The present and future of post production business and technology

Where goes Final Cut Pro X and the other NLEs?

On the International Media User Group (IMUG) an email group, Eric Darling of eThree Media posed a common question, essentially betting against the success of Final Cut Pro X in the “post production industry”. Not surprisingly, I disagree. I believe that, ultimately, Final Cut Pro X is the fastest professional NLE and that will be the reason it eventually dominates.
Here’s Eric’s contention after the release of Final Cut Pro X 10.0.6 which started the conversation.
I haven’t seen the numbers, but I would be willing to bet against FCPx being accepted as the new norm by most people in the post production industry, or even in the necessarily smaller sample of previous FCP users.  I know some folks are slowly gravitating back to FCPx now that it is more mature.  And, I know even more who are using it to some smaller extent – for specific roles in their overall business.  But, is it true that over 50% of previous predominant FCP users are now predominantly FCPx users?  I would think that would be the qualifying factor to make a blanket statement about “most people.”  Again, I might just be wrong about my assumptions to the contrary, and that indeed, most people love FCPx…
In any case, I don’t mean to take the conversation too far afield here.  I just don’t think Apple has the best interests of the professional user in mind anymore.
What I don’t particularly appreciate is the hubris exhibited by Apple’s administrators.  The thought that I, or collectively, we “will love” anything they make before they even make it, is presumptuous and not knowable.  They told me that about other stuff they make/have made, and it wasn’t true.  I bristle at their form of aloof marketing, not just because it’s presumptuous and sometimes wrong, but because it informs me as to what my supplier’s misconceptions are about me, what I do, and how I should be doing it.

I’m going to leave the last paragraph untouched as it’s personal opinion that I don’t agree with but allow that it’s a position several have.

Let me address the direct question in the first paragraph:

But, is it true that over 50% of previous predominant FCP users are now predominantly FCPx users?

The simple answer to that question is “No, and no-one has ever claimed that. Not Apple, not me nor any other commentator I’ve read”. What Apple have claimed, and I have no reason to dispute, is that Final Cut Pro X has outsold the sales of Final Cut Pro 7, specifically version 7, and version 7 only. That’s entirely credible because not a huge percentage of the 2 million seats upgraded to Final Cut Pro 7.

Right now the vast majority of Final Cut Pro 6 or 7 users are still on Final Cut Pro 6 or 7. If I had to create an informed guess I’d say that more than 80% of Final Cut Pro 6 or 7 (or even 5) users are still working with that software, continuing to make money with it. Among those whose systems I support or maintain no-one has switched to anything: they’re still on Final Cut Pro 7. There hasn’t been a wholesale move to any other platform, although I’m highly confident that Premiere Pro CS5.5 or 6 has benefited more than Media Composer or other platforms.

I also took  an initial position that Apple could well afford to ignore the “pro” market (whatever that might be, as there’s no real definition for it) but I don’t believe that’s true. Apple are spending an enormous amount of effort, privately, in outreach to post production facilities and media organizations around the world: the very “pro” market that Eric thinks (and certainly not alone) that they are abandoning.

Look at the Final Cut Pro X In Action stories. Two of the four stories are broadcast projects – significant broadcast of cable series at the “Pro” end of the market.

I’ve got enough data points to be fairly confident that, as of October 2012, Final Cut Pro X has probably outsold Media Composer’s lifetime sales. I’m very confident that it’s outsold Final Cut Pro 1-2’s numbers 16 months after its release. (Although if anyone can track down the exact date that Apple made their first sales number announcement, which I recall as being around 100,000 sales, I’d very much appreciate the data. Also when they announced 400,000.)

What I have found to be pretty much universally true, is that those who embrace Final Cut Pro X for what it is, instead of trying to put “old wine in new wineskins” find it very suitable and universally faster than any other NLE they’ve used. I would echo that experience. This is the fastest, most fluid NLE I’ve used, reminiscent in some respects to Media 100. Media 100, while very easy to use, was also easy to outgrow as one’s editing experience grew.

The irony is that Eric, along with most of the IMUG (original the International Media 100 User Group, which changed its name to the current one as most of the members migrated to Final Cut Pro around the FCP 3 era), was vilified by the “pros” as Media 100 was “not for professional editors”. (Remember guys?)

Where I think Final Cut Pro X picks up and improves on the tradition, is that Final Cut Pro X has an enormous amount of power that is not revealed until you need it. That makes it both suitable to the casual professional editor, and those that edit all day, every day. (These days I’m editing 2-4 hours a day on average, working on a reality series in among my other roles.)

To return to that “faster” assertion. It’s my personal observation that I can reach an output result faster with Final Cut Pro X than I have been able to do with Media 100 and Final Cut Pro 1-7. I personally do not relate to Media Composer (although to be fair I’ve not experienced it with the Smart Tools, which I’m assured I’d like) but respect its role. Media Composer is not a fast fluid interface (unless you are adept enough to be almost entirely keyboard focused). It’s also true that any NLE is faster when using the keyboard than mouse driven.

Faster is mentioned in one way or the other in all the Final Cut Pro X in action stories. It’s a consistent theme from anyone who has used it with an open mind. Generally people say it is “2-4 times faster”.

It’s being used right now for narrative, episodic Television. It’s being used for the wider democratized profession that is the new reality. I doubt I’d attempt a Studio feature on it right now, but that would be more because of certain workflow issues, rather than any unsuitability of Final Cut Pro X.

Who shouldn’t use Final Cut Pro X?

If you’re working on a Studio feature film or other collaborative environment, then Media Composer is your best choice. (Adobe already have previewed a collaborative solution that looks encouraging, and I’m confident it’s on Apple agenda, but neither are ready to use now.)

If you’re working on a stereoscopic 3D project, Media Composer is also your only sane choice. It’s the only NLE that truly understands 3D space.

I think Adobe have done an excellent job on producing the suite of tools that I would have loved to have in my independent, fairly stand-alone boutique production business in Australia. I still think it’s a great choice for many of my IMUG friends, especially those who frequently integrate with After Effects and the rest of the suite of tools. I have to say that I probably would not recommend Premiere Pro, even at CS6, for a Studio feature film either.

So, who’s left? Well the majority of the production business is left. What has happened over the life of the IMUG is that the industry has moved from the Middle Ages of literacy to a modern era of literacy! That probably needs some brief explanation.

Until quite recently, the skill of literacy – being able to read and write – was limited to a very select group of people. Those people generally made their primary “living” off that skill. Even in a time of near-universal literacy, there are those who primarily make their living from their literacy skills (novelists and journalists, for example). However the vast majority use their literacy skills as part of their wider career or work life. They’re important but not the only thing you do.

Even people who write business letters use a professional writing tool, usually Microsoft Word, even though they use a fraction of the features. (It’s probably apocryphal, but reportedly 80% of feature requests for MS Word are already in the application.)  Although I am a professional writer (some of the time) I prefer the “non-professional” Apple Pages, with which I’ve written and published four books to the public and another six as a personal gift for my mother. It’s a more fluid and faster tool.

Where have I heard that before? The “not-for-the-pros” Pages is faster and more fluid for production professional quality publishing. Similarly Final Cut Pro X is faster and more fluid, because, like Pages, it does not force people into old paradigms. Before Final Cut Pro X, all interfaces (other than Sony Vegas) owe most of their inspiration to Media Composer. Media Composer in turn looked (very appropriately at the time) to the film editing business for its metaphors and inspiration. They had to, it was the only business opportunity they had.

Back in early 1995, when I joined the IMUG list, the industry consisted of broadcast television, cable and production facilities of varying sizes – from single person operations, to my 3-4 employee business, up to very large post houses that dominated Los Angeles at the time. That is no longer the case. As I noted in July 2011 there’s an enormous amount of production being done in a professional manner, for all sorts of purposes that don’t require going to a “production company” to achieve.

For the hundreds of thousands of new professionals (even if only part of the profession involved production) to force them to learn metaphors that are an imitation of a copy of a snapshot of a nearly 30 year old industry makes no sense. The needs of producers and editors have changed. The variety of work being done (noted at the link from July 2011) is vasty more varied than it was in the late 1990’s when I came into the industry. There’s no really good reason to think that those metaphors of 30 years ago are appropriate going forward.

Between the release of Final Cut Pro 7 and Final Cut Pro X, Apple did a lot of research among its customers large and small. In once discussion with a very large media organization they were somewhat surprised that that organization told them they were thinking of moving many of the edit stations to iMovie simply because of the speed of the interface. That’s a diverse organization and I do not know which specific department but it was an important moment for Apple, as the story is part of the briefing on “why Final Cut Pro X”.

Other than the collaborative workflow, studio movie, or stereoscopic 3D project, I can’t imagine Final Cut Pro X not being suitable, and faster. The trackless magnetic timeline is a lot of what gives it its speed, along with the powerful metadata capabilities in the Project timeline.

And that ultimately, is the point: once producers start to hear the “faster” message from multiple sources, multiple times, over a few years, the message will get out: use the faster tool or find another job. It ultimately won’t be the editor’s choice, but one imposed by the producer. (How many “pro” editors went to FCP 3, 4 or later willingly? Not many in my experience among the companies whose systems I’ve supported over the last 5-10 years.)

The other thing I like: Final Cut Pro X is just fun to use as well as being fast and powerful. It’s not finished yet (but neither was Final Cut Pro 7, which still lacked features slated for the version 1 release), but with the 10.0.6 there are fewer and fewer excuses. I also remain convinced that many people are still reacting the what was released in June 2011 (and to some degree how it was released) and are not aware of just how fast Final Cut Pro X has developed.





134 responses to “Where goes Final Cut Pro X and the other NLEs?”

  1. Thank you, Philip. I really enjoy reading your thoughts on such a variety of things. I appreciate that you take the time to share them with us, and that you did me the honor of such an insightful and well reasoned blog post!

    I suppose I’m too entrenched in video editing for too long on too many different systems with too many dollars wrapped up in all of it. So, in now more clearly seeing the new paradigm from your perspective, where “professional” is no longer a clearly or simply defined type of user, I can see how your position is inevitably going to win out.

    However, and as I originally posited, I remain unconvinced that the bulk of users who once used FCP 7 or earlier as their primary editing software have migrated to FCPx at this point, and made it their editing tool of choice for most of their work. I guess that’s not a readily gathered statistic, but sales of the new product outweighing the previous ones are probably attributable more to my position than yours. Those numbers are necessarily new users, after all. FCP 7 and its predecessors would, by your definition, be more of a “pre-proliferative” product in the market space. So, by its very nature, and the context within which that software was developed, FCP 7 was a more professional tool, in a pre-paradigm-shift kind of way.

    I don’t disagree with your position that FCPx will be (and already is) commercially successful. Clearly it is. And I certainly understand that nothing in the ecosystem is especially simple, either. I think you may have taken the answer to my question beyond the scope of my argument in your response, as well written and correct as it is. In the end, I think we might agree on just about everything beyond my observation of the status quo.

    So, for old dogs like myself – I suppose it boils down to preferences. Lots of us like some of the features in X, and have sorely missed others. For me, coupling that with what seems like an “our way or the highway” attitude on the part of Apple has made the highway option pretty appealing, since it’s already paved well (and continues to see lanes widened) by at least a couple competitors.

    I do own FCPx, and I use it from time to time. I have a feeling that, as Apple continues to fix what they broke, I will be in it more often. Just not so much yet.

    1. I should add that you did make a claim to which I asked my direct question, which you did not include in your blog summary of our conversation. So, for posterity, and so I don’t look like I’m making an argument where there wasn’t one in the first place, I’ll take the liberty of posting your comment from the IMUG…

      The thread originated over the future of the Mac Pro line of desktops. A member noted in their post that:
      “The Tooth Fairy and Paul Ryan said they were working on one. ;^)”

      To which you replied, “And Tim Cook specifically said they were working on “something you’ll love”.

      To which I glibly joked, “As much as I love FCPx? ;)”

      After which, you replied, “yes probably. by which I mean it will work for most people but there will be niches that will hate it because it’s not like the current model.”

      It being an historically deeply “professional” email list, the IMUG is definitely not rife of the new type of user you have described here. So, in keeping with the context of our original conversation, I think you removed some, and I’m just making my vain attempt to mix it back in. 🙂

      1. Philip

        Given that slots are now almost completely replaceable (aside from GPU) with Thunderbolt and USB 3, I think the Pro machine they produce will reflect that. I expect the IMUGers to believe (mistakenly) that they have to have the slots. That’s mostly what I meant.

    2. Philip

      I believe I specifically stated that the vast majority of FCP 6/7 users had not migrated to FCP X, so I agree with you. But some have, and some have migrated from other places (there are 40 million iMovie users who might be looking for something more professional) and the vast majority of production is not done in the channels it was 20 years ago.

      FCP was bought in by Apple. It was developed by Randy Ubillos at Macromedia. Randy rethought that in this release. (Although not directly the architect, this release, like Premiere 1-4.2, and FCP 1-7, is heavily influenced by Randy and I also believe that Mr Jobs had some input on it.)

      And personal choice is great. For those not comfortable with FCP X you have a really wide range of choices. For those (like me) who want to look forward to the new, then it’s nice that we (finally) have a choice.

      Sometimes I wish Apple would stop appeasing the old guard. Persistent IN/OUT in FCP X 10.0.6 is a real pain in the, well you know.

  2. Brian Mulligan

    ” It’s the only NLE that truly understands 3D space” –
    Ummm.. Autodesk Smoke 2013

    1. Philip

      The only *Shipping commercial product that you can use right now* that understands 3D space is Media Composer.

      1. Andy

        Edius also does a good job of understanding it Philip.

        1. Philip

          See, I knew I needed to know more about Edius and Vegas.

      2. Brian mulligan

        Fine. Autodesk Smoke 2012 – current release on Mac.

        1. Philip

          So you can place a title in 3D space? And all transitions are 3D aware, meaning they’ll apply properly to both eyes? I’m asking because I don’t know.

          1. Brian mulligan

            Yes, Action is Smoke’s 3D compositor and is full 3D. It contains an FBX camera (stereoscopic) like in Maya. Also editing on timeline has S3D features to adjust left/right eyes.

    2. Philip

      Ok, so not in the actual timeline, and kind of partial support compared with MC 6+, but good to know.

    3. Mike Raff

      I’ve not seen it or used it, but I think Lightworks edits in 3D. I believe Thelma Schoonmaker used it to edit Scorsese’s “Hugo”.
      More info here:

      1. Philip

        Edit’s in 3D and understands 3D natively are quite different things. By understanding 3D natively (like Media Composer) I mean that it knows to apply transitions to both eyes, not to the combined file, puts titles in 3D space correctly, etc.

  3. Steve Speed

    I remember switching to Avid Xpress DV from Premiere Pro (which I got free with my DV Storm card) I had to relearn everything about editing. Avid editing was very different to every other NLE out there and forced the editor to work in the Avid way. Once you “got it” it was fine but the Avid approach always felt forced.

    I moved from Avid after several buggy “upgrades” that affected PAL users to FCP and stayed there until FCPX was released.

    I have said it before and I’m going to say it again, FCPX is the first NLE I have used that fits with how I edit in my minds eye. The way I “see” the edits forming in my head are accurately portrayed on the FCPX timeline or should I say, “mind-map”. I have never had tracks in my head but rather a set of connected ideas and associations. The ability to hack sections of the timeline around on the whim of the client with ease just makes me laugh. We’ve all had that heart sinking moment when a client wants a change to “that” section which you know is going to take some serious effort especially when up against a deadline.

    The FCPX editing metaphor seems most “normal” for time based media assemblage and I’m sure the new professionals entering the business and choosing FCPX will wonder why editing has ever been any other way.

    1. Chris Wilby

      30 years ago, or there a bouts, I started to use ‘computers’. DOS and things like that, then, I saw an Apple Macintosh and I instantly knew that this was the right way to go. People either get it or they don’t. People Like Eric Darling don’t get Apple. Never mind…

      1. Chris Wilby, you don’t know me. Keep me out of your arguments. Thanks very much.

        1. Chris WIlby

          Darling, I will gladly do that. Just stop moaning about FCPX… you have obviously nothing (sadly) to contribute to the subject! 🙂

          1. Sorry to confuse you, Chris, or maybe you just didn’t read my entire thoughts. In the meanwhile, perhaps you can add something constructive yourself… I mean besides the me-too stuff that you’ve littered all over this blog.

            I don’t mean to take your attacks personally, because you really don’t understand where I come from. I have owned more Macs and Apple software over the decades than most people out there, and my experience in editing video dates back almost as far. I have done serious time with their products, and I think I deserve to hold my well-earned opinion, albeit different from yours, for which you have provided no foundation. Contrary opinion isn’t always wasteful, Chris. Sometimes, if we can look beyond our own cock-sureness we can see points in others’ arguments, and heaven forbid, learn something about one another.

        2. Chris WIlby

          Darling, just do everybody a favour and go away. Its that simple!

          1. Philip

            Chris, anyone who contributes to the discussion is welcome – contrary opinions are welcome. Defamatory or completely unhelpful comments are discouraged, and this type of “go away” comment is discouraged.

          2. Chris Wilby

            No problem with that! 🙂

  4. aindreas

    its worth noting that Phillip’s repeated “its better” “its a thousand times faster” “old wine in new wineskins” arguments are being made by someone with a large financial investment in FCPX’s success. Someone who stands to directly benefit financially if FCPX becomes as ubiquitous as he desperately argues that it will – all evidence to the contrary.

    As such, this post amounts to some kind of infomercial really, with Phillip pulling up cards saying “scientists tell us its 297% better” while a scrolling ticker on the bottom says “buy my plugins”

    1. Philip

      Do you know how insulting this is? You are beneath contempt. FCP X cost me more than $20,000 in lost sales when it was first announced. Didn’t stop me appreciating what it was good for and what Apple had done. We were doing just fine with FCP 7 products and really didn’t need the disruption to our business that was FCP X.

      Tell me Aindreas, what’s your contribution to the industry beyond insulting people?

    2. Philip

      For the record, Aindreas, who admits he has made no significant contribution to the industry made another defamatory post. Since there wasn’t anything factual or helpful in it, I deleted it. He is now banned.

      1. Marcus R. Moore

        Not at all surprised. He regularly dips into the Creative Cow FCPX debate forum to post such as insightful topics as, “FCPX is so completely weird, it makes Motion look sane. And no one will hire you by the hour for either of them.”.

        Of course, I disagreed.

        1. Philip

          Aindreas sent me a most gracious apology and I feel it appropriate to publish it here. I appreciate it, and Marcus, you may have to re-evaluate 🙂

          Dear Phillip,

          I just wanted to take the opportunity to privately apologise to you for my recent posting on your site’s latest blog entry – it was entirely out of order.

          I have, on reflection, said he, realised that I have absolutely no conception of the intellectual effort and time involved in pursuing the project of critical companion software for major platforms. Companion software that, in this case, I suddenly recall, people were literally screaming for.

          It also occurred to me that, in order to undertake such a project, you would really want to believe in that platform to go through all the effort.

          So I was being utterly obnoxious there.

          Just to add – my jackass posting aside, I now feel a cringing urge to provide some bona fides; I have contributed in *some* sense, to the degree it has been acknowledged – (mock drum roll) BDA Promax world silver, NY festivals finalist – but – how and whatever about that guff. In a more decent sense I put together, back when, training courses on grading and after effects for editors on the Irish west coast run out of galway.

          I am literally only referencing the above insofar as to highlight to you that you weren’t actually being trolled by a total random, more someone who should know better than to publicly carry on as I did.

          to add- do please feel free to post this in relevant thread under title “rude git apologises”

          best regards and apologies,

          Aindreas Ó Gallchoir

          1. Philip

            I’ve also taken his IP address off the banned list.

    3. Chris Wilby

      aindreas, you are nothing better than a fool. I don’t understand why you even lurk on this site? You obviously hate FCPX and just as obviously, have never used it… why are you here?

  5. MartinX

    I started with iMovie v1 back in the day, and eventually got a job “doing video” because it was still voodoo to many people. I soon outgrew iMovie and was dragged kicking and screaming to FCP6. (I recall that many wedding videographers had set themselves up with nice businesses based on iMovie 1 – 6 and hated iMovie ’08 and beyond, and couldn’t afford Final Cut Studio). While I missed iMovie’s speed (and magnetic timeline) I have become quite adept (in my own way) with FCP and have viewed the transition to FCP X with some trepidation. Version 10.0.6 looks like it’s worth a shot. I don’t need to collaborate with others so that’s not going to stop me, and my audio requirements are modest. I will have to make a complete transition, away from tapes, DSR11 deck and oldish cameras, so that will take some doing, but time marches on. I feel for those for whom their Mac and FCP are one cog in a big machine. This transition may be too much for them to make and more collaborative software may be their path from now on.

    1. Philip

      Your DSR11 DV deck is still supported with simple capture.

      1. MartinX

        Shhh, I’m trying to justify all new gear 🙂

  6. Hi Philip,
    Thanks for the great post.
    As early adopters of FCPX, we have enjoyed this trip since the start. It was buggy, but damn, isn’t it great to manage your media in such a smart way, cut faster and save time? We are a small production company, so we could do it. We transitioned during a few months to real projects and never looked back.
    In the past year, FCPX has saved us money, meticulous organizing, editing time, making us more efficient and productive.
    I think ppl just tend to linger on the negative too much… inc. that user group.
    The software is highly recommended.

  7. Wayne K.

    Whilst the promised speed of FCPX is appealing, I do long-form documentaries, and as such, require the ability to have more than one
    sequence open at a time (for pre-edits and the like).

    To my knowledge, FCPX doesn’t support multiple sequences and
    until it does I can’t take advantage of its other benefits.

    I’ve found X to be trying to be too smart by half. Just because the ‘old way’ of doing something is ‘old’, doesn’t mean it’s not efficient.

    1. Philip

      FCP X can have as many open “Sequences” (aka Projects) open at a time as you want. How could you be so badly informed?

    2. Philip

      You know, when you try and sound smart from a really uninformed position, you come across as….

      1. Chris WIlby

        Yep… and the misinformation goes on and on and… which reminds of an unflattering Adobe based story that I refrain from repeating. 🙂

      2. Steve Speed

        Wayne your surname wouldn’t be Kerr by any chance would it?

        Poor Wayne is going to be really upset when he finds out about compound clips and auditions.

        I had a client who couldn’t make up their mind about the order of a finishing section. Answer, two compound clips as auditions. I could audition each edit version of the edit swapping out changes instantaneously. Couldn’t be any quicker and couldn’t be any better. IMO.

        Seems Wayne is struggling with the completely barrier free way of working in FCPX, I bet he misses Bins too. A project could be termed a sequence but equally a compound clip could also be a sequence. FCPX gives the user the power to decide how they organise their project and doesn’t force you into a straight jacket.

        I see the Twitterati who are churning out articles on FCPX are now forced to use the angle that FCPX should’ve had all these features from the start. Well in an ideal world yes, but I’m very glad I haven’t had to wait until now to use FCPX. I began using FCPX after the first big bug fix that made it stable which was 10.0.2 I think. I have never looked back.

        Where is this application going to be in another year? Scary thought for the competition.

        1. Chris WIlby

          “Where is this application going to be in another year? Scary thought for the competition.”


          1. “…FCPX should’ve had all these features from the start.”

            Um, if 200 features could be programmed in 3-6 months, yes, FCP X and all NLEs would be full featured now. Are the other NLEs full featured at this point? No, because they’re still adding new features and tweaking old ones. Read the forums for those other NLEs, full of bugs, full of features some don’t like, full of requests for improvement. FCP X is no different in that respect. But programming takes time, and Apple has (I assume) a priority list based on what folks are requesting the most. Just like all other NLEs.

            I particularly love Adobe and Avid advertising “we are listening to our users”. As if Apple isn’t? I can name over 2 dozen former students, FCPUG members, associates, friends, etc, who’ve been contacted by Apple about issues and desires mentioned in that feedback page for the pro apps. I think Apple is listening for sure.

            The bulk of my income was from enterprise level shops that were based on Final Cut Server. If only FCP X showed some evidence at all of moving in that direction, but I doubt it. Major percentage of my income was cut with the death of FCSvr. But I’m still with FCP X. As a trainer, I’m forced to redesign my business, as traditional classroom training, even though it is still factually the best educational experienced, is all but dead. Online videos are all the rage now, even if the majority of them are inaccurate and done by youngsters with very little professional post-production or educational experience.

            FCP X is changing a lot of things. The FCP world is very disrupted. I’m sure FCP X will have a long lasting place in the market, but I doubt it will be the majority of the higher end broadcast and film market (the FCSvr market).

            I’m willing to bet, based on my personal experiences over the past year and a half of teaching X, most users are coming from iMovie, not from legacy FCP or other NLEs.

  8. Hi Philip,

    You mentioned,
    “Adobe have done an excellent job on producing the suite of tools that I would have loved to have in my independent, fairly stand-alone boutique production business in Australia”

    “Well the majority of the production business is left.”

    “Other than the collaborative workflow, studio movie, or stereoscopic 3D project, I can’t imagine Final Cut Pro X not being suitable, and faster. The trackless magnetic timeline is a lot of what gives it its speed, along with the powerful metadata capabilities in the Project timeline.”

    Firstly, what kind of jobs does a boutique indie post pro house do? Because from your description, FCP X would be very suitable for that kind of establishment. With that, what kind of jobs would FCP shine in? And what other kind of establishments are there aside from boutique post production houses and the higher end broadcast/film market? Are you referring to the home user market? More specifically, what kind of jobs? Long form? Short form? Documentaries? Multicam Reality? Sitcoms? Events? Corporates? Single desk or assembly style pipeline? Music Videos? Commercials?

    From what I can see, metadata is great for categorizing large amounts of footage, and that would be great for long form jobs (eg. features, documentaries, reality), but then the inability to work well in a collaborative environment goes against it. Speed is great for quick turnaround projects, but the immense number of supported formats make PPro possibly a better choice, and it’s precisely this reason that I have used PPro on some jobs, and the native workflow is a massive timesaver. And there are some environments where a traditional timeline is preferred, eg. Multicam reality, where you need to navigate a day’s worth of multicam footage with sync maps.

    Like many FCP users, I have been trying to find a good replacement for legacy FCP. It was a great tool in its time- fairly wide media support due to QT, able to handle both long form jobs and short form jobs fairly seamlessly, yet scalable- I’ve used it as a one man post desk and worked in collaborative environments, and in an assembly style post pipeline.

    You also mentioned,
    “Media Composer is not a fast fluid interface (unless you are adept enough to be almost entirely keyboard focused)”

    But isn’t this the case with all NLEs?

    1. Philip

      The key words were “back when I was in Australia”. The toolset that business needed then would be well served by what Adobe offers now, because the NLE was largely a front end for After Effects. I know several folk with that sort of business now – still AE heavy – and I think Adobe is a great solution for them. Motion, great as it is, is not After Effects nor is it intended to be.

      I think FCP X is more suitable for projects that are more editing focused than Motion Graphic Design focused which is where my editing work is now. And I think were most documentary, educational, Point of Sale, corporate communications work etc is focused.

      I think FCP X and PPro a re pretty equal with native format support, except FCP X will do the output render when idle, while PPro requires an export render at the end of the process. (Not always fast.) Even unrendered projects export faster from FCP X 10.0.6 than the current PPro CS 6 release.

      I think FCP X’s Multicam in a Magnetic timeline would be great for reality. I just don’t buy the argument that the magnetic timeline is unsuitable, as it’s made by (mostly) people who “play” with FCP X for a little while, rather than those who actually use it for a while.

      1. You know one thing I really miss about FCP 7? Log and Transfer’s ability to batch capture just the bits used reel by reel from archival drives from an offline sequence. One issue with native editing is that if I need to retrieve an episode from the archives, I need to pop in all 16TBs of rushes onto the server, because it would take me fairly long to figure out which reels were used in the edit. Win some, lose some with native editing. And this is where I feel FCP X has a potentially slight edge as things stand- Apple owns Quicktime, while Adobe doesn’t own any wrapper.

        That said, PPro still has better native support, although FCP X with calibrated or mxf4mac comes fairly close. PPro does basically everything- DPX, ARRI RAW, etc… Recently, I had a quick turnaround project with AvcHD, VCD, DVD, and a couple of clips from Youtube (H.264 in an FLV wrapper). All that went straight PPro without transcoding, and the rendering on that project was fast enough not to be a hassle at all. PPro is basically in a league of it’s own in that category.

        “I think FCP X’s Multicam in a Magnetic timeline would be great for reality. I just don’t buy the argument that the magnetic timeline is unsuitable, as it’s made by (mostly) people who “play” with FCP X for a little while, rather than those who actually use it for a while.”

        Haven’t touched FCP X for a long while, and I may get back onto it to have a look. But last I remember, it couldn’t do sync maps, which is crucial, because not everything shot in a day needs to be multiclipped, and digging around in the viewer is one way to get lost in the footage. I can see where metadata can be handy. I search for markers all the time, although I don’t like to spend the time to mark in and out with every marker/locator.

        1. Philip

          I didn’t realize you were writing from a position of a non-user (basically). You’ll have more credibility when you’ve actually used FCP X for a month or two. It takes at least that long for most people to really “get it”.

          1. I have 10.0.0 on my machine. Kinda waiting for the dust to settle instead of learning and re-learning the app (eg. Now you don’t need to make a favorite after making marks on a clip. Before the .6 release, it wasn’t too different for me to try it. There was multicam, and the ability to do dissolves to connecting clips, as well as stems and roles, and a few changes to the metadata search fields. But much of the strengths and weaknesses were still the same. But I was waiting for the multitrack audio editing improvements, which was just released, and to see if it would support more formats natively.

            I disagree that I should use FCP X for paying gigs before I decide that it’s suitability for a job. There are folks out there with the constant spinning wheel, re-linking issues, etc. Cant afford to be a statistic, and neither do I want to miss deadlines to troubleshoot and realize I’ve used one compound clip too many. But if I do get a project that I feel FCP X is great for, I’ll use it.

        2. Another thing I like about full native support (not re-wrap to QT), is that I don’t have to run around telling guys to preserve the camera folder structure when they copy a file. Or figure out where to convert a stray .mts file or a .mp4 file.

          1. Philip

            Which is why native R3D and native MXF support is important in this release. IOW, PPRo has no advantage now.

          2. Philip

            Having 10.0.0 on your machine when the app is at 10.0.6 with at least 20-30 new features is kind of saying that you really aren’t serious about giving FCP X a chance. It’s a free update. Do it now and realize how out of touch your comments have been about FCP X.

            You make these comments about “people out there” with problems but ignore all the people actually posting here about how useful it is for the, for paying customers, right now.

            I think your credibility has now dropped enough that I won’t be bothering responding any more.

          3. Not free for me, because like many, I got a refund, on the .0 release. Was waiting for this version because of the audio editing tools. Probably time to stop waiting.

  9. Thanks for the great article! I think the biggest problem with collaboration right now is that the other programs haven’t updated to support FCPXML’s. There was such a wide support for the FCP 7 xml that it made collaboration easy. Smoke (which is about as “Pro” a system as you can get) took the hint and will support it when released. FCP X has the capability to share and collaborate on projects. Premiere still uses the old FCP xml and doesn’t have a format of it’s own so it’s behind in the game. If the other systems would support it, this wouldn’t be an issue. In houses running all FCP X it isn’t an issue. Thanks to third party apps like X to 7 and so forth I haven’t had any recent issues sharing projects.

    1. Philip

      By collaboration I mean sharing of Events between editors at the same time.

      1. This is the biggest feature we’re waiting for. Right now our workflow is in a very rough spot, with producers doing a rough cut in FCP7 or clip selection in CatDV, then sending it to me on my FCPX workstation for finishing. They might make me stay on FCP7 but for the render speed – the new keyer in particular is so excellent and fast it’s worth the trouble.

        I’m optimistic here; we had to wait for multicam and the result exceeded expectations. I just hope multi-user projects/events (and hopefully edit over ethernet, making multi-users more effective) follows the same pattern.

        1. Philip

          I’m not sure I want multi-users working on my Project while I’m cutting it. Seems that would lead to a lot of frustration. But live sharing of Events I think will come. I hope.

          1. Good point Phillip.

          2. Yes, that scenario would be pretty chaotic. It’d be instructive to look at EditShare’s model, which (as I recall) lets users “check out” timelines, more like a hand-off model. That fits the workflow I’m faced with.

            I do hope you’re right about some of the clues for multi-user you’ve found in FCPX.

        2. Philip

          Allan – the clues to what is possible are in the OS update – will depend on how the FCP X team decide to implement. In theory they could do live updating of Events – anyone could add new keywords and it would immediately propagate to all users of the Event. But that may prove too difficult in a real world implementation. I’m not qualified to determine.

  10. I’m curious of FCPx now with the new updates but terrified at the same time. I just sent a mixer an omf from fcp7 with 70 tracks of crazy sound designed audio. It was a trailer. That magnetic timeline just seems awful for trailer cutting where you need large open gaps in your timeline to build out proper pacing and cutting and recutting the same 2 minutes 80-100 times. Last thing I would ever want is a program that automatically closed gaps. It would actually make it impossible to work efficiently. So my questions to you FCPx vets since I am genuinely interested and tired of 32bit editing. Would this type of editing be possible with FCPx without adding extra mouse clicks every time I want to move a clip? Anyone experienced with this type of editing have any thoughts?

    1. Philip

      Use the position tool and you won’t have gaps. That’s been available since Version 1. If you have a mixed soundtrack, place that in your primary storyline and attach video to it. (Unusual, sure but it works). Or if you really don’t want to do that, simply place a gap clip the entire length of the trailer and attach clips to that.

      Your argument is really totally bogus, apparently not based on any use of FCP X.

    2. Steve Speed


      I am producing 2 minute promo pieces that uses trailer style editing and I haven’t found the magnetic timeline to be a hinderance. The position tool works well in 99.9% of the situations but there are times when you could do with a function to pin a clip to a particular moment in the soundtrack permanently. If you accidentally delete the gap clip in front of the clip you’ve position at a specific point in the timeline it becomes magnetic again. A tweak from Apple to pin clips to audio or secondary story lines to a particular time would help.

      The magnetic timeline works so well you’re simply unaware of it which is how it should be. FCPX is so much more than the magnetic timeline.

      For me the biggest plus is the ability to finish a project with a client in the room with titles, effects, speed changes and colour grades all live and in context. No more roundtrips and no more re-renders because of a last minute font change to the titles. I’m pushing out much better work with a finer level of finishing and in much less time. You never fear a call from the client to make changes to the grade after you’ve finished a roundtrip.

      For promo work I couldn’t imagine a better NLE than FCPX. FCPX and Motion are a very powerful combination and much more RT than Smoke.

      Many 10s of tracks of audio is ridiculously difficult to keep track of in a timeline with tracks. Much better to lock audio to clips via associations and allow the magnetic timeline keep order. Roles can be a simple or as complex as you require for down stream mixing. The fact you are using 70 tracks of audio means you are working around the limitations of your current NLE. You could always create 70 Roles and label them Track 1 – 70 if it made you feel more at home.

      I assume the demo is still available for FCPX so can’t understand why you haven’t tried it.

    3. Charlie

      Alik, FWIW, I cut trailers and TV spots as well. It is totally doable. The easiest way to “mimic” the old way of doing things is, as Philip points out, to just fill the primary with gap and cut everything in as connected clips. Break apart the audio as well if you want to. If you really need a canned transition you can just make the clips you’re transitioning in/out of into secondary story lines. It’s really almost exactly like FCP 7 (but better) if you cut like that. This is what I’ve been doing, and now that the app has become second nature to me, i’ll probably start messing with the primary as well. It’s fun!. The main thing keeping me from totally switching is I’m waiting for a couple 3rd party apps to mature enough so i can send elements to finicky post houses. It’s really close… 🙂

  11. Art Bell

    Don’t confuse ‘fast’ with productive, and a part of professional workflows.
    If you want simple and fast, X is great.
    If you create commercials, TV or motion pictures, pro NLE’s are the choice. They are all fast, 64 bits, and much, much more fully featured, and integrated with how television and movies are made than X ever will be. It’s not in Apples best interest to integrate deeply, its sole mission is wide.
    Is it a coincidence that Adobe’s Premiere has seem a 40% increase in sales this year?
    Is it a coincidence that this November in the trades Walter Murch the original poster boy for FCP ( thank you Walter you changed our lives) is featured editing in Final cut Pro 7?
    Will X be a financial success? As its rated 18th on Apple App sales I assume it is. But it should be when you compare the sticker price of $299 to the avg. app price of about 5 bucks. ( it was also said it was the lowest rated software in Apple history til they kept removing the negative posts).
    Is it changing Hollywood, and everywhere else where individuals and groups make their living editing? Only if you consider the change was in the exodus FROM Final Cut Pro to other NLE’s.
    Looking back on it if it wasn’t for X we would never looked around, and in finding The Premiere CS 6 suite, we completely agree when someone else said ‘ Premiere 6 is what Final Cut Pro 8 could have been.

    1. Philip Hodgetts

      Whatever Art. You’ve clearly never given FCP X a fair go and are still angry and Apple and are lashing out as a consequence. I understand that, although it’s just plain stupid.

      Let me be clear, when I say “Fast” I mean “Fast and productive”. And yes, for studio films and episodic TV you need MEDIA COMPOSER not Premiere Pro. (A fine NLE but not one that has any traction in “Hollywood” where FPC 7 users are mostly FPC 7 users)

      Old arguments from an old dog who doesn’t want to acknowledge anything new. Don’t bother commenting until you can add something that comes from a position of actual knowledge.

      1. Art Bell

        Well thats a lot of supposition but In fact i gave it 3 tries. I really wanted it to work. but it doesn’t. Its pretty, it’s fast but it doesn’t do the job.
        I prefer to see life as it is without loyalty to shilling for products that don’t advance as the industry is.

        1. Philip

          Sorry, the moment you accuse me of “schilling” then you get yourself banned. Bye Art. I cant be publishing libels against myself! 🙂

          I truly, genuinely like FCP X, even when it was costing us thousands of dollars a month in lost sales. More to the point, who says the industry as it is, is something worth preserving instead of trying to improve it.

          1. Chris Wilby

            Its a pity you banned him Philip, as I wanted to ask him where he got is misinformation/hafl-truths from… 🙂

        2. Philip

          Same place everyone else does “the industry” (ie the four people they work with). For those who care, this isn’t a public space, so if someone wants to be insulting, bordering on defamation, then I don’t have to publish it. However reasonable opinion, differing points of view well argued, are most welcome.

          1. Chris Wilby

            And I thought politics was supposed to be the last refuge of a scoundrel!

          2. Steve Speed

            I’d love to know what the “industry” is and who those “professionals” are that work in it?

            When I started out in Avid Xpress DV I knew what the “industry” was and knew what software I needed to know to be a “professional” in that industry.

            Today, that “industry” is unrecognisable so too are the (real) “professionals” whose job roles bear no comparison 5 years ago let alone 10.

            Haven’t we all read Art Bell’s post before, if not here, somewhere else on the interweb? It seemed to follow the well used recipe for an FCPX troll posting.

            Art’s mindset is from way back in the last decade if not the one before. My business partner and I make plenty enough of a living working for FTSE 100 level companies creating media for just about any purpose from animated content, marketing content to corporate ego massages. The fact that there are other NLEs that may be better for episodic TV or film editing is utterly meaningless to us. FCPX allows us to rapidly produce and store a massive database of easily searchable and indexable assets in a way that is so user friendly the user is actually oblivious to the process or is so trivial you do it as second nature. Apple has given us, a 2 (multi-skilled) man shop, the functionality that in previous decades we’d associate with Avid Unity type installations.

            Before FCPX was stable enough for us to move over to I had already begun using FCPX as a media database so I could very quickly locate clips from previous projects that the client would like to use again. Have people like Art have any idea how much (unbillable) time this has saved us? We used to waste so much time opening old projects digging through bins trying to locate specific sound bites from clip descriptions and no matter how thorough we had been it was a drag. FCPX transformed our work way before we even moved over to editing on it full time.

            In Art’s myopic world my business is not productive nor fast nor does it even exist as only TV programmes and Films are edited on NLEs. Isn’t that right Art?

            I couldn’t give a rats ass if all or no TV programmes or Films are ever edited on FCPX, I don’t need that sort of validation which Art and many other old “pros” appear to require. This is a running theme through some of the older generation who grew up with the blinkers on that knowing Avid was going to get you in the business and was more important than editing talent. I’m sure it’s a hang-over from those times. Weren’t those times great?

            In my world companies are coming round to the idea that they are just as much broadcasters as TV companies and Film Studios. With no de facto standards and companies free to choose the right tool for their business and those businesses not looking anything like production companies of yesteryear is it surprising that people caught in a timewarp feel they have to lash out?

            Philip, all power to you for backing the right horse and may your pockets be deeply filled.

          3. Chris Wilby

            It would be interesting to find out what people like Richard Harrrington and Walter Biscardi, amongst others, now think of FCPX. They do seem to be quiet though.

          4. Philip

            Chris – Richard Harrington likes FCP X enough to write training about but not to actually use. I think it’s fair to say Walter has made a commitment to Media Composer and isn’t actively reconsidering FCP X.
            At least I actively use it to edit – currently a couple of small projects for friends and an eight episode reality show.

    2. I disagree.
      I edit commercials for living and I can’t find a reason why FCPX can’t be used for that. (you can take a look at if you want to).

      1. Good call on the schools, but as they adraely have FCPs coming out of their ears, I assumed they fell in the 2million user-base. I definitely think FCPX will sell very well even I’ll buy a copy! but I think the price and the current economies mean that it’s a little too expensive for an impulse buy, even for Dentists. We’ll see.I’m more interested to see what Avid will do now to be honest. Maybe a theme for an upcoming Podcast?

        1. Philip

          $300 is not expensive for a dentist, or anyone else. We’re less than 10 years from the place where a basic editing tool that could do professional work, was a minimum $30,000 investment in Media Composer (and usually double that). Nothing under $1000 is expensive for a professional tool.

  12. Kris Trexler

    Thanks for the nice write up. I’ve used FCX for my personal projects just to know the interface. I mostly like it. But there’s no way it’s gonna work into the sort of scripted TV work I do. Avid’s script-based editing is indispensable to anyone who’s used it for scripted projects. Talk about fast? There’s no way any other NLE can access scripted material that fast. It’s the best way to evaluate performances quickly, both for the editor’s cut and in subsequent revisions. I doubt Apple can do anything like it since Avid owns the concept.

    Otherwise, your take on the state of modern editing is right on target.

    1. Philip

      My original version of this response seemed snarky when I read it – so another go.

      Of course everyone has to choose the tool that will work best for them, and if you’re in that small group who have purchased Avid’s Script Sync add on, then probably the FCP X workflow won’t work for you. But to say it won’t work for “scripted series” isn’t really true. Both Leverage and Danni Lowinksi – both scripted series – are using Final Cut Pro X already. Your argument is invalid.

      Boris Soundbite brings the same search technology to other platforms than Media Composer, but Script Sync is a Media Composer original.

      1. Kris Trexler

        I’ve read those stories previously and see what’s possible. Maybe someday, but I bet it’s along while before you see high profile TV comedies using FCX. Most of us editing them are happy with our current reliable workflow and too busy “creating television history” (LOL) to explore what we’re missing. I don’t know any other successful editors working in my genre who are even remotely interested in using FCX professionally. Why bother? The tool we use is fantastic. And the studios we work for wouldn’t let us use FCX even if we wanted to. I do enjoy it for my personal projects though.

        1. Philip

          Please note I rewrote my response as it read back a lot more snarky than I had intended. The trouble with being in the forest is that you can’t really get a good perspective on what’s happening elsewhere in the forest and around it.
          And if Media Composer/Script Sync works for you, that’s great, and there probably is no need to change – yet. Of course Avid’s survival as an independent company has to be coming up as a serious question: with $71 million in the bank and 21 of 22 losing quarters and declining quarter on quarter revenue, the company has to turn around dramatically and fast to survive. (I do believe that regardless of what happens to Avid, the editing products will likely find a new home somewhere – on past performance Blackmagic would be a likely new owner! I jest, about 50%)

          1. Philip

            I clearly said in the original article that if you work for studios or broadcast TV you’re better off with Media Composer.

          2. Kris Trexler

            With the TV and film business so entrenched with MC, it’s hard to imagine Avid not being an attractive buy to some company. I hope they survive but it sure looks dicey. Problem is once you’ve bought an MC license and it’s working for you, there might not be a compelling reason to send more $$ Avid’s way. For example, cool as MC 6.5 is, there’s not one feature that would benefit the work I do. So we’re stuck with 5.5.

            To gauge reaction, I just asked a studio exec how they would feel if I wanted to switch from MC to FCX. The response could not have been more terse. “No f-ing way!!” Ouch! For the major studios, I it’s all about reliability and track record. “If it ain’t broke…”

            That said, I recently created a cool FCX video for a friend that would not have been remotely possible in million dollar online suite a few years ago. I think it’s good to have hands-on experience with all the major NLE’s. You never know when a revenue project might come your way.

          3. Philip

            Kris, what you miss is that “the entire TV and Film business” is actually too small to support any NLE vendor. NLEs are only 12% of Avid’s business. The entire business worldwide is really very small – in the US only 25,500 “film and TV Editors” according to the Department of Labor statistics. Avid’s entire Media Composer sales over 20 years are almost certainly fewer than 200,000 units. FCP X has already outsold that by my calculations, certainly FCP 1-7 had 2 million seats.
            The studios are the most conservative part of the entire industry and a very small part too – both in employment and dollars spent. Check back to my 2011 posts on who is buying NLEs these days. It’s not studios and networks or their suppliers. Way too many Meriden Media Composers on OS 9 still in Hollywood for Avid’s well being.

            Not surprised about the response form the exec, but you would also admit they aren’t very well informed about alternatives.

            If you’re a freelance editor, you need to know Media Composer, FCP 6/7 and (soon) FCP X to stay employed, even in LA.

            But worldwide, that whole industry is irrelevant to NLE development because no-one can afford to just cater to that market.

  13. Kris Trexler

    Interesting points Philip. Regardless of the uninformed exec, the heavy expense of producing shows like the one I work on mandate stability and sticking with what’s known to work. These folks aren’t up for taking chances. When Avid intro’d multicam editing, I was the first guy in LA willing to give it a shot when everyone else was editing with LaserEdit. I had to beg the studio to go along with my gut that MC would help me do my work faster and better. Avid devoted 24/7 support to me but I never needed it. The next season when my series proved MC was reliable and better, there was a massive switch from LaserEdit to Avid. A few years later when ScriptSync was introduced, I stuck my neck out again and was able to quickly prove its worth. Now it’s commonplace on scripted projects, at least in LA.

    Now that I know and love both MC and FCX, I can’t see what dog and pony show I could put on for a major studio to make a compelling case for a switch to FCX. Maybe someday. I love the new stuff…keeps editing fresh and fun.

    1. Philip

      FCP X will ultimately be faster – but it’ll be a long time before the “hollywood” niche changes over. Like it took until FCP 3 or 4 before anyone adopted it for films or TV shows.

  14. Most of the time when people gripe about FCP X, it’s almost always after trying for a very short period to learn it, or not even attempting to learn it all. Many who complain have never even installed the trial, they rely on word of mouth to support their unreasonable hatred towards software.

    No one who really learns it, complains so much. People really don’t like change, especially when it involves a learning curve. And I say this from experience. When I first attempted to use FCP X, it was a horrible experience, but mostly because of my expectations. I thought it was going to be similar to other editing software. It’s nothing like other editing software! Once I put my expectations aside and actually started learning FCP X, THEN I started to see what it really can offer.

    Apple is planning for the future and playing the long game. Cheaper software that is more efficient, better at media management, and easier for total newbies to learn and create professional video will win in the end. It’s just a matter of time. But until I can figure it out completely, at least I have FCP, Adobe and Avid to make myself feel comfortable while editing:-)

    1. Philip


  15. Walter Soyka

    Nice post, Philip.

    I’d like to discuss one of the premises of your argument: FCPX’s speed. More specifically, I’d like to discuss the claim that people generally describe FCPX as “2 to 4 times faster.”

    First, the numbers. That’s an enormous difference. That takes a 1 month job down to a week or two. It takes a 1 week job down to a couple of days. It means a 1 day job is finished before lunch. Is this really happening?

    Second, the comparison. Faster than what, and faster at what?

    Finally, assuming the speed claim (however clarified) is true, what’s responsible for the enormous speed gain, and is it really unique to FCPX?

    For example, I see how FCPX’s native support gives a big speed boost compared to FCP7’s transcode requirement, but does FCPX also have this 2-4x speed advantage over Premiere in native workflows?

    I also see how FCPX’s organization features can provide a speed boost, but not everyone agrees that the magnetic timeline is faster. Oliver Peters, for example, has provided some very specific criticism of ways the magnetic timeline has slowed him down in real world editorial situations.

    I don’t know what will happen in the long term, but in the shorter term, I see people gravitating toward different NLEs, depending on their specific needs. I think some market fragmentation is more likely than consolidation among the current set of editors. I’d agree with your argument that FCPX targets a larger audience, but I’m not sure yet what (if any) impact dominance in that adjacent market would have on my work.

    Walter Soyka

    1. Philip

      I’ll speak from my own perspective: it’s faster to organize clips and media and find them again; it’s much faster to trim and edit/rearrange in the timeline and it’s faster because, like PPro, there’s no waiting to use media, and because of the ‘render when idle’ (aka background rendering) there’s no waiting for export (as there often is with PPro.)

      I do find the Magnetic timeline much better than the traditional one, and yes, there are specific workflows that aren’t optimal, or parts of workflows, but they haven’t affected me to date.

      To date, most people haven’t gone anywhere – most of those using FCP 7 (or 6) are still using it. There’s a bigger migration (or uptake) of FCP X than I think most people would expect but none of the systems I support for people have moved away from FCP 7.

      It may have no impact on your work, but to me it represents an improved alternative for the type of work I’m doing now, which includes an eight episode reality series.

      1. Can’t believe the anxiety editors have with embracing change. FCPX is better than almost anything bedorehand but still they whine or Philip bans them!. Deservedly so but and one slight correction. Script Sync, an Avid original? Script based editing for nonlinear systems has its origins in Adrian Ettlinger’s Cinedco’s Ediflex and was sold to Avid in 1995 as part of a banruptcy transaction.

        1. Philip

          As always John, thanks for the additional information.

          1. to me FCPX is the new Media 100. Fast intuitive and a paradigm change in UI, editing workflow and post. IMHO it also represents a generational shift with editors. And before the jackals jump in, Apple has deeper pockets than the Molinaris ever did to make it the industry standard.

        2. Philip

          yes, exactly. We feel the same way about FCP X and Media 100.

          1. Chris WIlby

            Thought you might like this bit of info Philip…

          2. Philip

            Thanks Chris. It was an interesting read.

  16. I have often wondered what are the alternative to Final Cut Pro? I worked for 10 years with FCP 7, but there are no good development of for the software.

    1. Philip

      As the post says – Media Composer, Premiere Pro, Sony Vegas or Grass Valley Edius, or Final Cut Pro X. All good alternatives to FCP 7 and all “better” in at least one respect.

  17. Steve

    Hi Philip,
    I simply do not have confidence in Apple – they have lost my trust. As a small business operator I cannot take the chance that Apple may decide in a few years to EOL FCPX… then where would I be?
    Look what happened with FCP7… projects cannot be opened by the replacement software (out of the box). I decided to by Adobe’s suite because of the integration of PPro and AE, however I in my opinion I truly believe Avid make the best, fastest editor – and I say that as a FCP7 and Adobe CS6 owner.

    I still use Media Composer 3.5.4 at my day job (a broadcast tv station) and I love it. For my side business, editing commercials and small corporates PPro works a treat, (granted I would like a quick transition dialog, the ability to open more than one project at a time, or other projects bins, and a few other things). Most importantly though, I am supremely confident that Adobe will not abandon me!

    1. Philip

      Well, Apple have frequently said that FCP X is the foundation for the next 10 years development in their NLE. They have the resources to do that.

      avid will almost certainly go through a bankruptcy in the next couple of years, barring a miracle, and their NLE products are the least important of the company’s sales (12% of consolidated net revenue is from all NLEs they sell, down from 14% a couple of years ago).

      Dynamic Media division in Adobe is currently considered reasonably important, but look at what happened to Flash…. The DM division within Adobe is a relatively small part of their total revenue and not unreasonable to be dropped in some future purge. Adobe have not committed to 10 years of future development for Premiere Pro (although it is likely); Apple have committed to 10 years development for FCP X.

      Media Composer isn’t that fast – watching people spend precious minutes clicking in and out of tabs is painful. It is fast if you’re a fully keyboard driven editor, but they are few.

      Don’t go blindly down a path without really considering which company has made the public commitment and has the resources to back it up. It’s not Avid, it might be Adobe, it is Apple.

      1. Steve

        Interesting points Philip. However my concern with Apple is amplified by recent history: the EOL-ing of Color… Shake… DVD Studio… their complete ignorance when it comes to Blu-ray (I know this is a licensing issue). Apple says DVD’s are a dead technology – not from my perspective… DVD’s are very much alive in my world and the world of other editors; deliverables, preview, in-expensive data transfer, back-ups, etc… I know Apple like to make ‘choices’ for us ahead of the curve…. but sometimes their arrogance can actually encourage exploration beyond their world.

        1. Philip

          I take your point about DVD, but DVD Studio Pro still works just as well as it ever did, on Mountain Lion and runs faster on current hardware than any Mac Pro. I have a project planned for late 2013 that will likely be primarily DVD distribution, and I expect I’ll use DVD SP.

          As for EOL the apps you mention – every company has EOL’d apps that were crucial to my business at one time or the other. Life goes on.

          As for Blu-ray, I think Apple made the right call here: the demand is low and you can still do a basic Blu-ray with the current FCP.

        2. Steve Speed

          When Apple has EOLed software there has generally been good reason to do so and an alternative Apple product or a 3rd party product to jump to.

          Shake went because it really did reach its useful EOL and required a complete rewrite and at the time NUKE was the natural successor. Apple needed Shake to attract Pros to the platform but the move to Intel CPUs really turned around the Mac’s fortunes and 3rd parties came in and Apple really didn’t need to spend the resources on what amounts to a few thousand seats of a high-end compositor. I still use Shake as I nor my clients have any need for stereo3D but should that change I wouldn’t hesitate to buy NUKE.

          Color was pretty much in the same boat as Shake needing a rewrite and some of Color has made it into the Color Board such as the auto colour Balance. I tried Color a few weeks ago and TBH it wasn’t as good as I remembered it. I do all my grading in FCPX with the Color Board and with many tools I have created in Motion. I cannot envisage going back to roundtripping ever again if I did I know I can DL Resolve.

          The same is generally true for hardware removal, there’s generally a good reason or an alternative. I haven’t put a DVD in my Mac for over 2 years maybe even longer. I have a DVD rec/player in the office but it sits there collecting dust and is only kept “just in case.”

          We use USB thumb drives to move data around from work to home or to clients. Distribution is always internet based and I haven’t had a client ask for DVD. Even in the DVD era requests were low and I got as many requests for tape as DVDs. All clients I work with are fully signed up to internet distribution CDN or dropbox which, TBH, is a huge effing relief.

          When the two factions (HDDVD vs BR) went about warring over the right to fleece customers I made a decision to stay with DVD until internet delivery was a viable. I watch everything through my AppleTV having ripped all my DVDs to it some time ago. The studios spent so much on the format war we’re still feeling the effects with digital download services being held back not to take sales away from BR discs. I hope one day we’ll be able to get films on AppleTV while they’re playing in the cinemas so I don’t have to put up with sitting with ignoramuses that want to talk on their phones or behave like their at a chimp’s tea party.

          Apple removed Image Units from Motion which I believe are from Quartz Composer. I wonder if there’s new technology on its way or if QC is being EOLed?

    2. John

      Hi Steve
      I dont follow your logic. Your FCP7 projects open fine on FCP7.
      Keep using it.

      Avid seems to be close to being sold to Grass Valley or another broadcast company like Harris who wants their on-air server clients and newsroom business. Editors? Avid’s buyer could care less.

      Adobe? Don’t be so confident. They have great talent working on Premiere and Audition and it has improved out of sight… but if times get tough? They will always revert to Photoshop and PDF.

      IMHO the only mistake Apple made was not calling FCPX by its codename Vertigo.
      Then all of the editors who are prepared to take a risk on new ways to edit could have bought it, and not got mocked for doing so.
      the next generation of editors could have learned it and been proud…

      the old timers who for some reason think Apple owe them a living i.e. guaranteed upgrades and feature add ons for the 40 years could have stayed on FCP7 and thrown stones at Vertigo

      1. Steve

        Hi John,

        You have me worried… I use Grass Valley products at work… our newsroom is based on Aurora – what a hideous editor that is, and ridiculously expensive. Unfortunately I have never been happy with FCP7 – slow renders and for some reason my system loses renders… nine time out of ten when I re-open a project after a couple of days of not working on that project the renders have disappeared! Very frustrating.

    3. Chris WIlby

      “Most importantly though, I am supremely confident that Adobe will not abandon me!”

      Adobe abandoned Premier once before over a spat with Apple. I remember this as I had just started to learn Premier Pro at the time…thanks Adobe!

      If you think Adobe are that smart, then answer this: why did they dump Project Rome. Look it up Steve.

    4. Greg

      I was a big user of PageMaker for professional desktop publishing, but Adobe killed it when they created InDesign. I was an even bigger user of GoLive for professional web design, but Adobe killed it in favor of Dreamweaver. Adobe will replace and kill their own software when it makes sense.

      1. Chris Wilby

        Adobe didn’t kill PageMaker when it created InDesign; Quark XPress killed PageMaker and InDesign has killed (just about) Quark XPress. I know, because I used these, and still do, for design work. Greg, if you can’t martial facts together to make your point, don’t try and skew them, especially when dealing with somebody like me. You now look very foolish in my eyes… 🙂

        1. Philip

          Adobe killed pagemaker because they built InDesign, as a do-over (just like Apple’s FCP 7 to FCP X do-over for all the same reasons.) Yes, Quark was killing Pagemaker but we only used Pagemaker, so it was a kill from our perspective. Your take on history is simply wrong Chris.

          Don’t argue facts with Greg, that’s always a losing proposition. Greg has his facts correct, your recollection is faulty. Sorry.

          1. Philip

            Adobe made the decision to kill a popular application (Pagemaker) when they created a completely new take. The action with Quark was competitive from another company, so they had nothing to do with Adobe’s decision to kill Pagemaker, and later GoLive.

            Adobe made those decisions, not any 3rd party, and the timing does not support your historic revisionism.

          2. Chris Wilby

            You can prove anything with ‘facts’ Philip! 🙂

            I’ve got to be honest I totally disagree with you on this one. My history isn’t wrong. I used Aldus (later to become Adobe) PageMaker, and from where I was in the UK, XPress absolutely pummelled PageMaker. We can split hairs on this one all you like but I was there (metaphorically speaking) and I tend not to go in for ‘historic revisionism’. Adobe didn’t have an ‘either or’ decision to make with PageMaker/InDesign; XPress had smashed it into the ground and InDesign was their response (as I see it) – a rather good one at that. The GoLive /Dreamweaver situation was different. They couldn’t keep going with both of them, so they made a choice, as I see it.

            I admire you for sticking up for your friend by the way.

          3. Philip

            Adobe killed Pagemaker with no way of moving projects forward to InDesign. it was a huge controversy at the time. But they killed all Pagemaker development, well before InDesign was truly ready (at version 2.0 and later). (Sounds like apple FCP 7 to FCP X 😉 )

            Agreed that Xpress had largely killed the market for Pagemaker, but we’d found no need to go to anything else. But we had no way forward with our existing books and manuals in to InDesign.

            Again, agreed they had to make a decision between GoLive and Dreamweaver. The point was that betting on Adobe to keep a product alive has not proven to be a sound one in the past. Countering the assertion above that “Adobe will look after me”.

            Honestly,you can’t build a business on the assumption that any particular piece of software is going to continue. You adapt as times change, as did the users of *edit, and Fast in the recent past, as those products EOL’d.

            Greg and I lived it together, maybe that’s why our recollections are so close – 21 years and counting.

            Historic revisionism was probably a bit harsh. I apologize. I also believe that how we feel at the time, often affects how we remember things. Memory, generally, is very unreliable. That’s why I find it so valuable to have Greg as a cross reference.

          4. Chris Wilby

            I totally agree with you… if we start to fall for either Apple or Adobe’s Marketing BS they we’ll all suffer.
            I admit to having soft spot for Apple; they’ve allowed me to do so many things, that I never felt possible. I don’t feel they’ve ever let me down, even if I do think they spend way too much time on the iOS thingies. Thats just the way it is. Thats life.
            By the way, I didn’t think you were being ‘harsh’ with me, just ‘honest’. In the modern world that is something to admire. Its the way I was brought up too. 🙂

  18. Andrew Hutchins

    Thanks for the great article. First time I used FCPX I was frustrated because I tried to edit like I did in FCP7. It only took a week for me to realize that FCPX is the NLE for me. Sure there were some features missing that have since been restored, but I loved it. The main thing I want now is true round tripping with Motion.

    I think FCPX will eventually gain a lot more of the high end professionals. The only problem that Apple will face, in my opinion, is all of the misinformation out there. It is amazing what people complain about that are simply not true. Some friends of mine said that FCPX doesn’t include a “roll tool”. It is hilarious because the magnetic timeline is the ultimate system for a roll tool. There is also that ridiculous idea that you can’t share project files.

    Two questions

    1) After reading an article from Ripple Training, I started using sparse disk images as the way to manage projects and related media. Are there any negatives to this? For me sparse disk images eliminate the need for Event Manager and is an awesome backup solution. Do you think Event Manager would be better? I assume you do think it is better because it is your product.

    2) You may have mentioned this previously, but do you miss any of the old applications that have been discontinued? I’m talking about Color, Soundtrack Pro, Shake, etc? My opinion is that there are better products out there for each. Resolve and ProTools immediately come to mind.

    1. Philip

      Event Manager X is certainly not a backup system. It would be much faster than sparse images, but other than that I don’t see much difference. Event Manager X also keeps track of what Events and Projects you don’t have loaded, something I expect you’d be doing manually with sparse images.

      I miss Soundtrack Pro, except I don’t because I still use it for audio editing. (I am intending to check out Audition for it’s clean up capabilities.) I never used the Color app, and haven’t authored a DVD in about two years, but if I do, it will be in DVD Studio Pro, which still works fine. But free Resolve is probably a better tool than Color ever was (and will be more popular because, being free, there will be a big enough user base for tutorials to appear). ProTools remains the king of audio post, but I am interested in the rumored-but-likely-to-be-true Logic X. Perhaps that’s why there’s no direct link to the current logic, and not much in the way of audio finishing tools in FCP X. (Even a mixer would be nice!)

      BTW there is a roll tool if you open up the Precision Trim Editor – the edit location bar can be rolled. (You may have to turn that on in Preferences?) Reaction to the Magnetic Timeline is funny: seems to be almost “well, I like the rumored speed of FCP X but it needs to have tracks and get rid of the magnetic timeline” not realizing that’s where the speed comes from (at least in part).

  19. Chris Wilby

    topics from and interesting spat at Alex4D…

    dudemeister commented on Final Cut Pro X: Apple’s bet against track-based editing.

    in response to Andie Moepse:

    I’d say that pretty much sums it up, yes. 😀 Even a blind man can see that Avid is DEAD. The level denial of that fact is just plain STAGGERING.

    Wow… having to reference an age old bad joke to make a point shosw how little you have. Sad. Especially since the same guys are just about the WORST (pathetic and embarrassing) reference you could make in the context of AVID, since they just recently were paid to do a lame Premiere promo for Adobe. Oh yeah, and what THEY do is the epitome of “pro” work, huh?? :-)))) Yeah, real tough job hacking together a live talk show. Wow.

    And sorry to break it to you, Mr. Pro (lol), but I work for a large studio in L.A. where we recently switched from Symphony to FCP X for producing TV pilots for HBO, Starz and more… but you go ahead on dreaming. Whilst you go down with your ship, fist raised high, we’ll be over here actually working. You really seem to need the justification. Gee… wonder why?! LOL

    1. Steve Speed

      Great find Chris.

      There is a consistent theme running in the negative comments, there is an overwhelming need for verification that studios use the software before they feel happy to use it themselves.

      They also have a dated view of “the industry” which no longer exists. The real industry is so broad and varied it is difficult to categorise with no two pros do the same work.

      There is also a refusal to acknowledge another way of doing things and to embrace a NLE that doesn’t box the user into a fixed way of working. Some people need to feel safe with more limited metaphors such as bins.

      There is a pretence that clients demand you use particular software in my 20 yr experience is complete bollox. The only thing clients have demanded is work of the highest quality.

      My pet theory for the hate that fcpx receives is that the architects have produced a beautifully clean interface free from unnecessary clutter. It looks simplistic, I have even seen it referred to as childish, so there’s no hiding behind knobs and whistles, no lecturn to shrink behind. The client can easily see if you can edit or not. No bluff of over complicating the editing experience just a streamlined editing experience but a new take on it. So people like to think editing should be about knobs and whistles, it isn’t.

      I went to a Uni that taught editing on iMovie. The software was never seen as being important but the editing craft was.

  20. Patrick James

    I’m delighted to read such an intelligent blog post about Final Cut Pro X.

    I haven’t had a chance to read the many comments but I will add my own.

    I have been editing video for some years. I used to work in the TV industry in the UK although not as a video editor then. In the last years I’ve been doing some lecturing on creative video production at a university.

    For me Final Cut Pro X does represent a very significant leap forward in the ease at which I can edit video. I actually bought it in the first few days of its release and I’ve been using it exclusively since that time.

    The hostility towards it was enormous. I remember putting a few posts in its favour at the Apple discussion forums and being greeted with an amazing amount of negativity. Of course the Internet is full of instant experts on everything.

    There is a problem with consumers which is that they are often extremely conservative and only wish incremental improvements in what they already know. Although a company like Apple or any company should always listen to its customers it would have been a mistake for Apple to reign in its ambitions with FCPX because of the conservative nature of consumers.

    In the case of FCPX I think Apple are to be commended for proceeding with this innovative video editor and not being cowed by the so-called “experts” who thought they knew better.

    It has been interesting to watch the changing perceptions of FCPX. There could be a graph plotted perhaps with a line for those who had never used it but knew it was evil and another for those who had actually used it. At its release the former group was vast in number and spreading the amazing stories about FCPX which I encounter all the time. However the later group in my graph, of those who have actually used FCPX is growing all the time and now they are probably greater in number.

    I think that fairly soon the remarkably ignorant negativity about FCPX will cease and we will see the naysayers disappear.

    1. Chris Wilby

      Just found a new podcast on iTunes (to me at any rate!) called:

      Crossing the 180

      where you’ll find a two-part interview with Chris Fenwick, the second of which is supposed to be on FCPX.

      Happy listening… 🙂

  21. Rob Smith

    We want to join the X party. I put the following on the COW but no one answered , do you folk have any advice?

    Our company happily uses fcp studio with projects and media mounted via osx file server . We looked at FCPX briefly and went back to work for a year. Could someone much closer to X please offer an opinion on the workflow and infrastructure needed to deal with our typical scenario but using today’s fcpx:

    Bob (in his edit suite) works with agency , edits his commercial presses command s then quits for the day.

    Andy (upstairs, always in after hours) takes a call saying there is a typo amendment to Bobs project, opens Bobs project, fixes typo, exports a copy for client, presses command save and gets back to his own job.

    Three hours later the agency ring up Robert (who is often in at the crack of dawn) asking to revert the typo. Robert opens the project and makes the amend while still on the phone.

    Bob gets into work opens his edit and tweaks the grade behind that cool word they were so into yesterday, as he fills out the time sheet he notices extra work has happened overnight but shows no further interest.

    We have been doing this as a team since the sawtooth G4 was current hardware with no sparse disking, media or file transfer, we expect to open , edit and save our video edits as easily as our psd and AE .
    I am keen to invest in hardware and learn new methods but it must be toward more efficiency.
    I am not clear what to do atm …what is the advice of the herd?

    1. Philip

      Simple.Bob unmounts his SAN location and Andy mounts that SAN location (presuming he has permission, but that’s your call). Andy finishes and unmounts the SAN location and then Robert loads it.

      If the OS X file server is not a true SAN then you’ll need something like MetaLAN or metaSAN to set up a network on your current infrastructure. If you’re using XSAN now, you’re good to go.


    2. Greg

      COW frequent commenter Jeremy Garchow has been using FCPX + SAN for awhile now with great success.

      For further reading here’s the knowledge base article pointing to the SAN white paper PDF:

  22. Rob Smith

    Thanks for the response and the link .

    In a situation where someone has popped out to lunch and an edit urgently needs updating , would an editor have to walk down to the cutting bay in question and physically unmount the SAN location?
    I’m thinking about how we would know what room to go to and password acces to the persons workstation.

    1. Greg

      The (sensible) limitation with SAN locations is that they can be mounted by only one FCPX user at a time. Which prevents a user stomping on another user’s work.

    2. Philip

      Yes, you have to unmount the SAN location so another user would be able to access it. Even with a theoretical Event Manger X, the user with the Event active would have to unmount it from FCP X (quit FCP X) so another user could access it.

      1. Rob Smith

        Thank you for your time and knowledge. One word answers will not cause offence.

        Sounds like our protocol of quitting the app will stay in place but if a colleague were to leave fcpX running on a screenlocked workstation and we pulled the power plug on his machine, would the SAN location become free?

        I’ve been fettling my file server since it was OS9 but SAN is something I only read about: Is it possible for the same named user to login and mount one SAN location to multiple FCPX workstations , ie. all editors login to server resources using the same credentials?

        1. Philip

          If you pulled the power on the machine the SAN location would become free.

          A SAN location (as defined by FCP X) can only be mounted on one machine at a time. I’d love to be able to share an Event so multiple people could source that content into their own Projects, but that’s not possible with the current development of FCP X. (It’s something I think they’ll add at some future time, but that’s no help now.)