FCPX Rant

fcpx
Ever since Apple announced Final Cut Pro X (pronounced “Final Cut Pro Ten”) back in April 2011 I have been keeping a very close eye on it. Like many people, as soon as it was released in June 2011, I instantly bought and downloaded it, and started playing. You could see it had potential – but it was so different to it’s predecessor and lacked so many important basic functions. Although I’ve always had it installed on my laptop, and opened it up after each update Apple pushed out – it never looked compelling enough to actually use for a job.

Background

Before I go down the FCPX rabbit hole, I just want to give you a quick run-down of my background for those that don’t know… I was one of those kids that grew up in the VHS-era. During school holidays, my brother, sister and whoever else we could rope in, would film Starwars-inspired movies on our Granddad’s trusty Panasonic G1, and edit them together using two domestic VHS recorders, with a cheap 4-channel audio mixer in-between for fancy real time mixing. During high school I did a couple of little projects on Premiere on a PC – but never really got into it as the software was so slow and unreliable. It wasn’t until a few years after high school when my brother purchased an iMac with Final Cut Express 2 and DVD Studio Pro (standalone), that I really started to get into Post Production and filmmaking in general. Being a massive computer nerd – the Mac was something completely new for me, and I absolutely loved it’s simplicity and power. Final Cut Express essentially inspired me to quit my career as a Lighting Designer, and head to Swinburne University to study a Bachelor of Film & Television. During my time at Swinburne, I spent countless hours on Final Cut Pro cutting all kinds of short films, music videos and documentaries. I probably know Final Cut Pro better than any other piece of software.

In February 2009, after completing my degree I began my career in Post Production as the sole Assistant Editor at The Butchery – a highly respected and accoladed boutique offline editorial company in Melbourne. When I first started there were only two editors, both cutting in Avid Media Composer 3.0.5. Every single job was shot on 35mm film and delivered to us on MiniDV tape after the telecine session. Being thrown completely in the deep end, I had to not only learn Media Composer very quickly, but also start to develop rock-solid workflows for this rapidly growing editing house, as new shooting formats such as RED started to hit the scene. In the early days we didn’t have shared storage, so we just had to juggle drives and transfer files over the WiFi network. During this time I discovered the power and flexibility of Media Composer, and it became very clear why Avid was still (and to this day still is), the king of long-form and hardcore offline editing. It’s fast, it’s powerful, it’s reliable. In a post house environment – where you have multiple editors and assistants working on the same job – it just makes like so much easier, compared to Final Cut Pro.

Between 2009 and 2013, the company grew dramatically, and I moved up to Post Production Supervisor with four assistant editors now at the company, along with six extremely accomplished editors, and a sister company called The Refinery added to the mix – bringing with it a Resolve and Smoke/Flame suite. As the person responsible for all things technical – I became extremely proficient in networking, shared storage (especially Unity & ISIS), Linux-based Autodesk Systems, as well as developing workflows to get smoothly from offline to final delivery. During my time I worked on countless high-end award-winning TVCs as well as long-form documentaries, music clips and the occasional feature film. The large majority of projects were cut on Media Composer – but a lot of FCP7 projects also passed through. Moving projects from Avid to FCP and FCP to Avid was also a regular occurance.

At LateNite, we’ve been using Avid Media Composer for any big long-form projects (such as Hannah & The Hasbian), and up until the middle of last year, pretty much Final Cut Pro 7 for everything else. With the release of Premiere CC, we started to test it out on a couple of smaller corporate jobs, but the real test came when we decided to break our own rule:

With both Cail Young and our very own Michael Shanks thinking we’re crazy for using FCP7 (Michael uses Premiere on a PC exclusively), we decided to risk it all and give Premiere CC a go for last year’s 48 Hour Film Project. Thankfully, Premiere CC performed perfectly, and our film was probably better than it would have been if we had decided to stick with FCP7, simply because Premiere is faster, and you have access to a lot better effects and plugins (I was so happy to see some of my ProTools plugins magically appear in Premiere!). I’m also a massive, massive fan of the Clip Mixer. Since this crazy weekend, Premiere has basically replaced FCP7 for us completely – I don’t even have FCP7 installed on my laptop anymore.

A lot of people joke that Premiere CC is basically FCP8 – but it pretty much is for better AND for worse. For jobs where I was starting and finishing within the NLE – I absolutely loved FCP7. It’s basically the Swiss Army Knife of NLE’s – it’s incredibly powerful, and you can do a huge amount of sound and effects work directly in the program. Although Avid has some really powerful built-in effects tool (i.e. I LOVE the Animatte) – even if you’re a highly experienced editor, the effects functionality sometimes just does your head in, as it works a bit differently to any other program and it’s certainly not intuative. Compared to FCP7 – the effects tools, although powerful in some respects, are clunky and unnecessarily confusing (especially once you start applying lots of effects to the one clip). FCP7 is fantastic because when you need to deliver something – whether it be a file or play out to tape – you know it can handle it. Yes – it has bugs and issues, but once you’ve used it long enough, you learn to master it’s issues and limitations and work around them (I certainly don’t miss the “General Error”). Avid on the other hand is basically designed for offline only – and you take your project to a Symphony, DS, Flame, etc. for online and final delivery. Of course, there are always exceptions to the rules – and you can finish a project completely in Media Composer (which we did with Divin’ Timor), but it’s certainly not the norm.

Premiere CC has the same benefits as FCP7 – it’s another extremely flexible and powerful Swiss Army Knife – but it also has some of the same limitations and annoyances. For example, unless you’re using Adobe Anywhere, your project is still contained within a single file. This slows things down incredibly if you have a massive project, but it also increases the risk of major file corruption as the project gets more and more complex. Avid’s big benefit is it’s simple, but incredibly powerful media management – where a project is actually a folder, and bins actually exist as individual files on the file-system level (which is fantastic, as it means you can easily throw bins around between projects and systems). The media management, when set up correctly is also rock solid – and the fact that you can literally “yank” out a drive mid-session, then plug it back in, and all the media magically reappears without crashing the program is pretty darn cool (even with AMA media).

Like FCP7, Premiere also seems to be plagued with a whole bunch of random bugs – presumably because it’s based on such an extremely old code-base. Every now and again we’ll open a project, and when you press play, everything starts playing at what seems like half speed for no apparent reason – it’s like Premiere has just completely forgot what frame rate it’s working in. The only way to fix this is to restart the application a few of times, and eventually it’ll come good. I have absolutely no idea why this happens, or what causes it. Another bug (that was common in FCP7) is that occasionally Premiere will loose track of render files. For example, you could render a whole timeline, save and exit Premiere, but when you open it again, everything is un-rendered (or just sections of the timeline). It seems as projects and sequences get bigger and more complex, Premiere can start getting a bit confused – and the risk of Premiere loosing track of render files becomes greater. Another thing we’ve come across is just general unreliability of renders. For example, we were recently rendering out an extremely complex timeline (with lots of GPU intensive effects). The first attempt had some corrupt frames (i.e. a couple of frames were just garbage). The second attempt had corrupt frames at a different point in the video. At this stage I was thinking maybe it was a GPU issue. However, the third attempt (using the exact same export settings as the previous two attempts), had perfect vision, but the audio cut out half way through the clip. Very bizarre – but I ended up just exporting the audio separately, and fixing it in QuickTime Player. This was not faulty hardware – we’ve come across these problems on multiple machines in multiple facilities. It’s just… well, buggy. Now, please keep in mind, these are rare instances. We export a huge amount of content from Premiere on a weekly basis and it works perfectly – however, the sad fact remains, sometimes (normally with big and complex projects) – something doesn’t play nice.

One thing I loved about FCP7 was that as long as you were working with ProRes files – the timeline was incredibly fast and reliable. When you pressed play – it played. It was never as fast at skimming through the timeline as Avid (probably because we’re always using DNxHD36 files in Avid) – but it was still pretty darn quick. Premiere is even faster… most of the time. Again, it just doesn’t seem to be reliable as FCP7. You press play sometimes, and the audio seems out of sync. You go back and try again, and it works fine. You press play sometimes and it stutters a bit. You press stop, then play again, and it’s fine. For whatever reason, it’s just not quite as “snappy” and reliable as the old FCP despite what people may tell you.

Overall, though, I really like Premiere – and as I said, it’s become my FCP7 replacement – but it still has a long way to go. The trimming tools aren’t as powerful as Avid. You still have to go through a “reconnection dance” when you move a project between machines (although it’s a big improvement on FCP7 – and normally only requires a couple of clicks) – I really wish Premiere had the ability to remember media locations based on the relative location of the project file. The whole Scratch/Media Disk settings – while a lot better than FCP7, are still incredibly annoying. When you open a project that is missing it’s scratch disk locations you get an alert that you have to default the Scratch Disk to your Documents folder and you can’t open the project if you don’t agree. Why won’t it let you tell it where the Scratch Disk actually is (like FCP7)? The waveform cache is also an incredibly frustrating thing – the fact that a video clip will show no waveforms at all until the previews are generated can be a bit of a shock if you’re expecting to see audio along with your video straight after you import it. When you open a really large project, just waiting for all the waveform’s to “reconnect” can also delay things a few seconds or more. One strange thing I’ve noticed is that if you drag the same audio into two separate Premiere projects – it will actually create two waveform files. Why it can’t “share” the file seems a bit strange. It also occasionally “unexpectedly quit’s” when you quit the application – no idea why. Searching, finding and filtering of media is useless and incredibly slow. Imported sequences will sometimes create duplicate master clips even when the clips are already in the project (sometimes it works great – sometimes it doesn’t). Moving a project between a Mac and a PC SHOULD work fine – but it doesn’t – sometimes you simply can’t open a Mac project on a PC. None of these are show-stoppers, but it just goes to show that Adobe still has a long way to go…

As far as I’m concerned, FCP7 is now officially in retirement after many years of faithful service, and Premiere CC has taken over it’s duties. Avid is one of those grumpy old employees that’s been around so long that no ones dares to replace him/her – because he/her holds so much knowledge and experience. Of course there are others – Lightworks 11, Vegas Pro 12 and EDIUS Pro 7 – but at this stage, they all require a PC, which is out of the question for a lot of editors for many reasons. Autodesk Smoke (on Mac) is another possibility – but is has a steep learning curve, and is really designed for people who are doing a complete offline to delivery workflow (including complex visual effects). Smoke is extremely powerful, and if you have the time to learn it properly it can be an amazing tool to have in your arsenal. But despite what Autodesk might tell you, it’s not exactly a suitable substitute for Premiere, Avid or FCP. Yes, you can do editing with it – but the tools aren’t really designed for traditional offline editing. It’s a high-end finishing tool. If you’re a one-person-show, then it could be the perfect solution for your cutting needs – but if we’re talking TVCs, features films and television (which normally means multiple editor and assistant editors), then it’s not the best tool for the job.

The main problem with Avid, Premiere, FCP7 and Smoke for that matter is that they’re all based on very old code. I’m pretty confident there’s still code in Media Composer 7 that came from the original 2.5 release back in June 2006 (although that said, I wouldn’t even be surprised if the Animatte is still using lines from the original 1998 code)! Although Adobe did some major changes behind the scenes with Premiere in the last couple of years – that was still in the last couple of years, and a lot has changed on the Mac platform since then. Sorry Autodesk, but Smoke on Mac is a hack job at best. None of these tools were written specifically for the hardware and operating systems of today.

And so now we finally move onto the whole point of this blog post…

FCPX

Re-thinking and re-writing the whole Final Cut Pro application from scratch was a massive undertaking that was always going to annoy a lot of people. This is something that Avid and Adobe would never and probably WILL never have the opportunity to do because their whole business model relies on selling software. Apple’s ProApp’s are almost a hobby to them – they don’t make a huge amount of money (compared to iPhone’s and iPad’s), and they don’t really sell that much hardware (compared to iMovie and the 99c FaceTime) – but they’re still important because they encourage other software manufacturers to keep competing in the Mac space. Every time Apple releases a ProApp update, you can see that competing developers definitely take note and improve upon their own products. Adobe is definitely watching Apple very, very closely.

One of the main reasons FCPX is so exciting is because it’s based on completely new and modern code. It’s entirely 64-bit (meaning it can use all the RAM in your system – something FCP7 could never do), it’s built with Apple’s Cocoa framework (meaning it can make use of all the latest functions the operating system supports), it makes great use of your GPUs (including the multiple GPUs in the new MacPro), it uses modern interface technologies such as Core Animation (which means even the UI elements can be GPU accelerated), 3rd party plugins can make use of 64-bit processing and GPU acceleration (through FxPlug 3), it has a proper ColorSync-managed pipeline (meaning files will look identical between FCPX, Motion, QuickTime Player, etc.), it does all it’s image processing in a floating-point linear-light colour space, and it has native format support for all of the most popular shooting formats (such as R3D, XAVC, AVCHD, H.264, AVC‑Intra, etc.). OK… so it’s modern code, I get it – but why do I as a creative editor care at all about these geeky details? Simple – it makes things fast, and it makes things stable. The software is designed to run at it’s absolute best on the hardware of TODAY. There’s no old redundant code lying around to support older systems. Everything can be streamlined. By starting from scratch, and by having a clear direction of where they want the product to go, the developers can build the application in a way that’s easy to grow and maintain. If you look at Avid and FCP7, there are bugs in the most recent versions that have existed there for years and years. Why were they never fixed? Probably because it’s too hard to revisit all that old code! I’ve been pushing FCPX pretty hard recently – and to be perfectly honest, it hasn’t crashed once. I can’t say the same thing for Premiere or Media Composer.

FCPX is currently the only modern NLE on the Mac platform. This is exciting.

My First Project

Cail Young (over at Inspiration Studios) has been bugging me to properly test FCPX for ages. He gave me a great demonstration of an earlier version when he was cutting a feature film on it a while back – and although I was impressed and I could see the potential, I didn’t think it was quite ready for prime time – especially with big projects. In my opinion the recent 10.1 release is the first release where it can be really taken seriously, so when that came out, and the reviews were good (and with Cail always in my ear telling me to give it a go!), I decided to take the plunge and use it on a ‘proper’ job. This also meant I needed to upgrade to Mavericks – which I’ve been holding off for as long as possible in fear that it would destroy Apple Mail.

Now, it’s important to note that I’m certainly not a FCPX expert by any stretch of the imagination. I’m VERY new to this application. I didn’t do lots of tutorials or read the manual before jumping in. Sometimes the best way to learn it to just get your hands dirty – so I decided to go in with no real knowledge, and just see how things went. After all, Google’s just a CMD+TAB away, and thanks to an amazing Twitter community, help is never far.

The first time I opened the application – it all seemed pretty logical. First step, create a new Library. This is basically a ‘bundle’ that contains everything – your projects (i.e. timelines/sequences) and media (or alias’ to your media). Funnily enough, this is a concept that I guessed Apple would add to FCP back in early 2009. I’m actually surprised that they didn’t initially release FCPX with this Library functionality – however, I’m GUESSING that they were holding off until Mavericks was released for some reason – I’m sure it was always in the pipeline. The benefit of this is that it just makes life so much easier, as the bundle contains all your projects, media, transcodes, proxies, Stabilisation and Optical Flow analysis, and renders – keeping everything nicely self contained in a single “file” on the Finder level. If you want to store all your media in the ‘bundle’ you can – otherwise, you can just ‘link’ to it (similar to the way Avid’s AMA works). The other nice thing about FCPX is that each project is a separate database file (very similar to Avid). This means that on a Finder level you can easily move projects around if needed – although I probably wouldn’t recommend messing with the bundle contents without some serious testing and experimentation.

I created a new Library with our internal code code (i.e. LNF-J10001 – Job Name), then created a new Event with the month and year (January 2014). My reasoning for this is that if the job ever resurfaces later down the line, I can keep the same job code, and just create a new Event for the revised projects and any new media – keeping things nice and organised. Apple’s white-paper suggests using a Event for each shoot day, then a separate event for Projects – but I think this just makes things more time consuming personally when you’re digging through footage. Much simpler to just have everything in the one Event, and organise by Folders and Collections.

Once you have a Library and Event set up – you’re good to start importing media. In my case I had 780GB’s of 2.8K ProRes 4444 files to bring in. I decided to “Leave files in place”, meaning that internally FCPX will basically just create an alias to these original files, and other than that leave them alone. However, in retrospect, I should have probably just let Apple manage all my media – because now when I move the job between machines, I have to re-link to the media each time. It’s only two clicks – but it’s avoidable (and to be fair, I could ‘Consolidate’ now if I really wanted to). Again, like my Premiere complaint, I wish FCPX was smart enough to search for the media in the last known location relative to the Library – as this would make the relinking process completely automated (maybe we’ll see this in the next release?). Originally, I decided to turn off ‘Create Optimised Media’ and ‘Create Proxy Media’ as I was working with ProRes. However, later down the line, I actually ended up creating proxy media to see if it would speed up the timeline responsiveness – and it did (probably because I was working on slower drives outside of the office). The beautiful thing about FCPX is that you can easily and instantly switch between ‘Optimised/Original’ media and ‘Proxy’ media with the click of a switch, and also generate Proxy media later down the line after you’ve already imported. FCPX keeps track of render files for both. I didn’t bother to ‘Import folders as Keyword Collections’, ‘Analyse for balance colour, ‘Find people’ or ‘Create Smart Collections after Analysis’ – however I did ‘Analyse and fix audio problems’, ‘Separate mono and group stereo audio’ and ‘Remove silent channels’. As I predicted, as soon as you press import, you can instantly start working with the media – and any analysis happens in the background. In my opinion getting media into FCPX and managing it is FAR smarter, similar and faster than any other NLE currently on the market. If/when Apple works out project/media sharing – then it’ll actually be far better than Avid’s current implementation in my opinion.

Once I had all the media inside FCPX, the next step was to log and organise it. I’ve never actually properly used the Hover Scrub in Premiere – I tried it briefly, but just found it annoying so quickly went back to the traditional Avid-style bin view. However, I really like the Skimmer in FCPX – it’s super fast, and it’s fantastic for logging hours of documentary rushes!

To get things started, I created (CMD+SHIFT+N) the usual folders I would in Avid (or Premiere and FCP7 for that matter):

01 – Cuts
02 – Rushes
03 – Audio
04 – Graphics

I then created Keyword Collections (CMD+SHIFT+K) in place of bins (for example, I created a Keyword Collection called ‘Music’ and put it in the ’03 – Audio’ folder).

The next step was to start logging and organising all the footage. This is where I found FCPX really shines for documentary work. I just opened up the Keyword Editors (CMD+K), and started scrubbing through the footage, adding in and out points (using the traditional I and O keys), then applying Keywords as required (using the CTRL+NUMBER keyboard shortcuts). The great thing is that I can easily apply multiple keywords to selection of clips (for example, ‘Morning’, ‘Fog’ and ‘Slow Motion’) – which helps a huge amount later down the line when you’re trying to find suitable clips. I found this way of working incredibly fast and efficient. Also, if there was any footage I came across during the logging that I knew I’d really want to use, I’d mark it as a ‘Favourite’ (using the F key).

For this particular project, all of the interviews were in a different language, with a rough translation given at the end of the interviewees answer. Although I would be getting everything properly translated and subtitled, due to the tight deadline, initially I just marked at in-point at the start of the interview, then an out-point at the end of the translation, applied a keyword with the interviewees name and their job description in brackets, then marked the actual interview as a favourite so that I can easily see where the interview ends and the translation begins (although in retrospect, I should have probably have just used markers).

Once everything was logged into Keyword Collections, it was time to start cutting.

Within the ’01 – Cuts’ folder, I’ve basically just created Keyword Collections for each deliverable (i.e. ‘Video 1’, ‘Video 2’, etc.). Within those Keyword Collections I’ve got my individual edits (which FCPX calls “Projects” – using the same projectname_video1_v001 syntax I use in other NLE’s). I know it’s been suggested may times before, but I really wish when you duplicate a project FCPX was smart enough to automatically increase the version number (like After Effects) – maybe next version?

To organise the sub-titles and translations, I basically created a new Keyword Collection called ‘- Subtitles’ (so it appears at the top of the folder), and created a new Project for each interview. When I finally received the translation documents from our client, all their logging was in Hours:Minutes:Seconds – so I applied a generator on the timeline so that I could easily and quickly see the timecode. Unfortunately FCPX doesn’t currently offer Timecode Overlays – which I hope they can address in the future, so using a generator just makes things a bit easier. I then used a ‘Basic Title’ effect to create the actual subtitles, attaching the titles to the primary storyline video (keeping everything in sync). Once everything was subtitled within the project, I created a Compound clip of the entire timeline for easy access.

In terms of actually cutting, I actually found FCPX pretty easy to get started if you’re used to FCP7. The J, K & L shortcuts are the same, as is SHIFT+Z (Zoom to Fit), the zoom tool (Z), blade tool (B), and hand tool (H). The new ones you need to master are Q (connect the selected clip to the primary storyline), W (insert the selected clip into the primary or selected storyline) and E (append the selected clip to the primary or selected storyline). These are pretty easy to remember – W is in the middle, so it insert’s things in the middle, and E is at the end, so it insert’s things at the end! You’ll also want to use S a lot – this turns on and off the scrubbing, and CMD+4 opens and closes the Inspector (I found that having the Inspector open can slow down the timeline dramatically). The position tool (P) is also really handy, as it allows you to easily trim clips without changing the timing of downstream clips (as it replaces the old position with a gap).

In terms of actual cutting – I found FCPX made me go back to basic’s and do things a bit differently than I’m used to in Avid and Premiere. In a nutshell… I’d basically have a temporary Project called ‘Review’ and I’d copy and paste an interview (along with subtitles) into the Project, I’d then go through and make selects and delete anything I was sure I wouldn’t use. I’d do this for all the interviews, and once I had selects of everything, I’d paste it all into a new edit project. I then tried to get the interviews into a logical order that flows nicely, and start applying overlay’s and B-roll. For B-roll, I’d just search for the material I’d want by Keyword Collection, then more often than not, I could visually see all the really good stuff as it’s already marked as a Favourite. If there was specific B-roll footage that related to one of the interviewees – it already had a keyword for the interviewees name, so it was easy to find. I’d try get the in and out point as close as possible in the Browser (using the JKL and arrow keys), and then use the Q key to insert it over the top of the interviews on the primary storyline. Although I had created Compound clips for each interview, I never actually inserted a Compound Clip into the edit – I normally just used these clips when I wanted to go back and skim through and re-watch the interviews – and when I found something I liked, I’d copy and paste from the Compound Clip timeline. For music, I’d just ‘attach’ it to the video on the primary storyline and shift it around when necessary.

Overall, I found trimming and re-arranging clips pretty easy – the magnetic timeline is definitely handy for keeping things in sync. The only time I really got “lost” was when I’d make a mistake, and try to undo, but it would undo something else I didn’t want it to, and re-do’ing didn’t put me back in the original location (sadly, the Undo button is useless is a lot of situations as it doesn’t remember everything). Having a magnetic timeline definitely helped keep my subtitles in sync, and overall I actually enjoyed working with it. There were times when I was frustrated (mainly because sometimes it made it work slower than I’m used to) – but I can’t remember any specific examples. I think if the Undo button actually worked as you’d expect, it would have saved me a lot of hassle.

Things I like:

– FCPX is fast, and the timeline playback is smooth. 10.1.1 was released when I was in the middle of cutting my first big project – and it actually made a big different in speed compared to 10.1. There was definitely a noticeable improvement.
– FCPX seems incredibly stable. Despite the fact I had a fairly large project with a fair chunk of media, it never crashed or gave me any strange errors.
– I really like the media management – it’s simple and effective. FCPX seems to do a really great job of keeping track of media and renders.
– The background rendering is actually surprisingly good. I’ve heard of a few people that turn it off as soon as they launch FCPX, but I set it to 60sec, and it’s been fine.
– The interface looks modern and is easy on the eyes. FCPX is the only App I’ve actually ever used in Full Screen mode before, and now whenever I’m in FCPX, I’ll only use it in full screen mode. I feel like I’m driving a professional modern tool.
– The Show Used Media Ranges option (under the View Menu) is INCREDIBLY helpful. An orange bar will appear under each clip’s used range and an orange check with the word ‘Used’ will appear in each clip’s keyword area. When you have a heap of footage in your job like I did – this makes life so much easier to work out what footage you’ve actually used. If you press CTRL+U, it will also only display unused media in the Browser, which is also pretty handy. However, “Dupe Detect” (like you find in Avid, and an even better implementation in Premiere CC) on the timeline would also be a welcome addition!
– I thought I’d hate it, but I actually find the Colour Board pretty quick and easy – it reminds me a lot of Colorista. I wish however there was a way to make the interface a bit bigger, so that I can have Colour, Saturation & Exposure all visible on the same window at any one time, as that would speed things up dramatically (less clicking).
– Unlike earlier versions of FCPX, now if you have a clip selected in the timeline, zooming will still occur on the playhead (which it didn’t used to). If you have both the playhead and skimmer in the timeline at different locations, zooming will occur around the skimmer.
– You can just press the Delete key to ‘Join Clips’ (which I found a bit scary at first!).
– You can open any recently mounted Library from the FCPX dock icon by ‘click-holding’ and selecting the Library from the popup menu.
– If you hold down the OPTION key when launching FCPX, you can choose which Libraries you want to open. You also have the option to create a new one. This is really handy if you’re using FCPX regularly and switching between jobs/clients.
– The new ‘Blade Speed’ command (SHIFT+B) is pretty handy if you want to apply a speed effect on two different sections of the same clip without actually ‘cutting’ it.
– You can use ‘Duplicate Project as Snapshot’ to create a duplicate of your project – but freeze any multi-cam or compound clips you have. Unlike ‘Duplicate Project’, this will essentially break the connection to the original Multicam or Compound Clip, so if you edit these in the new Snapshot timeline, the changes won’t actually affect the original Compound Clip’s or Multicam Clips. Basically, duplicating a project as a snapshot makes copies of the compound or multicam “parent” clips and embeds them in the project (as “ghost” assets that you can’t actually see in the browser) so that any changes to other instances of the clips do not affect the snapshot. As I wasn’t really using Compound Clips or Multicam clips in the timeline, I just duplicated my projects – but I can definitely see the use for snapshots!
– FCPX can now share media successfully across standard network drives. I found this out accidentally, as I moved a project from one machine to another in our office, and discovered that FCPX was being REALLY slow – upon further investigation, FCPX has actually relinked to the media across the network, rather than connecting to the locally stored media on another drive!
– The Trim Commands (Trim Start, Trim End, Trim to Playhead) are very useful. ‘The Trim to Playhead’ command does different things depending on where the playhead is – if it’s in the first half of a clip, it trims the start to the playhead, if it’s in the second half, it trims the end to the playhead. If you use the Range tool to select a range in a timeline clip, the command turns into the ‘Trim Selection’ tool, trimming the clip to match the selection.
– If you hold down the COMMAND+OPTION keys, and click a connected clip (or the grey border of a storyline) at the point where you want to position the connection point, the connection point is moved to the point where you clicked. Another handy tip is if you need to move or trim clips in the primary storyline but want to keep any connected clips where they are, you can hold down the Grave Accent (`) key while editing to preserve the timing and position of connected clips.

THINGS THAT NEEDS IMPROVING:

– FCPX seems to have one of the most forgetful and unhelpful undo functions of any other application. There have been countless times where I will have accidentally have done something, then pressed CMD+Z only for it to do something that I changed a few moves back, forcing me to re-do and completely loose my place in the edit. The undo function really needs to ‘track’ with you, so if you do something at the end of the timeline, then undo – the playhead should be in the exact same spot as you last left it. Every function should be able to be un-done. At the moment it’s anyone’s guess as to what we’ll undo or not, and it gets confusing! Premiere’s History functionality would also be a nice addition.
– I would love the ability to be able to just “swipe” to reveal the Inspector (like you can do in Smoke/Flame) – that would speed things up considerably for me.
– Audio transitions and mixing are a complete pain at the moment. In FCP7 I’m used to being able to quickly and easily apply transitions between audio clips without any issues. In FCPX it’s a real pain. What I think Apple needs to do is bring a “Clip Mixer” into FCPX (similar to Premiere – AU plugin inserts and keyframe recording would be a bonus), and also allow you to easily apply audio-only transitions. Yes, there are 3rd party workarounds – but they’re still slow workarounds to such a simple problem. My current workflow at the moment is to ‘Expand Audio Components’ (CTRL+OPTION+S), then drag out the audio on the top and tail, then use the mouse to fade in and out the audio – it works – it’s just annoying. A keyboard shortcut to add a default audio fade to a selected audio edit point would speed things up a lot! Another annoying thing is that if you try to add a dissolve to an audio clip – it will automatically place that audio clip into a secondary storyline – it’s a non-issue, but why does a dissolve HAVE to live within a secondary storyline?
– It would be awesome if FCPX could remember individual view settings for each Keyword collection. For example, I only want to view my Cuts collections in ‘List View’ but I want to view all my Rushes collections in ‘Filmstrip View’. Again, this would save me a lot of mouse clicks!
– Collaborations between editors still needs work. I’m hopeful that one day FCPX will offer Avid-like project sharing – meaning multiple editors can work on the exact same project at the exact same time. Given that they written Guards into the code, and they’ve already patented similar technology – hopefully this will see the light of day sooner rather than later. I’ve love the ability to just right click on a Keyword Selection or Project and select “Push to iCloud”, and then the asset is automatically pushed out to other users with the same project. I think iCloud is the future (much the same as Adobe Anywhere) – but given that Apple still haven’t mastered Calendar sharing, I’m not sure how far away this will be.
– Currently there is no way to select all clips to the right or left (i.e. like the Track Select Tool in Premiere). Although the magnetic timeline means you don’t have to use this functionality as much as you could in FCP7, I still found myself wanting that feature a couple of times whilst editing.
– The ‘Reveal in Browser’ (aka Match Frame – SHIFT+F) function is a bit annoying. Ideally it should match back to the Keyword Collection that was active when the media was originally inserted into the timeline and not just the main Event folder. It would also be great if it automatically applied a filter so that the ONLY clip in the browser was the clip you’re match framing – so that you can easily find the clip you’re after (either that or highlight it a bit better – maybe make every clip EXCEPT the one you want opaque?) – of course, you could just clear the filters if you want to see where the clip sits in the larger Keyword Collection. At the moment when you match frame something, you have to look really hard and carefully to see where that clip actually lives in the browser.
– It would be really handy if the Keywords Editor had a toggle to display ALL the keywords currently used in the Library, so that you can easily drag and drop Keywords into the keyboard shortcuts.
– Project timelines can not be scrubbed in the Browser, but Compound Clip timelines can be scrubbed. It would be nice if you could scrub both.
– The ability to save and recall customised Window Layouts would be handy.
– The Timeline History arrows make absolutely no sense at all. I wish there was just one button that allowed you to access recently opened timelines, and also the option to “close” timelines that you’re no longer using (and don’t want visible in the drop down list). Or just go back to the good old days of tabs (given that even Finder has them now)!
– It would be really handy if you could attach a clip to a secondary storyline. This would be great for times when you need to add subtitles to a secondary storyline item for example. Obviously there are workarounds (i.e. you could just put the subtitle in a compound clip) – but I can still think it would be handy to be able to attach a clip anywhere you want.
– It would be great if there was a ‘Reveal Affiliated clips in the Timeline’ function (so that you can apply an effect to all clips from the same source file) or better yet, the ability to apply effects to roles. Roles have so much potential – I could love the ability to change specific attributes of generators belonging to a certain role for example (i.e. adjust font of all English subtitles).
– Avid has the best Metadata “Readers” of any NLE – essentially any bin column can be “burnt” into the image. Given that FCPX is the “king” of metadata – it would be fantastic if we could actually use this data in the form of a generator (i.e. “burn” timecode, filename and even keywords into the image for rushes exports, etc.).
– It would be great if you could drag and effect (or a bunch of effects) from the Inspector to the timeline.
– One of the most commonly requested things I’ve heard of, is the ability to “lock” a clip in place in a storyline (i.e. if you know you need something to happen at an exact timecode reference) – this would be really handy.

CONCLUSION

It’s still very early days for me with working with FCPX – I still haven’t used Multicam properly yet, I haven’t used Compound Clips the way they were supposed to be used, and I haven’t made use of Auditions. I also haven’t cut a short film on it yet – or anything that requires major audio work. However, the limited time I have spent with it – I have to say it’s really fun to work with, and has a huge amount of potential. Really, the only thing that’s really annoying in the current release is the way it handles audio editing/mixing.

When I talk to other editors, one of the biggest misconceptions is that FCPX is a “walled garden” – and it doesn’t play nicely with other application. This couldn’t be further from the truth!

DaVinci Resolve 10.1 currently can handle FCPX’s FCPXML much better than FCP7’s traditional XML, with a lot more features being translated correctly between apps, making round tripping an absolute breeze. Blackmagic started supporting FCPXML pretty much as soon as FCPX had the ability to export FCPXML.

Autodesk Smoke/Flame/Lustre can also handle FCPXML on both the Mac and Linux platforms.

ClipExporter (a free 3rd party plugin) opens exported Final Cut Pro X projects (FCPXML) and exports each clip as a Quicktime (reference) movie, Nuke file or Syntheyes importable file. It also exports whole timelines (or just parts of it) to After Effects by translating all edits and many parameters. All clips can be extended by a certain number of handle frames. ClipExporter keeps your post-production workflow organised by creating a shot based folder structure with customizable subfolders.

You can also use Xto7 (AUD$50 3rd party plugin) to export a FCP7 XML which you could use to bring a timeline to FCP7, Color, Premiere or After Effects.

X2Pro Audio Convert (AUD$149.99) is a conversion application for delivering FCPX projects to Avid Pro Tools for audio finishing.

There are lots of solid workflows, and given how cheap FCPX is – it still works out far cheaper to buy FCPX and these 3rd party plugins than it ever was to buy FCP7!

FCPX isn’t right for everyone or every workflow. But there’s no debating that it’s a serious high end tool. Once you get used to it, Premiere CC, Media Composer 7, and FCP7 feel like old toys. Avid is still king for long form (well… until Apple or Adobe can solve project/media sharing) – and I’d still use Premiere for anything that I used to use FCP7 for (i.e. jobs with short turnarounds and where you’re doing grade and effects in-house) – but FCPX has it’s place, and it’s getting better and better. Lots of people worldwide are using it for SERIOUS work.

Will I be cutting this years 48 Hour Film Project on FCPX? With 10.1 – no, I doubt it. The audio workflow and colour correction tools are simply too time consuming for a fast paced job – so I think I’ll be sticking with Premiere CC unless Apple releases another update. Will I be cutting other jobs with FCPX? I think for documentary, music videos and anything with serious multi-cam work, then FCPX definitely shines. For anything that requires lots of effects, sound work and “finishing” – then Premiere CC will just make your life easier (especially if you need to send things to After Effects and Adobe Audition). But for big narrative jobs (i.e. feature films and television), my preference would still be to work in Media Composer, because I know it can handle large amounts of media with ease, and if I’m working in a Unity/ISIS environment – I can have multiple editors and assistants working on the same project at the same time. I think with 10.1.1, FCPX now has the ability to safely manage these massive projects from a technical perspective if you’re a standalone editor – but it lacks the tools you need for serious offline editing of a really massive project. At the end of the day, all these software packages are just tools to get the job done – and I’ll use whatever solution will get me the best results.

If you’re interested in learning more about FCPX – I highly recommend checking out the FCPX Grill podcast and the Final Cut Pro X Master list.

End of rant.

42 Responses

  1. Yusef Svacina
    Jan 29, 2014 - 03:40 AM

    Thank you so much for taking the time to write this “rant.” I’ve been a long time Avid and FCP7 user, recently learned Premiere, and am now dabbling in FCPX. This was an extremely useful read. I’m now excited to get back in and continue a little personal project on FCPX—this time perhaps on a screen that’s somewhat larger than my laptop (which I found annoying). Thanks again. —Yusef

    Reply
    • Chris Hocking
      Jan 29, 2014 - 06:19 PM

      Thanks for your kind words Yusef, and for taking the time to read and comment! Greatly appreciated!

      Funnily enough, I actually find working on my 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro not too bad. I prefer cutting on a bigger desktop screen, but I think even on a 15-inch it’s still workable – even more-so than Avid or Premiere.

      When using FCPX I always use full-screen mode (CTRL+CMD+F) – I know it doesn’t give you that much more screen real-estate, but it definitely makes it feel like you have more room.

      When logging, I normally just have the Browser, Viewer & Timeline displayed. If I’m just manipulating things on the timeline, then I’ll just have the Timeline and the Viewer and open up the Inspector only when I need it (CMD+4). I think with FCPX the key is to have as little windows open as possible, and to get to know the shortcuts so that you can access the tools you need very quickly.

      Reply
  2. Dax
    Jan 29, 2014 - 04:30 PM

    Bravo. I think you have a similar perspective to many of us. I was an FCP devotee going back to version 1. I grudgingly left FCP7 behind for Premiere Pro CS5.5 after a brief and terribly disappointing trial of FCPX 10.0. I have since watched Premiere improve considerably with CS6 and now CC. Yet, it remains stubbornly buggy, perhaps because of its old code-base, as you described. It’s also cross-platform, which is a plus, but it’s probably more difficult to optimize for Mac OS. Until relatively recently, Premiere definitely felt like a Windows program that had been ported to Mac.

    I really like Premiere for many of the reasons of you gave, but I feel like Adobe is playing catch-up, still squashing bugs and only recently overtaking the power of FCP7, whereas Apple is clearly rethinking the entire game. There are downsides to this, but it is exciting as well.

    Though I have many gripes about Premiere, I’m very comfortable with it at this point. It was a breeze to transition to it from FCP7. Yet, there’s one thing that keeps me searching for in-depth articles such as yours regarding FCPX: keyword collections. The logging abilities appear to be lightyears ahead of Premiere. I wish they Apple stuck with some more familiar terminology (what’s wrong the mental image of a film “bin”?), but Premiere’s clip management is pretty awful. With the amount of digital media that we now handle in post, the old way of organizing clips is not holding up. It seems Apple was the first major player on the NLE scene to figure this out.

    The undo issue you mentioned terrifies me. I experiment and LIVE BY the undo. And I also like to skip around the timeline, editing small “mini-sequences” in place, which sounds like it would require a battle against the magnetic timeline. If versioning is truly improved, which was my biggest complaint about the initial release (aside from the inability to open existing projects!), then I may finally dive back in when the right project comes along.

    After they way Apple handled the summary execution of FCP7, I would have been happy to stick with Adobe and not go crawling back, but Premiere just hasn’t leapt ahead as I had hoped. And let’s face it: If you have loved Macs for a long time, you know that only Apple really seems to get it when it comes to interface design. Adobe gets it right occasionally. Sometimes I think Avid continues to be designed by brilliant film editors who have never actually used a computer with a GUI.

    Thanks again for the detailed first hand account. I look forward to more.

    Reply
    • Chris Hocking
      Jan 29, 2014 - 06:42 PM

      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment Dax!

      I think you hit the nail on the head – Avid and Adobe’s biggest strength, but also their biggest weakness is the fact that their software is cross-platform. There must be so many lines of code in both applications just to “hack” things together so the software plays nicely on both platforms across a huge range of different operating system versions. Given that Premiere is supported on Windows 7, Windows 8, MacOS 10.7, 10.8 and 10.9 on a huge range of different CUDA and OpenCL GPUs, must mean there’s a huge amount of code just to make everything uniform across all the different situations – whereas Apple only have to worry about FCPX working on their own hardware, on their own modern operating system. I agree – even today, Premiere still “feels” like a Windows application. It’s obviously a massive improvement from the original CS3 Mac release – but it definitely doesn’t feel as “native” to MacOS as FCPX.

      I agree – Adobe has made leaps and bounds in the last couple of releases. Premiere CC is now a REALLY solid program, with a huge amount of potential. But if you took away the Mercury Playback Engine – FCP7 would still have the edge. Adobe’s biggest victory is that they’ve manage to make the most of CUDA and OpenCL for great real-time playback. I feel however, that Apple have done one better with FCPX though – it feels snappier, and is definitely much more reliable.

      I also agree that while I think FCPX is technically a better piece of software engineering, and in a couple of releases will be absolutely incredible – as of today – I still feel much more comfortable cutting in Premiere (aka FCP8). As I said the blog post though – for any serious long form, I can’t trust Premiere, so Avid will be what I go back to – and oldie, but a goodie.

      The Undo (or lack of Undo) in FCPX is an issue, but I don’t think it’s a show-stopper. Versioning in FCPX is now really solid.

      I absolutely love the guys over at Adobe – and have a huge amount of faith in them. They actually GET us – they’re one of us. They understand our issues, and they want to make things better. Thanks to the Creative Cloud subscription model, I now think they have the funds available to do bold and radical things. I just really hope they’re looking at FCPX and thinking, “shit… we really need to lift our game”. I know it’ll never happen, but I almost wish Adobe did something COMPLETELY unexpected, and left Premiere for PC/Windows, and then started from scratch on a competing Mac-version. I just think if there was competition between NLE’s INTERNAL to Adobe, you could end up with some REALLY interesting things. Sure, it would have the same early stumbling blocks as FCPX – but in the long run, it could be a win for everyone.

      Of course… Blackmagic Design could change the whole landscape yet again at NAB, and release an NLE of their own. The DaVinci developers are the only one’s I can think of that have successfully built an application that works perfectly across Mac, Windows and Linux. They’ve got all the class and style of Apple – but with the brains and sheer strength of Adobe. If they put their brightest brains to the test, I’m sure they could come up with something pretty amazing. Lightworks will also be interesting when it eventually comes publicly to the Mac – but having played with the Windows version when it first was released, I’m not holding my breathe.

      Either way – as editors, we now have plenty of choices, regardless of whether you’re on Mac or PC, so that’s always a good thing. I just hope Apple continues to improve on what they’ve started, and Adobe really puts the pressure on to get Premiere as stable and reliable as FCP7 always was. As for Avid… who knows. Baby steps I think. Their software may be ugly, and it may be from a different era – but if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

      Reply
      • Dax
        Apr 09, 2014 - 06:54 AM

        “Of course… Blackmagic Design could change the whole landscape yet again at NAB, and release an NLE of their own. The DaVinci developers are the only one’s I can think of that have successfully built an application that works perfectly across Mac, Windows and Linux. They’ve got all the class and style of Apple – but with the brains and sheer strength of Adobe.”

        You called it, and I have to say, I’m very, very excited about DaVinci Resolve 11. If Premiere CC is the closest thing to FCP8, Resolve is FCP9!

        As you said, it clearly has the class and style of Apple but promises functionality more in line with Premiere. Of course, I’m judging Resolve 11 based on Blackmagic’s own promotional materials. They’re the only major player in the game aside from Apple who knows how to build a stunning website. (Probably because Adobe is stuck using their own Dreamweaver app, but I digress….)

        We’ll have to wait and see how the real time performance holds up, but I’m a fan of previous versions of Resolve. If the performance is there, this could be the best of both worlds piece of software that I’ve been hoping for since trying out FCPX and switching to Premiere.

        And long live bins! The separation of timelines and clips is a great enhancement. Hopefully, they can successfully combine bins with modern keywording. All I know is that I can’t bring myself to think of a collection of clips as an event, except maybe for a wedding video. If “bin” was too dated a term for Apple, what the hell were they thinking with “library”?!

        Reply
        • Chris Hocking
          Apr 09, 2014 - 09:11 AM

          “Probably because Adobe is stuck using their own Dreamweaver app, but I digress”

          Ha! This is probably my favourite comment of all time.

          Resolve still has a long way to go to be considered an OFFLINE editor – but in terms of ONLINE work, it’s pretty fantastic. Resolve probably has the best performance of any NLE or compositing package currently on the market – and the fact that it can make use of multiple Open GL and CUDA cards makes it extremely powerful. Throw a few GTX Titan’s in a tower – and you’ve got a hell of a machine.

          I don’t think I’d like to use Resolve to CUT a job at this stage – however, Resolve is great for finishing.

          Reply
    • BenB
      Apr 10, 2014 - 01:34 AM

      Skipping around the Timeline as you mention, using mini-sequences, is a breeze using Compound Clips, and will not be the nightmare you imagine it to be. And with the Timeline Index, you can skip around between them super fast and easy.

      And, I’ve never had the Undo bug mentioned in this article.

      Reply
      • Chris Hocking
        Apr 10, 2014 - 07:28 AM

        Thanks for your reply Ben! I’ll try provide some specific examples of the “Undo bug”.

        Reply
  3. CHARLIE AUSTIN
    Feb 09, 2014 - 06:17 AM

    Great rant!. Just a quick comment about this line:

    “It would be great if there was a ‘Reveal Affiliated clips in the Timeline’ function (so that you can apply an effect to all clips from the same source file) or better yet, the ability to apply effects to roles. Roles have so much potential – I could love the ability to change specific attributes of generators belonging to a certain role for example (i.e. adjust font of all English subtitles).”

    You can do this using the timeline index. Right click and add a “roles” column, search for your Role (or anything really,,, “reel 1”, “bob interview” select all the results, mouse over to the timeline and all the clips are selected. Then apply the effect or change any common inspector parameters you want. It’s pretty nice. :-)

    Reply
    • Chris Hocking
      Feb 09, 2014 - 06:10 PM

      Awesome Charlie! Thanks for the tip!

      Reply
      • CHARLIE AUSTIN
        Feb 10, 2014 - 02:52 AM

        You’re welcome. I wanted to change the look of about 30+ of the pile of dissolves I had in a cut the other day. Started to CMD click each one and then remembered I could do this… so… search for “cross”, select all but a few I liked, and change ’em all at once. X is far from perfect, but stuff like this makes editing fun. :-)

        Oh, just in case you didn’t know, here’s another useful trick. You know to hold the ~tilde key to disable connections… but, if you press tilde, then press SHIFT, and then release both keys, it “locks” connections off until you press tilde again to turn em on. It’s undocumented and might take a couple tries to get the sequence of key presses timed right, but it’s very handy. :-)

        Reply
        • Chris Hocking
          Feb 10, 2014 - 07:29 AM

          No, I didn’t know about the SHIFT+TILDE. Nice one! Thanks for sharing!

          Reply
  4. Cedric Robertson
    Apr 06, 2014 - 02:18 PM

    Great Rant Chris. I am a long time Apple user and FCP7 was my NLE of choice. Now it’s FCPX, so much so, I have opened and invested a lot of money in Labspace based in Melbourne, which is an Apple Accredited Training Centre and offering certified courses in FCPX, Logic X and Motion 5, together with Cinema 4D courses.

    Love to meet and chat some more.

    Reply
    • Chris Hocking
      Apr 06, 2014 - 11:33 PM

      Thanks Cedric! Feel free to shoot me an email via the Contact page.

      Reply
  5. meagan
    Apr 07, 2014 - 12:09 AM

    So, my “flames” about FCPX are the inability to freeze a clip in time (the only workaround I’ve found is to place gap clips around the “frozen” frame, the lack of a good Audio mixer, tracks (yes, I would really like tracks) and yes, the undo.

    It is faster, and appears more capable in many respects.

    I also would comment that anyone who’s bought the program since it’s release has really participated (probably unwillingly) in a massive long beta test of the software. Remember that Multicam was not even in the first release, for instance. In about two years, perhaps Apple will put back in features that make it a professional tool that editors can use on larger projects.

    Still very much enjoyed your thoughts and views!

    Reply
    • Chris Hocking
      Apr 07, 2014 - 08:18 AM

      Thanks Meagan! Completely agree that ability to “freeze” a clip in time, an audio mixer and better undo are really needed! Maybe we’ll see a new release at NAB?

      I think if Apple offer true/proper project sharing (aka as we see with the unannounced ‘Guards’) – then they’ll instantly jump ahead of the game – and be able to compete with solutions such as Avid Cloud and ISIS.

      Reply
      • BenB
        Apr 10, 2014 - 01:39 AM

        There are two ways to create freeze frames. One is a retiming tool, one creates a new clip in the Browser. I’m not sure how either would be a pain. I don’t understand what the use of Gap Clips would do to help. Feel free to drop me a line to discuss what you’re trying to do (benb ateach bbalser dot com).

        Reply
        • Chris Hocking
          Apr 10, 2014 - 07:31 AM

          I’ll have to do some tests and come back to you. Last time I played with freeze frames it was so many more button presses than FCP7 and still had some limitations.

          Reply
  6. Dylan
    Apr 07, 2014 - 08:27 PM

    Excellent article – although I don’t spend a lot of time video editing these days this article displays a level of detail and specificity that is remarkable. All those workflow challenges we dealt / deal with. This post has a slant to the historical – I recall ‘managing’ 12 x 200gb SCSI hanging like tentacles off the bus (circa 1998 – I think they cost 20k) – and the future – share it, drop it, transfer it – FCPX has work to do but does set a tone of ‘potential’ – even if not yet fully realised. Well done to the author!

    Reply
    • Chris Hocking
      Apr 09, 2014 - 09:11 AM

      Thanks Dylan!

      Reply
  7. John
    Apr 08, 2014 - 06:08 AM

    Great article. I had used Avid, Premiere and FCP 7 in the 00’s and before that tape for some 20 years. I have now switched to the forgotten editor, Grass Valley’s Edius. No bugs, no “offline” (with suitable workstation), just real time playback, with rendering (whats that!) for only complex effect sequences. As an editor, I ship out complex FX etc to a workmate that is a creative wizard with various FX packages and concentrate on telling the story. This is where I need my progs to just work – the computer is another tool, not an entity in it’s own right. I don’t have the time to “fight” with stuff nowadays. Aside from all that, I still have an iMac with FCP7 for bits and pieces that suit it. FCPX certainly has a future on dedicated hardware where you can “fine tune” the app to give you what will hopefully be a great workflow and editing experience! Well done!

    Reply
    • Chris Hocking
      Apr 08, 2014 - 01:00 PM

      Thanks for your comments John!

      EDIUS Pro 7 does look pretty fantastic – but unfortunately, I just can’t go back to Windows for a wide range of reasons.

      Reply
  8. Quinn Lubbe
    Apr 09, 2014 - 11:02 PM

    Hi, Chris

    Thanks for the very informative and interesting article. I was using FCP for the last 7 years and with Apple discarding it to the annuls of history I had to make a major decision as to which NLE to change to.

    I decided that the only way to really get my head around FCP X was to cut a project that had to go to broadcast on it otherwise I would just give up half way and return to the tried and tested FCP 7. So in I dove.

    At first it was frustrating and annoying and took time to get used to. And then I started to really enjoy myself. There were so many tools that I thought, “Why haven’t they done this before?” The skimmer is fantastic and cutting in anything else is annoying without it. Keywords are great. I could find footage quickly and easily and when the client asked me to bring up a certain clip, VOILA!!! there it was.

    HOWEVER…

    The frustration on having to finish the project off sent me over the edge. It was an absolute nightmare. Color correction… What’s so terrible about the color wheels? Why discard a system that has worked for years and has been adopted by every major software manufacturer? Quite frankly, if Resolve can use color wheels, then so can FCPX. It’s, quite frankly, a stupid stupid interface.

    Trying to get anything out of FCP X is also not quite as easy as listing the 3rd party plugins or software that now accepts FCPXML (and seriously, what makes FCP so special that they need there own XML… Methinks this is to force users to stay within the package and only use the Studio apps.)

    X2Pro… Great. What if your sound editor is working in Nuendo. Nothing but ProTools opens the aaf that is created by X2Pro. Not Logic, not Soundtrack Pro… Seriously. And don’t dare throw anything into your project that isn’t a converted aiff. X2Pro comes back and says sorry, can’t be done, try again.

    Editors send their work to sound. We call it an OMF for the love of….. What was wrong with that? So then you sheepishly tell your sound editor sorry but I’m going to provide you with the bounced tracks of my separated audio out of FCP X using roles. He looks at you like you’re off your head, and you hide your head in the nearest dustbin.

    Do I as a professional editor want to share something to CNN or facebook or Twithead. No. Do I want to deliver something to my online editor and to the sound designer and final mix engineer and then to broadcast. Yes Apple, I do. Not everything is about posting a video of the dog chasing the postman down the street on YouTube.

    And that’s my RANT about FCP X.

    Still got a long long long way to go I’m afraid. For the moment Adobe PPro has my vote.

    Reply
    • Chris Hocking
      Apr 10, 2014 - 07:25 AM

      Thanks for your detailed reply Quinn!

      I don’t actually mind the Colour Board in FCPX. Yes, it takes some getting used to, and yes, I would prefer if everything was on the same screen to speed things up, but I don’t find it usable. I always hated the Three Way Colour Corrector in FCP7 – so personally I’m just holding out until Colorista makes it to FCPX (which I believe is currently in the works).

      I don’t use Nuendo personally, but I’m told that X2ProAudio Convert works fine with Steinberg Nuendo and Merging Technologies Pyramix. Have you tried it recently? Funnily enough, you can also use Xto7 to bring audio into Adobe Audition.

      In our world, most of the big local audio houses are using Protools and most of the big post houses are using Resolve, so the current workflow seems to work fine for us.

      I’ve got nothing against Premiere. As I said, we still use it constantly for jobs. Hopefully the next couple of updates really address the stability concern and fix some of the more random and annoying bugs.

      Best Regards, Chris!

      Reply
  9. BenB
    Apr 10, 2014 - 01:46 AM

    As for creating one Event for everything, contrary to Apple’s suggestion, so you can see everything in one place, you do know you can select a Library and see everything in int at one time, right? Using the search field and smart searches makes filtering through them quick and easy. Just wondering because the way that statement is worded, I’m not clear what you were trying to do.

    Also, don’t understand how going back to a master clip in an Event is different than going back to that exact same clip in a Collection. I must be missing something. Would be very interested in understanding more clearly what the ultimate goal would be.

    Good article.

    Reply
    • Chris Hocking
      Apr 10, 2014 - 07:39 AM

      My reasoning for just using a single event for the job is to just keep things simple and to keep the screen real-estate requirements as small as possible. Could I use multiple events – sure – and as you say, if I want to view ALL the rushes, I can just click on the library, but it just feels a bit more messy. Personal preference I guess. If I was doing a massive documentary that was time significant, then maybe I would sort rushes based on dates/events.

      In regards to the match frame feature. Say for example, I have a shot of a sunrise. I know I got it from a Keyword Collection containing a whole heap of different sunrises. I’d love to be able to just match frame to that Keyword Collection, and then easily be able to replace the sunrise – rather than being taken to the main Event folder. Ideally it would be great to follow Avid leads – the first match frame takes you to the keyword collection, do it again and it takes you to the event, do it again and it takes you to the library – all the while having the in and out points of the clip the same as whatever clip is in the timeline. This is definitely not a show-stopper, and to be honest, I don’t do match frames that often – but currently the match frame feature in FCPX seems a bit useless.

      Thanks for your detailed comments! HUGELY appreciated!

      Best Regards, Chris!

      Reply
  10. MattC
    Apr 11, 2014 - 03:42 AM

    Switched from FCP7 to Premiere CC over a year ago. Based on your comments, I think I’ve made the right choice. Love some of these FCPX features but audio is the big killer for me. I LOVE being able to mix directly inside Premiere with a full set of track-based effects inserts (compression, de-esser, limiters, eq) and especially the Loudness Meter for outputting broadcast legal mixes. The fact that that effect is included free with Premiere is awesome.

    Also, looking down the road, many of the projects I work on involve taking a client’s logo into Illustrator and prepping it for animation in After Effects to create animated intros, lower thirds, etc. Three years from now, CS6 will be a dinosaur. Many video editors will need Photoshop and Illustrator on their systems in order to work with elements provided by clients and paying for Creative Cloud will be the only way to work with these files. So, to me, it seems like Premiere and Creative Cloud is the smartest bet right now. Plus the fact that Adobe keeps adding tons of killer features to After Effects, such as Cinema 4D Lite.

    Reply
    • Chris Hocking
      Apr 11, 2014 - 11:29 AM

      Thanks for your comments Matt! I think having the Creative Cloud is basically a necessity for all creative professionals. Based on the NAB announcements, I think Premiere is definitely heading in the right direction, and they’re slowly fixing a lot of my main complaints. In the meantime, we’ll still use Premiere for jobs it’s suited to, but the more time I spend with FCPX, the more I like it for long-form documentary projects and the like. FCPX is so cheap, there’s really no excuse for a professional editor not to have it installed.

      Reply
  11. Eric F. Scholl
    Apr 18, 2014 - 05:30 AM

    Early versions of FCPX did not allow “edit to tape”.
    Does this still hold true or has Apple made changes for those of us who archive to videotape?

    Reply
    • Chris Hocking
      Apr 18, 2014 - 08:00 AM

      FCPX has always supported a range of DV and HDV cameras for both tape import and export.

      However, if you need to play out to Digital Betacam, HDCAM, etc. then just export a ProRes 4444 file and use Blackmagic Media Express or AJA Control Room software (depending on what hardware you’re using). Very simple workflow.

      Reply
  12. Justine
    May 01, 2014 - 07:06 PM

    This is a wonderful review of Final Cut Pro X.

    For me as a new user of Non-linear Editing, I have found the magnetic timeline. audition clips the best features. The list of want to see in the next update is long, I suspect that with the over 200 “feedback” pages I have sent, most of them are small time saving requests.

    Top of my list of please please pretty please requests is the ability in list view to CMD-+, that is zoom into the audio, to find the right point in the audio to hit the I and O keys. To have to click back into imovie mode, then zoom in and out, grrrrh, what a wasted feature. If you are going to do something, do it right or just do not do it.

    I lied, actually, I forgot about this one, why why, a 4 tweet rant to Jony Ive and Mr Cook, why is it that there is such a huge gap between the bottom edge of the primary story line and the edge of the screen. I have to live 24 by 7 with stupid scroll bars for up and down, I can see what Apple FCP X dev team was thinking, and they were left with a problem, if we fix 1 track in space, that is the primary story line, we need to leav space below for working room.

    If anyone needs to put audio in the basement level, they need to think again, the solution would be to just move the primary storyline up an inch. As it is , on a 13 inch rMBP things are tight, and having wasted screen space, just seems insane.

    One thing I have a huge issue with, is not being able to fix an end point, I would love to be able to set up a “hard-wall”, that is a fixed right margin, that is the fixed end of my project, that if I try and move past that point, FCP goes no….I have to visually spot this, and it is not always the same.

    If you bump clips, the duration of the project is not so obvious, and without careful observation, you can over-run badly.

    What is needed is 2 timecode windows, side by side, a clip window and a overall project window, so you can see at a glance where you are, as the skimmer is vertical, it can be used to display both the timecode of the clip and the absolute timecode of the project with reference to the timer bar.

    Keywords, is a bugbear of mine. It is a great feature ruined by sloppy code, why not include a button, CLEAR KEYWORDS, so that when I start a new project, either bring in the old keywords and let me click the button to delete the collection, let’s call that 2nd prize, GOLD would be, new project, no text in the 9 slots.

    Storylines, when you create a storyline in the project, really how hard could it be, to give me a text input box, to label the storyline, so that when I am working on a large project, I can reference the storyline that might be 30 clips long, with a name, not some stupid TimeCode.

    All in all, Apple rushed Final Cut Pro, versions prior to 10.1 was not ready for shipping, and was a mistake, and FCP X 10.1.1 is a beat version, way too much sloppy code, I have to guess engineers coded without reference to users.

    Last point, and one of too many tweets to Mr Cook and his not such a hotshot designer Mr Ive, the stupid feedback page, Final Cut Pro X is a visual product, and it requires a graphic input facility, please I am more than willing to create the graphics, using screengrab and keynote, to generate a well thought out input, hobble me with using words only….

    PS, Mr Ive is a moderately capable designer, who puts audio on 1 side of the ipad and calls it stereo????

    Reply
    • Chris Hocking
      May 01, 2014 - 07:11 PM

      Thanks for your feedback! Greatly appreciated!

      Reply
  13. Justine
    May 01, 2014 - 08:40 PM

    What I really am not a great fan of, is rented software, or having my income stream determined by the whims of a software company. I cannot understand the financial reasons for Adobe not selling stand alone software. What I have seen in other industries is that the software is hired by the user, who is locked into paying whatever the owner demands, if the owner decides that the rate is too low, the user has no choice but to pay. If you do not pay, you are locked out of the software.

    If Apple decided to charge for updates, I am not beholden to this, I can use my software for as long as I want, until I decide I am ready to pay, for the moment updates are not charged.

    Can anyone explain why rental is superior over owned software??

    Reply
    • Chris Hocking
      May 03, 2014 - 03:02 PM

      There’s a great discussion about this very issue here Justine:

      http://forum.blackmagicdesign.com/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=21793

      Personally, I’m actually a fan of Creative Cloud. If I get time, I’ll try write a blog post on the issue in the coming months.

      Thanks again for your feedback!

      Reply
      • Justine
        May 04, 2014 - 12:45 AM

        The problem I have with subscription based service is that you are held hostage to whatever they decide, you as the user have zero control, in that link the one post commented on accounting software that if you do not pay, or are not online, it will not work, that is my problem.

        At least with Final Cut Pro X, I do not have to be online, or pay for any updates in order for it to work. For example, if you were to spend 32 days without the interwebs on a job in rural Africa, no phones, no internet, would CC work???

        By all means have a 2 tier system, have the subscription model, if you want this, there is a market, but why not as Apple does, make the software available to download and work offline?

        I would be more than happy to spend a few Dollars less for a non updated version, that locks me into a current version, that I know does not need to be on the interwebs, and will not be calling home every 30 days. If I want to upgrade, then I have a choice of either buying a new version once off, or paying a fee, to upgrade, or taking the subscription.

        I will not accept that subscription models are viable. In some cases there is a case to be made, for software, unless there is a serious case for it, then no. For example, Flight booking software that is used by travel agents, this of course is ideal for rental, as it constantly needs updating.

        Medical record keeping software, in the same class, needs constant updating, I am sorry, but how often do we change cameras and such like? Not very often.
        Justine

        Reply
  14. Matthew
    May 03, 2014 - 11:21 AM

    Great article – so well put. In many ways reading this was like reading my own thoughts!

    My experience was slightly less positive than yours – i had the worst nightmare with FCPX 10.1.1 which almost scared me away..
    (I won’t go into it too deeply suffice to say red installer & permissions issues almost lost me two weeks worth of work. Only a 3 hr session with an FCPX guru was able to recover my project.. & even then I had to re-do my transcodes… He said he’d seen the problem quite a bit at NAB)

    BUT… crazily, it didn’t scare me off…even though i still don’t much like editing with it honestly. (I tend to cut features & and audio is everything to me – & i don’t know enough to work quickly round all the limitations yet i guess!).

    And like you, i’ve seen enough editing platforms to know the future when i see it – even if it’s not fully formed yet – and even if it’ll never quite be aimed at my type of editing. (Sob!) So i keep learning FCPX… (and crying on the inside)

    The sad part for me, and the thing i wanted to add here, is that i love the actual *editing process* with Media Composer (the trimming, the audio control, the match frame/ find bin that works, the trimming… THE TRIMMING. ). I deeply wish it wasn’t becoming such a sad old farty dinosaur. And i wish it had a future and a wider base. It’s so upsetting to think what Media Composer could be now with just an ounce of drive and development. Upsetting to know it will rest on the “industry leader/ hollywood standard” thing until the studio model shifts suddenly and it’s left with nothing… (Perhaps even before that. Intrigued to see how Fincher’s editors will handle all those cameras & all that metadata with Premiere – they must know something right??….) Insane to think i’ll be cutting a commercial next week – not with Media Composer, but with Premiere or likely even FCP7… Avid has done something very incompetent that this keeps happening!

    In my darker moments I imagine a world where Media Composer was the first to let you throw a bunch of clips with no matching timecode in a timeline and press “auto sync” (& then modify that synced multicam clip by adding another angle later), where Eyeon Fusion came included as a plugin (or I’d have settled for a snazzy redesigned & easy to use Avid FX that rivals AE) and all the functions of symphony, where phrasefind was also part of the price and innovation after innovation rolled out to keep up with new workflow realities…. Perhaps FCPX doesn’t need to make a profit and that surplus Apple cash has sped it’s development… But I feel Avid could have tried much much harder & gone for the wider market some time ago (not not 4 years or farting around trying to get AMA to work properly, and no, absolutely not frame flex!) without affecting it’s current user base – it has been hopelessly shortsighted.

    Completely agree with your conclusions for best current workflows by the way. (Media Composer for narrative features & TV work, FCPX for multicam, fast turnaround jobs, 3 minute web vids etc.. But I wonder how long that situation will hold… My current phrase I like to bandy about is that i think “FCPX & Premiere will get professional before MC ever gets modern…” Discuss!

    Reply
    • Chris Hocking
      May 03, 2014 - 03:03 PM

      Thanks for your detailed comments Matthew! HUGELY appreciated!

      I sadly have to agree, your current phrase is right on the money.

      Reply
  15. Nico
    May 26, 2014 - 12:31 PM

    I just bookmarked your article to remember the features you mention. My only experience with FCPX is only with multicam and it saved my life, automatic audio synch saves a lot of time. After I crashed my machine, I decided not to re-install fcp7 and was hesitating between Premiere and fcpX. I will overcome my initial frustrations and step into the future.

    Reply
  16. Nick Gibbon
    Nov 01, 2014 - 08:11 PM

    Hey there – fantastic article thanks for the effort.

    I’m about to start cutting a feature doc shot on a Sony F5, and the director wants to offline on FCPX but the producer wants to online on Avid Symphony or similar. Is this route possible? Can’t find much info online which suggests not! Any advice gratefully received!

    Nick

    Reply
    • Chris Hocking
      Nov 06, 2014 - 09:22 AM

      Sorry for the delayed reply Nick. What you would probably need to do is export a XML out of FCPX, use Xto7 to create a FCP7 XML, then use Automatic Duck to convert that FCP7 XML into an AAF for Avid. In theory that should work – but you’d want to do some proper tests prior to committing. You could also use Resolve or Premiere as the in-between, to transcode a FCP7 XML to AAF.

      Reply
  17. pregnancy photographer in preston
    Feb 04, 2016 - 01:37 AM

    Hi, all the time i used to chek website posts here in the early hours in the dawn, for the reason that i
    enjoy to gain knowledge of morre and more.

    Reply

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Chris gets geeky on FCPX Grill • LateNite Films Blog

Leave a Comment