FCP 10.0.1 Adds XML In and Out, XSAN Support, and for the First Time, a Free 30-day Trial

Apple today released the first significant software update to its Final Cut Pro X editing software, which it unveiled to much controversy in late June. In a one-on-one call earlier today with Apple's Richard Townhill, senior director of applications product marketing, we learned more about the 10.0.1 update that includes critical support missing from the original release, notably for XML import and export and Xsan-based workgroup editing. The update is free to existing users and went live in the Mac App Store during our call.
Townhill stressed, first and foremost, that Apple is committed to its core base of professional editors. "We're making good on our promise that we're absolutely committed to our core group of professional users," said Townhill. "The fact that we're able to deliver these key improvements – the most requested from our pro editors – so quickly, through the incredible infrastructure of the Mac App Store, just goes to show that we are committed to making this application deliver on what we promised." For those still on the fence, Apple has also, significantly, launched a free trial with full functionality that times out in 30 days. If you decide to buy before the trial runs out, any project you begin there will automatically be imported into your new version of Final Cut Pro X.

XML In/Out and Multiuser Xsan Support

Apple has made this update only a decimal-point upgrade in another effort to show users that more regular updates will follow. Multicam editing and broadcast video-monitoring, for example, won't arrive until the next update in early 2012. But there are a number of key workflow improvements inside 10.0.1 that can be used immediately.

With this version you now can:

  • Import and export rich XML from both events (source material) and projects (your edits), giving you the important means to import and export to and from third-party devices and software from Blackmagic, AJA, Autodesk and many others. That XML data will also be the way to access older projects in legacy versions of Final Cut Pro. But nothing is built into this update to let you do that, and Apple will continue to rely on developers to provide the bridge. If you already use an asset manager like CatDV that supports both Final Cut Pro 7 XML and Final Cut Pro X XML, you can do that now. We'll be talking to more of them shortly, including AJA's Jon Thorn, to get a better sense of that XML roadmap. At this writing, however, you can now export rough cuts to DaVinci Resolve, and Resolve's Lite version will very shortly have XML import built right in. Resolve can then export back those full color-corrected files into FCPX.
  • Export Audio/Video stems without disabling your tracks by using a new metadata grouping function Apple calls "Roles." Roles will let you highlight what you want to see, so you could do a last pass on, say, just the dialogue or just the video elements in your project. You could also use Roles to assign different language versions of your titles. Roles is automatic, but there is also plenty of room to customize it. As a result of this new way to organize your media on the timeline, you also get a new "Export Media" window in this update ("Export Movie" is now gone) that gives you the choice of exporting as a single, multitrack QuickTime file or as separate dialogue, video, titles, effects and music files. Now you can finally export your music tracks to ProTools or your effects tracks elsewhere for finishing.
  • Share both your edits (projects) and your source material (events) on a multiuser Xsan. "Our users have made significant investments in XSan and workgroup editing," said Townhill. "They are delivering for broadcast and finishing for film."
  • Customize your starting timecode to make it meet with broadcast deliverables.
  • Import footage in just about any camera format through manufacturer plug-ins, like the one coming shortly from Sony for XDCAM-EX. A camera format API released to the major camcorder manufacturers should close that gap.

Other interesting improvements include GPU-accelerated export rendering and the ability to import DSLR video from Aperture and, if you're so inclined, even iPhoto. Mac OS X Lion, which launched a month after the original FCPX release, also brings with it full-screen views while you work.

First Impressions

Soon after our call, we got a chance to sit down here in New York with some others from the Final Cut Pro X team to take a look at how the update will alleviate some of the bottlenecks, both existing and perceived, in the original version. We looked at a demo connected to Promise Technology's latest Thunderbolt-enabled Pegasus RAID, and a two-minute project rendered in a matter of seconds. That even happened when the projects were exported as separate video, dialogue, effects and music files. The new "Roles" tagging function can be controlled from a number of different menu functions and it's very, very deep. You'll want to spend some time with it. There's also a lot more online documentation online this time around, so read up on it here.

When the update went live today in the Mac App Store, the company also posted an instructive white paper on Apple.com that specifically uses Final Cut Pro 7 for comparison and shows those users how to get to where they need to go in FCPX. Townhill says that if there were perceived limitations before, this white paper will also help answer many of those questions.

When asked if Apple was surprised by the way the pro community reacted to the initial FCPX release, Townhill says "the proof will just "have to be in the pudding. In the end, we'll be judged by our actions, and we are making good on our promises. In less than three months we delivered a significant update. I think that says a lot."