Editor’s Note: This is part 1 of a 3-part series I plan to write on FCPX. Part 2 will cover what to watch out for. Part 3 will be a short post on workflow.
Second, a number of people have commented that I don’t compare FCPX to other NLEs. This is NOT meant to be a comparison review. This post is a response to what has been a hot topic of debate in the editing world: namely, is FCPX a viable NLE for the professional.
I wrote this review because a lot of reviews I’ve read were either passionate filmmakers pissed off (therefore biased against writing an objective review), veteran editors who have a financial incentive for you to get FCPX, or objective journalists who, although they liked the program, didn’t really learn how to use it properly. I’m none of those things. I have no financial incentive whatsoever. Just a sincere desire to help the industry. Those of you who know me and this blog know that I like to get down to brass tacks and not let personal feelings get in the way of making a good decision for your BUSINESS. That’s what this series is about. Will FCPX be a good choice for your business or career as a filmmaker. But, there is just enough commentary to satisfy the creative in you as well.
I first took film and video production courses the summer of 1992. Back then we used LINEAR, tape to tape editors. Ugh! What a pain. Over the years since then I’ve used Media 100, iMovie, and eventually Final Cut Pro 1.0. For the past eleven years I’ve been a die-hard FCP user. And I, like many FCP editors, were waiting with bated breath for Apple to release an update.
Then in the spring of 2011 Apple released Final Cut Pro X (FCPX) and the response was disastrous. Professional editors and other filmmakers who had made FCP their NLE (non-linear editor) of choice for many years felt like Apple betrayed them. A ton of key professional features were missing. A whole new paradigm for editing was created. And perhaps the most egregious thing…it looked like iMovie! In fact, that’s what it was called. “iMovie on steroids!” The backlash was so significant, Conan O’Brien had his editors made a funny spoof video about it. (Think about that. A late night comedic host poked fun at a professional NLE as a skit aimed at the general audience.)
But a funny thing happened along the way. Apple started releasing updates. Some of those missing features were eventually added back. Now, almost two years later, there have been seven updates to the program. On top of that, Apple even created a fully functional 30-day trial (something Apple has never done with pro software, as far as I know.) But have the updates been enough?
It Pays to be Patient
I originally wrote about FCPX and the reaction from filmmakers in my post “FCPX and the Problem with Creatives.” As of this blog post writing, it is still the fifth most read blog post on this site. Basically I said the problem with creatives is that they’re often too quick to jump on a new thing, especially if it’s tech related. They have to get the new iPhone, new camera, or new NLE the minute it hits the market. I learned a long time ago, especially when it comes to software, never to get it when it first comes out. It’s always better to sit and wait. And wait. And sometimes, wait some more.
So I waited. Waited to see what Apple would do with FCPX. As I waited, many of my colleagues jumped ship for Adobe Premiere. And why not. It’s a terrific program that integrates so well with perhaps the king of motion graphic programs, Adobe’s After Effects. In fact, Conan’s editors loved it so much, they made a follow-up video praising the new Premiere (one of them joking that it’s like “Final Cut 8.”) I stuck with FCP7. Partly because I had too many projects in progress and I didn’t want to switch mid-way. But also because slowly but surely Apple started adding things back.
Then last summer I listened to an episode of the Digital Convergence Podcast where co-host and nearly 30-year editing veteran Chris Fenwick told a story about a job he did for Mini Cooper. A job he said he couldn’t have done with any other NLE other than FCPX. My ears perked. Here was a veteran editor actually proclaiming the virtues of “iMovie Pro”? I saw other articles pop up here and there from seasoned filmmakers. By this time Apple had released 10.0.5. Things like multicam editing was added back. XML support was added. As well as some other key features.
Then 10.0.6 was released last fall. More features added. Many bugs fixed. Major production houses (like @radical.media and Dean Devlin’s Electric Entertainment) were coming out on Apple’s site with case studies again (FCP7 had a lot of convincing case studies that naturally were removed when FCPX was released. It took a while before new case studies were added). I finally determined it was time to give it a look-see.
I’m glad I waited. If I hadn’t, I might have missed out on what could possibly be the NLE of the future.
Making the Switch
One of the main reasons I held out for so long was also to see if FCPX would stick. Would Apple stay committed to this program? Or were they abandoning the pro market altogether? There are three things that give me confidence Apple is in this for the long haul and still committed to the pro.
- Built from the ground up. You don’t put that kind of money and manpower into something you don’t plan to keep for a while.
- Number of updates. I was in the software industry for eight years. I know what it takes to get out new updates. That fact that Apple has had as many as they have in such a short period of time is significant.
- Pro features. As promised, Apple has added back the key pro features that were missing in 10.0.0. And the capabilities the program has now are impressive.
So I downloaded and installed the trial. What I DIDN’T do was start playing around in it to “figure it out.” I read enough about the program to know that it was a paradigmatic shift in editing. I would only get frustrated trying to figure it out. So I looked for training. First, I tried to find free videos online about how to use it. And there are indeed quite a number. But it was getting too much of a pain Googling and searching for 3- to 5-minute videos here and there. So I decided to just fork over 40 bucks and get Ripple Training’s Apple Pro Video Series which was updated for 10.06 (and now 10.0.7 as of this writing). It was the best $40 I invested in training. Over 5 hours of training with about 40 lessons. The great thing was, I didn’t have to finish all five hours before I learned enough to start editing client projects. I would say about 1/3 of the lessons were enough for me to start using the program. (In truth, I still haven’t finished all the lessons. I go to it now when I need to learn something specific).
Immediately I could tell I was editing faster. Not only that, it felt fresh. FCP7 was looking really stodgy. FCPX had a sleek and sexy look. It was actually fun to edit again.
Since booting up that trial version last November, I’ve edited about seven client projects with FCPX and three personal projects. And I gotta tell you, I’m hooked. There’s nothing I did with FCP7 that I can’t do with FCPX. In fact, in most cases, I can do it faster and better.
I took the liberty of keeping a running list of all the things I love about FCPX. I’ve added them at the end of the blog post for your reading enjoyment.
Is FCPX the Future?
I do think FCPX could be the NLE of the future. There are three main reasons:
- Power. Despite the fact it’s called FCP X (X as in 10) it’s really more like a 1.x version. considering everything it can already do as a 1.x version (now officially, a 1.7 as of this writing), it can only get better from here.
- Proliferation. Specifically the proliferation of 3rd party developers. They are springing up everywhere, giving creatives more options and flexibility (and power) in their editing. As more developers come online, that will mean more people talking and marketing it.
- Price. At only $299 expect more first-time, student and indie filmmakers turning to FCPX. Think about it. It pretty much can do all the essential tasks the old FCP did, but at a third the price. That’s huge. More and more small Mac-based producers like me looking for editing help will find that a majority of applicants will be FCPX users.
The question you may want to ask yourself is: “Is FCPX in your future?” Admittedly, it’s not for everyone. If you’re a heavy After Effects user, it may make perfect sense for you to use Premiere Pro. But, if the only reason you have disregarded FCPX is because you’ve heard it’s just “iMovie Pro.” Then you’re being short-sighted and missing out.
As promised, here’s that list of notes I took about FCPX as I started to use it.
- Keywords and smart collections will make doc filmmakers drool. Use them! Such a breeze to find the specific clips you need.
- Quickly created smart collection to find files not yet optimized. VERY COOL.
- Selective copy and paste is terrific. Before when you pasted attributes, all attributes in a particular category (e.g. “filters”) were pasted. Now you can paste specific filters.
- Cmd-dragging a selection in a clip is great. Lovin’ the “/” key to auto play around the selection.
- I kept wanting to hit cmd-S to save. No need to. 🙂
- Select a clip, then hit “x” to make it a selection range
- As Steve says in the tutorial, creating split edits is “crazy simple”
- Audition clips are genius. Why aren’t more people excited about this? Crazy stupid.
- Precision editor makes it extremely easy to trim and fine tune edits.
- Shift-F for reveal in Event library is sweet. Nice being able to quickly find the original media
- At one point on a real gig, I had inadvertently deleted a keyword set after spending a lot of time tagging ranges. I worried I’d have to go back to all those clips, find the ranges again, and re-tag. But FCPX remembered the ranges so all I had to do was re-create the keyword then quickly add them to each of the selected ranges.
- To-do markers are very useful.
- Timeline index makes it a breeze to quickly find tags, to-do markers, etc.
- Audio enhancements easy to use
- Retiming tools are visual and powerful. Love that you can manually affect speed of clip by just dragging retiming bar.
- It was always a pain to apply variable timing effects in FCP7. Now, it can easily be done visually using the retiming bar and the range selection tool. While the retiming bar is activated on a clip, just select a range you want affected. Then you can manually retime just that section of the clip. Holla!
- Preserve pitch for video retiming is awesome
- Say goodbye to that janky, Boris 3D titler (Blech). Easily add titles on fly, change them on-screen with easy access to formatting, fonts, alignment, and a bevvy of styles. Can even easily add a basic title or lower third
- Awesome and easy to use Multicam editor. For the life of me I could never get multicam editing to work in FCP7. It never synched right. So I just never bothered. In FCPX, it quickly and easily syncs.
In my next installment I’ll cover some caveats about Final Cut Pro X.
If you’ve made the switch, share what you do and don’t like about FCPX? Do you think it could be the NLE of the future?
re: “I kept wanting to hit cmd-S to save. No need to.”
Biggest muscle memory thingy I still have trouble unlearning 🙂
Exactly same thing here.
Phil Stevens says
Nice post Ron. You know I’ve been using it since it’s launch. After reading this post, there’s a few things I didn’t realize were perks from your list. Thanks.
Great article. Now that the hysteria has died down, it’s great to hear someone talk about what an terrific program this is. I run a small shop and switched over to FCPX in the beginning and cut my editing time in half. Funny enough, one of my editors still tries to make FCPX work like FCP7. Peer reaction so often clouds the better judgement of people, blinding them to amazing achievements.
I agree that this is the NLE of the future, and I expect that the other leading NLEs will start adopting FCPX features like keyword collections, magnetic timeline and Audition.
Crews Control (@CrewsControlInc) says
Ron, this is a great article but I still feel like we are all trying to justify using this software. I agree about the power of the program, and I am a firm believer that it’s not the software that makes video, it’s the user.
I wrote an article not too long ago where I interviewed Russ Johnson, a video editor who was using FCPX for the very first time. I wanted to get his first impressions and criticisms because most of us were just reading about the software and not many of us were actually putting it to use.
Ron Dawson says
In many ways that is what we are doing, mainly because there has been so much put out there about how bad it is. I hope my piece doesn’t come across so much as justifying why I use it, but providing clarity to help others make an objective choice, vs. gut emotional reactions.
I have dabbled with video editing on and off for over a decade, being mostly a still photographer. With my recent purchase of the 5dmk3, I have been wanting to take my story telling to the next level with video. I have used the trial as much as I could and finally purchased FCPX.
The most beautiful things to me are the power/speed of the program and the forgiveness (as you attested to with your keywording). This program makes the best use of processing power, and lets you start story telling without regrets. Make a mistake? Nothings lost and you can easily fix anything in a fraction of the time of most other NLEs.
ted irving says
I’m a big fan of the program since day 1 and have been editing with it and Avid Media Composet 6.5. I see similarities. However, I cant truly enjoy it on my mid 2010 tower running 28mb of RAM. Just not powerful enough and the money i would put in a more powerful graphics card
i may hold for the new black cylinder mac pro.
Hey Ron. Nice post. I’m gonna go edit and work on some editing since reading this.
I’m going to try to keep this short and sweet. I never had FC7 couldn’t afford it and didn’t have a Mac. I learned to edit on a bootleg copy of Avid. One of the hardest things I’ve ever learned.
I got a mac laptop and used final cut express, not knowing it was going to be the last year they will be using it. I bought FCX because the love I for Apple (Not FanBoy) but respect in what they were trying and still trying to do. So I bought FCX and never looked back.
Look at it this way to those that dont like change. When the God camera RED came out did everyone llike it!? NOPE! But what RED did was stick with it. Now they are a force to be recon with. Same goes with what Apple has done with FCX. They saw what changes were coming and wanted to be first to do it. You don’t succeed be last one to the party.
I’m a 31 year old filmmaker and this couldn’t be a better time for me to grow. I feel at times WE get stuck in the past and what it should HAVE been and not look to future on what it WILL be.
BIG DREAMS LEAD TO BIG IDEAS!
I love FCX and it can only get better.
You know if FCPX cut your editing time IN HALF then I’m sorry you didn’t know the previous tool you were using, plain and simple.
Ron Dawson says
Not sure to whom you’re responding, but in case it was to me, I never said it cut my editing time in half. After ten years of using the previous versions of FCP, I can assure you I was extremely versed in it.
No, sorry, it was to:drurybynum
Steve, what is the basis for your assumption?
Ty Stone says
@Steve I know i haven’t done this as long as you but I too like @drurybynum the basis for your assumption?
So the CRAZE with DSLRS, does that mean we don’t know how to use the previous tool or did something better come a long and make it faster to get the job done. Before you put your blinders on, I’m not saying that FCX is the best. A filmmaker is only as good as he/she is. That’s plain and simple, but to come out say that the person doesn’t know how to use that tool is a dumb statement.
You have Hammer A and Hammer B, at it’s base they do the same thing…pound nails, and put holes in the wall. But Hammer B has a nice grip and is lighter than Hammer A
I can pound 6x more nails with Hammer B than I can with Hammer A, also my hands and forearms aren’t tired like they would be with Hammer A. Which means I can get more work done. So I should go with Hammer A because…
Blah blah blah on the hammer comparisons. Hammers are blunt objects and not precision tools like software. All these NLEs do the same thing ultimately and I’ve used them all. FCPX can be fast in a lot of things but don’t be fooled into thinking you’re working twice as fast since you can skim and favorite.
Like Fred Light says below, not needing to transcode footage into Pro Res can cut your editing time significantly. Other features, like skimming, favorites, keyword collections, magnetic timeline, and background rendering are also huge time savers. So yes, I believe my time was cut in half. But it sounds like you’ve got your mind made up.
FCPX isn’t the only editor that doesn’t require transcoding. Keyword collections work well, I like those. And you’re aware that background rendering really isn’t background rendering as when you’re actually working it isn’t render, it stops. If you set FCP7 automatic render to a short start time it was nearly the same thing.
Is that a troll that i see?
Fred Light says
Totally agree…. I waited for a year and waited until I had time to RELEARN everything. I can honestly say my workflow has been turned upside down. It’s FASTER. Significantly. I don’t need to transcode my DLSR footage any longer… which makes it even faster. I edit 3-5+ short videos every single day of the week and this is a total game changer for me. Going back to Final Cut Studio to work on old projects is painful… and that’s being kind.
You know, Adobe Premiere has allowed native editing of DSLR footage for at least the past 3 versions. I don’t know why people are so excited to hear that Final Cut X can do things that Premiere’s been doing for years.
Ron Dawson says
If you think native editing is the thing that people are raving about when it comes to FCPX, you’re either not reading closely, or at all. There’s so much more than that.
The main point I think people should take away is that FCPX is a tool that can do just about everything (if NOT everything) all the other major NLEs can do (and in some cases, arguably better). So the whole argument that people make saying it’s not for professionals is a baseless one. That combined with it being only $299 for five computers is pretty significant.
Ron, I was responding directly to a comment made by another poster who seemed amazed that FCPX could edit DSLR footage natively. I didn’t address other features because he didn’t address them either, that’s all.
After giving FCPX several chances over the past few months on various projects, I have simply decided that it is not for me. My workflow prior to this program was perfectly fine, and I see no reason to re-invent the wheel and switch over. As for the argument over whether this is a true “Pro” NLE, well…has anyone edited a major motion picture with FCPX yet? Previous versions had made great inroads in the film editing industry, and yet this version has been out for almost two years and nothing?
Ron Dawson says
Just like any tool, it may or may not suit your needs. As long as you’re telling good stories, that’s what matters. 🙂
Don’t know if anyone has edited a major motion picture yet. Based on my experience working for Movie Magic Software, Hollywood is very slow to adopt change. I don’t foresee major studios cutting features on it for a while (not en masse anyway). But I could easily see small indie producers cutting a feature with it. The timeline index feature would be a great tool for navigating a long project like a feature.
Well, actually, there is a low budget australian long feature film called The Precipice, it has been shot on RED and edited on FCP X.
I’ve started to edit on FCP 7, i’ve moved to Premiere Pro CS6 when they released their creative cloud subscription but now I have a technical problem with Premiere only, it doesn’t start, I’ve spend hours on the phone with Adobe tech support, they are very nice and they trying to do the maximum to get my soft working again. So, in the mean time I have client video to finish, small corporate video, and I’m editing them on FCP X. Fast, simple, just let me do the work I’m suppose to do.
So, with no fan boy attitude toward Premiere or FCP X, I like them both, it’s kind of hard to switch back and forward between them because they have their own ways to work, their own philosophy. For example, I’m getting used to the magical timeline and it doesn’t exist on Premiere.
But, there is a thing I can’t understand with FCP X, i’m sure i will with time, maybe by seeing tutorial or something, but, for example, when I’m in Premiere or FCP 7 and I’m making a editing for a long form documentary, I need to create a lot of sequences, for sync interviews and select specific moment for example, or making different versions of the final edit, so we can discust it with the director and the producer, the channel representative etc etc, this I can’t do it in FCP X unless by creating a new project..or maybe in the philosophy of the software, you don’t have to have multiple sequences..but I need them, I need to have sequences, a lot of them, until the final one..;I think it’s one of the old habits coming from an old age, but that’s one one my habits. The other one of course is to have bins where to put rushes, I think that was one the main thing that really take me aback with FCP X, the way it organize files and the way project and event are built, projects are sequences..
Of course, I’ve seen the add on that let you choose the project you want to see but it still is a lit bit disturbing when you are not used to it, I’m sure I will with time.
In the mean time, Premiere is out of service on my mac, very strange problem, the guy from adobe told me they’ve never seen something like that, I can’t start it, it shows me a white window instead of the project window, so I have to use FCP X and as long as I can do my job, I’m satisfy with it.
Cheers from France
Ron Dawson says
Your comment comes at a perfect time. If you haven’t found it already, you need to read my blog post about using compound clips instead of projects. It specifically addresses your issues: http://daredreamermag.com/2013/02/28/a-radical-workflow-idea-for-final-cut-x-users/
Yes I’ve found it just after this afternoon, so like I said earlier, always time to learn. I will try this way, it seems to be the way to go in fact.
So yes you are right if you go into FCP X with FCP 7 reflexes, I don’t think you will be frustrated but you will make the thinks more complicated when they could be easier. Actually I think Apple made FCP X because the market has changed and they know that tomorrow everyone will have to know how to use an editing soft just like we use Word or Page..you’ll still writer that makes a living with it of course but that’s the reality I think. And one of the reason I decided to give FCP X a new try is because of the ability to handle RED native files, just that is the sign for the pro market (until RED cost as much as a DSLR…never stop dreaming though 🙂 ) Anyway, I like it now, even if I didn’t fully understand the compound clip and all, now it seems more clear and logical to me now, so no more problems, the only thing we want is to get the job done and whatever NLE you are using the best one will always be the one in your head 🙂
JDG, I’m not going to get into the merit of whether or not FCPX is good or bad but I would like to call out a misstatement in this blog by several posters. Both Avid Media Composer/Symphony and Adobe Premier are quite capable of playing back RED footage, up to 5k, without any transcoding or Red Rocket cards. You just need a system that can do the work. The problem has been that Apple is not making hardware to meet the growing demands of those editorial operations. The Mac Pro has been ignored, as have many pro products in the Apple hardware and software lineup. From CPUs to GPUs to RAID cards to interfaces, Apple has not met the demands of the professional market. FCP was not the first about-face for Apple either. Remember Shake, Color, X-San, DVD Studio Pro – all were incredibly good, well-respected products with loyal followings and Apple didn’t even replace those with better alternatives. So much for loyalty. The Mac Pro has been stale for years and there is still no Thunderbolt interface available for any Mac Pro after two years of it being hailed as the premiere interface for Apple. USB 3.0 and Blu-Ray still haven’t made it the Mac. Avid makes edit software and Adobe has a long-standing commitment to video, especially considering how Premiere was never a widely used editor for most of it’s life. Apple would never continue to support a product under those circumstances. I just spent a rather large sum of money to build a new workstation and sadly, it wasn’t an Apple machine – they don’t exist. We pick partners in business because they make commitments to respond to our needs and Apple never showed up .
I don’t care if FCPX is $300. Avid Symphony is $3,500. A capable workstation and the gear to go with it will run another $15,000 or more to keep you well-equipped. There is a reason for those cost differences. It is no different than the difference between a RED or Alexa setup with Zeiss glass and a 5D with some Sigma lenses. You can shoot a very good film with the latter but the real pros know they’re getting their money’s worth with the former. In a well planned business, that’s the cost of doing business and you should bill accordingly.
The point of this ramble is that the comparisons don’t work between Apple and FCPX and the other vendor’s products. Try dealing with your RED 5K footage on your iMac and when you’re crying to go home at 4am you’ll wish Apple responded to your needs. They serve two different markets. FCPx is a fine program and should be respected for what it does. Apple’s deaf ear has alienated me since it doesn’t recognize my needs so I’m dating someone new for a while. Now I’ll go back to reading the rest of these comments on my iPad and plug my Macbook Pro into it’s charger so I’m ready for work tomorrow on my new Windows workstation.
Dr Dimento says
Well Dustin I think I can ANSWER that question, because like you and your loyalty and fan boy attitude with Adobe Premiere, we are fan boys and loyal to our Apple products and are now pleased that our FCP X can do all that your Premiere Pro can do and a whole lot more . . and on a laptop from Apple that works! YES !!!
Fan boy attitude towards Premiere? I pointed out a feature on the program and that makes me a fanboy? Interesting. I edit on both FCP7 and Premiere- they both have their pros and cons. I do not blindly follow a single company or program like some lemming heading toward a cliff.
Mac or PC, doesn’t really matter to me. My work provides me with a Mac to edit with and that’s great. For home projects, I use a PC edit machine because it is FAR more cost-effective than a Mac. My PC is almost twice as fast as my Apple at work and it cost a fraction of the price.
Lolo Lavin says
Hello, I only have a consideration.
I don’t understand a post about the future of a NLE without considering the rest of NLE: Avid Media Composer and Premiere Pro.
Thank you. How can you judge a “NLE of the future” without comparison to industry leaders. There might not be a financial incentive, but the incentive to stop the hemorrhaging, mass exodus to other NLEs is always clear in these kool-aid drinking types of blog posts. I think some “die hard” FCP users just can’t accept the fact that Apple doesn’t give a rat’s ass about maintaining a truly professional platform of products. Oh sure your editing has been “cut in half” given the workflow with FCP7, especially if transcoding source footage is involved. I highly doubt that would be the case if you were coming from Premiere Pro CS5.5, Edius, or AVID MC. No matter how consumer-centric Apple roadmaps it’s products, you’ll have a few who just can’t seem to part ways. Same can be said for the hardware, without a new pro desktop in ages, you have many “pros” trying to uphold the iMac as pro hardware in reviews. Part 2 should be very interesting… Watch out for what you used to could do in FCP7.
Yep, there are those that will blindly only use what Apple offers. Nothing else will ever be considered.
Ron Dawson says
Steve, frankly, you don’t know what you’re talking about. I have tried at least one other major program. Based on my work with FCPX, it like what it offers vs. the traditional paradigm. I don’t like everything, but there’s enough great stuff to stick with FCP. Have YOU tried the most current version of FCPX (after truly learning it) then compared it to other programs?
Yep, I’ve tried the latest version of FCPX, the first version and all in-between. Just want to find the best editor out there so I’ve tried Mac and PC versions all around.
But thankfully you “have tried at least one other major program.” At least one give you all the authority you’ll ever need I suppose.
Ron Dawson says
Steve. Are you just in a bad mood or something? If you don’t like FCPX great. User whatever you like. This blog post is not meant to be the end-all, be all of reviews. I never said I was an authority and I’ve been open about what I have used and how long I’ve been in the industry. So a person can take that for what it’s worth. This is just one data point in a person’s decision to pick an NLE. As I mentioned before, a lot of what I saw out there regarding FCPX reviews had issues that I felt needed to be reconciled.
As I’ve said, they’re all good programs. Use whatever suits you. Ultimately it’s only a tool. I think it’s immature to get into arguments about which NLE is “better” or which camera is “better” or which OS is “better.” As I always say on my podcast, if the story sucks, I don’t care WHAT you shot it with (or in this case, edited it with). Lighten up my friend.
Ron Dawson says
Maseo, thanks for you comment. I have a few replies.
First, no where in my blog post do I say my editing time was cut in half. I think you’re thinking of someone else’s comment.
Second, I hardly think this is a “kool aid drinking” blog post. I waited over 18 months before adopting FCPX. My reasons for changing are very well thought out and based on practical and objective analysis of the software and my needs. As I say in the end, it’s not for everyone.
Third, I could care less about the exodus to other programs by editors. I almost joined the exodus. But, based on my use of the program, and my knowledge of other programs, I’m glad I stuck. I think this blog post is a very dispassionate and objective look at it.
Lastly, this is not meant to be a comparison blog post. It’s meant as a response to what’s been a very public debate about FCPX. The other NLEs are great programs, but they do work on a similar paradigm. The whole point of this post is to point out that FCPX is a paradigm SHIFT. Given that, is that shift one that could herald the NLE of the future.
Appreciate the replies, honestly. I will state that the “cutting in half” was in response to a comment and not the article. But correct me if I’m wrong, objective analysis usually entails refraining from emotions and any kind of personal feelings. I don’t think anyone can come away from this article and not see the affection and die-hard loyalty you have for FCP. Waiting 18 months? When fellow professional FCP users made the switch, not for personal reasons, but this is their livelihood and career. In this day and age of internet information, you’d be hard pressed to pay for production training and pass it off as if there was not some passion behind it. I know you keep reiterating this is not a comparison post..and it’s a “response to the FCPX debate.” With all due respect, and I truly mean that as a longtime subscriber to the newsletter, blog, and admiration for your body of work, I don’t frankly see the “very dispassionate” and objectivity so far. I think it’s only fitting to quote Thomas Kuhn, the proverbial creator of the term paradigm shift, “”A paradigm is what members of a scientific community, and they alone, share” With a few word substitutions, I wholeheartedly agree that applies here also. I’m not sure if your last statement was such or a loosely punctuated question. It seems to be the projected theme and title of the post, yet as with much online editorial today…the title of an article can have little correlation to the body in an attempt to garner higher viewership. WITHOUT comparison, a more appropriate title would be. “Could Final Cut Pro X be the best video editing “app” Apple has brought to the market?”
Ron Dawson says
Thanks for the reply Maseo. (And thanks for being a longtime subscriber, etc.)
I can see your point. It’s obvious I’m passionate about whatever I write about. I guess what I meant by dispassionate was that I don’t love FCPX just b/c it’s Apple, nor did I hate it just b/c when 10.0 was released it missed some things.
Regarding the title, you’ll notice I state the FCPX COULD be the NLE of the future, and I give my reasons why. Your points about the scientific community are spot on. That is why one of the reasons I put as a possibility it could be the NLE of the future is the wide spread use it could slowly adopt as more and more indie filmmakers and students (who will eventually be the future) embrace it due to it’s price.
This is one of those classic times where we’ll just have to wait and see. 🙂
In the meantime, thanks and I truly appreciate your reasoned, respectful and well-written critique of my post.
I have yet to jump to FCPX myself. I shall though, soon, as I am finally nearing the day when I gear up with new equipment to go all HD. So far, I haven’t needed HD. I know that will change sooner than later. I don’t know why some “non-fanboys” feel the need to try to bash FCPX? They accuse you of having something to gain by touting it, yet, why do they care if it succeeds or not? Something in it for them if it fails? lol
I think you’re prediction is spot on. Young filmmakers will certainly be using FCPX as it’s cheap! It’s not made cheap anymore, but it’s sold cheaply. And I believe students get a discount. So yes, they will be growing up having used iMovie and FCPX and they won’t be able to go backwards to Avid or Premiere Pro (as nice as they are) they are just too different.
I started out on Avid MC and thought when I bought FCP 1.25 it would take a week or two learning the difference between the two. What a mistake that was! FCP did many things better than Avid did back in 2000 when Avid systems were starting at $20k. So it’s no surprise to me that what’s now under the hood in FCPX has changed the way they can continue to build upon it AND third party developers have already built upon it. It also won’t be a surprise to me when some kid comes to me looking for work and only knows FCPX.
My question to you though is this…
Previous versions of FCP have always been positioned that FCp as its essence was a great compositor. Is it still a compositor or is it more of en editor than before?
(FCP is an editor, I understand, but it was always great for compositing on the timeline, not just cutting).
I have always found it easy to do keying for my work without the need for After Effects. AE has plenty of uses, don’t get me wrong, but editing isn’t one of them. It’s a compositor/image manipulator. Things you can do there in AE that FCP just isn’t built for doing. At this point, would you say that from a compositing standpoint, is it less than before, the same or better? Again, not saying it’s as good for the superior work of AE or the old Commotion Pro program. (I wish somebody would update that!). I had read that FCPX has a keyer that is probably as good as or better than anything under 20 grand. I have found great results with DV Garage’s DV Matte Pro.
Keying is important to me, but not the only thing I use when editing. I just thought I’d ask someone who may have experience with it on FCPX.
I have enjoyed editing in FCPX. The main problem at our university is that 1) Our university has a site license for the Adobe Master Suite, which includes Premiere, After Effects, etc. So for the departments, Premiere is free! 2) All the professors have moved the students to premiere, saying FCP X is DOA. We hire the students in our department, and there is now considerable pressure to go the Premiere route.
We had this happen years ago with Quark Xpress and InDesign. InDesign won out because all the future graphic designers got it for free (or nearly so) and Quark cost. Smart move for Adobe to get the students using their stuff since they are the future. As we all know, once you started down one track, it takes a real miracle to move to another one.
I don’t think the article is meant to discredit other NLEs.
“Oh sure your editing has been “cut in half” given the workflow with FCP7, especially if transcoding source footage is involved.” Well is that not an advancement? Apple comes up with a new version of my software with tons of new features and cuts my editing time is cut in half. Any reasonable person would find that attractive.
One other thing that isn’t mentioned here is price point. I would love to have tried out Premiere Pro, as I read so many great things about it when everyone was abandoning FCP. But It simply was prohibitively expensive to have everyone in my shop running it. FCPX is $300 for a 5 seat license. That is an unbeatable price for an amazing piece of software.
I really don’t get you guys who jump on here and bash away but don’t get into any specifics behind your assertions. What would you like other readers to get from your comments?
Ron Dawson says
Thanks for your comment Drury. I agree with you about bashers who just bash but don’t take on any specific points in the post.
One other thing: you said price isn’t mentioned. I actually do mention price. It’s one of the three specific reasons I give as to why FCPX could be the NLE of the future. You must’ve missed it. 🙂
I agree, one surely wouldn’t think it’s meant to discredit or even “compare” to other NLEs. Don’t really have the time to go back through the comments to nitpick the “cut in half” statment verbatim. But I do remember it was not preceded by any notion that the author comment was meant solely for FCP7 and prior version users.
While you bring up the subject of price, I’d have to question your desire to try Premiere Pro when there has always been a 30-day trial and the new widely popular cloud subscription of $29 a month thereafter.
And finally, I’m sadden you have a disdain for constructive banter and quick to label certain commenters as “bashers”. Is this the softer side of attack over “haters” or “trolls”? I think I have given specifics and if you’d like to casually question me on any, please do. I’d be happy to obliged and indulge in a back and forth that is, and only, both civil and enlightening for all readers.
Listen, I’m a nice guy 🙂 I don’t want to come off as a blowhard and I had to preempt that before I was accused of it. I simply see the “releasing of the hounds” sort of speak now that 18 months later, FCPX supporters have a small amount of ammunition (if you will) to mount a defensive…especially to corral the remaining FCP7 holdouts and the editing industry at large. The bottom line is about money and market share.
Ron Dawson says
Maseo, I have NEVER had a disdain for constructive banter. Ever. I encourage it! I even thanked and complimented you on your respectful critique (see my comment above). The bashers and trolls I refer to are people who rant, throw rude remarks, but don’t offer any constructive rebuttals. You definitely have NOT been that. So, again, I appreciate your contribution to the debate and encourage more. 🙂
Just curious, what did I write that discredits other NLEs? If anything, I’ve done the exact opposite. I’ve said that other NLEs are terrific. For the record, I don’t ever say FCPX is BETTER than other NLEs (although I do think it does do some things better. Some things worse too). When I say it COULD be the NLE of the future, I mean the NLE that a large percentage of professional filmmakers end up using. I then give my reasons why.
I like PPro. I came very close to fully adopting it. So I have no angst against it. Heck, I may even have to do a review of it just to get the PPro lovers off my back. 😉
Hi Ron, this post you replied to was loosely at drurybynum. Thank you above all for even touching on this subject. I know you approached it with good will and thoughfulness. I agree you did hold up FCP competitors as worthy and I know as with all our tools, software or hardware, has it’s advantages, pros, cons, supporters, and detractors. For me I need to have a decent grasp of all the top NLEs to be sought after in this market. And with todays low prices on multi-terabyte HDDs and lossless intermediate codecs…I have no qualms “mixing” my edits between different creative software. I recently finished up an interview that I batch did rough cuts and edit in Premiere Pro CS6 and finished up in AVID Media Composer 6.5 for it’s excellent Fluid Morph effect.
Seriously Ron, you think you have time to learn Premiere Pro to the extent to write a review? 😛 You’d be truly, The Man. 🙂
Ron Dawson says
Thanks for your comments Maseo. This whole process has actually caused me to seriously consider doing a review. My only hesitation is that I don’t know what I could bring to the table that’s different or new than what’s already out there. With FCPX I felt I had a unique perspective to bring.
I actually do have a copy of CS6 and I will strongly consider writing a review if I feel I can bring a unique point.
Thanks again for the dialog. I look forward to future contributions from you. 🙂
Pro hardware would be anything you use to make $$. 10 years ago I did 2k composites in After Effects on a Bondi Blue iMac for a studio comedy.
The only thing that was important was that they approved the shots. No one cared what I used.
Look at all the design studios, not many are using towers anymore.
If you wish to pay premium prices for hardware, go ahead. The future is not in expansion slots.
Ron Dawson says
As I commented to Maseo, this blog post is meant to be a response to the very public debate about FCPX. It’s not meant to be a comparison to other programs.
This does seem to be a comparison of versions of FC . The other editing options have not been standing still in regards to transcoding etc. so it was kind of a pointless read for me.
“Audition clips are genius” uh … I’m sure they are!
I want to go into FCPX but there are two things I will miss in FCP7.
1. Sending a clip to Soundtrack Pro to clean up (noise reduction). FCPX has a noise reduction filter, but it looks automatic. I can’t seem to set a noise print to control the exact noise I need reduced.
2. I’ve been using Color a lot. I liked it’s integration with FCP7. I will miss it, and I’m not sure if I could afford another color grading program that will match it.
Ron Dawson says
Ripple Training has a brand new training series just on audio editing in FCPX. You should check it out.
As far as color grading, there are a number of very affordable color grading tools available for FCPX you should seek out.
Crowfeather, by no means is the Noise reduction filter’s automatic, if anything i love FCPX with how it works with audio.
Color is no longer being updated, so i would really recommend moving to Black Magics Da Vinci Resolve Lite, its free as long as you don’t need to export anything about 2k. You can just export through XML in FCPX.
Hmm. I may need try the trial version of FCPX to see if it does what I need, when my new Imac gets here next week. For my personal projects, noise reduction and noise prints are essential. Using a noise print to isolate a background sound in Soundtrack Pro and Adobe Audition have saved me some major headaches. I was sad to not see that feature in FCPX. I’m not as talented in audio — so trying to figure out high pass, etc, audio filters makes me crazy. 🙂
I’m currently debating between this and Adobe cloud premiere (since I have a discount for the cloud). I use Adobe at my day job, but my main love is Apple Motion — which is why I’m prone to want to stick with FCPX. Although Motion doesn’t have as many cool plugins as After Effects (like Trapcode!), I personally find it more intuitive, and I can put together something much faster than in After Effects.
Hey rjk2000, (I’ll start any reply by putting the name first so there’s no confusion), I with you all the way. I think audio takes a backseat when people are considering their go-to NLE to learn. The look at all the developers video editing features and unfortunately learn later how much the ease of audio editing alongside the video is vital. I think you last statement basically sums it up for most of us. We learn an NLE to almost “second nature” ways and then when we look to make a move to the the latest feature-rich software, its like learning a second language… you always want to just fall back to what comes easy…and as we all know…time is money. While I don’t go back as far as Ron does with linear tape and Media100. I did start out on Sonic Foundry Vegas 4 (wow showing my age) and through the years it has been a chore to move to another NLE. Matter of fact I STILL fire up Sony Vegas Pro 11 on occasion for a speedy rough cut and titles. After Effects CS6 is simply a beast and just solidifies the Adobe Creative Suite.
Is your current computer dead? Does your current audio software accept files still? Can you access those files via a file which resides on a shared or swappable hard drive? Then, you can still clean your audio with Soundtrack Pro! lol It may add a step, sorta, but it gets the job done. Export whatever audio needs work, clean it, re-import it back to FCPX. You may even want to burn a cleaned copy so you never need do that step again! lol
I plan to keep my old Mac G5 which burns fine DVDs even after updating everything else. DVDSPro isn’t available and I still need to deliver on a format of some kind and VHS ain’t it. lol So, it will become a DVD authoring machine only with an old editing system in case of dire emergency. My old G4 sits around for dire emergency as well. Have yet to use it for such, but it’s there!
I just would like to know how to deliver certain content to certain types of clients when doing event videos. What’s the future of that look like for the small producer? Will people buy a code to watch your content? Right now, DVDs are the best option. BluRay adds to costs they don’t want to pay. As long as their 16×9 screens are full, they don’t care. For other video, commercials, promotional videos etc, that’s another story.
That adds a big issue in one tiny paragraph! Thanks! I keep thinking I need to still grab FCP7 & X when I make a switch in the next month or so. But FREE sounds pretty good to me for color grading!! As for audio, I can still send my audio track to my FCP 5 to clean up. Audio files are still audio files. I will need my old Mac for making DVDs anyway since there is no software (or even built in hardware) for making them in the new machines. So until I find a better way, I will have two workstations. One will be to edit on FCPX and the other to make DVDs with DVDSP.
Download Resolve Lite instead.
Steve T says
I was under the impression that FCPX still transcoded all but I-frame and DV codecs. The way I understood it FCPX gave the editor instant peoxies to work with until the footage was transcoded. Could you clear this up for me? I really thought ant H.264 or AVCHD footage was transcoded to prores.
Ron Dawson says
When you transcode on import into FCPX, it transcodes to either a ProRes 422 (optimized) or a 960×540 ProRes Proxy (proxy). Until the files are transcoded, FCPX uses the original media. It then automatically switches out to the transcoded files as they are completed.
Steve T says
peoxies = proxies
The Truth says
No. FCP blew it by going back to be a consumer editor. I will never gain the credit like FCP7 again. Besides, Avid has taken over all that used to be FCP.
There are certainly some very astute people at Apple, but with the FCPX launch, the decision-makers acted flat out big time stupid. To the industry professionals that Apple had courted so intensely during the FinalCutPro Studio years, the whole thing was a blundering amateurish fiasco on a level none of us had either expected or even seen before. Apple’s total ignorance of and disregard for a very loyal user community was stunning. Whether or not it was callousness or cluelessness or both is no longer important. The fact that we’re still having this discussion though, shows how it continues to reverberate today. I realize how harsh this all sounds, but I do also know that I’m just one of many who feels this way.
Initially iMoviePro, after about two years FCPX is now an amateur to mid-level editing tool. In another 5 years it may regain the respect of the younger members of the pro community, but in the meantime we all have businesses to run and don’t wait around very long for our software suppliers to get their act together. Instead, we’ve done 2 things:
1. Moved on to other solutions, of which there are now many with far more capabilities than FCPX,
2. Moved to cross-platform applications (like Avid, Adobe Production Premium, DaVinci Resolve) so as not to get fooled again by some bungling managers in Cupertino, California.
I personally no longer care today whether the app I’m using for edit, grade, keying, roto, compositing, animation, etc is running on a Mac or not. There was a time when I did. And as many have speculated, maybe it was a smart business move by Apple, trading a relatively small userbase in for the larger iMovie/YouTube edit-my-kids-soccergame-catvideo-weddingvideo-on-an-iPad crowd? Thing is, they could have had both. How totally dumb is that?
Ron Dawson says
Thanks for your comment. I totally believe you that Apple’s launch of FCPX was atrocious. Who knows why they did it the way they did. Could be arrogance or ignorance or little bit of both.
Just curious, what features in an NLE do you personally need that FCPX does not meet? I’m not suggesting it meets all professionals’ needs. But my experience is that many people write it off as a “soccer mom” NLE w/o really looking at it. So I like to ask, what do you need your NLE to do that FCPX doesn’t?
ClayC: I agree that Apple totally blew the introduction. They should have said, “Hey, FCP 7 will be maintained for another 3 years, but FCP X is the future. FCP X has implemented a new editing paradigm and will be the future and the concentration of our efforts going forward. It’s not yet complete — particularly in terms of fitting into a production workflow — but we will fill in the blanks and we’ve designed it so that third parties will be able to take it places we can’t yet imagine.”
Instead, they tried to EOL FCP 7 and ignore the shortcomings of FCP X. And they wasted a LOT of good will.
That said, FCP X is a fast editor that does what it does very well, and in ways that any professional should recognize as being more thoughtful than many other alternatives. I mean, I pity someone moving to Premier Pro, as one example, who doesn’t realize how clunky it is in action — it’s not much different from Premier 2.0.
The shortcoming that FCP X still has is how it fits into a workflow. How to you roundtrip audio to the guy in the next office with Protools? How do you archive the project? How do you archive it, trimming the media to only the footage used + handles? Etc. Editing-wise it does things well and it’s very successful in doing things in ways that are better than the 40-year-old paradigms that most other programs use.
As you say, Apple should have kept their existing base and brought on a lot of new folks. And a better FCP 7 to FCP X transition, along with a more realistic attitude about FCP X’s early capabilities would have gone a long way. But FCP X (10.0.7) is not for kids and moms and it’s not iMoviePro. I definitely agree with the original article on that one.
Ron Dawson says
Wayne, you should look at the Media Management tutorial Ripple Training has put out. It’s only $29 and addresses all those issues. If not that, I’m sure you could find free articles and/or videos covering all those media management issues too.
Thanks for the comment.
I always thought FCP was great at putting everything together. Does it still do that? The bottom line is if you shoot horrible video, After Effects won’t save you, so why should FCPX? But FCP was always great at putting everything in one place. You could cut your audio, and key and title and add effects and transitions. You could bring in your photos and 3D rendered animations with alpha channels for layering instantly. I know it’s gotta be doing most of this now, but how is it at being a compositor these days? Is it still strong?
I always thought of it as an editor that also composites and After Effects as “Photoshop for Video” which composites (like photoshop layering) but it doesn’t edit and cares less about audio.
How is FCP these days insofar as being developed by third parties with apps and solutions?
Ron Dawson says
Hi Leo, in answer to your questions about FCPX as a compositor, it’s just as powerful as FCP7 was in the regards, I actually think its a better compositor than FCP7. But, I’ve never thought of FCP as a compositor, but an editor with compositing features. FCPX is not going to take the place of AE, nor is it meant to.
As far as 3rd party developers, there are a ton of them. The number of 3rd party apps for FCPX is huge and growing. Looking into getting FxFactory from Noise Industries as a start (Google it).
Thanks for the insightful take. About a month ago, I wound up following the same process: I watched a bunch of tutorials about FCPX and the new features before I even touched the program. It definitely helped to re-arrange my expectations before getting lost and disappointed.
Obviously, Apple is taking bold steps to re-define the NLE. Some will probably work, some won’t. The magnetic timeline is pretty useful. The event/clip preview window makes perfect sense to me now. The way background processing is handled seems like a big time-saver. The no-save thing is cool; but I really miss not being able to have multiple timelines in a project. And the video/audio sync and multi-cam are huge steps forward for the DSLR crowd.
I quit on FCP at version 5 because the program just got in my way. I think FCPX has resolved those issues for me. I feel like I’m working more efficiently.
I’m eager to see these new features evolve, not because I like Apple, but because they can make editing easier and quicker. Competition in this space should be good for us, as long as it promotes innovation. I am curious to see if another NLE maker will adopt any new features from FCPX and vice versa.
No doubt, it’s not for everyone and every work style. But I agree with the underlying message of the article: try it, you might like it.
Ron, This is a very informative article about FCPX, thanks. I’m a professional editor w/19 years in TV promo mostly. Of course Avid is what I’ve used 98% of the time, but I’m also an artist, animator and efx geek, so I’m very pro Apple (and I hope the post-Jobs Apple doesn’t degenerate, but that’s another subject.)
I agree with you that the tool is just a tool. If it works for you, and it supports your creativity, then use that tool.
I have a lot of reasons to follow the development of FCPX and though I’ve loved Avid all these years, I have a problem with AVCHD and transcoding that has made me now very interested in things I’ve heard about FCPX. Basically, my question is simply this:
I have a Sony DSLR camera, (the A77) and the footage is AVCHD. Can I truly just copy the HD video files off the memory stick and start editing? Without transcoding?
Secondly, do you have any other comments about this workflow? (AVCHD and FCPX?)
Thanks again for your time. I hope this question isn’t too far afield of the discussion.
Ron Dawson says
It’s funny you mention that. I actually had issues editing AVCHD footage. Was very slow. But it could just have been my system or drive back then. I’ve since updated my drive and upped my RAM. In general, yes you can edit AVCHD footage w/o transcoding. But you may want to try it out on your system first and see.
Thanks for the comment.
D.S. Ramirez says
I’m actually at this very moment trying this one more time on my Avid (Media Composer v 5.5.1) but was advised today to get the plug-in needed first. (I didn’t know that was needed. I hate keeping up to date on technical stuff. lol I just like to work) But if this works I will probably stick with Avid for a while, since I know it so well. If it doesn’t then I’m going to check out FCPX.
Right now, the editing I’m trying to do is essentially BTS and documentary footage to promote my comic/animated web series project. So that’s pretty straightforward live action shooting and editorial.
But eventually, I will be needing to develop an entirely different workflow for creating the animations (both 2D and 3D) that will comprise the episodes. For that, I’m very interested in checking out either Premier or FCPX.
Premier has the link to After Effects and FCPX has all that plug-in development you’ve mentioned, so I don’t know… Too many choices. lol
I’ll let you know how it pans out.
Paul Maarten Vis says
Good article!; i’m a starting filmmaker and a FCPX user since summer 2011. Since I don’t have an extensive experience with other editing programs I jumped at it with an open mind, and for me it has been the best option EVER since I don’t have the budget to buy an expensive Adobe suite for example. In the meantime I have become familiar with Premiere Pro and After Effects as well, and I still think FCPX is a great NLE to use. Especially because of the extremely fast workflow and the intuitive and time saving way of organizing files. It’s actually easy to use, and this doesn’t mean at all that you can’t get professional results imo. You definitely can, and faster. Things have changed a lot in filmmaking over the last years. Since the introduction of DSLRs like Canon5D mark II filmmakers with a tight budget can actually produce very professional things, and introducing FCPX is a logical step in this development in my opinion. I haven’t seen other software companies like Adobe take such a move. I can imagine that this is not what other editors and filmmakers in the industry like to hear.. FCPX is a great professional NLE, it can be used with third party plugins like Red Giant’s Magic Bullet, Twixtor Pro etc., and there is also Motion 5. It’s only because it works differently from what everybody’s used to that there has been so much criticism. I think that’s a little narrow minded. I work with FCPX for 1,5 years now and since all the updates I’m even more satisfied than in the beginning.
I have used a Mac for years editing videos using iMovie and sending the finished project to iDVD. Love it. iMovie version 6.0.3 and iDVD version 6.0.4. I recently purchased the iMac with iMovie 11. No iDVD apparently with the new iMovie. I guess my question would be, can I edit in iMovie 11 and import to FCPX (now that it looks like I may have to buy it)? Or how can I create a DVD with menus, auto start, looped and all that without FCPX?
Ron Dawson says
Yes, you can import iMovie projects into FCPX.
Ted Irving says
I’ve read many articles on FCPX and I’ve been a lone ranger with this statement, that I will stick to, “FCPX is for tablet/finger based non-linear editing.” I’ve been ripped to shreds, but love it and stick with it. Just look at the reaction when it first came out, “It looks like iMovie on steroids.” Look at the iMovie app on the iPad. I taught an after school program on how to use it. The GUI and functionality of FCPX, and iMovie for the Desktop, is the iMovie app on the iPad. I’m thinking Apple is staying ahead of the curve and moving us all towards an iPhone, iPad, Apple TV world where all three are seamlessly working together with ease and unlimited mobility, especially for the content creator. Remember the keyword, “Canvas.” The canvas in FCP7, Avid, Prem Pro, Lightworks, etc., its all about the art. The artist. And creating on the canvas. Whether its with fingers, a brush, or pen tablet, or…kinect. Many of us don’t like change and our industry is making advancements on a monthly basis. We either transcend with it or stay where we are. LOL Many editors still refuse to pay attention to MetaData. As a long time editor, I started with Avid and still love Avid. Its deeper than any system out there. Hands down. However, I”m a FCP7 and FCPX user, primarily for my ENG & Sports work. As I work with both Avid and FCPX now I”m getting closer to making a decision about which will be my primary tool. Very hard to beat 300 bucks. Financially maintaining Avid is a challenge best suited to larger production companies. But in the end, no matter what my opinion is regarding the varioius NLE software, these are all just tools. Its the artist that is the most important.
Ron Dawson says
Great comment Ted. Love it.
Craig Shamwell says
To all of you “snobs” that have posted so negatively about Ron’s “Observational” Piece, get a grip!!! For someone to simply share his or her ‘s observations from personal use of a piece of software is exactly what is needed to help make a very important decision for aspiring and downsizing filmmakers who had invested in thousands on equipment shown in the image above. The fact is FCPX took a page from the ‘TOASTER’ NLE software in that you can pretty much place anything anywhere in the editing window. It too had free movement of elements. And anyone who has fished for the right filter or effects in FCP7 and before, knows how much time it would take to “find” the right element. Gone are those days as previewing filters effects and plug-ins is so intuitive and visually…right there! Unfortunately less acclaimed filmmakers tend to be snobbish as they yearn for respect for their “craft”, thus taking any comments out of context,inserting their own criticism on a product they did not choose to work in. If in fact as many have posted, they are just tools…then why not be interested in how editors who have used the product as it has matured?? The fact is FCPX is very professional in its present form. And yes there are still a few bugs and things that need to be addressed. But the truth is Budgets are real! And have to be considered. And if there was a choice between spending a few thousand on Avid, or the time it takes to use Premiere, or a very competent $300 program, I’m choosing FCPX and buying a RED or BMCC. At the end of the product, I gauruntee, no one will no what I edited it on. Keep up the very good work Ron!!!!!
Ron Dawson says
Thanks Craig. You make very good points (and I”m not just saying that b/c you said nice things about me. 🙂 The ease of finding the right filter or plugin you need is huge. I love that about the program. And I appreciate your comment about this being an observational piece and others should use my observations to make their own judgment. You hit the nail on the head. Thank you.
Gene Hayes says
In class at CPCC learning FCPX. Love it, can’t learn fast enought. Have not brought the software yet, but about to purchase a Mac and down load FCPX. Thanks for your well written blog and having me feel better about the investment I am about to make.
Great article. I’m deciding to buy a Mac and FCPX is the deciding factor for me to buy it. So far most of the comments about FCPX were negative, but I wasn’t satisfied with the comments. Luckily I came across your article and now I’m sure I’ll buy a Mac 🙂
I have been using FCP since version 1 and I got caught stuck in a Power Mac G5 system (2005) which can only be updated so much and won’t run the latest FCP offering. I just looked at the new iMacs and checked out FCp X on Friday night for the first time in person and although it’s different, it has many more conveniences. By that I mean, it’s actually more intuitive to use. Maybe job security is a concern for some but for me faster editing and convenience are paramount.
I had asked a few questions of the Mac genius and stumped him with what should have been (and turned out to be) an easy question. How do you change opacity on a clip? Well, it’s actually faster in FCPX than it is in FCP 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 or 7! They had a demo of a commercial for BMW that has all the edits, effects etc in place from the editor on their server to demo. So somebody made good money editing on FCP X.
If they have put just about everything back in place that was missing after the rebooting of the program and all that needs to be done is to relearn how to do things you already know how to do (meaning: you know how to compose shots, edit complementing pieces in succession, colorize, slow down, speed up etc – YOU KNOW HOW TO EDIT) all you need to figure out is where such options are located in the program and how to access them quickly. For me, relearning such things isn’t a problem. If you aren’t really good at knowing what you should do to edit something then yes, I can see that you have issues with the change. You should first know in your mind how to edit (what you want to see). Then, it’s a matter of finding the right place to click to get that edit choice accomplished. Once you learn how to open up the opacity slider, you’ll always know how to do that. It’s not like you need to learn every new place for every old option ever time you edit something.
Once you spend a week or two editing, it becomes second nature. I just have to bite the bullet on a new system AND a new camcorder. So I need to choose wisely up front or I’ll suffer later. lol
VolksWagon used to have a slogan about their manual transmission cars. After 30 days it becomes automatic! 😉
I’m coming from a Windows background and making the jump to a Mac, which they say is easier to use in every way. I’m also relatively new to video editing and because as a beginner I heard FCP X is much easier to use that premiere, it kindda attracted me to decide to make the change.
I hope it will be the right choice:)
I think you are making a solid choice. The nice thing about Macs over PCs is you basically won’t be using your machine for anything but creative programs. So you’ll stuff it with FCP X, and Adobe Photoshop, After Effects, maybe Premiere? They run smoothly and rarely crash. In fact, my G5 crashed since 2005 (7.5 years now) maybe a dozen times? It runs almost constantly for weeks at a time without shutting down. I did have a program crash from time to time but you don’t lose everything else that’s open and can restart the program without rebooting. Saves lots of time that way. They really run like butter on a warm skillet.
You can get plenty of 3rd party programs (apps) that make things easy too. ProAnimator by Zaxworks comes to mind for easy 3D titling. I hear the keyer in FCP X is better than most anything else under $20k! I currently am happy with DVMatte Pro but I surely will upgrade my apps and learn what FCP X has to offer before I decide to look elsewhere for help.
Learning Mac is easy. Windows has been trying to be a Mac interface for years since Jobs and Co. stole the idea (and original program) from XEROX. lol
There will be a learning curve for you, but it will quickly pass. You just have to learn Mac first THEN FCP. But to be up and running will be a day to a week or so tops! I am sure there are people here who can help.
Thanks for those very encouraging comments. I’m surely looking forward to my new Mac now 🙂 cheers!
What I’m about to say goes to show that Apple values $$$$ over the business of their loyal customers.
I’m a professional video editor and have been using FCP for years. It’s a little dated, but super easy to use and very easy to navigate. Last year we installed FCPX onto a few of our office work stations. It looked slick. But after a week of using it, the bugs, design defects and performance issues were almost unbearable. The enhanced graphic interface, animated menu bars, and iMovie style timelines only slowed our computers down.. not to mention the fact that the time spent trouble shooting and learning the new navigation ended up costing our team a few thousand dollars.
I can appreciate innovation and making a profit. But what happens when you make a profit at the expense of your loyal clientele? FCPX is Apples attempt to infiltrate the consumer market, as there are more consumers than professional video producers. But, again.. their loyal customers (like me) paid and will be paying the price. My 16 year old cousin however, could care less. The program is cheap and he has nothing to compare it to.. other than iMovie.
If Apple would have really listened to their professional clientele they would have realized a total redesigned was not needed.
Thank-you Apple, for turning your backs on your loyal customers. It’s funny how you’re now re-offering the FCP7 online. I’m going to take my business to Adobe. Where I know from my experiences with CS that they value their clients needs.
Ron Dawson says
I can totally understand your frustration Jae. Sounds like your team went through a nightmare. And I know Apple is not always the best at listening to customers. In fact, Steve Jobs famously quoted that Apple often DOESN’T listen to customers because customers frequently don’t know what they want until they see it.
With that said, I know for a fact that Apple is listening to editors regarding FCPX. My fellow podcaster and editor Chris Fenwick right now has a blog post asking for feedback that an FCPX product manager friend of his requested he do: http://chrisfenwick.com/home/2013/2/27/im-gonna-make-an-fcpx-wish-list.html
While I agree FCPX is probably aimed at a wider marketing than high level pros, regardless of how similar it looks to iMovie, I would not call it a consumer level app. The feature set goes far, far beyond what regular consumers would ever need or hope to understand. Or spend the time to learn.
You mentioned how it slowed your computers down. Without a doubt, one of the downsides is you need fast machines, fast drives, and powerful graphics cards to get the most out of it. But I wouldn’t say it’s because of the bugs or timelines. And to really get the most out of it, you have to do an in-depth tutorial like what Ripple Training offers. You can’t just dive in and play around.
I agree Apple totally botched the release of FCPX. I agree the way they handled the retirement of FCP7 was not in the best interest of their customers. Customers who’d been loyal for over a decade. But given the number of changes they’ve made in the nearly two years it’s been out, I wouldn’t say they aren’t listening, nor have they turned their backs. As I and plenty of other professionals who have been using it can attest, it is a very powerful program that has increased our editing efficiency, expanded the editing horizons, and has made editing fun again. That’s not a bad thing.
This is not my attempt to convince you to try it again. Sounds like Premiere will be best for you and your team. I just wanted to give some feedback and a perspective.
Thanks so much for joining the conversation.
i think the biggest consideration that most people are missing and all of these posts are this, Comparing premiere Pro, avid Symphony, and all of these other high-end products with FCPX At 1/3 to 1/10 Those other NLE platform Software costs, let alone all that other support equipment required Including cards, external boxes, etc., It’s like comparing a Cessna 150 with a 747. Both airplanes fly but only one patch 300 or more passengers. So, if you have a budget that can purchase a 747 and by all means by one the matter whether you fly to the store or fly around the world. However, if you’re the more typical independent film producer like 90% of this market that were talking about, then Final Cut Pro X is. Definitely your solution. I know for one, I am not about to invest a lot of money in this current lousy market place where prices don’t dictate Spending a lot of money for prices better way to competitive. Apple did a great job with Final Cut Pro X, And for $300 it’s not a deposit but the full price. And for that matter whether it’s Canon 5D Mark two or 7D or any other AVC HD Or H.264 codec, The app does a great job with it and the videos that I see coming out of it are absolutely amazing, cinema quality, and extremely creative. Moreover, regardless of whether it’s a $3500 software Or $300 The real talent isn’t just in the software but in the user.
I made the switch to FCPX from 7 because it was cheap easy and quick.
It was/is easy to learn, multicam edits synched quickly and I could actually afford it.
I mostly shoot theater w/multicam, dances/recitals and other things.
I also noticed I spent ALOT less time editing these projects- very easy to add & sync outside audio source. . .No regrets here.
FCPX is getting there, slowly but surely. I tried it when it was first released. MISTAKE. I recently dived back in, did a few tutorials and can now DEFINITELY see the potential.
Great write up btw 🙂
no offense but i do not think so.Actually FCPX is certainly the best one in the market now.
Another thing that I haven’t seen mentioned here that I LOVE about working in FCPX is how well it plays with Motion 5. I know that it does not round trip as used to be the case, but what I’m referring to is the fact that I can create custom titles, generators, and effects in Motion to suit my needs, and then access them and customize whatever parameters I set directly in FCPX. This is HUGE when it comes to sharing projects with other editors as well as when you do repeat business with existing clients. No more exporting out six versions of a title bar with the names changed. Just drop it in and type the name and you’re done! You can essentially write your own plugins and save a TON of time! Maybe FCPX doesn’t have everything (yet), but it’s got enough for me to do my job really well, as well as a great companion toolset in Motion 5 that allows me to adapt to future needs when they arise.
uhh…i love FCPX but no system out there is as deep as Media Composer or the Nitris/Symphony set. I hate comparing NLE’s but to say FCPX is the best on the market might be a stretch.
I’ve used Media Composer for the past ten years and I think there are more similarities between Media Composer and FCP X than there are between FCP X and FCP 7.
FCP X can synchronize audio and video by analyzing wave forms ?
Avid can too.
FCP 7 can’t
The magnetic timeline and the ability to put the shot you want thanks to the position tool ou the normal arrow tool and see the others shots move and keep everything synchronized ?
Avid can too, thanks to the yellow arrow.
FCP 7 can’t.
When you receving your audio files from the sound engineer and when there is 8 differents tracks, between the cavalier mic, the boom mic and the mixdown on tracks 7 and 8, with Avid you must sync the video with track 7 and 8 and after make a audio conformation for the dialogue editing. Because if you don’t you will have to edit with 6 or 8 tracks for every shots. It’s not human, expect if you are the editors of JJ Abrahms who actually do that, they are editing with all the audio tracks recorded.
In FCP X, you don’t have to because it handles multi-channels editing, and your 8 tracks can be showned as one and the show all the 8 for the dialogue editing and the mixing.
THIS is the biggest innovation for me . It’s amazing.
But to understand that, you have to work with 8 tracks of audio and only motion pictures are working like that or high end documentaries.
Then, the AMA system of Avid is a new tool inspired by the way FCP 7 works. That’s why Avid put it in their system.
Also, that’s why MC can handle now ProRes files, because they know that when you make an HD-CAM SR you will need a ProRes export, that’s what Broadcasters ask for, in HD and soon in 4K with only the digital file.
But AMA bugs in Avid, it does not work as well as they would like to.
MC is not yet supported on Mavericks, Premiere and FCP X works fine on the last OS, why Avid’s so long ?
And Avid, even though it claims it can handle natively some codec or even RAW files, won’t work as promise, because it is still in an offline editing logic.
I’ve never seen someone said that they are more similarities between MC and FCP X but I say so because I’ve used both and because of the audio management and the ability to handle perfectly our most used codecs, like ProRes or even Red RAW files , I prefer FCP X.
So yes, from my POV, FCP X is the future.
Ted Irving says
Great points Larry. I totally agree now that I’ve kept working with FCPX all the way to 10.09. Your audio editing is more extensive than mine, but I do see the similarities. I actually believe that the compound clip function in FCPX is similar to nesting in Avid as well. And I use the AVid AMA a lot, and it is clunky. I have not been able to get AMA to read .MTS files although I haven’t tried any online help yet. And once again, I’ll close with the ridiculous statement I’ve been getting grilled for, and that is that FCPX is the iMovie app on steroids based upon the identical functionality of the GUI. Yes, I am saying that Apple is ushering in, or trying to but going slowly, finger based pro editing on a tablet. Out on a limb but why make the GUI the same as the iMovie app? All of the non-linear companies want us off the mouse. How about finger swipes, taps and slides? iPad Pro anyone? I’m betting its coming. If not, someone else will. Just keep using tablets.
Ron Dawson says
Ted, to import .MTS files into FCPX, you need to import the original file structure on the card. Do an AVCHD search on my blog and you’ll find it.
And, based on an interview of Alex4D on Final Cut Grill I heard, you might actually say that iMovie is really build on FCPX.
Ted Irving says
Thanks. But it was the Avid AMA that I had trouble with .MTS files. All good with FCPX. Never had an issue importing any of the formats I’m using so far. Will definitely check out that Final Cut Grill article. Thanks!
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