A few months ago I was excited with the announced release of Final Cut Pro X at Las vegas NAB 2011. This weekend I purchased FCPX which has been much criticized for being more like iMovie Pro instead of FC Pro. This is my initial assessment.
Right out the gate I loved the look of it. This version makes the previous versions look clunky and arcane, like an old 8 bit video game. The FCPX navigation feels modern with components that move around the way you would expect an Apple product to move. Then I started getting into the organizational functions which are well thought out. Features like grouping clips with keywords and favorites, or automatically identifying clips by the number of people in the shot, or if the shot is wide, medium or close are all additions that are leaps ahead of what the old FCP could do. There is also a built in audio sync feature but it doesn’t seem to work well with multiple clips. Another addition to FCP that I loved is the background rendering which speeds up the work flow exponentially. However what got me the most excited is the magnetic timeline which is a thing of beauty and has to be experienced to be truly appreciated. Moving clips around on the timeline is less like stacking a deck of cards and more like moving apps around on your iPhone. These are great additions, and if it weren’t for the cons, I would declare this the best web based roll out since the first Macromedia Flash came out.
Well after my euphoria subsided, I started to get to the actual task of editing a project. The first thing you need to be aware of is you can’t open old FCP projects in X, but you can run both old and new programs on the same machine. After importing my separate video and audio files the first thing I tried to do was sync my audio and video files in the new synchronize clip feature. Doing one clip worked remarkably well but doing this with multiple audio clips was a big FAIL! I tried to go back to my third party plugin Plural Eyes but it’s not ready to use with FCPX yet. Next I wanted to give the movie filters a whirl. These filters might be great for someone who is use to iMovie, but if you use a program like Magic Bullet or After Effects they are not in the same league and might even appear amateurish, and if you were thinking you can just use Magic Bullet on FCPX you won’t… not yet at least. The color correction however is pretty solid better than the old FCP so I will probably use that instead of the turn-key filters. Many other features such as multi-cam, export to tape, and sound export are also missing. After giving it a spin for a couple of days, I can see why professional editors like Hitler (posted below) are in such an uproar. It seems like this upgrade gave iMovie users something really cool, and professional editors a dumbed down version of a the old Final Cut. Until they make the necessary updates for robust professional editing my advice is to work with the old version dabble with the new. Hopefully Apple will come up with some significant upgrades soon.