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?