Old Production Takes From an Old Guy

My Reaction of FinalCut Pro X

As I’m sure you all know, FCP X debuted last week on the Apple Store. It’s generated quite a lot of buzz, though much of it bad. Even Conan made fun of it, which says something about how mainstream Apple has become. A lot of professional and serious amateur editors are up in arms over the new version, though. I can understand the frustration, but I for one am glad Apple blew up FCP 7 and started over, at least for those of us in the church market. Here’s why:

FinalCut Pro was originally developed in the late ‘90s by Randy Ubillos when he was at MacroMedia. It was originally called Key Grip, never released and sold to Apple. Early versions were pretty anemic, and while it has grown into a editing powerhouse, it’s really become a kludge. The interface has become decidedly unApple-like, and even with the additions of the orbital apps (Compressor, Soundtrack, DVD Studio Pro, Color, Motion), the integration between them hasn’t been great. 

Because it’s a 32-bit architecture, it’s limited in how far it can go into the future. Really, it was time to scrap it and start over from the ground up as a 64-bit Cocoa app. That change, while necessary, does come with a price. But like everything, determining the value of that price is critical. To wit:

Some have moaned on about how there is no provision for bringing in previous projects into FCP X. Personally, I say, “So what?” When we moved from an A-B Roll tape-based editing system to non-linear in 1995 we orphaned 10 years of tape projects at my video studio. We never looked back. Since I’ve been editing digitally for over 15 years, I can count on one hand the times we went back to a project. And editing in the church for 5, I’ve never gone back to re-work an old project. That’s me. For some it might be a big deal. Personally, I don’t care. I edit a video for this weekend, and next weekend we’ve moved on. 

No multi-camera support has been cited as a big deal. Again, I don’t care. I’ve never used multi-cam in FCP 7. Actually I tried it once, and it was such a pain to set up, I gave up and went back to the old way of doing it. Really, I rarely shoot anything with more than one camera, so I won’t miss the feature. And Apple says they’ll add it back eventually. So, whatever.

Lack of SAN support has also been pointed out. This one has some merit (really, they all have merit if it’s important to your business, it just doesn’t matter to me) if you’re used to capturing a service to a centralized storage location, then having other editors work on the footage. But I doubt that’s many of us. We capture to a USB 2.0 drive attached to an iMac and edit right there. So again, not a big deal.

I could go on and on explaining why all the negatives people have pointed out don’t bother me. But I’m wasting space. What gets me excited about FCP X is all the stuff they got right; the magnetic timeline, for example. I’ve spent so much time fixing stuff that got out of sync or accidentally trimmed in FCP 7 that I can’t wait to work with the new timeline. And the fact that we can finally do sample-level audio edits. Or compound clips. How about the fact that you can drop any format of video on the timeline and start editing while it renders in the background? 

I’m excited that it is 64-bit, uses Grand Central and is built on Cocoa. The fact that you can shove an SD card into your Mac and start editing while it copies and optimizes the video in the background will be a huge timesaver. And how about shot-based auto color matching? How many times are you editing different clips of an event and they jump all over the place from a color balance perspective? Now we can click and correct. Sure it’s not a DaVinci, but it’s going to be close enough for 98% of us.

Again I could go on, but you can go to the Apple web site and read more. I think it’s a great release and can’t wait to start using it. I can see how people who have come to rely on FCP 7’s advanced power editor features would be upset. But as someone posted on Twitter, “Apple is fine with angering 5,000 professionals to win 2 Million consumers.” 

The reality is, FCP X brings some amazing editing features to the desktop at a price that almost any church can afford. Does it fit the bill for everyone? No. And if you still need to access your old projects, don’t delete FCP 7 from your system. 

Personally, I’m ready to move into this decade with an editing program. What’s your take on FCP X?

13 Comments

  1. lleake@crossroads.org

    I'm in the wait and see camp. I like the foundation FCPX is providing, and think it will mature well for users in the HOW space. I've been watching tutorials on FCPX, and beginning to explore how to use it in my workflow, but I'm keeping FCS7 installed, and falling back to it when I'm on a deadline, as I've learned how to produce my typical deliverables.

  2. lleake@crossroads.org

    I'm in the wait and see camp. I like the foundation FCPX is providing, and think it will mature well for users in the HOW space. I've been watching tutorials on FCPX, and beginning to explore how to use it in my workflow, but I'm keeping FCS7 installed, and falling back to it when I'm on a deadline, as I've learned how to produce my typical deliverables.

  3. filip.suciu@gmail.com

    FCP's hideous interface isn't so much of a problem as is the lack of efficient CPU usage. The fact that i've got 3 cores idling while one is at 100% is what bothered me (same issue with Adobe's CS3, thankfully fixed in CS4). I would move to FCP X for GCP alone, magnetic timeline, background rendering and color-correction are just bonuses. Plus it's ony 300 bucks ($20 more than Office 2011).

  4. filip.suciu@gmail.com

    FCP's hideous interface isn't so much of a problem as is the lack of efficient CPU usage. The fact that i've got 3 cores idling while one is at 100% is what bothered me (same issue with Adobe's CS3, thankfully fixed in CS4). I would move to FCP X for GCP alone, magnetic timeline, background rendering and color-correction are just bonuses. Plus it's ony 300 bucks ($20 more than Office 2011).

  5. smithville99@gmail.com

    FCPX is just another tool. If it works for you that's great. If it doesn't work for you then find a product that does.

    For me I've been using FCP since v 2.0. My take is FCP X is a let down. It's been 4 years since a major update of FCP. FCS 3 was a minor update, several apps didn't even get updated in the suite. I understand it takes a lot of effort to retool the engine but Adobe did it with Premiere between CS4 and CS5 and they didn't take a step backwards to do it, in fact they took some leaps forward.

    I love Apple's hardware and have bought dozens of machines for the churches I work for over the last 12 years. But I'm concerned how they have treated the pro market. First they bought and then killed off Shake, now they've done it with Color. Is Logic next on the chopping block? I understand the consumer/ prosumer market is much more profitable. I'm fine with that as long as Apple can keep making great hardware. I'm making the switch to Adobe for my workflow which is heavily dependent on After Effects. Honestly CS5.5 is everything I hoped FCP X would be.

  6. smithville99@gmail.com

    FCPX is just another tool. If it works for you that's great. If it doesn't work for you then find a product that does.

    For me I've been using FCP since v 2.0. My take is FCP X is a let down. It's been 4 years since a major update of FCP. FCS 3 was a minor update, several apps didn't even get updated in the suite. I understand it takes a lot of effort to retool the engine but Adobe did it with Premiere between CS4 and CS5 and they didn't take a step backwards to do it, in fact they took some leaps forward.

    I love Apple's hardware and have bought dozens of machines for the churches I work for over the last 12 years. But I'm concerned how they have treated the pro market. First they bought and then killed off Shake, now they've done it with Color. Is Logic next on the chopping block? I understand the consumer/ prosumer market is much more profitable. I'm fine with that as long as Apple can keep making great hardware. I'm making the switch to Adobe for my workflow which is heavily dependent on After Effects. Honestly CS5.5 is everything I hoped FCP X would be.

  7. paul@trinitydigitalmedia.com

    Yes! Exactly. I'm SOO tired of "It's iMovie Pro, not Final Cut Pro." When we saw the video from NAB, no one said, "That's the iMovie interface!" They said, "It looks so cool!" Sure things are missing, but Apple addressed those in its FAQ. I think soon it will rock. I know it already beats FCP 1 and 2 (not studio) which I started with 10 years ago.

    Paul

  8. paul@trinitydigitalmedia.com

    Yes! Exactly. I'm SOO tired of "It's iMovie Pro, not Final Cut Pro." When we saw the video from NAB, no one said, "That's the iMovie interface!" They said, "It looks so cool!" Sure things are missing, but Apple addressed those in its FAQ. I think soon it will rock. I know it already beats FCP 1 and 2 (not studio) which I started with 10 years ago.

    Paul

  9. benhparker@me.com

    Although I think it should have had a refresh and been built for the future, this was not the way to do it. Pro Apps are for pros and are meant to be heavy hitters. That means they will be complicated. No legacy support, plus the absence of multi clip is fatal for me – they shot themselves in the foot.

    I get the desire to be innovative but clearly they weren't communicating with anyone in the industry before they pulled the trigger on this….sad really.

  10. benhparker@me.com

    Although I think it should have had a refresh and been built for the future, this was not the way to do it. Pro Apps are for pros and are meant to be heavy hitters. That means they will be complicated. No legacy support, plus the absence of multi clip is fatal for me – they shot themselves in the foot.

    I get the desire to be innovative but clearly they weren't communicating with anyone in the industry before they pulled the trigger on this….sad really.

  11. John Long

    I actually love FCP. As an old school analog editor, FPC runs and thinks the way I did in the old analog days and I thought it was a very easy timeline to navigate through.

    I'm always excited to try new technology and FCP X has some changes that will certainly speed up the process. The wait while rendering has always been the pitfall for me. (I actually use the time to learn to play the guitar).

    I say, let's play with X for a while before we cry. We all know it takes time to embrace and/or find problems with any new system.

    I don't think there's anyone that a more hard-core editor than me…20 years in broadcast; 10 in church…and I for one think it only makes the good editors better when they embrace.

  12. macsound@gmail.com

    I'm also from the church world, have used FCP for 5 years? and have not yet tried FCPX, but will in the next few days.
    I use FCP for lots of projects, some not even related to video. I recently used it to break one long audio track into multiple tracks because I could set in and out points and create subclips to export all the tracks.
    Also, being a church, I create lots of videos out of moving pictures and random video clips of stock footage along with quickly clipping service videos, adding lower 3rds and dumping to dvd, high and low bandwidth web versions.
    End back story

    The difficult part I have is the "magnetic" bit. Automatic color correction and the analyzation of shots.

    I don't want it to do anything automatically. Maybe I set the white balance screwy intentionally or I didn't want those clips to jump together or automatically add a fade that I'm going to have to remove.

    Also, being able to add video of any format makes editors feel like amateurs. It is kind of video 101 that dumping a DV video into a ProRes timeline next to mp4 video will cause an unpredictable outcome. This is the time you get a message saying to do something about it instead of just converting a (possibly) pre converted file again, making that SD file look even worse. If you got the popup, maybe you'd make the whole thing DV instead of HD…

    And seriously, you can't open a project file? It has to be in a specific folder to show up within the app? Obviously aimed at people that don't manage files and say they saved it in Word, not knowing if it's on the desktop, documents or a network drive.

    Despite my rant, I'm excited about the better machine utilization and hopefully better integration of the "studio" apps like compressor, despite dropping some of the more useful apps like dvdsp.

  13. macsound@gmail.com

    I'm also from the church world, have used FCP for 5 years? and have not yet tried FCPX, but will in the next few days.
    I use FCP for lots of projects, some not even related to video. I recently used it to break one long audio track into multiple tracks because I could set in and out points and create subclips to export all the tracks.
    Also, being a church, I create lots of videos out of moving pictures and random video clips of stock footage along with quickly clipping service videos, adding lower 3rds and dumping to dvd, high and low bandwidth web versions.
    End back story

    The difficult part I have is the "magnetic" bit. Automatic color correction and the analyzation of shots.

    I don't want it to do anything automatically. Maybe I set the white balance screwy intentionally or I didn't want those clips to jump together or automatically add a fade that I'm going to have to remove.

    Also, being able to add video of any format makes editors feel like amateurs. It is kind of video 101 that dumping a DV video into a ProRes timeline next to mp4 video will cause an unpredictable outcome. This is the time you get a message saying to do something about it instead of just converting a (possibly) pre converted file again, making that SD file look even worse. If you got the popup, maybe you'd make the whole thing DV instead of HD…

    And seriously, you can't open a project file? It has to be in a specific folder to show up within the app? Obviously aimed at people that don't manage files and say they saved it in Word, not knowing if it's on the desktop, documents or a network drive.

    Despite my rant, I'm excited about the better machine utilization and hopefully better integration of the "studio" apps like compressor, despite dropping some of the more useful apps like dvdsp.

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