My Take on FCPX

Connor Crosby of asked for my “Take” on the latest version of Final Cut Pro – FCPX. It’s published today, and here’s an excerpt of the interview, the entirety of which can be read here.

My Experience With FCPX

So my first experience was briefly using tutorials, Abba Shapiro’s great stuff on and Diana Weynand’s Peachpit book from the Apple Pro Training Series. I did probably a half-day of that, which is a great overview, when I realized that everything I needed was in there, I just needed to find out where my shortcuts had been mapped, and what the new features were really all about and how they would impact my workflow. So, I had taken on a corporate project that I thought would be great for putting it through the paces.

There were two major changes to the paradigm (not the interface – that was weird but easy to understand) that stuck me immediately – both in the tutorials and in practice:

The first was the handling and generation of metadata. Most notable here, and we saw this in the NAB preview last April, was the automated generation of metadata. Is this shot a single, a two-shot, Wide, shaky, etc? This is a boon to any “offline” process, especially working with unscripted material. Additionally, I really like the way keywords, ratings, and other user-generated metadata is handled and searchable. Very usable, and useful. One of the things I really push with my editing students (and clients) is that editing begins when you decide what you’re going to give the editor. The way we create media these days means that we’re nearly unlimited by the length of a film roll or capacity of a hard drive, and this has some pretty major implications for the editing process. I had some very capable and talented students shoot 5+ hours of material for a four-minute *scripted* short in a festival workshop a few weeks ago, and I have no idea how they got finished. I do know that they didn’t have time to even view all of that footage, or even log it in a meaningful way. If they had been using FCPx, they would have at least had a decent starting point.

The second Paradigm shift came to me a bit backwards – ultimately it’s about how X approaches your edit as a storyline and how the magnetic timeline works in that process, however after just a few minutes of editing I really noticed how moving from an Insert/Overwrite paradigm to the Connect/Insert/Append functions made me a better editor. What I noticed after a few hours of editing with these tools (and yes, all the other favs from NLEs of yore are still in there) was that I wasn’t creating the occasional small errors my work was always prone to, such as the inadvertent gap created or loss of synch. The kinds of small errors that I would catch quickly and then undo just weren’t happening, which was a clue to me that there was something special going on with this new design.

What I like About FCPX

The truth is, much of what I practice and teach in editing is all about efficiency – work as efficiently as possible so you have time to do the creative, human things that are the reason we love this work. So much of editing is about being organized, but who really likes to do that stuff? I’ve gotten good at it because I hate it and want to get it out of the way. In FCPx, much of this work is taken care of for you.

There are a few other gems in there – I love how my filters and effects from Logic show up (so nice to have a real parametric EQ interface), the color tools are good, and the way this thing handles multiple formats (read: background rendering) is really a dream. My last piece was very graphics heavy, and I had video formats ranging from XDcam to  FlipCam, and not once did I give a thought to compatibility. It just works, as promised.

What Would I Change?

So, would I change this? I feel I’m still learning it – Apple has obviously put a lot of thought in to how they were going to re-design this (it is not, by the way, iMovie Plus) and I’ll need to spend more time with it. I know I’ll need multicam, I would like a deeper color interface, and I need to learn how I can best take advantage of my hardware to really make this thing sing. That being said, it’s thrilling to get a peek at how FCPx, Lion, and iOS (gestures with FCPx are really incredibly useful) all seem to be heading in similar directions, and what this all means for the future of media creation.


I’m sold on FCPx and don’t see myself using another NLE until the project demands it. I have many broadcast clients who will need to do a lot of testing to see how this fits in their ecosystem, and a lot of colleagues who don’t work in broadcast who will be thrilled at how this makes their life easier. I’m also excited to see Media Composer 6 and will be spending some time with that next month – overall, this is a great time to work in post!

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One Response to “My Take on FCPX”

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