What are the Answers to the Unanswered Questions about Final Cut Pro X?
Since Apple’s Sneak Peek of Final Cut Pro X, the questions have been flying around the Internet. Well, here’s concise answers to those questions – as many as I could find, so settle in and learn what’s new and what’s not there yet.
UPDATE: Apple have released their own FAQ http://www.apple.com/finalcutpro/faq/
Does Final Cut Pro X really work with native formats or does it transcode?
Both! Final Cut Pro X works natively at version 1 with many formats: DSLR H.264, AVCCAM/AVCHD/NXCAM, DVCPRO HD, ProRes, GoPro and some others. At version 1′s release it doesn’t appear to work natively with R3D or XDCAM (without rewrapping XDCAM as QuickTime MOV). This is not entirely surprising as each codec/container’s support has to be written new in AV Foundation, which fortunately is up to the job. (Yes, as I predicted, AV Foundation is the media foundation for Final Cut Pro X and the reason for its phenomenal performance.)
But, there is the option to transcode to “Optimized Media” and/or “Proxy Media”. What’s very cool is that, if you choose Optimized Media from say a DSLR source, then you can immediately start work adding keywords, creating range-based keywords, or editing away. In the background Final Cut Pro X will create the transcoded optimized ProRes media files. When they’re ready, Final Cut Pro X switches over to use the transcoded files instead of the originals. Transcoded ProRes files are somewhat easier on the system (although I rarely saw a problem) and render faster.
XDCAM and R3D media still needs to be QuickTime wrapped outside Final Cut Pro X. I expect this to change as Apple or those companies write support for Import Media.
Can I import a Final Cut Pro 7 (or 6) project?
As of Version 1 and today’s release there is no direct import capability for legacy projects. My understanding is that there will be an Apple-provided utility for importing XML from older projects to Final Cut Pro X. However, my advice would remain: do not update software mid way through a project, unless there’s a very, very compelling reason.
Will we be able to switch the Final Cut Pro X layout to a more traditional 2-monitor setup?
Simply put, no. Final Cut Pro X is a single window app, as will become common on Lion. It will behave like a single window app on Snow Leopard two. That means that the layout evolves around function but not with preset layouts like we have in Final Cut Pro 7.
For folks with double monitor setups, there is specific provision for sending either Bins or unified Viewer to the second monitor.
What about the other applications in Final Cut Studio 3?
There are new versions of Motion – Motion 5 – and Compressor – Compressor 4 – available separately from the Mac App Store for $49.99 each. There is heavy integration with Final Cut Pro X for both, so you’ll likely want both.
One big advantage is that this configuration allows a Motion Graphic designer to only have Motion installed and create graphic Themes (packages) for Final Cut Pro X that include title designs, custom transitions and effects without conflicting with the license for a seat of Final Cut Pro X on another Mac. I haven’t seen Motion 5 or Compressor 4 but I’m really looking forward to getting Motion 5.
What about Log and Capture/Tape Capture?
In Final Cut Pro X you can Import Files or Import from Camera. Import from Camera is designed to support live cameras (including your iSight camera on MacBook Pros, iMacs and Cinema Displays), File-based transfers, and very limited tape capture. Tape capture is from FireWire connected devices only (DV, DVCPRO, DVCPRO HD and HDV only) and “capture forward” only. No setting In and Out points: cue the tape to where you want to start, press Start Capture and Esc when done, or when the tape ends.
Files captured with Blackmagic Design or Matrox software (supplied with each company’s hardware) or with Final Cut Pro 7 (or earlier) can be imported to Final Cut Pro X.
Batch recapture from tape is not supported. It is likely a third party opportunity.
What about support for 3rd party hardware “out of the box” with Version 1?
The design of Final Cut Pro X is focused directly on metadata-driven acquisition, not tape. There is rudimentary support for something like Capture now, but I doubt there will ever be support for third party video hardware as we’ve seen, because the workflows Final Cut Pro X is designed to support mostly don’t include tape.
Is there a Viewer or way to simulate one?
There is no dedicated “Viewer” window as we knew it in Final Cut Pro 7 and earlier. The Final Cut Pro X Viewer is a “unified viewer” and takes on image display tasks from the old viewer – this is where playback happens.
Importantly the functionality of the Viewer, which we could not edit without, is still present:
- Trimming of clips happens in the Browser/Viewer using dragged ranges, or setting In and Out points as we already have.
- Three point editing is fully supported – including from head and from tail (forward and back timing).
- Crop, Trim and Motion tab functions from the Viewer are available directly in the unified Viewer.
- Keyframing Effects happens in the Timeline or the Effects Board.
- Where two-up views are required, they share the unified Viewer space, similarly to how Slip and Slide and other actions did in Final Cut Pro 7 or earlier. Two up views are used edits that are either side of an edit point or for slip/slide operations.
It’s also important to note that during edit operations that benefit from seeing both sides of the edit, the unified Display changes to a two-up view within the window, as Final Cut Pro 7 did for fewer types of edits.
What about three point editing?
Three point editing is fully supported with all the “from head”, “to tail” options we’ve been used to. Three point editing is highlighted in the manual as a key feature. Like in Final Cut Pro 7 three point editing is not compulsory!
If everything is real time, why does it still render in the background?
Rendered media is easier to play, and since the rendering comes as no cost to the editor (no slowdown in working) it makes for a smoother experience overall. However, in most cases on recent hardware, there will be no visual difference between playing in real time and the rendered media. As soon as an effect is applied you can play the result. It will only be rendered in the background and used for future playback of that segment.
Of course, you can make changes that play full quality in real time, and they’ll be rerendered in the background. In order to not create too many render files, the background render doesn’t kick in (or even attempt to kick in) until five seconds after your last image adjustment. (Five seconds is the default, but it can be changed in Preferences.)
Also note that the background rending means that, when you come to export, files are already ready for a “quick as file copy” creation of a master media file.
Can I work offline/What about proxies/What about Media Manager?
Proxy workflows are fully supported. In fact they’re much easier. Proxy generation is a simple checkbox away and can happen on ingest, or any time you want. Swapping from Proxy to full quality media is a radio button selection away: choose either Original Media or Proxy Media.
There is no Media Manager as it has been, nor is there a need for one. If you want a proxy workflow, generate the proxies on ingest, or any convenient moment. The Project (edit) can be sent with proxy or full quality media to edit and then simply reconnected to the full quality media by clicking a radio button in Preference settings. Swap instantly between proxy and full quality media in seconds.
Proxy media is ProRes Proxy. There’s no choice, nor is one needed.
Can I have more than one Project (edit) open at once?
Yes, although they cannot be displayed beside each other like could happen in Final Cut Pro 7 and earlier (by dragging a tab out to its own window). In Final Cut Pro X you can open multiple Projects (edits) that remain open and swap between them with the arrows at the top left of the Project Timeline.
This same widget will also step back up out of a Compound Clip to the parent clip, or to step back into the compound clip. The display shows you exactly where you are in the Project or Compound Clip.
Where are my media and edits stored?
Wherever you like! You can choose to have Final Cut Pro X manage your media library for you, or you can set it on whatever drive you want. Media (Final Cut Events) and edits (Final Cut Projects) folders are always located in the user’s Movies folder or at the root level of the external drive, much the same way as Final Cut Pro 7 and earlier.
Media locations are stored with the Project (edit) file and in the Events. There is no longer one global “Scratch disk” setting! Thankfully.
Can I move projects to another drive?
Yes, you can move, copy, merge and otherwise manage media associated with Events or with Projects (edits). It’s very flexible.
I do not currently have word on shared storage but I would expect shared storage on a SAN to work as long as Final Cut Pro X could connect to the shared media.
Will Final Cut Pro X’s Events be the only way to organize media?
Yes. I wish they’d chosen another name because Event Library is your media library. It is, in effect, a mini asset management tool. I would have called Events “Library”. However, as I ran scenarios of adding footage to edit, the Event metaphor was really quite accurate.
But Events are very flexible. You choose where each media library is stored. You can mount multiple media libraries (Events) at the same time and merge media from them. Even better, when you no longer want to access a volume’s media library, unmount it and it will disappear from the Event Library when it’s unmounted, and come back with full metadata when it’s mounted again.
As you add new material to your Event Library, you choose which Event to add it to. That is, you choose which of your open libraries you want to add new media to. If you don’t, Final Cut Pro X will create the Media Library in the Movies folder, but it has to default somewhere. (Final Cut Pro 7′s Scratch disk also defaulted to the internal drive if none was set.) For example, if you’re adding dailies to a show, within the Event I designated for the show, I would create a sub-event for that date. (Or whatever organizational scheme you want.)
Not only do you choose the Event, but you also choose a name for that import (or choose to add it to a previous Event). It makes perfect sense once you use it. It’s easier, more flexible and a whole lot more powerful than Media Management in Final Cut Pro 7.
What about third party effect plug-ins?
There is nothing in the manual about FXplug support but I expect it is there. I expect an announcement later today about one brand new plug-in set that supports Final Cut Pro X. However, I think FXplug plug-ins will have to be modified. At a minimum they need to support 64 bit, so that means a recompile, but effects have presets and live skimming on the targeted media, so that also needs some rewriting.
Expect updates as soon as developers get access to the developer kit. That may not be available immediately after release but it will be coming.
Does Final Cut Pro X support Multicam/Multicamera switching?
At the initial release of version 1, Final Cut Pro X does not have a multicamera editing feature, a.k.a. multicam. I was told that Apple have, with Final Cut Pro X, been re-examining everything to work out how to reimagine and improve it. Multicam will come in a future release, when Apple decide how best to implement it within the new application and architecture.
Is the keyboard customizable?
Yes, there’s a new design but you can map the keyboard however you like. You can have mulitple command sets and swap between them.
Not only is the keyboard customizable, but the new Command Center makes it easy to add or modify any menu item’s keyboard equivalent, not just some items. Plus items like nudging controls in the Color Board can have keyboard equivalents applied to them.
When Randy Ubilos said that “everything could be done from the keyboard” he meant that a lot more could be done than ever could be done from the keyboard in Final Cut Pro 7.
There are no button bars or button replacement that I can find.
If Final Cut Pro X is based on a database, does that mean it replaces Final Cut Server?
Events in Final Cut Pro X are like a mini Digital Asset Management tool for your current assets. Final Cut Server automates workflows and stores assets long term, so I don’t see one replacing the other.
More importantly, this will not be a database that anyone can access. It’s built on Core Data and Core Data persistent data stores (i.e. the database) are for that app’s use only. Opening it to all and sundry would likely corrupt the database! That said, see the above point that I expect a new and improved – and supported – way of interacting with the application.
What about XML-workflows?
The XML workflows that we’ve known are no longer part of the package: no XML export or import. Final Cut Pro 7 did not support AppleScript, just a limited set of AppleEvents for accessing XML.
However, during my direct briefing, the Apple folk made it abundantly clear that the ecosystem was very important to them, and that there will be a new, and much improved, replacement for the current XML workflow. That’s entirely consistent with what I’d heard pre-release that there would be a new form of XML and that it would be accessed by some sort of SDK (Software Developer Kit). This seems like encouraging news, even if it will mean a lot of extra work on our own software to “get back to where we are”.
Unfortunately, access to these features is not available at today’s release, so we have to wait until Apple deem it complete enough to open to third parties like us at Intelligent Assistance.
What about OMF Export?
At the release of Version 1 of Final Cut Pro X there is no direct OMF export and no “Export to Logic”. Apple does recognize the importance of this workflow, and I’ve been told that there will be a utility available shortly to fill that need until it can be built into the application directly.
[UPDATE] Automatic Duck’s Pro Export FCP has been updated providing both OMF and AAF export from Final Cut Pro X.
What about EDL Export?
Seriously still in 2011? EDL export would be a third party opportunity once the “XML workflow” replacement is in place. If there’s demand.
The Magnetic Timeline seems to close gaps, but what if I don’t want the duration to change?
There’s a function to replace a clip with a gap clip (like a slug), which even keeps any clip connections you’ve set up.
Will my Mac run Final Cut Pro X?
Here’s the system requirements the folks at Apple provided:
- Mac computer with an Intel Core 2 Duo processor or better
- 2GB of RAM (4GB of RAM recommended)
- OpenCL-capable graphics card or Intel HD Graphics 3000 or later
- 256MB of VRAM
- Display with 1280-by-768 pixel resolution or higher
- Mac OS X v10.6.7 or later
- 2.4GB of disk space for Final Cut Pro
- 2GB of disk space for Motion
- 685MB of disk space for Compressor
Is Final Cut Pro X really for the “Pros”?
I’ve already wondered What the heck is a “pro” anyway?, so I think it’s more useful to consider professional workflows instead of “pros”. From the answers above you should be able to see that at version 1 Final Cut Pro X won’t support some professional workflows, but for other professional workflows it will be more than capable. Using Final Cut Pro X to cut together a story, I’m struck by how fast it is to achieve a result, as if everything was designed to get a result a quickly as possible.