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

Jan/12

31

Final Cut Pro X 10.0.3

As promised, the latest release of Final Cut Pro X is released in “early 2012” – January 31 to be precise. This release comes almost exactly three months after the last major release (with a 10.0.2 bug fix between the two), which was three months from the original release. (Is this to be an ongoing pattern?)

As expected there is support for broadcast video out via third party hardware, although that feature is currently “in beta”: it works but not as well as Apple and the hardware folk would like. It’s available for those who need to use it. One less reason to not use Final Cut Pro X.

Multicam in Final Cut Pro 7 was definitely a tool for those who knew what they were doing. In Final Cut Pro X multicam is super simple: mix frame sizes, codecs and frame rates in different angles. I love that we can open the multiclip group into a Timeline and simply drag angles up or down to change their order; or to add filters to one or more angles; or add (or remove) angles from the multicam group without needing to remake the group. Another nice feature is to add in an audio only “angle” and tell Final Cut Pro X to use the audio from that angle, without switching audio.

Multicam, like so much of Final Cut Pro X, is a rethink that considered what would make multicam more accessible to more people by eliminating the “hard parts”: let the software adapt rather than forcing a certain level of knowledge on users. (Sorry for those who had this somewhat hard earned knowledge, but that is the way things move.) For example, the default way of making a multicam group is to base it on the audio waveforms. (Timecode, start points and other options are available.)

Other terrific new features not pre-announced are support for layered Photoshop files and reconnect media, which work pretty much as you’d expect. Also unexpected is an Advanced Chroma Keyer with more controls available. The basic key is still pretty darn good, but having advanced tools for cleaning up is valuable for those tricker keys.

Oh, and one other thing: Intelligent Assistance (that’s us) have released 7toX for Final Cut Pro. Bring your Final Cut Pro 7 projects forward to Final Cut Pro X. For the story, check out my post on 7toX for Final Cut Pro.

We have broadcast video out for those who need it, still in beta because it’s now based on the new CoreMediaIO instead of QuickTime and this is the first time AJA, Blackmagic Design or Matrox have ever worked with these Core Services, so it’s reasonable to cut them some slack. AJA have drivers ready today, with the others following up shortly. It must be hard for those guys having to constantly keep up with new versions of drivers for Avid’s Media Composer 6 and presumably some new version of Premiere Pro since Al Mooney strongly implied we would hear more about the next version of the Creative Suite “around NAB”, extrapolating from the previous two releases.

We have a great implementation of multicam. We have layered Photoshop support and reconnect media, and we have a way of moving Projects forward. That seems to have addressed most of the “deal breakers” people have had. Bottom line now is that we’re at the point where it’s now possible to evaluate Final Cut Pro X on its own merits: not how similar or not it is to other applications, but as a viable alternative editing interface.

I don’t expect that everyone will suddenly jump in and love Final Cut Pro X: if you really don’t find the Magnetic Timeline “works” for you then Final Cut Pro X probably isn’t going to be for you. That’s fine, I like the idea of choices in interface as it’s not something we’ve had before: Final Cut Pro 1-7, Premiere Pro, Media Composer all were based on the same metaphors (and in fact two of the three originated from the same mind.)

I definitely still have features I’d like to see in Final Cut Pro X – at the top for me is selective copy and paste attributes – but now that the major elements are in place, I’m sure we’ll see those features getting some love in the future: by implication we’re likely to see a couple more releases this year.

So, I say, love it or not (and I love it enough to plan on using it for a complex reality show under tight conditions this year) Final Cut Pro X is ready for prime time again, while acknowledging that it may not be for everyone. But now we have good viable choices, something we didn’t have before. I also believe we have a faster alternative that suits my edit style, but that remains to be quantified.

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15 comments

  • John Moffat · January 31, 2012 at 5:57 am

    … goodbye FCP7. It’s been a blast.

  • Andreas Schmidt · January 31, 2012 at 6:34 am

    Well. Lets see if they fixed those persistent bugs like Smoothcam not working on interlaced footage or projects disappearing on external hard drives. Those bugs are really my main issue with FCPX.

  • Marcus R. Moore · January 31, 2012 at 6:56 am

    Huh. So my limited dataset prognostication was correct. So far:

    10.0.0 – 2011.06.21
    10.0.1 – 2011.09.20 91 DAYS
    10.0.2 – 2011.11.16 57 DAYS
    10.0.3 – 2012.01.31 76 DAYS

    We were still two weeks away from my outside estimate of February 14th. That would put the next update anywhere between March 28th and May 1st.

    I’ve been working on a blog post ruminating on FCPXs upgrade cycle. If Apple is looking for a AVID/PP style yearly major release, then I think we have 1 more bug and 1 more major update like this before we’re at the 1 year anniversary of the launch of FCPX. The question is, will they be ready? Or will the be satisfied to continue making these steady improvements in 10.0.X for the foreseeable future.

    Broadcast monitoring was the big hangup for me, so my person transition to X will be starting over the next few months.

    Exciting.

    • Author comment by Philip · January 31, 2012 at 7:02 am

      While I don’t know, I think they plan to continue this upgrade cycle – it’s one of the themes that comes up in the press briefings regularly so I thinks we can expect more.

      But please don’t hold me to it. I don’t control the upgrade cycle!

      • Marcus R. Moore · January 31, 2012 at 10:53 am

        The pattern may already be evident. FEATURES–BUG FIX–FEATURES–>

        We’ll see if the pattern holds with a relatively quick release of 10.0.4.

        Conceivably, they could continue reimplementing and refining features (like Roles) and stabilizing the software for another year before they’d be in a position that a proposed 10.1 could be on the table which would add new features which would merit a paid upgrade. Things like auto-transcripion, voice control, etc.

        But with what’s in place now, I think enormous progress can be made. Interesting that in several articles I’ve read today, Apple made special mention of GenArts and Red Giant. Are the plug-in APIs finally available for more full featured plug-ins to start ramping up?

        • Author comment by Philip · January 31, 2012 at 11:05 am

          The APIs are getting more mature, meaning there have been a few bugs fixed that were problematic for Red Giant and maybe GenArts as well.

  • Heinrich Fink · January 31, 2012 at 9:31 am

    “We have broadcast video out for those who need it, still in beta because it’s now based on Core Video/Audio instead of QuickTime and this is the first time AJA, Blackmagic Design or Matrox have ever worked with these Core Services, so it’s reasonable to cut them some slack.”

    I guess this actually refers to the CoreMediaIO (CMIO) implementation of hardware drivers. CMIO is Apple’s new API for 3rd party vendors to expose video hardware functionality to the OS and as such it is also provides (scarcely documented) means to directly play out video to a professional video device. We have played around a bit with this API, and those drivers that support CMIO today are still in very early stages.

    Assuming that Broadcast Monitoring in FCX relies on CMIO internally, this could lead to improved support of CMIO drivers in the near future. This would be great news for those developers who are looking for a robust replacement of deprecated QuickTime APIs to interface w. professional video equipment (i.e. AVFoundation has nothing like an “output device”).

    Cheers,

    Heinrich

    • Author comment by Philip · January 31, 2012 at 9:35 am

      That would be it Heinrich – CoreMediaIO. I’ll update the article.

  • James · February 2, 2012 at 12:00 pm

    I was soooo sick of hearing so called Professionals calling FCP X is for “YouTubers”. They seem to forget it was in version 1.0 when it was first released. I think if they remember Final Cut Pro was at one time a version 1.0 which I believe was 1999. It also wasn’t very good at that time and took a lot of heat. I do professional Corporate, event and music video and decided to make the switch when it first came out. I also decided Apple would slowly address features that still weren’t there – which they are. I love the program. I think was bothered a lot of so called Professionals was the change in the way we edit. It is truly an editing program for the future. BTW, I did purchase Philip’s 7toX……fantastic!!!.

  • Charles · February 20, 2012 at 1:46 am

    I still do not understand. What has apple injected in some of its customer that makes them love the company even if it behaves like an infidel partner? Must be all that silky aluminum or those alien inspired curves I don’t know. Surely it isn’t Final Cut X.

    • Chris wilby · February 21, 2012 at 11:16 am

      People like you, never do…

  • Raffo · March 13, 2012 at 4:36 am

    I will leave X alone until the magnetic “timeline” can be toggled, my media can be reconnected and the canvas concept re-instated so I can accurately set my in and out points… for starters.

    • Author comment by Philip · March 13, 2012 at 8:29 am

      Then FCP X is never going to be for you because the magnetic timeline is a great innovation and should not be “toggled” (it cannot in any way be rewritten at this point, so the MT is the future of FCP). Media can be reconnected with 10.0.3, which you apparently missed. There is zero need for a dedicated viewer when you understand FCP X. Your final point I don’t even understand.

      Just decide whether PPro or Media Composer suits your needs best, and make the move. FCP X isn’t going to become what you want it to become. It is great like it is.

  • Dick Applebaum · March 25, 2012 at 5:12 pm

    I re-watched the October and November videos of Walter Murch.

    I am particularly impressed with his sober treatment of FCP X vs FCP 7 — he did not give a knee-jerk reaction accepting or rejecting FCP X out-of-hand.

    He did say that he would spend some time giving FCP X a fair trial.

    Based on these presos, Walter appeared to require the following (that are not addressed in the 10.0.3 update):

    1) concurrent editing of the same project by several editors/chairs

    2) database for metadata

    3) using multiple discreet tracks (20 video and 50 audio) banded into groups to make it easier to visualize what was happening in a large, complex project… Things like a band of 6 tracks containing dialog, 3 for sound effects…

    Thinking about this — I can see tracks/banding being very useful for visualization/understanding but inferiorior to the magnetic timeline for actual editing.

    To some extent, anyone using a NLE before FCP X, uses tracks/bands to organize their projects/sequences…

    Including those migrating their projects from 7 to X…

    Now, the latest version of FCP X supports Roles to denote organization and visualization of clips as they appear in (and attached to) the storyline… And, the muluticam editor displays muluticam angles as separate tracks that you can manipulate… And even a compound clip. When double-clicked — expands to show its component parts — for visualization or editing…

    Do you see where I am going with this?

    Wouldn’t it be useful if Apple (or some third party developer) implemented a feature that allowed the editor to logically group clips (and sub clips) by roles/type/metadata into tracks/bands if only to help visualize a complex project or to understand/designate which clips were to be sent outboad for processing elsewhere (and later returned)?

    Thoughts?

    • Author comment by Philip · March 25, 2012 at 5:29 pm

      1) Concurrent editing of the same project was not something Wlater Murch could ever do in FCP 3-7, so I don’t know why he requires it now. That said, I sure would like to have the ability for multiple people to draw on an Event at once, not sharing Projects. We can hope.
      2) Each Event and each Project is inherently a database. Again, a database for metadata is something NOT available in FCP 7 and not something Murch used with that app.
      3) That is much, much, much better handled with Roles in FCP X. They do explicitly what you have been forcing tracks to do. Track were not designed for metadata purposes but for compositing purposes.
      You might want to read back on how tracks evolved as metadata and Why Roles are superior to Tracks.
      For the record, 7toX for Final Cut Pro applies the FCP 7 track ID as a role within the converted Compound Clip in FCP X to preserve the metadata forced on an old fashioned track structure.
      As for your request, I think that can be handled with the current functionality of roles in FCP X.

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