April 12, 2011

Apple Announces Redesigned 64-Bit Final Cut Pro X with Background Rendering for $299

I'm live at the sold-out FCPUG SuperMeet in Las Vegas, where the "surprise" guest has turned out to be none other than Apple ("surprise" is in quotes because everyone, this site included, expected it to be AAPL). As expected, Apple has announced the new version of Final Cut Pro, now called Final Cut Pro X, with OpenCL support, backround rendering, and a completely redesigned interface. Here are the new features:

The "pro version of iMovie" is sort of an apt description, but only if you really emphasize the "pro" part. In my own estimation so far (and from the applause in the room), pro editors are on board with it. Randy Ubillos, chief software architect, demoed the new application (still in beta, he was careful to point out). People are literally screaming when a new feature shows up. Editors are crazy! Here's the rundown of the presentation:

  • Apple claimed FCP has a 94% user satisfaction rate and Adobe and Avid are "in a race for 2nd place."
  • Resolution independent, up to 4K
  • Leverages Grand Central Dispatch to do rendering in the background, utilizing all cores
  • Full color managed, based on ColorSync
  • No more Log & Transfer -- media is ready to edit "before the ingest is completed," whatever that means
  • Media can be analyzed during the ingest: stabilized, corrected for rolling shutter, audio synced
  • People detection and shot detection -- meaning, it can recognized a medium close-up
  • Magnetic timeline -- sliding long groups of clips won't overwrite later clips -- they'll drop down to a new track
  • Compound clips -- sort of like nested sequences, makes grouping clips together (and moving those groups) easier
  • Inline precision editor -- double-click on the handle between two clips and get a nice view of what's on either side of each clip
  • L-cuts and J-cuts are "super easy" -- the handles are right in the timeline
  • Fade handles right in the timeline, including right-clicking to choose type of fade -- no more keyframe dots
  • Similarly, audio editing handles based on selections right in the timeline -- and the audio waveform moves up and down to reflect the changes
  • Amazing color-correction matching -- Randy took one orangish clip and made a blue clip match it with one click. Remains to be see if this works quite as automagically in practice, but it was a draw-dropping moment.
  • "Automatically rendering all the time, in the background, no rendering." Yes, we already said this, but when Randy demo'd it, someone yelled, "do it again!"
  • No transcoding -- "AVCHD, DSLR, GoPro, all editing natively." Doesn't matter about codec, resolution, etc.
  • New "Color Board" -- impressive primary and secondary color correction built into FCP, including bezier masks
  • Reframing shots is really easy right in the viewer -- including animating the reframing
  • Audition groups -- you can try a number of clips in a timeline (even when the clips are of a different length) and watch each one in an insert edit, and then choose the one you like (without having to do a bunch of sliding around in the timeline)
  • It's got quite a colorful logo -- perhaps stressing its new color correction abilities...
  • Shipping in June
  • Downloadable from the App Store
  • For $299.

Standing ovation at the price. Presentation's over. Lots of questions to be answered... stay tuned for when video demos and screenshots go online.

UPDATE: here is video of the full presentation.

Your Comment


cant wait for more info!

April 12, 2011 at 10:46PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM


YES! Give us details!

April 12, 2011 at 10:48PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM


What an incredible price for something that is looking very exciting!
I can't wait to get my hands on it!

April 12, 2011 at 11:22PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM


LOL was FCP or Adobe or Avid seriously not good enough? I don't think a lack of existing software was keeping too many films from being made.

April 12, 2011 at 11:44PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM


On 2nd thought, the 299 is gonna be a good deal!

April 12, 2011 at 11:54PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM


to Max:
FCP is not only used by filmmakers. Documentaries, internet highlights, small event coverage,... are also made with it.

It's a fantastic app but it needs (in the current version) loads of rendering, it doesn't use half of the cores, you can't work when it's calculating, the estimate time is always completely wrong....and for many of my jobs speed is crucial.
So just the background rendering upgrade would be a revolution... at least for my line of work.
Quick color correction (even basic one ) would be a treat too.

The price is great too, I'll be pretty happy to invest the 700€ price difference in other apps or gear.

April 14, 2011 at 2:50PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM


Great summary of the new FCPX features. Not having to worry about gamma shifts is going to be a relief if that works. And catching up with Premiere Pro - not having to transcode different footage - especially the HDSLR stuff - is going to be a welcome change.

April 13, 2011 at 12:05AM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM


I'm still wondering if the price just dropped immensely or if this is evidence of the rumored "a la carte" pathway... Honestly, either way this is very, very exciting!

April 13, 2011 at 1:31AM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM


Darius, I would absolutely expect it to be the latter ($299 just for FCP, ala carte), which is fine by me considering it now includes the equivalent of Color (as far as I can tell). Like a lot of filmmakers, I pretty much need FCP, Photoshop, and AE -- I don't need the full suite of both. Time will tell...

April 13, 2011 at 2:52AM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

Ryan Koo

What's wrong with Premiere Pro CS5. I'm just curious to know.

April 13, 2011 at 9:25PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM


Not made by Apple. :)

April 18, 2011 at 8:57AM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM


Good summary. But I fear the only people who think this release is 'New' or 'Revolutionary' are those that have never used anything else beside FCP. Im certainly very pleased Apple have put FCP back in the game but lets keep it in perspective - there is very little in this release that hasn't previously existed in other apps (namely Premiere, Avid and Vegas) for a considerable length of time. Apple has played very effective catch-up today, nothing more. Apple the Innovating LEader seems to have not reared its head. Though the $299 price tag makes the Avid $999 cross grade offer look positively absurd....

I've got a more specific and detailed breakdown of what really is 'NEW' in FCPX, and what is just catch-up, on my site.




April 13, 2011 at 2:49AM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM


Good post, Mike. I absolutely hear what you're saying, but at the same time there were plenty of music players that had many features of the iPod before the iPod came out. And the iPod blew them out of the water with better design. A lot of these features are execution dependent, and I can say from watching the demo in person that there was a definite sense of "this is going to make editing much faster" -- in a good way -- in the room. Yes, Premiere and Vegas have indications of adjusted audio waveforms and color correction built-in. But Apple's implementation was just much more elegant.

I hope I'm not drinking the Apple kool-aid. I've been an Adobe guy for years and was really only a FCP editor for about two years until I switched back to PPro with CS5. I did get the distinct impression when watching the demo (and, yes, being influenced by the Apple Distortion Field) that I'd probably be going back to FCP come June. And this was the day after spending time at the Adobe booth checking out their CS5.5 demos...

If Apple really wants to get people away from Adobe -- and I don't just mean in the NLE market, which they've got locked up, but I mean in other creative areas, which they don't have a stranglehold on -- then, to go along with their new a la carte pricing, they'll also announce a Photoshop competitor.

And you can bet if they did that it would have *basically* the same functionality as Photoshop, and could easily be criticized as such. Photoshop already does this, and Illustrator already does that! But Apple's version would have an actually intuitive interface that doesn't hide incredibly powerful functions three menus deep after a right-click. I levy this criticism at Photoshop as someone who made his living with Photoshop full-time at MTV for three years. Is Photoshop incredibly powerful? Yes. Is it intuitive? No.

So does the new FCP debut a dozen never-before-seen features? Maybe not. But the magic of software comes in allowing people to do complicated things in the most simple manner possible. That, more than anything, is what Apple is good at, and that's why folks are over-the-top about the potential of FCP X.

April 13, 2011 at 4:07AM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

Ryan Koo

Well said. I made the jump from PPro to FCP about 2 years ago and have never looked back. Very much looking forward to checking out FCPX, and as someone who's recently dealt with the "Log & Transfer" issues from AVCHD footage, $300 is a dream.

Glad to see plenty of anti-Apples in the house to keep everyone honest.

April 13, 2011 at 2:00PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM


Speaking of Intuitive

Even though I have Premier Pro and have access to Final Cut everyday through the university, I still find Sony Vegas Pro for most editing jobs to be far more intuitive than either. Of course, CS5 was a massive improvement as is the upcoming FCP X... but both Adobe and Apple have made improvements in the areas that Vegas has already been strong for years. Of course, depending what you want to do, Vegas Pro certainly has its limitations. But for most editing jobs, even if they include some 3d compositing, Sony Vegas has been way more intuitive and more efficient for me.

I don't work in After Effects so if I did that would be a major pull to Premier. However I do work in Photoshop and the integration with Premiere was attractive. However, most people don't know that since Vegas Pro 9 PSD files with multiple layers can be dropped right into Vegas and the layers become separate tracks with one click (if you want). And any changes in Photoshop are updated in real time in Vegas.

April 13, 2011 at 2:30PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM


Matthew, I think each NLE is "more intuitive" to certain people than to others. I for one have used Premiere, Avid, Final Cut and Vegas for different projects depending on client needs and systems. But with that in mind from my experience, Vegas is one of the least intuitive, only behind Avid which was designed for the professional who felt that using a mouse was a bad thing. But I know plenty of high end editors that have no idea what to do with Final Cut and couldn't be more at home on an Avid. Also the products that everyone is coming out with now in the NLE world are all based on what Apple did creating FCP even down to the look. Sure they took a lot of stuff from Avid at the start, but that is how better tools are created. But they created intuitive video editing when they allowed you to drag and drop and despite the fight against it from professional editors at the time, it came out strong and took over the market. To get back on topic however, no editing program is intuitive to someone with no experience editing and some are not to people with a lot of experience. At the end of the day it is all about functionality and knowing how to use it best. Each NLE is better at some things than the others, Yes even iMovie.

But to get to another topic that people keep claiming is one of the best parts about FCPX, being able to edit without transcoding. Well that is just not a good idea, just because you can do something doesn't mean you should and for that one, you shouldn't. You transcode so your footage will hold up better when editing, not so that you can simply edit it anyways. Sure if you need something rough and quick, then that is nice, but no commercial should ever be edited using the codec straight out of the camera of a DSLR. That is just amusing, and just because it is around 50mb/s doesn't mean that it is better quality than say 35mb/s XDCAM because one of them does it right and the other just does it. Happy editing!

April 13, 2011 at 3:00PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

Paul P.

re koo
agree with most of what you say except in regards to Photoshop not being intuitive.
Photoshop is more akin to a swiss army knife' in what id does. You open a door, and you have another six doors behind it. Simplify? How?
You can't really compare an application that is designed to do really one thing(editing, though of course color correction is probably included) with one that must do many (retouching, color prepress, color correcting, design, etc).
I think there are pros and cons to this subsidized pricepoint, but the pros far outweigh the cons. No more software elitists and the focus gets back to storytelling. After all, software, like a set of paint brushes, is just another tool.

April 13, 2011 at 3:13PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM


I agree with you. I was reading the feature list as well, and honestly couldn't find anything that would separate me from PPro, everything they were announcing just seemed like stuff Adobe had already done. The price point though is something I believe they are doing to compensate for this, which i have no doubt is specifically meant to make recent PPro CS5 adoptees from FCP more inclined to go back to Apple due to the Apple distortion field, along with an attractive price.

April 13, 2011 at 5:16PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM


Is "OpenCL support" the equivalent of a CUDA-style GPU acceleration?

April 13, 2011 at 3:10AM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

Bryant Stanton


April 13, 2011 at 3:56AM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

Ryan Koo

Does OpenCLsupport mean that i will need another video card? I just recently upgraded to a cuda enabled card for premiere, i would hate to have to buy another one for FCPx.

April 13, 2011 at 12:44PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM


CUDA is Nvidia only, Firestream & Stream is ATI only. OpenCL is open on both.

April 13, 2011 at 1:19PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

Chris Larkee

299$...seems too good to be true...but well, i still hope it is

April 13, 2011 at 4:49AM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM


Sure it's nice that they're dumping all of the "Suite" junk we don't need, and integrating Color into FCP, and the price is reasonable...

But there nothing here is "new" or "revolutionary" or "magical." It's all just Apple's marketing team doing the same thing they've always done. And their fanboys certainly make it easy for them.

Even at $299 I'm not choosing Apple. They've got enough people convinced that Steve Jobs is the second coming, they don't need me.

April 13, 2011 at 8:35AM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

Not that impres...

I'm a big Apple follower, but not to the level of fanboy, and this update ... sucks. So far, I'm extremely disappointed. I'm looking for FCP, not iMovie Pro.

April 13, 2011 at 1:41PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

Alec Sprinkle

What exactly did you want? Avid? Did you want to be able to edit mentally without ingesting footage or touching the computer at all, mind editing? Come on, pretty much anything that can be done editing is already available in FCP, the major upgrade IS 64-bit and an interface that more closely resembles Color. Small functionalities are given because that is what people want, they make editing more efficient and if this FCPX works like they showed, it will be by far the fastest editing tool on the market, and I don't mean because it runs fast, but because it helps to edit faster and organize information better. And as of right now, there is no NLE that organizes footage even remotely well.

And for everyone who thinks they are getting rid of all the other Apps, just wait because it really doesn't make sense when so many people rely on all their tools, especially Color! Many mid to high end post houses use Color for their color correction because it is such an amazing tool, and since they got rid of Shake to integrate it into Motion, why would they get rid of motion. Don't forget Cinema Tools which is needed to edit from film and to make slow motion clips and also Compressor because Final Cut Pro is never the final venue for content. Apple may be good at what they do, but they can't put all that functionality into one program and they certainly don't want to for $299 when people pay $999 for it right now. Just wait there will be more to come and some of it may more closely compete with products such as After Effects with the Shake functionality added in. But thats just my opinion.

April 13, 2011 at 3:17PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM


Having now watched Apple's presentation at NAB, there are some interesting things I like about FCPX, and many features I would never bother to use, and several features that are already part of FCP, but look prettier now...

Would I be okay with upgrading my work computers from FCP 6 (sad but true) to FCPX? Sure. Would I use it outside of the day job? Nope. The program may be $299, but I'm pretty sure they're not dropping the Mac Pro pricing structure any time soon. :)

As far as breaking out the other components of FCS I'm quite sure that will happen, I'm just not interested in them.

But of course, like everything else here, this is just my opinion so take it for what it's worth.

April 13, 2011 at 4:40PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM


I'm excited for this new version of Final Cut, but I'm worried about this a la carte pricing having an impact on student prices. For the current version, the entire suite is $299 for students. I really hope I can get all of the new software for that same price, not just FCP. At the very least, Apple will probably be discounting the price of only FCP for students, right?

April 13, 2011 at 11:04AM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM


Pretty cool! Though it looks like they're just playing catch up to Premiere Pro CS5... Still, sounds great and the price point is delicious.

April 13, 2011 at 11:43AM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM


They are definitely playing catch up to CS5 just with a more... appealing new interface.

April 14, 2011 at 11:28AM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM


the only thing i see is the price point. as an avid editor for 10 years, i have been on FCP for the last year and only see a few things done better. I still prefer avid and use it at home. the price point is attractive, but cant run on windows so.... and you can take my mac pro from me for free. l'li stick with adobe and avid products for now..

April 13, 2011 at 1:42PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM


For $299 and it "apparently" has a good color corrector and rumors going around, the equivalent of soundtrack pro.

If they add compressor to the suite with blu-ray burning support for $100-200, I'm sold.

April 13, 2011 at 2:42PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM


Steve Jobs has repeatedly said "no bluray for apple, ever."

So I wouldn't wait for that one. :)

April 13, 2011 at 4:33PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM


I remember reading articles from film editors talking about the tactile nature of actual film, and how physically cutting and splicing film imparted more artistry and prevented hasty decisions. I remember when Avid started as a non-broadcast qualitiy non-linear tool for making an EDL that would save expensive CMX editing time, (even the interface looked like a CMX editing system). I was also at Apple's New York City offices when a beta version of Premier was introduced as basically a slideshow presentation program that allowed quicktime video to run and incorporated the same transistions the "slides" were using. When we saw the video dragged and dropped on a "timeline", the air was sucked out of the room. I think everyone except the guy who developed it knew it was a new non-linear editing program that was about to change the video world. Will it support time code? What's timecode? Is quicktime broadcast quality? What is broadcast quality? And so on. . .
You have to hand it to Apple. Without a booth and all the expenses that entails, they introduced a new product at NAB and it will be among the most talked about.

April 13, 2011 at 2:45PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

Russell Steen

With the two-point editing interface and precision editing function that strikes a similar chord to the functionality of the newer iMovie app for the iPad (with an obviously more advanced and pro spin), I wonder if this will bring us closer to an FCPX iPad app that will coordinate with the existing projects on your workstation as a kind of "edit on the subway" option. Could be kinda cool...

April 13, 2011 at 5:12PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

Josh Danger

did anyone ask what hardware requirements are ?..

I'm just about to buy one of the new macbook pro's .. which model should we be looking at to run this on ?.. fair bet any new macbook 15" and up right ??

April 13, 2011 at 7:50PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

Tony Anastasi

Anything with a discreet GPU I would assume is going to be good for the OpenCL support... the MB Pros have one, so you should be good there.

April 13, 2011 at 7:54PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

Ryan Koo

If the viewer is gone, so am I.

April 14, 2011 at 12:19AM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

Alex Zustra


April 15, 2011 at 6:49PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM


Can anyone says SONY VEGAS PRO.....LIKE 3 YEARS AGO!!!

I will buy this just for the fact its cheaper then Sony Vegas, LOL.

The Mag. Timeline is going to get in the way I can tell all ready.

April 19, 2011 at 4:50PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM


Horrible, I want a refund this is the first time I have seen this kind of crap, Steve get well soon please get well, we need you, who ever is in charge over there on that side of the company, has their head up their, -------

June 22, 2011 at 8:14PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM


I was curious if you ever thought of changing the layout of your website?

Its very well written; I love what youve got to say.
But maybe you could a little more in the way of content so people could connect
with it better. Youve got an awful lot of text for only having 1 or 2 images.

Maybe you could space it out better?

July 14, 2014 at 9:08PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM