Is Final Cut Pro X Becoming a True Player

Last year when Final Cut Pro X was released, the professional film and video world cried a barbaric YAWLP at their dismay. It was more like iMovie and steroids and clearly showed Apple’s plan to move away from the high-end, sophisticated video professional, and more towards a prosumer audience. My film and video colleagues started jumping the FCP ship and heading for Adobe’s Premier Pro or Avid.  Many people were pissed.

There were two key changes that made FCPX a problem:

  1. Removing high-end features (like XML or XSAN support)
  2. Changing the post-production paradigm (e.g. what names features had, how sequences worked, etc.)

A lot has happened in a year. Apple has added a lot of key functionality that higher end pros needed (e.g. the ability to support XML files) and they continue to work out the bugs. But there’s something else I’m seeing. Veteran and high-end corporate video producers and companies starting to adopt it. Apple now has on its site a few of case study articles from such prestigious commercial film companies and producers as @radical.media and Dean Devlin. And more recently, 25+ year editing veteran Chris Fenwick claimed a recent major project he did for Mini Cooper couldn’t have been done without the power of FCPX. (In case you missed it, part 1 of my interview with him aired last week on my show. Tomorrow, part 2 hits iTunes and it’s a whole show dedicated to his take on FCPX. It’ll be on the blog Friday). Film effects plugin developer Crumple Pop wrote a whole blog post why they were putting everything into FCPX.

Now that Final Cut 7 is dead, I need to decide what my new NLE of choice will be. One of the reasons I personally have been hesitant about making a switch to FCPX was because I wanted to be able to hire editors who used the same program I do. Certainly all the pros I may want to hire won’t use FCPX. But ironically, the editors I have on my extended team all use FCPX. At first I chalked it up to the fact that they’re just young. (Well, most of them are. One of them is old like me.🙂 But now that more vets are trusting FCPX, I must say, I’m strongly considering it.

Chris makes a great point in my interview with him. If you’re in this business and not prepared for change, you ain’t going to make it the long haul. In truth, I’ll probably have to learn FCPX as well as one other NLE (which will most likely be Adobe Preimere.)

What say you? Take the poll below and help a brutha figure out what his next move should be.

43 thoughts on “Is Final Cut Pro X Becoming a True Player

  1. The only reason I say it’s not ready is because of the depth of 3rd party solutions that plug into premiere pro that make my life soooo much easier to add production value(tiffen fx, magic bullet, etc.), that I would lose going from CS to FCPX.

    1. Milas, the 2 plug ins you mention are both FCPX compatible (well, some of the MB plugins are, such as Looks).

      Are there any others you have in mind? There might be similar plugs from other companies that could fill the gap.

      Full disclosure, I have been using FCPX for pro (tv, industrials) work since it was released. The speed at which I can work compared to FCP or Premiere is what kept me with it at first, but it has become very powerful tool.

  2. You’re waisting your time if you don’t already have FCP X! The next update is going to blow you away, mark my words. It will set the bar for NLE.

      1. Really Ron, you don’t want to get me started, do you? I like just about everything about X, with the exception of editing multiple audio angles in multiclips and Apple has promised to work on that for the next release.

        – I like editing in the magnetic timeline, no more empty spaces between clips that I have to watch out for.

        – I like how X manages media and stores everything on the hard drive allowing me to simply unplug that drive and take it to any computer with X installed and pick up where I left off.

        – I like how I can copy my SD cards to a structured folder system on my raw footage drive and then simply drop the parent folder on top of my event in X and the files are imported into my event automatically creating smart collections resulting in approximately 80% of my organizing ‘grunt” work being complete.

        – I like how I can start editing a project from the imported media immediately and don’t have to wait for anything to finish copying or transcoding.

        – I like how I don’t have to worry about rendering as X is smart enough to do all of that in the background when I take a break.

        – I like having the ability to add keywords not only to the whole clips, but any portions of a clip and having X automatically create smart collections based on those keywords. It’s like having instant subclips available.

        – I like being able to mark portions of a clip as being unusable and never having to see that section of the clip(s) again unless desired.

        – I like being able to mark clips and portions of clips as favorites and being able to instantly find those clips based on search terms.

        – I like being able to audition clips or portions of clips and switch those clips in and out of my project with the tap of my trackpad and leaving the other clips in place should I decide to switch back.

        – I like the ability to be able to quickly and efficiently skim clips instantly.

        – I like how the precision editor allows you to see the handles before and after your in and out points enabling you to make wise decisions on where you want to place an edit.

        – I like how you can create secondary story lines connected to your main story line and edit them as if they were a storyline of their own. Then if you rearrange your main story line, the secondary story lines remain in the relative position the were placed at in the beginning.

        – I like how compound clips work in X.

        – I like how I can simply select a filter and see how it is going to affect my clip in real time without ever having to actually add the filter to the clip.

        – I like how multicam editing works in X with the angle editor. Multicam editing in X is 2nd to none in my opinion. Again with the exception of editing multiple audio angles, which they are working on.

        – Wait there’s more…. I like that I can edit multicam using different frame rates in the same project, although I admit, I haven’t done it yet, but will need to very soon.

        How’s that Ron? Is that enough for you to chew on? The bottom line is, I really do LOVE FCPX, it’s fast and totally reliable on a machine that is designated for editing only. I could probably cut 2 fingers off my left hand and still count the number of times FCPX has crashed on me since I started using it back in February of this year, and that’s no exaggeration.

        1. Don’t forget that now in 10.6 you can export multiple timelines without having to use compressor or having to sit and watch an export bar. Working while exporting is very convenient and time consuming. There are some downsides and the main one for me is that you need to have a quad core. You can get away with a dual core like I have, a 2.8ghz, but to work without a spinning wheel requires maxed out RAM. It took 20gb of RAM for the spinning wheel to not occur as much and now with 28gb I’m editing without fcpx slowing down.

          1. I’ve heard that too, that more RAM is needed. I plan to upgrade my RAM to reduce the spinning wheels. Hasn’t been too bad lately, but I’d like it to be less.

            Thanks for commenting.

            1. No, RAM isn’t nearly as important as *V*RAM.

              VRAM
              RAM
              Disk
              CPU

              That’s the order of importance with modern apps, especially FCP X and Motion, due to the extensive use of OpenCL, CoreVideo and others. All of which use the GPU.

                1. Only by exchanging the installed GPU, yes. But even tho the GPUs in iMacs are socketed and therefore theoretically upgradeable, the boards are not sold separately and no 3rd party has ever come out with alternatives. So when bying an iMac, one should always get the max VRAM available, as pricey as that may be.

                  In a machine such as a Mac Pro it’s of course no problem due to them being PCI cards.

  3. There are more plugins for FCPX now than there ever was with FCP 7 legacy. Go for it Just do it….

  4. I’ve been using it professionally for nearly a year. What are you waiting for? It’s very capable and very stable. The workflow is really fast there’s very little that it’s missing at this point. I understand that people felt burned when it was first released and Apple really did screw up the launch, but the continued hate really isn’t justified at this point. I think it’s irrational fear of change at this point and not really based on actual experience. It’s a huge leap forward over the old version of FCP.

  5. Here are the facts Ron, on why I use Adobe.

    I’ve been editing for 7 years now (yeah, I know I’m a rookie), both on Adobe and Final Cut Pro, depending on the project. I’ve never touched or even thought about purchasing FCPX and I don’t think I ever will. For the kind of work that I do, long and short form storytelling and editing for a multimedia production house, I just can’t see any other NLE competing with Adobe Premiere. Editing videos on one timeline with multiple formats, OR creating/editing custom text and motion graphics in another software, saving it and having it automatically update in Premiere so you can make sure the graphics is what you’re looking for, OR even simply reviewing and logging footage, Adobe has created a seamless workflow that was non-existent in any other NLE. Final Cut Pro tried with Final Cut Studio but Final Cut Studio is the reason why FCPX was built from scratch – It just didn’t work. And quite honestly I don’t think it ever will. Often as filmmakers, we complain about not having the right setting or ability to do this and that. The perfect camera isn’t out there. Understood. But, in editing over 15 major projects since I’ve had CS6, I haven’t complained about one thing. You can edit RED footage without rendering, you can edit DSLR footage without rendering, you can even add as many plugins as you like on a clip and still watch a clip unrendered. It’s a professional editing software.

    Aside from Adobe being more than affordable (through Adobe’s new subscription plan, Adobe Master Collection is only $50 a month), the number one reason why I don’t think I’ll ever leave Adobe is simply this. Recently, they announced a new product that may very well be to your benefit Ron – ADOBE ANYWHERE. It’s exactly what it sounds like. The ability to work on an Adobe Premiere project from anywhere in the world as long as you have access to the internet. So this means if you live in Georgia and have an editor in China, all your editor needs is internet and log-in information in order to work on your project. You don’t have to worry about waiting hours (or days) for footage to be sent over a network or hard drive. Adobe Anywhere allows you edit HD footage over the network, save the project, and both sides can make as many changes as they want until the final product is reached. Take a look at this video if you haven’t already heard about it – http://tv.adobe.com/watch/adobe-anywhere/introducing-adobe-anywhere-for-video/

    For me Adobe just works. Period.

    And after this long winded post I think I should post my “unofficial” ethics statement: ADOBE DID NOT PAY ME FOR THIS POST. I JUST LOVE BEING ABLE TO GET WORK DONE, IN A TIMELY MANNER, AND NOT HAVE TO COMPLAIN ABOUT NOT HAVING THE TOOLS I NEED TO MAKE MY LIFE EASIER.

    1. Thanks for the comment Jude. I strongly suggest you listen to my part 2 podcast interview with Chris Fenwick when it appears on iTunes Wed. There’s one point he makes about render “gotcha’s” worth noting. That you may be able to edit in real time with Premiere, but once you’ve finished editing, you need still need to render it after all the editing. I know you can edit RED footage in FCPX, as well as any other codec. He did point out that the compatibility between Premiere and AE was amazing.

      Both programs are great. I’ll probably learn both. Still deciding which will be my main one though. I must say, there are a lot of positives I’m hearing about FCPX.

      1. What is the alternative with FCPX? Not having to render after the editing is done? That alone sounds worth it.

        1. In my interview with Chris, he points out that the meta data and tagging feature are tools we all don’t even fully appreciate yet. Being able to organize clips by categories, tagging some clips with multiple categories. Very compelling.

    2. Adobe Premiere Pro is certainly a capable program, but as a full-time editor who has had to use it every single day for six months, my experience has been quite different. I have worked with all kinds of media (AVCHD, XDCAM, H.264, .MOV, and more) and very little plays well without rendering in the timeline, despite the incessant hype. The timeline patch panel is poorly designed, the timeline itself is clunky to work with, and the audio waveforms are horribly rendered and difficult to work with. The color scopes do not change dynamically and are terribly ugly (especially compared to Final Cut Pro X). The auto-save window pops up in the foreground and cancels any action you are trying to perform at the moment. Dynamically linking with After Effects, while in theory a wonderful feature, is incredibly unreliable. Sending files to Audition or SpeedGrade creates all kinds of little sidecar files scattered throughout your folder hierarchy. Organizing and navigating media in the Project panel is painfully slow, and the ability to “hover scrub” isn’t half as useful as Final Cut Pro’s “skimmer”. When you have a clip selected in the timeline you can’t just select another tool and use it, you have to deselect the clip first in order to use the new tool, which might not seem like a lot but after a few hundred clicks it can be very aggravating. After a few thousand clicks it can lead to manslaughter.

      I will say that Adobe Media Encoder is, at present, considerably more useful than Apple’s Compressor, which has only rarely given me predictable results, that is, when it chooses to launch. And Adobe Audition is fantastic (though the upcoming Final Cut Pro X update is rumored to be offering its own audio multitrack mixing capabilities, likely through a Logic Pro X integration, but time will tell). While After Effects is an industry standard software program, most of what the average person would use After Effects for can be done ten times quicker with Apple Motion, which is by contrast uncluttered and intuitive, and doesn’t require a RAM preview for every single thing you want to watch.

      Having said all this, I do use Premiere Pro every single day, and I do produce quality work with it. But it has started to kill the joy of editing for me. When I get home from my day job, I can’t wait to start using Final Cut Pro X again. It has its own annoying quirks, of course –every program does. But I can import, organize, and navigate media MUCH faster than with Premiere Pro, and for the most part, I don’t even have to click a mouse button. You can assemble an entire rough cut with a combination of the “I”, “O”, “E” and “Q” keys and the skimmer –no mouse clicking required. This gives me so much more time to make my editorial decisions, to experiment and try new things, to play.

    3. “I’ve never touched or even thought about purchasing FCPX and I don’t think I ever will.”

      That puts your credibility at absolute ZERO and the value of your brazenly biased opinion at WORTHLESS. Thanks for wasting our time. I have no need for reading the rant of someone so narrow-minded and unwilling to even so much as PEEK over the edge of his tiny little box. Truly sad.

  6. Wait for Best Buy or somewhere to have iTunes cards on discount (15 or 25%) then buy 4 $100 cards to get FCPX, Compressor and Motion on the cheap.

  7. I can’t wait for the podcast. Hopefully it’s something useful.

    Problem with FCP X, is the new paradigm- primary storyline, secondary storyline, connecting clips. In some cases, it could be useful, but the more I edit, the less I find I need a new paradigm.

    Take a documentary edit, where most of it is based on VOs and interviews, so that would be the primary storyline. So you start off with a scratch VO, and build a cut. Then the writer makes script changes, and you re-voice the scratch VO, and then you realize that you have to change your entire primary storyline, causing a mess with the connecting clips and the secondary storylines, because everything was built on top of that. Whereas, with the older track based model, you’ll pop the VO onto another track, run through the edit and change what doesn’t work.

    Then take another type of edit, where you have an interview clip and you do a rough cut, with brolls (or connecting clips). Then you run through the clip, and trim the gaps, remove pauses and fumbles, and shift soundbytes around. And then you realize that having to change clips from secondary storylines into connecting clips and primary storylines can be quite clunky, especially if you’re used to marquee selecting a clip or clicking on a clip and shifting them around.

    1. Thanks for the feedback Strypes. That does sound annoying. And most of my work is just like you described. I’m just going to have to get in there, play around with the free 30 day trial, and see for myself.

      By the way, the new episode is on iTunes.

      1. “Playing around” is not going to do you ANY good whatsoever. If you actually and honestly want to know what it’s about and how to use it and don’t want to waste time fiddling and cursing just because you have no real clue what you’re doing (no, “I’ve been editing since 1743!!” has near ZERO value), then do yourself the favor and invest in Ripple Trainings video training or even lynda’s if you so prefer. “Playing around” is merely going to turn you into another frustrated “I don’t get it so it sux!” Jude Charles type, ranting on your cluelessness in forum after forum.

        IOW: make an INFORMED decision.

  8. I’ve found creative edits (highlights) and short-form pieces a joy to edit on FCPX. The last vestige of difficulty I’m finding is cutting documentary edits (long-form multi-cam projects). The work-around required to enable you to get to all of your audio tracks is clunky and unnecessary. There has to be a better way to mix audio on a multi camera shoot. As it stands (the way Apple wants you to do it) is have the audio grouped inside the multi-clip. Allowing only one audio source to play at any given time.

    Otherwise multi-cam editing has undergone some positive changes. The number buttons now cut angles when paused or when in real time (1 for camera one, 2 for camera two, and so on). Even in it’s short-comings there are sprinkles of brilliance.

  9. We’ve been editing on FCPX here since June. Just finished (last night!) a two week edit for a major client and couldn’t be happier with the way the edit went. I was a naysayer at first like so many but once we jumped in we haven’t looked back.

  10. I think when you look at the different between FCP X and Premiere Pro CS6, you have to include the fact that Premiere Pro CS6 is backed by the whole Adobe collection. I use Photoshop and Premiere Pro together all of the time. If you are planning on just editing video and staying solely in the nle go for FCP X or AVID or give CS6 a try too…but if you have to do motion graphics or any type of photoshop stuff…then stick with the Adobe collection. You will be glad you did.🙂

    1. I have to agree with Pete here. I was a FCP7 editor for about 4 years, but I have been using the Adobe collection for about 7 years. When I tried to use FCP and AE together (or FCP and Photoshop for that matter) I couldn’t achieve the same seamless communication between programs like I could with AE and Premiere (or premiere and photoshop). That’s my main reasoning for preferring Adobe software. I know photoshop very well and I am mediocre at AE, but the communication between those programs and Premiere is great.

  11. We’ve tested it, but had problems in that FCP X keeps copying everything to the local drive. This makes it almost impossible to work on the project on a SAN from a workstation. If we can’t make that work, it’s a deal-breaker.

  12. Been using FCPX since it’s release (previously FCP 6) and while the beginning was a little bumpy, 10.0.6 is everything I wanted. This is easily the best NLE I have used, my work flow is vastly improved, and I am able to get my work out a lot faster than I ever could with FCP 6. I recommend purchasing a tutorial from somewhere like rippletraining.com and work through the training. I am still after over a year finding little things that I didn’t know where possible and again making my job that much easier. FCP X is a rock solid NLE and for the price, you cannot go past it. Download the free trail, get the tutorial and see what you can do.

  13. i love fcpx 10.06 and edit all my ENG and sports work with it. However, I have not done any long form editing with it and that is where Ill make a decision between fcpx and avid. most disagree with me but i still feel that based upon the gui and the close resemblance to iMovie that fcpx is truly designed for finger, tablet editing. using it on an ipad after sending clips to it via wifi from my canon has me slobbering and my gut tells me that is where apple is headed unless the windows surface beats them to the punch.

  14. I learned editing in college way back in 2000 on final cut pro 2.0 or 3.0.. Final Cut was my first NLE love. I became very quick at Final Cut on up thu FCP 6.0.. then i got a job offer I couldn’t refuse and had to switch to Avid for the big payday working on television promos and commericals on a daily basis in Los Angeles. I’ve now been in the AVID world for 7 years… and don’t see my facility switching anytime soon. I work at a company with 15 editors all working on Avid MC on an ISIS Unity who work around the clock handing off projects to each other in various states of progress and working out of the same project on a daily basis. Not sure this workflow would work with FCP or Premiere.

    I did check out FCP X last month in a free trial. I admit, it was frustrating as hell. My biggest frustration was the timeline and lack of tracks. I like stacking video tracks.. saving shots at the end of the timeline.. stacking alternate shots as I work and change my mind. This all proved difficult and annoying in FCP x.

    I also hated the bubble filler slugs between clips and the fact that I couldn’t throw clips at the end of my timeline.. to grab when i needed them. Basically I’ve become a lightning fast avid editor over the years.. And all that muscle memory is hard to unlearn.

    The things i loved about FCP X is the ability to just import your media.. any media and just start cutting. I see the potential of the metadata and skimming organization of FCP X too.. very innovative.

    Eventually I’ll give FCP X a chance again.. but i think i’m going to learn the Adobe Creative Suite in my free time. Really want to get better After Effects and Premiere 6.0 is much less daunting to learn. It’s kind of like the old Final Cut Pro and Avid had a baby interface wise.

    1. Well, as soon as Avid runs out of CEOs to fire, departsments to sell of and out of money in general (which shouldn’t take all that much longer), the desicion to switch won’t be yours to make anymore.

      And you’re *clearly* yet another one of those that curse at X because you never even grasped it to begin with because you don’t even actually bother to LEARN it before casting your wannabe “pro” opinion.

      And anyone that has to STACK clips in the timeline of all places OR needs to hide them at the end of the timeline, obviously lacks even the most basic organizational skills. Ironically people like YOU would by far benefit the MOST from using X. If only you had a clue how it works and grasped the whole idea behind it. But no, you’re a “pro”, you already know everything, right? If YOU don’t get it, then its GOT to suck! lol

      Same ol’ same ol’.

      1. “Dudemeister” – that’s a very uncool comment to give Randy. He was being forthright and honest in a way that was polite and respectful. Why reward that with rudeness? (Anonymous rudeness at that).

        FCPX isn’t for everybody. It is paradigm shift in thinking. There’s no right or wrong way to edit.

        Randy, kudos for trying something new. If the more traditional way of editing works for you, there’s nothing wrong with that. The things you mentioned about FCPX do take getting used to. It’s definitely worth trying again when you have the time, but no judgment if you ultimately decide it’s not for you.

        Good luck!

        1. LOL… the Robin Hood of threads.

          Sorry, but suggesting an opinion that is clearly based on nothing but IGNORANCE of the subject he is “reviewing” somehow bears any credibility and has any merit whatsoever, then sending him off with a little pat on the head is the only thing “rude” here. You both insult every experienced (X or otherwise) and most of all KNOWLEDGABLE editors’ intelligence. Get over yourself and maybe tell people like him to actually catch a clue FIRST before simply cultivating the usual mindless nonsense based upon nothing but said ignorance. I couldn’t care LESS what he uses, just use it without spreading BS about other NLEs in the process. Because if you’re talking about something you clearly know nothing about, then any and everything you say can only be BS. And I’m at the point that if I see it for the 4782nd time, I call it. Deal. If you or he can’t stand the heat…

          And if you actually want to DEFEND that drivel, bravo. You’re just part of the problem. You don’t even grasp that someone that doesn’t even GET the software to begin with can hardly make any sort of judgment of it let alone whether “the more traditional way of editing works for you” to begin with! Duuuh!

          1. Really. I’M part of the problem? Interesting. The problem with YOUR take is that it does nothing to promote or HELP our industry. Is your desire really to help him (or anyone else for that matter) see the value in FCPX, or do you just want to prove you’re a superior editor? What possible constructive help is there calling someone an idiot and telling him to get a clue. It’s comments and attitudes like that that keep people from WANTING to learn FCPX.

            Secondly, just because a person wants to edit a certain way that you find ineffective or even deplorable, doesn’t invalidate their feelings about it. You may very well be correct in your assessment that stacking clips at the end of a sequence is not the best way to edit. Calling a person ignorant for doing it that way, then refusing to share why YOUR way is better, just comes off as prideful arrogance. Maybe the reason you keep hearing it for the 4,782 time is because every time you hear it, instead of truly offering to help a person understand, you insult them. If that’s been your approach, I can see why you keep hearing it. On top of that, to do it behind and anonymous moniker is cowardice. Just keeping it real.

            But, I have sneaky suspicion this could turn into a ping-pong tournament between you and me. So, let’s agree to disagree.

            1. Whatever. You can’t even get the basics of what I wrote straight and misquote me, move words around at will and make completely false claims, so there’s clearly no point, you’re right. (e.g. where did I REFUSE anything??! Make shit up much?)

              And I have zero clue what a “real” would change ANYTHING as far as the facts, content and legitimacy or my opinion are concerned. That’s just a petty cop-out IMHO.

              My real name is Andy Rawl (though I could claim ANYTHING and you wouldn’t even know any better) and… oh WOW… that sheds an entirely different light on matters!! You’re right!

              [facepalm]

              1. Wow. If we were looking for a NLE supervillain, I think we’ve found him. “They called me MAD! What Fools!! But I’ll show them!!”

                Please catch your breath, Mr. Rawl.

                I’m very grateful for some of the information we’re hearing from those who have merely dabbled and are not yet power users in FCPX. t’s extremely useful to learn how easy or difficult someone finds switching to FCPX from Avid, Premiere or FCP7. Most of Randy’s difficulties will probably match the experience of any and all Avid editors who make the switch. It doesn’t say FCPX is bad, or that he won’t like it eventually once he masters it. It just says if you expect everything to be transparently clear when you power up the program, you’re in for a shock.

                Oh. Denigrating someone because he stacks clips in a timeline or tosses them at the end of a sequence is probably the funniest thing I’ve heard in a long while. Thanks for that!

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