC rules intel sucks thing too.
    Fcpx is the future and Apple saw it and got their first, this is an NLE for the world we now live in digital.

    Posted by Chaz P | December 24, 2011, 8:02 am
  16. What’s an “NLE?”

    Posted by Anonymoose | January 19, 2012, 8:29 pm
  17. Hmnn. Surprised you didn’t mention the lack of round trip support with Motion. Wedding videos tend to do a lot of titling and drop ins… would have thought you’d be tearing your hair out on that one.

    For my work, I can’t do effective green screen work without Motion round trips. And exporting the entire clip to Motion (and flattening it, losing all my timeline work) is not going to cut it. I don’t consider myself a “professional,” but perhaps using a green screen and needing solid Motion integration puts me in that camp after all. Anyhow, FCPX is dead to me until I can round trip.

    Posted by Anonymoose | January 19, 2012, 8:36 pm
    • Its coming. I’m sure. I’m still cutting some of my TV shows on Avid and FCP 6, but FCP X is saving me tons of hours on other projects. I think you will have the same experience.

      Posted by Dylan | February 2, 2012, 1:20 am
  18. The support with Motion doesn’t need to be round-trip – the two programs are so tightly integrated that as if you’re working on something that’s going to be a Final Cut effect of some kind, it will show up in the proper FCP menu as soon as you save it in Motion. Then, if you want to edit it again in Motion, you just control-click it in the FCP menu.

    Posted by Mary Baum | April 12, 2012, 10:57 pm
  19. Love working with FCP X for DSLR video work, some much simpler.

    Posted by James - United By Photography | April 15, 2012, 8:08 pm
  20. Great write up Scott. I am new to FCPX coming from FCP 7 and all footage from Canon cameras. I am still searching for the proper workflow as to importing files. What is your recommendations? Are you just editing in H264 and exporting (combining export and render at same time) or optimizing at import, rendering and then exporting? Any info appreciated. Thanks

    Posted by Hector | October 4, 2012, 3:13 pm
    • Hi Hector… FCPx transcodes to prores for us on import. We have used h.264 footage from DSLR and footage from the XDCAM as well as audio files from stand alone DAR.
      Once I create my NEW EVENT… I then start to add Folders that are the containers that I use to organize my footage. In some cases these folders include other folders in them (nested) .. I tag all of my clips with meaning full Keyword Collections. It doesn’t matter if they are h.264 or other…The render takes place in the background while I am editing. When it comes time to export it depends on where I am going with the completed project. If I’m goin straight to Vimeo for instance… then I’ll simply Share it from FCPX .. if I need to burn a DVD or optimize the footage in some other way then I may go to compressor. I hope this helps. Thanks for the kind words.

      Posted by Scott Strimple | October 4, 2012, 5:56 pm

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