So, the cat is out of the bag. Assisted Editing – Greg and I – have announced the immediate availability of our newest tool to translate Final Cut Pro 7 XML into Final Cut Pro X XML.
Yes, it works. It does an amazingly good job of translating Final Cut Pro 7 Projects (Bins and Sequences) into a Final Cut Pro Event. Clips from a FCP 7 project become clips in FCP X, Bins become Keyword Collections and Sequences are translated to Compound Clips, which can be:
- opened directly in a Timeline; a
- added to a new Project as a Compound Clip;
- broken apart to make a FCP X Project.
It is true to say that it’s the highest fidelity translation possible; it’s simple to use and it’s only $9.99 in the Mac App Store.
So what happened between September 22nd – when I wrote all the reasons why we weren’t making a 7 to X product – and now when we’re releasing one? As I wrote then, I always had the impression someone was working on it: either Automatic Duck or Apple. But it all went quiet. So, if no-one else was working on it, then we sure would like to. We knew from Xto7 for Final Cut Pro that translation was possible. (Turns out it’s harder going forward than back.)
So we approached Apple to find out if anyone else was working on it, expressing our interest in making it happen.Unlike almost any other Final Cut Pro X development, converting the XML seemed like a good third party opportunity. It turns out the opportunity was open, and Apple were very happy to work with us because of our understanding of XML. Of course it’s Greg Clarke who deeply, deeply understands the FCP 7 xmeml format and had already more experience than almost anyone else with the new FCP X fcpxml format. Apple graciously gave us both their blessing and early access to the 10.0.3 release, so we targeted that for the translation tool.
I’ve often said, in the last few months, that I would not want to be the person developing a Final Cut Pro 7 to X translation tool. I was telling the truth because I could hear the salty language that came from Greg’s work area: there’s no sugar coating it, this is the most complex piece of software we’ve ever written, and yet it’s the simplest to use. (Drop FCP 7 XML on app icon. Done.)
Along the way I learnt a whole lot more about Final Cut Pro 7 as I translated the video functionality from app to app. (Greg then translated that into computer code.) There are things in FCP 7 I never knew existed. There was at least one missed app opportunity! I also learnt that, indeed, these were two very different applications, with different data structures and two very different design mindsets. Translating from one to the other is difficult, in part because the new app was designed without thought for backward compatibility, which is entirely reasonable. Focusing on backward compatibility would bind the new app with legacy thinking.
I’m very proud of what Greg and I have achieved because the finished result is so much better than we ever thought it could be. I knew we could make a useful translation – definitely better than “cuts only” – but how high we could make the fidelity between the two versions, I just didn’t know. There are some things lost in translation, as a perfect translation isn’t possible between two very different languages. (Imagine translating Spanish into Mandarin, when you natively speak English and you’ll get an idea.)
You can find a full list of how the translation works at the Assisted Editing site, but some highlights for me are:
- Automatically converting PICT files to high resolution TIFF files because FCP X does not support PICT files.
- The idea of using the Timeline Index’s To-do markers to report any substitution from the original FCP 7 Project.
- Using Compound Clips for Sequences creates an Event structure that is very similar to FCP 7’s Project. Each “Sequence” becomes a Compound Clip in the FCP X Event, grouped in a Keyword collection “FCP 7 Sequences”.
- Using Roles to report the original track numbers: this is metadata and I would not allow it to be lost.
- Translating, as best as possible, the intention of the track usage in FCP 7 into the Magnetic Timeline required some intelligent interpretation of the original track structure into a FCP X context.
- That we do not lose any log notes, even though they don’t map well to Final Cut Pro X’s data structures. They’re all there in the Notes field and searchable in FCP X.
- We fully support translation of multi-cam projects from FCP 7 to FCP X.
There’s a lot of other great stuff that it does: audio and video filter substitutions; transition substitutions; all Motion Tab settings are translated, and so on. About the only caveat is that the media must be online throughout the export, translation and import to Final Cut Pro X process.
If you’re moving from Final Cut Pro 7 to Final Cut Pro X then 7toX for Final Cut Pro is going to be your new best friend. Even if you’re just feeling your way, 7toX for Final Cut Pro will also work with the free trial version of Final Cut Pro X so you can check out how closely translated your Project will be before upgrading.
Oh, and why is it so much cheaper than Xto7 for Final Cut Pro? Because we wanted to make buying it an easy decision while balancing out the enormous amount of effort that went into it (seriously, it’s dominated the last 6 months of our lives).