December 25, 2013

First Impressions of Final Cut Pro X 10.1

Apple's release of the Final Cut Pro X 10.1 update came with a number of new features. From more 4K software and hardware support to better project and media management, FCP X's new capabilities are many, and here to share his first impressions of the update is a filmmaker who has had extensive experience with the powerful NLE.

This is a guest post by Austin Mace.

Along with the release of the new Mac Pro earlier this week, Apple has also released a significant upgrade to Final Cut Pro X with 10.1. I have been using FCP X to cut projects since day one, ranging from music videos, commercials, live concert videos and more. I’ve since grown as a filmmaker and editor over the past two and a half years, as has Apple’s NLE. While I agree that the initial release of FCP X left much to be desired for seasoned veterans of the industry, the latest release offers incredible utility for Mac-based editors and does so at a competitive price point.

A bit about myself

I mostly shoot on a combination of DSLRs, FS-100s, Panasonic HMC 150s and a few GoPros. I have recently partnered with a music venue in the Midwest to provide video production services for touring musicians. We are growing as a company, and are beginning to bring on more editors. Being able to share projects is now hugely important, whereas before I was used to just working alone. I was almost going to switch to Premiere for this, but the updates in 10.1 are enough to make me stay. Here’s why.

What I like

Where FCP X 10.1 really shines is in the updated way in which it treats project management. What plagued the software since day one was how the software handled media. Like many others, my workflow included Event Manager X as a workaround for handling my large library of projects, which were contained in a file structure created with Post Haste.

Now projects and events are contained within libraries, which is a huge improvement. These libraries can be brought up and then taken offline in-program, and eliminates the need to close the application when ejecting hard drives.

As I mentioned before, I spend a lot of my time working with musicians. In a day’s time, my crew and I could be shooting footage to be used to make a mini doc, acoustic session, live concert video and music video. In my workflow before the update, musicians would get an event, and in that event a keyword collection to parse out what kind of footage we had shot of them. This worked but was not ideal. Post update, I now assign a project library to a shoot with a musician, an event to what kind of footage we were shooting, and keywords to annotate clips as being wides, b-roll, etc.

Mark and Steve from Ripple Training have a great overview on how to manage media in 10.1 with the new structure.

What’s also been useful is the ability to hide the browser and libraries. I spend most of my time with the angle viewers up working on live footage. When I’d have to make edits off my laptop without an external display it was always frustrating to not be able to use my limited screen size for monitoring just the viewer, angles and timeline. This frustration is now gone with 10.1.

Being able to treat audio how you would video in the multicam projects is also great, as is the added Active Clip Indicator (little white ball on the playhead), which has already saved me loads of time. It allows for adjustments to be made on the clip without having to select it. Very simple, and very useful.

The Active Clip Indicator allows for adjustments to be made without highlighting the clip first.

The program runs much faster now, a lot of it I feel being owed to the new file management system and its utilization of OSX Mavericks. I also played around with some of Blackmagic’s recently released 4k footage from its Production Camera, which FCP X handles decently well. Our company just ordered two of the new Mac Pros, so I’ll be especially interested to see how it's even more improved.

What I don’t like

What I still don’t understand is why custom workspace configurations are not allowed like in Premiere. I’d love to be able to pop off the viewer, effects, or info panes, set them on another display or in a different place, and be able to save this configuration to be pulled up next time I am working on a project that follows the same editing style. Editing should feel freeform and conducive to getting projects cut based on their specific needs, not constricting.

Audio mixing still does not compare to what all one can do in Premiere. For concerts, we have a professional mix all of our audio out of program and deliver a finished and mixed .WAV file. The integration with Logic Pro X in the previous release of FCP X is nice, but still leaves much to be desired.

For being around for close to two and a half years, the number of plugins when compared to Premiere is still lacking. Companies like Pixel Film Studios and Crumple Pop have really stepped up in offering professional and effective plugins, but are still lacking. Red Giant offers so many desirable plugins for other editors, and I am hoping that FXPlug 3 offers developers like Red Giant the tools they need to bring programs like Colorista II and Denoiser II to FCP X.

Conclusion

If you’re a seasoned professional and the past couple of years have felt left in the dust by Apple, I don’t blame you. The initial release of FCP X was not “up to snuff” for most professional applications, and until the refresh was announced, the Mac Pro had become a joke for its lack of serious updates. Editing in FCP X is comparably different then cutting in other NLEs. If you’ve already made the switch, invested in a PC based post production ecosystem, and/or have subscribed to Adobe’s Creative Cloud solution and have been cutting in Premiere since the release of X, this update would not be enough to sway you back.

To the other half of you -- for $300, this FCP X is quite an impressive piece of software. It does so much for so little, and once you overcome the learning curve you’ll most likely be editing faster than before. When I first picked up the program I hated it, but after taking the time to learn the software you might learn to love it like I do.

Though important, at the end of the day what matters most isn’t the equipment or software, but the person behind the program. For those still unsure, take a look at what type of projects you work on or what you have coming up, and decide from there. Just as there is no perfect camera for every job, the same can be said for NLEs.


Austin MaceFor the past 4 years, Austin Mace  has been making films, videos, taking photos and designing sites for bands and brands regionally and nationally. He is currently a junior in Miami University’s Interactive Media Studies program. Austin is currently involved with a startup that wants to change the way fans interact with music driven content, and has shot for musicians such as Brett Eldredge, Alabama Capital, Thomas Rhett, Rebelution and more. He is the video production coordinator for the newly formed EA Productions and media director for the Indiana Transportation Museum.

Your Comment

48 Comments

... or you could spend $300 if you're a student and purchase the academic version of Media Composer 7.

December 25, 2013 at 9:21AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Sam

It's encouraging to see Apple at least making steps in the right direction. I think they're understanding that their sweet spot is the growing contingent of editors (both amateur and professional) who don't need the enterprise-level capability of Media Composer and prefer the speed and U/X of FCP X and its tight integration with Apple hardware.

For $299, it's a pretty powerful piece of software. Thanks for the fair review.

December 25, 2013 at 4:26PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Swissted

Do you think it would still be $300 if apple didn't price FCPX at $300 when it was released? Because before FCPX the avid student license was around $1,000 I think.

December 29, 2013 at 3:18PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Julian

LOL... Media Composer! Anyone still stupid enough to invest even so much as 300 bucks in a company that is on its last legs can only be pitied. By FAR the most convoluted, stale and useless interface on a (ridiculously overpriced!!) software that is dragged down by 20 years of legacy code. Thanks for the pioneer work there Avid, but R.I.P. ... soon!

February 27, 2014 at 3:54AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Andie

Nice article thanks. I've been watching and waiting re:FCPX. It really does sound like dreamy software for many types of projects - eg music vids, and other projects that need to be finished "in one shot" by a single person etc etc.
The project sharing and better media management has definitely got me interested, and I'll be keeping an eye on it to see how it might be used for project sharing on feature films. If it keeps going the way it's going - more improvements in those unflashy areas I'll definitely consider learning it.

December 25, 2013 at 9:30AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Matthew

Here's all the nitty gritty detail:

http://www.fcp.co/final-cut-pro/tutorials/1308-using-final-cut-pro-x-10-...

Essentially, you can import media into Libraries as before, or leave it where it is, which is now better supported. You can put your media on a network drive (anything, not just a SAN) and everyone can link to the same media from their own local libraries at once.

December 27, 2013 at 3:15AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Seems like you can make movies with it. So it's fine by me :)

December 25, 2013 at 10:25AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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What a refreshing voice...as unbiased as possible for someone who actually uses the software daily and regularly pushes its boundaries. Quick to point out its shortcomings as well as its strengths. Wish this could be a model for other reviewers. Bravo.

December 25, 2013 at 12:13PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Thank you so much. I half expected a FCPX vs Premiere, Mac vs PC flame war, I tried to keep it as unbiased as possible while talking directly about something I use every day.

December 26, 2013 at 2:35PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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In all due respect, not sure if I agree with you about the number of plugins in FCP X vs Premiere. It's my understanding that there are far more in FCP X, especially because of it's integration with Motion. There are so many free plugins out there, too. What plugins do you feel you are missing?

December 25, 2013 at 1:51PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Thanks for your comment- I should have been more clear. I think there are a lot of transitions and effects available for FCPX, some of which have even fooled some fellow editors in thinking that I used After Effects to achieve something when it had really been an effect in FCPX.

What's lacking are audio plugins, worfklow tools and codecs. I'm breaking these plugins down based off of how Adobe's site parses out plugin types- http://www.adobe.com/products/premiere/extend.displayTab4.html

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the efforts of people making plugins like Final Cat Pro (http://finalcatpro.com/) but there's still a long way to go.

December 26, 2013 at 3:15PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Hi Austin, Wondering what config you ordered for your new Mac Pros. I am trying to decide what to order.

December 25, 2013 at 2:27PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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We went with two base model Mac Pros. We went with this config because we're working with a multicam clip (Up to 8 angles for our purposes) converted to proxy media, which both units should handle quite alright. If you are just handling 1080p footage, the base model should be good, and even with 4k you could get by with it as well.

December 26, 2013 at 3:03PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Thanks Austin,
I was looking to do the 12 core versions simply because that processor can't be upgraded. I believe the time it will save over the years will be worth it, and RAM will keep dropping in price. Thanks for your answer, I appreciate your input.

December 26, 2013 at 8:11PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Are you sure regarding the CPU? Why is it not upgradeable? Firmware? Is it somehow glued to the cooler? Has anybody tried yet?

December 28, 2013 at 4:40AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Thyl Engelhardt

December 28, 2013 at 4:51AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Thyl Engelhardt

To follow up on my earlier comment re: the less flashy functionality...

When I don't have to use additional 3rd party software to do something completely standard in feature film workflows - eg. export an AAF for pro tools audio work - then I'll know Apple is serious about making professional editing software. (Rather than trying to force editors to stay within the Apple realm.) Until then i'll continue to use media composer wherever possible and wish it had some of the "nice-to-have" but non-essential functionality available in FCPX..

ps. I would also like to echo deanoism's compliment to Autsin - so refreshing to hear a professional unbiased point of view aware that many of us have different needs - superb.

December 25, 2013 at 3:54PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Matthew

Thanks for the comment- There are some things I love about the software I love and some things I really dislike, but compared to alternatives it works best for what I do. I really tried to be completely honest and convey that in my writeup, and I'm glad people appreciate that.

December 26, 2013 at 3:05PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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That is about THE dumbest possible comment. FCP X is essentially like a DSLR. You buy the body (app) and then set it up with the lenses and rigs (plugins) AS you need them, IF you need them! That's instead of being forced to pay (dearly) for a bag-load of stuff you won't ever need! And even if you were to buy ALL the 3rd party apps, extensions and plugins, you'd STILL have paid LESS for everything to date than just a single BS Premiere subscription or Avid license AND have more and better options than both combined! So maybe get your head out your backside and grasp the most basic concept and stop the clueless whining.

February 27, 2014 at 3:53AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Andie

Apple is essentially starting from scratch again, in terms of winning over users. Wait about 5 years, to see how many in the industry have adopted FCP, versus Adobe and Avid.

December 26, 2013 at 10:15AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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moebius22

It won't make any difference. Adobe and Avid have both been continually pushing the tech forward, whereas Apple seems pretty comfortable lurking in the shadows. I'm glad they have finally are taking things seriously again.

December 26, 2013 at 1:46PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Tom Barnold

What?? LOL! Whatever it is, I want to be smoking it too! :-))))

AVID pushing anything FORWARD??! Are you delusional?? Sorry bud, but Avid is SO backwards and behind the times, that they're getting the pay-off for their brazen arrogance and ZERO innovation of the last decade+... by being practically DEAD. Haven't turn a *single cent* of profit since *2007*(!!) and are now even delisted from NASDAQ. Bravo. Now that's the horse I should be betting on, right? LOL!

Remind me never to ask you for investment advice.

February 27, 2014 at 7:13AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Andie

To me the bigger issue is apple forceing you to install the latest OS to actually get this to work. Seriously that is the main reason I refuse to go near app!es dictatorship mentality. I can run the latest adobe software on windows XP, an OS that is over 10 years old!!! The PC ecosystem is open and free, do what you want, build what you want and work how you want. Its ironic that for an american company Apple treats it customers more like that of a communist regime. And the fanboys simply lap it up like kids in a candy store.

December 26, 2013 at 4:45PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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peter

I usually do not respond to inflammatory comments like this, but your comment contains miss-information, so I'd like to clear up a few things for editors that are trying to decide between what options are available, specifically, FCPX and the most recent version of Premiere Pro CC.

According to Adobe's website, Premiere Pro CC is not supported by Windows XP, and, is only backwards compatible to Windows 7 with Service Pack 1. http://www.adobe.com/products/premiere/tech-specs.html

After looking around from what I understand, Mavericks is required because FCPX relies heavily on some of the added features of Mavericks, including Timer Coalescing and Compressed Memory. http://www.apple.com/osx/advanced-technologies/

Now for my opinion.

Reiterating to what I said above, to each his own, and this applies to hardware and software ecosystems. If you have time and experience to build your own machine or configure a PC that works for you and you can get the support you want, whether it be yourself or the manufacturer you bought it from, go for it.

We have decided on Apple's ecosystem because we don't have the time or personnel to build and support our hardware in-house. We're small. Some of our computers will be used in live environments, where if something goes down we know we have the right support for it, and we have an Apple joint venture membership for that. This entire time we had a choice, Apple did not force us to make these decisions.

December 26, 2013 at 5:54PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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To me the reason Apple has always been of value is that it's a closed system and you know what you're getting. No one has an issue using closed systems when it's a Korg Synth Workstation or some other hardware/software device, but when it's the computer realm then you get this argument. The stability and ease of use and system setup is what has always been a strong point for Apple. You can go anywhere and know what to expect from the system. Some people like to roll their own, but many people don't want the hassle. Different strokes for different folks. With Apple over the years it's the one part of my gear I never really have to think about.

December 26, 2013 at 7:58PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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PAVP

Agree 100 percent

December 26, 2013 at 8:15PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Totally.

December 26, 2013 at 11:19PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Steve

You don't what you're getting using a HP Workstation? Dreamworks uses those. I use both Windows computers and Macs, and i can say many Apple users speak of Windows and PCs like they're stuck over 20 years in the past. Just saying.

December 27, 2013 at 6:04AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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moebius22

It requires Mavericks because of some of the advanced features Mavericks makes available. If you don’t want the upgrade, you don’t have to get it, but it’s also worth noting that Apple released Mavericks as a FREE upgrade, so it’s not like they’re trying to rake in extra money or anything. They’re really just trying to give their users the most advanced features possible.

December 27, 2013 at 5:49PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Bingo.

February 27, 2014 at 7:15AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Andie

Seldom have I seen a bunch of people more critical to what they use than Apple users. So far, I still have to find what you call an Apple fanboi.

December 28, 2013 at 4:45AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Thyl Engelhardt

Apple treats its customers "like a communist regime"?

Sometimes I wonder how people even begin to come up with categorically absurd (and frankly, insulting, not to mention ignorant) comparisons. Please, on behalf of anyone who has actually lived under a communist regime, I beg you to expound further on this analogy.

December 28, 2013 at 7:27PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Swissted

There are two good audio plugins for FCPX its called, Izotope and Zypnotiq. Have you heard them before?

December 28, 2013 at 10:06AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Eric Silva

I have not but will check them out now, thanks!

December 28, 2013 at 5:27PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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There you go.I guess, you can't say no more that there's no good audio plugins for FCPX . ;)

December 31, 2013 at 7:54AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Eric Silva

I am also a daily user of FCPX - my setup is more narrative single-cam and less multicam, and I have to edit quickly and efficiently and finish online. 10.1 is a MONUMENTAL update. The software has come a LONG way since it first came out, and it's at the point where I don't understand why anyone who is on their own (ie not part of a post house bureaucracy) is still on FCP7. It feels archaic to use it now. My colleagues who still use it call me in the middle of the night with questions about how to set the codec in their sequence settings and I'm just like...UPGRADE.

I can understand that there are big issues - OMF export for me is huge, but I really don't respect the old argument that it's "iMovie Pro" or not a serious piece of software. It is a completely different set of metaphors for editing that challenge the traditional track stacking metaphor in timelines. For me, that's meant hours saved, just because the workflow is SO intuitive and I waste zero time setting up anything - I can just drop in my media, edit it, focus on making great creative decisions, and know that FCPX is setting it up correctly behind the scenes, AND that I can change those settings if I want to. By adopting the libraries metaphor it's a throwback to FCP7's bins, which I think will make it far more appealing to FCP7 users who haven't yet switched, as the organization is no longer such a severe switch.

Anyways, tl;dr: I really love what FCPX is doing. I can't argue for post houses that need to OMF out to other places, but for my needs as a one-stop editing place that exports to the web, FCPX is invaluable.

December 28, 2013 at 11:37PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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This was the best review I've read of 10.1 in that it really stressed using the software in the real world. The media handling has been the main reason I didn't switch from PCP 7 and Premiere pro. I used a pre-release version of FCX and was executed about some of the features but as a documentary film maker who needs to be verity collaborative a times, FCX was really as bad you can get fro professional software. A few years later it finally deems to living up to it's potential and I am once again seriously considering learning it and using it for my new project. Seeing how it handles MTS, syncing sound with external sound sources and how well the colour grading works are my next concerns, but it looks like I'll buying a copy after the new year.

thanks for such a well thought out, balanced review.

December 29, 2013 at 6:44AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Syncing sound has been excellent for a long time — the multicam supports 64 angles at mixed frame rates and resolutions, and auto-syncs them too. You can use multicam or compound clips for dual system audio, and they'll auto-sync either way.

Grading is good; you can create your own plug-ins with Motion if you need additional controls, but the color board is good once you get used to it. (I'd like Curves, though you can export to Resolve too.)

I don't have a camera that supports MTS, but you've been able to import from AVCHD cameras for some time, this just makes it easier to move from Premiere if you've been dragging the MTS files instead.

December 29, 2013 at 8:02PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Not so long ago, people had issues with Apple’s visionary approach on removing floppy drives and even removing DVD drives from their machines, and 2 years ago Apple did the same with FCPRO (for the best), drastically changing how non-linear editor should think and operate. But, people forget that time brings change and change takes time. So take a risk here by saying this but, I believe that in 2 years time, everyone (who stopped in time using FCPRO7, Adobe, Avid, Sony, you name it) will be desperately trying to wrap their brains around FCPROX, ‘cause it will become the standard in NLE software. All of that just because they didn’t understood Apple’s vision in 2012… Seriously, I’ve tried them all, and I decided that FCPROX is actually the only one paving the NLE road to the future, not because I’m a FCPRO user since version 1, but because it is… but don’t take my word for granted. Just try it yourself. You’ll see I’m right. And history will repeat itself once again for the non-believers. Just saying...

P.S. - there are hundreds of great plug in developers for FCPROX. One of these is the Poland base team of creatives called MotionVFX (www.motionvfx.com) You guys should definitely check they plugin collection for FCPROX and Motion 5.

February 8, 2014 at 7:53PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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I use ppcs6 almost daily and I really like it, till I used FCP 10.1 . But use FCP for color correction or multicam editing and you will know what I mean. The only thing that keeps me from going to FCP is not premiere it's aftereffects. Apple has not answer for AfterEffects or Photoshop but if they ever do look out.

March 31, 2014 at 9:36PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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April 4, 2014 at 4:28AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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April 16, 2014 at 10:58PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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August 5, 2014 at 8:29PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Let's cut through the BS. Final Cut Pro X is a disaster. It took a simple, intuitive format in FCP 7 and made it both less intuitive and dumbed it down in a way that more sophisticated edits far more cumbersome.

Snapping? Magnetic timeline? Did they design this for ten year olds? What professional records audio in the same media as video? So that means you have to disable the audio from the video, otherwise f-ing up your entire timeline. It arbitrarily links up audio and video that have NOTHING to do with one another. So you spend twice as much time trying to disconnect them from one another.

The geniuses who devised this update should be waterboarded. And the apologists reviewing FCP 10 who believe that Apple can do no wrong obviously lack the stones to man up and call this the huge mistake that it is. Before I upgraded, I thought those complaining were just making noise, but man- I rue the day I bought this piece of crap program. My only solace is in witnessing the mass exodus of editors to Premiere, and the knowledge that FCP will be soon as relevant as Friendster.

September 1, 2014 at 9:53AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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William

I have worked for years as pro producer-director using Avid, Final Cut Pro and Premiere. I am now retired but thought I'd dabble with the trial Final Cut X and perhaps buy it. I'd heard all the arguments about it but thought give it a fair try.

From what I can see, the only really big thing in its favour is the price. If you are a pro, used to the other editing systems my guess is you'll find the X extremely different. I have never sold my services as an editor but I have done an awful lot of editing. Quite frankly, I am willing to learn new tricks but not if they don't bring substantial benefits. I see far too many disadvantages and too few benefits to make the switch.

My short advice, for what it's worth, is if you intend to turn pro - especially as editor - don't even think about buying or training on FCP X. There is a very good chance you will regret it if you do. The price should not affect affect your judgement. If however you only intend to learn one system and you are an amateur (no matter how serious or "professional" your attempts may be) and money is a big deciding factor then go with the X. Of-course if you are taking the pro route there is then the old argument over Avid or Premiere but I'll leave that to others.

January 2, 2015 at 10:10AM

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Barrie Naylor
Retired pro producer-director
74