The present and future of post production business and technology | Philip Hodgetts

Jun/11

21

My impressions of Final Cut Pro X

I was fortunate to beta test Final Cut Pro 1 back in early 1999; my company had the second training tool for Final Cut Pro a few months later with the DV Companion; I’ve been writing about editing paradigms and new workflows/new professionals for some time. I was on record as wanting Apple to do the “Apple thing” for Final Cut Pro and pursue some new paradigms for editing. And for the last year, I’ve spend way too much of my time working out what Apple were doing with Final Cut Pro X and what technologies it would use.

So, when Apple invited me for a private preview last week – just a week before Final Cut Pro X’s release – I jumped at the opportunity. Apple additionally have loaned me an i7 17″ MacBook Pro for my testing pleasure.

So, what do I think?

My overall impression is overwhelmingly positive. Right up front I’ll say that this first release doesn’t support every workflow that every professional editor might need, but for the vast majority of people who don’t have specialist workflow needs, this is an amazing piece of software. I’d much rather focus on what is in the application than the few features that are missing for the moment.

It made editing fun again. Fast and fluid. Did I mention fast?  I don’t just mean 64 bit, OpenCL, Grand Central Dispatch, no-holdups-from-the-app fast, I also mean “the tools are where I want them, there’s a ton of keyboard shortcuts and I can find my media and get an edit done” fast!

There are definitely some new concepts to get used to. Everything I thought I knew about project and media management is now up for revision.

While it took me a while to consider the concept of the Event Library as an Asset Management Tool, after working with it for a while it feels like it works. It’s every bit as flexible as a professional needs, although I was unable to find any warning when an Event Library was missing. (Event Libraries only mount if the drive they live on is mounted.)

I could probably have wished for another name for the Timeline edits than Projects – just to avoid confusion with the old concept of a Project – this new concept Project make sense and it all works. Projects can easily be moved between editors and workstations, as can Events, along with all their metadata.

Speaking of metadata, did you notice that Final Cut Pro X is metadata based? Now, while I’ve been talking, learning, preaching, and otherwise thinking about metadata for a very long time, the fact is that Apple built Final Cut Pro X on metadata because it was a good idea, not because they pay any attention to me!

If Apple were ignoring metadata in Final Cut Pro 7 then they’ve gone to the opposite extreme with Final Cut Pro X. Final Cut Pro X has all the benefits a database and metadata based foundation gives, but the interface and workflows are easy to grasp. For most people Keyword Collections will speed their work life. For those who really grasp the power of Smart Collections, clip organization and finding clips will become a snap. (Check out my new book Conquering the metadata foundations of Final Cut Pro X.)

Range-based Keywords are a genius replacement for Subclips. Try them, you’ll like it.

On the MacBook Pro on loan I never had a slowdown. Even during the long, processor intensive analysis phase, the edit interface remained lively. The background processes stop if they are going to interfere with the editing interface.  If there is a “dirty little secret” it’s that background Auto-Content Analysis takes a lot of processing power and a lot of time. Good thing it can be done at any convenient time (like after I finish for the day). The metadata that’s derived from the analyzed media isn’t available until the analysis is finished. The use of the Facial detection, shot detection, stabilization and rolling shutter correction, color analysis and audio cleanup analysis is entirely optional. You may masochistically do it all manually.

After editing a personal side trip video and working on parts of a documentary I have in the works, I’m now driving Final Cut Pro X by keyboard more than half of the time. There are keyboard shortcuts everywhere and the new Command Editor is a beefed-up version of the Keyboard editor in Final Cut Pro 7.

I have to be careful to not be too rapturous here, but forgive me a little. This is exactly what I wanted Apple to do: reexamine the workflows editors undertake and determine if there was a faster way. Now, not every editor works the same way, and many in high profile positions change workflow and tools cautiously, but for the majority of Apple’s Final Cut Pro customers, Final Cut Pro X is going to make their life easier.

Unless they work with tape! Where’s that “I told you so dance” clip? Final Cut Pro X has very rudimentary tape support for, essentially, Capture Now for FireWire (DV, DVPCRO, DVCPRO HD, HDV) cameras only. It supports ingest from cameras, SD cards, card archives, or simple file import. Final Cut Pro 7 will remain a great tool for capturing from tape.

In fact, the media handling is really flexible. Final Cut Pro X will make the archive of your camera’s card, while it’s copying the media to the hard drive, and creating Optimized footage (optional transcoding to ProRes 422), while you start editing with the native footage off the card. As the copy completes Final Cut Pro transparently changes over to work with the media on the drive instead of the card. If you want to transcode to ProRes 422 (it will make processing easier but increases drive space requirements) then you continue editing with the native media until the transcode is completed in the background.

You can import media to Events while leaving it in the original location. Move or Copy media between events inside Final Cut Pro X; consolidate, merge and split Events. Events can be located on any drive mounted. (I did not test nor ask about SAN storage. Sorry.)

There’s always a dilemma when developing software. At some point you have a product that’s suitable for a very large portion of your customers, and can deliver real, tangible benefits right now, but isn’t perhaps as fully featured as it could be. Should it be delayed or released? I believe Apple have made the right decision with Final Cut Pro X by releasing it to market. In my briefing, I was told by folks at Apple that the Mac App Store and new financial rules mean that they intend to add features frequently rather than waiting for major paid upgrades.

So, while for this release there is no way to import a Final Cut Pro 7 Project or Export OMF, there are plans to meet these needs with some separate utilities. Other features not in this release, like Multicam, are in the works but await optimal integration with the new design.

But by way of comparison, Final Cut Pro version 1 did not support PAL (although I did, as a beta tester have a commercial cut in PAL, on air in Australia the week Final Cut Pro was released at NAB). In Final Cut Pro X I took a piece of PAL DV media and dropped it in a 1080i60 Project (timeline), scaled it up to fill the width and repositioned it – all in seconds – and have it play back with what appears to my eye to be perfect retiming. (That was with the default – there are better options available, all the way through to real time Optical Flow.)

Final Cut Pro version 1 had some very crude titling tools. Final Cut Pro X has the power of the shared media engine to play Motion projects as well as Motion does (which is now whole lot better than it did). Intricate animated titles can be composited and edited directly over the video they’ll play over.

In Final Cut Pro 1 you’d better know your settings and media management chops. In Final Cut Pro X, that gets taken care of for you, but never takes it out of your control.

I may be biased – again, Final Cut Pro X is very much what I was hoping for. I really like the look of the new LunaKit interface framework, although I’ll bet some will dislike the color.

There were things I wasn’t sure about. Particularly the new timeline design – the Magnetic Timeline. Now the biggest issue for some was that the duration would keep changing. That’s true, so for those who need to maintain an edited duration then Clips you’re lifting from a Project can be replaced with Gap media. (Yes, I hear you Media Composer editors.) Tools like Audition would be used much earlier in the editorial process than when you’re locked to time!

Having direct Clip to Clip connections works transparently. One time I wanted to hook a couple of Clips together on an “upper track” but didn’t want them moving with the Clips below – that’s when I worked out the value and role of a Secondary Storyline. It all works surprisingly well. I was expecting a composite (background, shadow and subject layer) – I connected the clips in the composite together and they moved together when I wanted and apart when I chose.

There is no generic drop shadow effect except in titles. You can build your own by duplicating, offsetting, changing color, blurring and distorting the image for the shadow. All in real time on an i7 MacBook Pro.

I didn’t explore the effects side very far, but it’s been completely revamped. There is now tight integration between Motion and Final Cut Pro X – they share the same media engine I’m told – where Motion becomes, at one level, an effects generator for Final Cut Pro X.  Titles in Final Cut Pro X are Motion Templates. Generators are Motion Templates. Transitions are Motion Templates and can now have interstitial elements and are keyframeable.

A major enhancement to the Motion Template is the use of  “Rigs” so the graphic designer can create options for the editor, from a limited palette.  This is taken to the extreme with the new Placeholder Generator, which uses the rigs for different backgrounds, number of people, type of shot etc. It’s not going to give the Martini QuickShot guys any heartburn, but for a basic feature based on a Motion Template, it’s ingenious.

Was there anything I didn’t like? Well, there’s no published way of accessing Final Cut Pro X project information yet. Until we learn what options there will be, I’m professionally in a holding pattern – our software won’t support Final Cut Pro X until then. However it was gratifying to hear in my briefing that the two Apple folk I met with were very positive about the importance of the third-party ecosystem, and assured me that “good things were coming” (to paraphrase).

For output options, other than basic file export and sharing to various online services (an enhanced version of the Share from Final Cut Pro 7 that also tracks what version each online service has to notify if they don’t match) there’s not much export. Again I was assured they are aware these things are important to professional workflows, and they are coming.

As I’ve said in comments and on Twitter since April, it takes time to write quality software. There’s no real way to rush it, even if you have the resources of an Apple behind you. It’s taken three years to get this far (which is much faster than I’d initially expected), and it’s a lot more mature application than Final Cut Pro 1 was after a longer gestation. Of course, the OS X technologies, which give Final Cut Pro X performance similar to Adobe’s Mercury Engine, give the application developer a huge leg up. The new AV Foundation, I started writing about as the new foundation for Final Cut Pro long before we knew of Final Cut Pro X or that AV Foundation was coming to OS X via Lion. (For the geeks, it’s a Private Framework in 10.6.7 already, co-incidentally the minimum OS requirement for Final Cut Pro X.)

What has been released is what I’d hoped for. At version 1 it’s not going to meet every workflow today. But it will mature much more quickly than Final Cut Pro 1 did. As was made clear in my meetings with Apple, this is intended to be a foundation for another decade of advancement. With a metadata foundation it’s a decade I think I’m going to like.

And I like editing with Final Cut Pro X. It feels fluid, it’s fun. I said that at the start, but I wanted to say it again.

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46 comments

  • Zak Ray · June 21, 2011 at 6:51 am

    Thanks for the great summary, Philip. And here I sit bemoaning Color… ah well, life goes on…

  • Jack · June 21, 2011 at 7:52 am

    A very interesting review. So I guess that people are correct about having to run FCP7 and FCPX side by side.

    Having just installed it on my laptop, I think the first point of contention for people will be the “Import From iMovie” greeting.

  • Wayne · June 21, 2011 at 8:35 am

    Thanks Phllip,

    Great write-up!!!

    Wayne

  • Chris Wilby · June 21, 2011 at 10:53 am

    Nice one Philip. I don’t know about you but, my heads swimming already!

  • Aiden Bordner · June 21, 2011 at 5:30 pm

    Cheers to you, Philip, for making an intelligent and non-reactionary assessment of the situation.

    When OS X first was announced and shown to people, Apple fans were in awe. They saw the pictures and were stunned at how beautiful and futuristic it looked. When it shipped, however, fear of change crept in and people screamed. Their “Classic” apps weren’t working with the new kernel, it didn’t support _____ feature that OS 9 had.

    And, of course, we know the story. The luddites got louder, but fewer in number. Eventually they disappeared, as they will with this software as well.

    Clearly Apple sees FCP X much like OS X—a time for reinvention. 10 versions was enough cobbling the same old code Mcromedia Keygrip code around. I’m not sure that their design decisions will be the right ones, but kudos for trying to innovate rather than simply keep doing things the same way.

    Fear of change is the problem—not just in editorial but in virtually every creative practice that becomes process-driven into becoming merely a trade. Maybe the new approaches in FCP X will inspire new creativity in you as an editor.

    • Admin comment by Philip · June 21, 2011 at 5:51 pm

      YOu nailed it Aiden.

    • David Kowalski · June 23, 2011 at 10:08 am

      Aiden,
      I agree it is good to hear an assessment without the hyperbole and hand-wringing.
      To change some of the basic ways of doing things always involves a learning curve but with this “version” there are things so basic, like multicam, entirely left out. I truly hope Apple decides to include them in a future update.

      Luddites fear change and being out of their comfort zone, but professionals (please everyone, no definition wars, thanks) do have essential operational features and some have been left out without an alternate equal technique available.

      I won’t panic and will continue to use my orphaned FCP7 knowing it will work fine for a long time, but until FCPX can do multicam, output to monitors, as well as many other truly necessary features I will hold off on purchasing it.

      Let’s hope Apple hears the music…….

      • Admin comment by Philip · June 23, 2011 at 10:28 am

        I think I’ve said it about 200 times in the last 3 days, but multicam is specifically on Apple’s road map but it’s not ready to go. I doubt output to broadcast monitors will come, but it might.

  • M.G. · June 21, 2011 at 11:34 pm

    (Event Libraries only mount if the drive they live on is mounted.)

    Are you saying that if some media that was previously used in a project, is not currently mounted, then the project doesn’t show it at all, not even as being offline?

    • Admin comment by Philip · June 22, 2011 at 9:37 am

      That does appear to be what happens. If a drive with an Event on it is not mounted then projects that live on another drive will show the media as being offline. If the Projects and Events are on the same drive, and the drive is offline, then the Event does not appear in the Event Library, and the Project(s) do not appear in the Project library. I don’t see any warning at that point.

  • Dylan Reeve · June 21, 2011 at 11:58 pm

    Philip let me preface this by saying I love your work and value your opinions… But I think you’re wrong about what FCP X is for.

    Some of the new features in FCP X are indeed very interesting, and could be very helpful in many professional* (I’ll define that soon) workflows, but within the package that is FCP X they are no use to professionals*.

    *Professional – in this case I specifically mean people editing long form work, mainly for television and cinema. While event videographers and corporate video guys are professionals, they are a different market.

    FCP X 1.0 is very similar in scope to FCP 1.0 – it’s a powerful app designed to take advantage of new technologies and make a complex task (video editing) simpler for those who aren’t trained or experienced in it. In FCP 1.0 the technology was DV and Firewire, in FCP X it is file-based (mostly H.264 Long-GOP) cameras, multi-core processors and powerful GPUs.

    What happened to FCP 1 and 7 was that a massive third-party ecosystem sprung up around FCP and lifted it’s abilities – most important was the I/O cards that allowed for better-than-DV video. Apple seized upon this and started to improve FCP to better serve the needs of the professional* (see above) editors who were now starting to adopt it.

    Jump ahead about 10 years and FCP, as well as being a popular and accessible NLE for consumers and low-volume professionals, has become a serious contender in broadcast and film post-production. This popularity has fundamentally changed that industry and the businessed that serve it.

    So, while FCP X more than lives up to the original goals of the first FCP, it doesn’t live up to the actual usage of many of the users that FCP has since found.

    Apple can say that they still value that market (the professional* one), but I simply don’t believe it. They have shipped a version 1.0 product that simply cannot serve those users properly, and while you were assured that they are aware what’s needed and that it will come, we have no formal acknowledgement of that, and no timeframe on when that might be.

    It appears to me that Apple has decided that the relatively small market of professional* post-production isn’t really worth fighting for – especially given the complexity it forces into the application – and they’ve decided that it’s a smarter move to target the wider market of “everyone” with a lower-cost product that even easier to use.

    This is a totally reasonable commercial decision, and fits pretty well into what Apple has been doing for years, but they won’t say as much?

    In ending support for FCP7 they are effectively forcing a decision in the somewhat-near future for existing professional* users, and the alternative they are providing really isn’t an alternative for those users.

    • Admin comment by Philip · June 22, 2011 at 9:36 am

      I’m not going over it again. But professional has a lot of meanings, and you can check what I’ve written back in my blog. FCP X is for many, many types of professional workflows. It’s not very every professional workflow. You can’t make revolutionary change without some discomfort. Think road construction and surgery as analogs. And the small broadcast TV/film niche may not be the primary focus, but I’d wait until V3 of FCP X before I said that Apple had decided to abandon.

      • M.G. · June 22, 2011 at 11:15 am

        Forget the argument of who/what is a professional, but consider this, there are real facilities based on multiple FCP seats, just like mutli-suite Avid facilities. The FCP facilities, as of yesterday, are running their business on an end-of-lifed product with only speculation about the future. That is NOT what they were expecting. It is not a comfortable position. I have noticed the online prices of remaining stock of FCS3 is creeping up today as places grab extra licenses.

        • Admin comment by Philip · June 22, 2011 at 11:24 am

          Frankly that FCP 7 was end of life yesterday was a surprise. I expected them to keep selling it for a while but then they never have before!

          It’s unfortunate for facilities, most would not have been planning to upgrade anyway.

      • Dylan Reeve · June 22, 2011 at 1:43 pm

        I made it really clear which Professionals I was talking about – and I don’t disagree with your wider musings on what professional is, or is becoming. But in this case there is largish market, in which FCP had become a major player, which is now left high and dry. If you’re an FCP shop and want to add another suite – you can’t.

        So while Professionals (as I’ve defined it) are a small part of FCP’s overall market, it is also true that FCP is a large part of that market – something like “we may not mean that much to you, but you mean a lot to me”.

        Think of Bunim/Murray for example, the big FCP house that is always brought up as a success story for FCP in high end work – if they wanted to start another 2-3 productions and needed more edit suites, well they just can’t.

        • Greg · June 23, 2011 at 11:08 am

          I agree Dylan. Someone asked me when have Apple ever sold an old and new product side-by-side before, and I have an answer. OS 9 and OS X were both available with a pretty significant time overlap. Apple should keep selling Final Cut Pro 7 (if not the whole studio) while they take time to reimagine and add the features from FCP7 that FCPX is missing.

  • Seth · June 22, 2011 at 3:40 pm

    I’m curious to see what Walter Murch thinks of it before forming an opinion on its relevance to film… With Adobe CS5, I’ve fallen in love with Premiere again, maybe FCPX will steal me away…

  • David Tames · June 23, 2011 at 7:50 am

    Philip, this is a very useful summary of the product, and I agree that any change requires discomfort, but what continues to gnaw at me is being dependent on a “end of life” product with no idea how wide the chasm is, I’m stuck using Final Cut Pro 7 for mission critical work, and I look forward to when the new version can support my workflows, but again, how long and wide is the chasm between now and then?

  • Joaquin · June 24, 2011 at 12:39 pm

    From my point of view “Final Cut X”, “Final Cut Lite X” or “Final Cut Express X” would have been a better name for this new product.

    I think the problem is that this is not an update from FCP 7, it’s a new program; and a lot of professional editors (including me) will stay in FCP 7 for a long time (or start using again Avid or Premiere) until FCP X includes some important missing features.

    For me, the lack of OMF and EDL export is a dealbreaker for now. And I would not consider this a “Pro” application until it supports that or at least has an alternative for the workflows that requires them.

    But I have two questions for Philip:

    – How hot (in terms of temperature) and battery-consuming is FCP X in a i7 17″ MBP?

    – Is FCP X supporting RED in any way different from FCP 7?

    BTW congrats on your blog.

    • Admin comment by Philip · June 24, 2011 at 12:43 pm

      When it’s doing regular editing it runs very cool. When it’s analyzing – which does take some time and heavy processing – or creating optimized media or proxies – the processor load can go as high as 748% (Hyperthreding gives 8 virtual cores). Then it gets warm but still not too hot to have hands on.

      At this point RED native is not supported. I don’t think R3D wrapped as QT work either. work needs to be done but I also think Apple are in the process. But keep in mind there are fewer than 10,000 RED units out there and literally hundreds of thousands of DSLR.

      You have OMF and AAF export now. Yes it costs extra but if you have workflows that demand that, you probably have enough income to pay for the specialist tools you need. OMF export from FCP 7 was pretty limited and a little flakey unless you used a 3rd party tool even there.

      • Joaquin · June 25, 2011 at 7:58 am

        Thank you Philip for answering my questions!

        The option for exporting OMF and AAF is Automatic Duck’s $495 app, right? I think it’s a little akward that the add-on for exporting is a lot more expensive than the main NLE software. Don’t you think? But, a great business for Automatic Duck, Inc.

        The lack of EDL export option is for real?

        Until a solution is found for RED workflows on FCP X, I’ll stay with FCP 7 and Media Composer.

        I know there are a lot more DSLR than RED units, but that is the problem with Apple lately. They are targeting mainly to the big crowd, forgetting (too much from my point of view) the specialized minority.

        Nowadays FCP X is not a viable alternative for FCP 7 in a lot of workflows. Apple forgot to be clear on that. That’s why a lot of “pros” are giving so many negative reviews. Maybe in 6 months or a year will be different. But maybe then all the highly specialized FCP “pro” users are no longer in the mood for using new Apple NLE experimental softwares… We’ll see.

  • Admin comment by Philip · June 26, 2011 at 10:56 am

    The disadvantage of being a small software vendor selling only a few units of the software, is that the development cost has to be proportioned over very much fewer. As only 5-10% of FCP 7 users ever exported an OMF (and FCP 7’s OMF export was not great) then it makes sense to not put it in the app and make it available via a third party.

    RED suport is coming, it just takes time. Write for the majority first, then fill in the gaps for the less common workflows. As a developer I totally understand and support that approach, however frustrating for RED users right now.

    I do not think Apple are focused especially on the narrow needs of those in Broadcast TV and Studio Film. I don’t think they ever really have, more of a marketing bonus. That group were never a significant portion of Final Cut Pro’s user base, despite their high profile.

  • Gregorio · June 28, 2011 at 7:16 am

    Sorry Philip but who are you trying to convince? Broadcast and film industries niche? These niche markets have a turnover of how many tens of billions $ annually? Compared to the world broadcast and film industries it is content makers for Youtube who are the niche market, even though there are probably far more of them. Online content may or may not be the future but it certainly is not the present!

    Also, you said “I know the BBC was one of the early places they [Apple] consulted. And got a very surprising answer. (That they were considering iMovie because of the speed, over all the negatives of iMovie).”

    I take it you were talking about the Beijing Bootleg Company and not the British Broadcast Corporation. The BBC (British Broadcast Corporation) have quite a number of broadcast specifications and there are no current Apple products which are capable of meeting more than a tiny fraction of them!

    You have to ask yourself why are there so many users of FCP7, not just pro users? It’s because there are a lot of non-professionals out there who are nevertheless very serious users or students hoping to enter the professional marketplace. They use FCP7 because they don’t want to be limited by software, they want to be using the best, using the same tools as the professionals. That market will disappear as the professionals move on to software which is capable of professional work. For those who just want something more powerful than iMovie and don’t care about the professional market, FCPX is perfect.

  • BKelly · June 28, 2011 at 8:45 am

    I can’t believe you give Apple a pass on this by saying it is version 1 of the software. At no time did apple indicate it was going to scrap final cut pro and make a completely different package. New UI, no problem, different media management, no problem, What about Final cut server? So the event library replaces final cut server? How do I share proxies with a producer director etc.. this is rubbish! The rumors back in 2010 all said they were making it prosumer and Phillip defended it and said it was all wrong. Let’s be honest Apple was way late to the party for whatever reason and is now so far behind it will be shocking if enough people embrace this platform for it to become a viable tool in the next 10 years. More likely this will serve the needs of many casual editors, but let’s not pretend it is anything close to what Final Cut Pro was. I don’t think apple has any idea how bad they alienated some of their best customers. We are the ones who convince producers to buy 6000 dollar workstations, 60,000 dollar SANs, Xservers, ipads, iphones, and scoff at the idea of running PCs. It is truly incredible what they have done. This is not a knee jerk reaction either, it is a total and complete betrayal that started with them killing Shake, then xraid, then xserve, now final cut server. I guess the mac pro is next. We are mad as hell and are not going to take it anymore.

    • Admin comment by Philip · June 28, 2011 at 9:12 am

      Despite Final Cut Pro X not suiting a small niche of professional editor’s workflows at version 1, Final Cut Pro X is totally unsuited to the amateur market or prosumer. Do they need DPX output? no. Do they need to have their graphics pre-designed into a project theme? Heck no.

      Just because it doesn’t suit your elitist niche, doesn’t mean it isn’t professional. There are less than 50,000 of your among Apple’s 2 million installs. Sorry about the reality check, that can hurt. But that’s the way it is.

      • Daniel Villiger · July 5, 2011 at 1:52 am

        elitist niche?
        you sound like a republican.
        Its true, this is terrible news once again. As a small company we’ve invested so much money into xraid xserve, and final cut pro. Now they are saying: sorry we don’t want your business anymore we have other costumers that are much less elitist than you, and they are great in numbers as well.

        • Admin comment by Philip · July 5, 2011 at 9:31 am

          Politics are not welcome on this blog. It’s always a pain when a product we invest in is discontinued.

  • BKelly · June 28, 2011 at 9:31 am

    Phillip, with all due respect you are completely wrong on this. I guess only 50,000 people use Shake or Color. Apple reality distortion field at is best.

    Thanks,

    Brian

  • ted irving · June 29, 2011 at 1:12 pm

    Great article. I’ll probably buy it but keep my FCP 7 and Avid 5.0 ready for daily work. I”m interested in knowing if it supports layering & compositing. I did not see that in the white papers or manual. In fact, the manual states Photoshop layered files will not be supported, but that a .psd file will come in flat…?! And non-linear to me means freedom to be messy and move around and throw clips, graphics & sound anywhere on the timeline and arrange as I go or use the old A/B roll editing technique. It seems that this new version locks you into one way. But, I’ll wait a while and have faith that apple will provide the necessary updates, buy it and go from there. Thanks for the article.

    • Admin comment by Philip · June 29, 2011 at 1:46 pm

      Photoshop layered files are not supported other than as flattened files. That’s sad, although I’ve rarely used them that way in recent years. (Motion first the FCP). I think we’re being pushed away from messy timelines. It will require change. Layering and compositing in FCP X is pretty much what it was in FCP, plus the new functionality with Motion enhancing what can be done.

  • charles schultz · July 8, 2011 at 11:14 am

    I think apple is going for the consumer market with FCP X. There is where the big money is for apple.

    • Admin comment by Philip · July 8, 2011 at 1:06 pm

      Because consumers need DPX export. Work with FCP X for a little while before making uninformed comments here.

  • Eric Beels · July 15, 2011 at 2:11 am

    Philip, I have been working with FCP X for several weeks now and one thing I have noticed is that it is EXTREMELY sluggish (much, much more than FCP7) in every way. Here’s a list I have of what seems to be slower than FCP 7:

    1. Edits: editing clips to the timeline in whatever manner (shortcuts, dragging) is noticeably slower than FCP7 (but still doable).

    2. JKL trimming is an absolute and pathetic nightmare.

    3. Opening up different projects feels sluggish and delayed more than it should.

    4. I get the spinning beach ball CONSTANTLY. Even just doing some seemingly basic edits (like time remapping).

    5. Adding markers real time during playback is terrible. The playheads gets choppy and it most often doesn’t even place the markers where they should have.

    6. Exporting is SLLLLOOOOOOOWWW!!!!! Apples “share” thing is absolute crap. I don’t know what FCP X is doing with all that processing power, but if I render a project to h264 from the share menu, it takes substantially longer (don’t have exact numbers on my tests) then if I just exported it originally and sent to it compressor. Even without using compressor’s Qmaster to make use of extra cores.

    I feel like I could go on and on with it. After that rant though, I will say that there are some REALLY great things and I am trying to enjoy using it. But right now it feels so sluggish that it’s almost unusable sometimes.

    Also, specs on my computers:

    Desktop: Mac Pro late 2010. 2×2.4 Quad core, 6gb RAM, 10.6.8 OSX, ATI Radeon 5870HD, 7200 RPM drive,

    Laptop: MacBook Pro late 2009, 2.8 dual core, 4gb RAM, 10.6.8 OSX, Nvidea 8800(?), 7200 RPM drive.

    Hope I am not leaving out any specs. Anyways, Phil if you or someone else could explain to me why everything feels so much more sluggish than FCP7 that would be fantastic! Also, it is sluggish on both computers (though much, much more sluggish on my laptop than on my Mac pro.) Thanks!!

    • Eric Beels · July 15, 2011 at 2:20 am

      “4. I get the spinning beach ball CONSTANTLY. Even just doing some seemingly basic edits (like time remapping).”

      Just wanted to clear something up on this line. I’m not referring to rendering. Rendering is fairly fast (though I can’t tell if it’s really any faster than FCP7, though I suspect it would be) but I am referring to actually doing the edit. I’m also not specifically targeting time remapping as the issue. I get the spinning beach ball seemingly everywhere at random times. So I can’t really pin point it to one area.

      • Admin comment by Philip · July 15, 2011 at 8:59 am

        I have had one session where the spinning beach ball was driving me nuts – almost everything I did. Then I quit FCP, restarted the Laptop and it was fine again. So, there is possibly a bug in there, which is why I recommend reporting it. Under the Final Cut pro menu is a provide feedback link. They monitor those and hopefully they can track down the cause and fix it in the first update, but they need the bug reports. (Like you originally posted here would be great for them).

    • Admin comment by Philip · July 15, 2011 at 8:57 am

      While I have experienced moments of sluggishness, mostly Final Cut Pro X is very responsive on both my 18 month old 17″ Core2Due laptop and the loaner Quad Core i7 loaner. I simply don’t have enough experience across enough variety of gear to offer a useful response. For me JKL is really responsive – and I’ve demo’d that to a couple of groups, so it’s really odd that you’re having that happen constantly.

      Sharing – I have heard one person report that sharing was very slow, but then others attempted to repeat his test and found really good (as expected) speeds.

      The laptop is a little low in RAM (min would be a similar model but with twice the RAM). I’d file a feedback report.

      • Eric Beels · July 18, 2011 at 11:05 am

        Wow! I am shocked to hear that. Yes, JKL is consistently unusable and worthless on my end. I’ve never once had it work efficiently. Same with sharing. Done a few tests (though I didn’t record them) and Share seemed to take 3 times longer (don’t hold me to that) than if I just did a regular “current settings” export and bring it to Compressor.

        • Eric Beels · July 18, 2011 at 11:10 am

          Wait, I just realized let’s be clear: JKL skimming is very fast. However, if you use JKL to go one frame at a time it’s extremely slow. That’s what I was referring to in case that was misinterpreted.

  • Admin comment by Philip · July 18, 2011 at 3:33 pm

    I did use KL together for slow searching and it seems ok to me. To go one frame at a time I use the left/right arrows.

  • Paul Golden · September 11, 2011 at 8:16 pm

    For a program devoted as it is to metadata (almost fetishistically so) , Final Cut Pro X’s implementation of HDSLR footage is criminally lacking! Where do I start? I’m using a Canon 7D, perhaps one of the most common HDSLR cameras used for digital cinema out there. FCPX (unlike FCP7 with the Canon E1 plugin) ignores ALL of the most important metadata including Time of Day timecode (which I often use when shooting multi-camera) and all EXIF data. Not only that, but unlike log and transfer, where you can batch name and annotate clips individually, create proxy footage and best of all: ingest only PART of a file or multiple parts of a file, the import process in FCPX is woefully simplistic.

    What happened the ProRes LT? I love that codec: it’s light, looks good and for simple projects, takes up less room without suffering image loss. I tried using the Camera Archive import on some Panasonic footage and while there’s a different interface, it does essentially the same thing, giving you not much metadata or control. Does FCPX have the ability to read THM files, which ostensibly contain a lot of metadata info, or has Apple ignored this completely?

    Philip: Please write a plugin that extracts the metadata (including TOD) on ingest (I’m still using that word) and gives us back some of the functionality of what we currently have in FCP7. (I don’t trust Apple to get around to it…)

    • Admin comment by Philip · September 12, 2011 at 10:32 am

      I’m very surprised to hear that 7D metadata is not supported since there is so much metadata imported from all formats. Are you sure you’ve set up your display in the info pane correctly? I’ve used TOD TC from other DSLR formats without any problem. I don’t think there’s an opportunity to extract metadata that I’m 99.5% sure is extracted anyway if you ingest via FCP X. I’ll be working with an EOS camera on Thursday, so we’ll see if I can bring in that metadta then.

      Yes, the lack of ProRes LT is an issue.

  • Sharon Rohal · January 28, 2012 at 6:55 am

    I am currently working with imovie and thinking about getting Final Cut Pro X. I need a better and faster video editing program to meet the standards of producing a professional quality 7 – 9 minute funeral memorial.
    (Am working as a back-up for someone who does this on a regular basis.) I am looking for better titles, effects (i.e. picture-in-picture, side-by-side), and the ability to fit an entire picture on screen without having black on either side. Ken burns effect works fine in imovie, but I can’t fit or crop without losing part of the original picture. I plan to download the trial of Final Cut Pro X onto my new MacBookPro which has the speed and the memory necessary for this program. Would appreciate comments as to whether or not this will take care of limitations in imovie and if it would be difficult for me to transition from imovie to Final Cut Pro X.

    • Author comment by Philip · January 28, 2012 at 11:08 am

      I think you’ll find Final Cut Pro X a very appropriate move forward from iMovie. Except that it won’t do the “magic” you’re hoping for. Still images can be any shape, whereas video is very much fixed at 4×3 or 16×9 aspect ratios. So, to avoid losing some of the edges of the image, then you would need to (manually, in Photoshop or similar) reshape the images so that they fit the video frame size.

      You could distort the images to fit the video frame size but that would make them look very, very weird. So, while FCP X is a great step up, the solution to your problem rests with the creative driving the software, not the software.

  • Rainer · March 2, 2012 at 10:44 pm

    Phillipp – thank you for your review!

    I currently try to introduce FCPX to myself and I struggle on some ends. In your review, you told that I can leave original media on the place where they are and yes, it works. FCPX creates links to the originals.

    BUT: if I move such a linked clip from one event into another event, FCPX 10.0.3 starts copying the full files into the new event instead of just moving the links. This breaks the idea of having media stored on their original position.

    Do you have an advice?

    Best regards
    Rainer

    • Author comment by Philip · March 3, 2012 at 5:02 am

      When you move or merge items between Events I expect it would follow your current preferences setting. If not I’d consider it a bug and suggest reporting it to Apple

      • Rainer · March 3, 2012 at 6:41 am

        My preferences are correct, not a single checkbox is selected. I have filed a bug report hoping they will resolve it.

        Best regards
        Rainer

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