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More Thoughts on Final Cut Pro X

Yesterday was a monumental day in the eyes of many in post-production. Apple released Final Cut Pro X (as well as Motion 5 and Compressor 4) in the Mac App Store for download. If you’ve followed any discussion, be it on Twitter, here or in the various blogs, you’ve probably seen that reaction has been quite mixed and reactors quite vocal (I’m guilty as charged). It does feel like, at least at this early stage, FCPX is a love it or hate tool. It is an extreme departure from how Final Cut Pro 7 operates on almost every front. It is indeed more like iMovie than FCP7. No matter what you read, the truth is that it will take some time to really shake it out. I was bewildered at first but see some real good lurking within it. I’m currently testing how a music video edit might work and see some nice features that will help me. I also see some silly omissions. Here’s my down-and-dirty attempt to bullet point only the basics you need to know if you’re contemplating FCPX.
  • Final Cut Pro X costs $299 and is currently available only via download from the Mac App Store. If your operating system isn’t current enough (before OS 10.6) it won’t allow the download.
  • Motion 5 and Compressor 4 are both available for $49. Motion appears to be 64-bit but Compressor is still 32-bit.
  • Soundtrack Pro, DVD Studio Pro and Color no longer exist.
  • Both Final Cut Express and Final Cut Server have also been discontinued.
  • Apple’s Install Advice: “It is strongly recommended that you install Final Cut Pro X, Motion 5, and Compressor 4 on a startup disk that does not have Final Cut Studio (2009) already installed.” More installation details are available in this Apple support document.
  • When installing FCPX on the same partition as an existing Final Cut Studio install, the old FCS will be moved into its own folder. I did install FCPX on my home machine and, after some initial troubleshooting with the graphics card, it’s running well. Better to be safe than sorry so do not install FCPX on any mission-critical production machines that are currently in mid-project.
  • Final Cut Pro 7 and Final Cut Studio 3 have been removed from the Apple Store for further purchasing. It is unknown at this time if Apple will continue to refine, update and bug fix Final Cut Pro 7.
  • Final Cut Pro X currently only has limited support for third-party effects plug-ins with FxFactory being among the first. Expect more soon.
  • Third-party video hardware is currently not supported with the exception of an AJA beta option. Read the AJA documentation carefully, as it appears they are performing  a workaround for compatibility.
  • FCPX does support native editing of many different camera formats (the list is here under Supported Formats I/O) and FCPX does support transcoding to some flavors of ProRes from within the application. All flavors of ProRes are editable once imported.
  • FCPX supports many different export options via a Share menu but you’ll still need Compressor 4 for more advanced exports.
  • Background processes such as rendering, transcoding and image analysis can be monitored and controlled.
  • Audio defaults to 5.1 surround for mixing and monitoring but it is possible to create stereo projects.
  • Resolutions up to 4K are supported but native support for RED R3D media is not.
  • There is no multicam editing support.
  • There is a full keyboard editor for mapping custom keyboard commands.
  • The only tape-based ingest supported is from FireWire-based cameras. There is no Edit to Tape function.
  • User manuals for the new products are available online: Final Cut Pro X, Motion 5, Compressor 4.
  • No list-based i/o (XML, EDL, AAF) is currently supported in Final Cut Pro X, though Automatic Duck has released an update to their plug-in that lets you send an AAF or OMF to Pro Tools.
  • You can import and open iMovie projects and events but you cannot import or open Final Cut Pro 7 (or earlier) projects.
  • Apple has posted the ProApps QuickTime Codecs as a free download.
  • The official Apple Final Cut Pro X Technical Specifications page will answer a lot of questions.
  • Final Cut Pro X is a new paid release.
Those are just some of the facts, ma’am, which I hope will help you cut through much of the online chatter about FCPX. But please remember, these broad strokes are just that and it’ll definitely take some time as we all dig in and start cutting with this brand-new iteration of Final Cut Pro. My advice? If you’re a Final Cut Pro-only user I would definitely keep Final Cut Pro 7 around for continued work, especially if you have to interface with any outside applications or workflows. If your work stays in the same box, you could conceivably begin and finish work in FCPX if you don’t use an external broadcast monitor or rely on certain third-party tools. The editing process in FCPX is very different and, intuitive as it may seem, it will take some time to master it. Don’t bet the farm on big client projects until you’re comfortable. But it is only $299, so at the very least play with it and decide for yourself.


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  • http://www.avitelpoststudioz.com Rishi Jain


    I am Rishi Jain from Avitel Post Studioz Ltd. I recently used Final Cut Pro X for editing a home video and found it utterly useful and friendly than its predecessors. Its a brilliant software and a Must Buy.


  • http://www.petersalvia.wordpress.com Peter Salvia

    The beauty of FCP 4.5 and 5 was that it had all the professional tools that Avid Xpress Pro had and more for a fraction of the price. It truly democratized post production in my eyes because I could afford to build an FCP system on a dual 2.7Ghz G5 and outperform the various Avid systems I had been training on as an assistant editor. Making the jump to FCP made sense because Wlter Murch was cutting features with it, dozens of tv series were cutting with it, and with FCP 6 you gained a $10K app in Color for a 500 dollar upgrade. The path for the aspiring professional was clear and the only ceiling was your talent, not time code control.
    IMHO, FCP-X has killed that dream. If I were an assistant editor today aspiring to work in broadcast or features, I would be crazy to take on a tool that is not designed for that market. I would instead look to Avid, Adobe, or even The Foundry’s Storm. It is heart-braking to see the NLE that launched my career swiftly nerfed without so much as a by-your-leave.
    If there indeed is to be a FCP-X for the professional I hope Apple makes a marketing announcement post haste. For myself and others like me who have spent significant years of our early professional lives working to master FCP and its suite of applications like Color and Motion I fear we have squeezed all the water there was to be had from this stone. I’m willing to wait and see for a short while, but the industry seems to have already turned the other page to the ‘NLE Wanted’ section.

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  • http://www.171entertainment.com ross wood

    I’ll be sticking with fcp7 to edit my music videos until they add a ‘gang’ feature to fcpx. Pretty annoyi