FCP-X Enters With a Bang

Apple released Final Cut Pro X yesterday with only a press release on its home page, but it arrived to a big chorus of boos in the App Store. From the first rumors, this application was destined to be controversial, and the first day has provided plenty for would-be early adopters to chew on.

Chief complaints: no ability to open projects created in FCP7, no multi-cam, no native support of R3D or XDCam, no bins as we know them, no source monitor, no EDL, XML or OMF support (though Automatic Duck will help you with OMF). Capturing from tape is supported only over Firewire; if you need other formats, you’ll have to use software provided by your capture card, which is probably still in beta, at best (Aja’s white paper suggests a dual boot system for now). External monitoring is likewise left to third parties and not yet fully baked.

Soundtrack Pro and Color are gone, with at least some of their functionality rolled into Final Cut, where they should be, but Motion and Compressor remain, and are now available on the app store as downloads. They seem irresistible at a mere $50 each.

Folks who are coming to FCP with a clean slate and no legacy projects to support, seem to like it better, and, needless to say, there’s a lot to like: native support for tough media formats, 4K support, a slick color corrector, an audition module, a way to nest editorial options within a single clip, freeform linking of picture and sound so that they drag together in the timeline, background saving and rendering, and performance that will be the envy of the industry. Many of these things have been on the Avid wish list for years.

Apple has embraced keyword-based search as a way to organize media of all kinds, and Final Cut is no exception. Like iMovie and iPhoto, it organizes your work into “events” and encourages you to add keywords and create smart collections —  groupings that update live as you add material. Whether editors, particularly editors of tightly organized, scripted shows, are going to find that appealing is an open question.

Apple is running a game plan they know well, which worked for them with the first Final Cut — expand the user base by appealing to customers the other guy didn’t know existed. Final Cut originally focused on DV and Firewire and radically forced prices down. FCP-X is designed to do the same thing for file-based media. The company has the moxie to obsolete all previous versions, and while they will piss off many editors, they will undoubtedly find lots of new customers at the same time. FCP-X was Apple’s biggest download yesterday, and at $299, all the controversy is probably doing as much to help sales as hurt them.

For more about the new release, check out the videos and feature list on Apple’s FCP site. Many key questions for pros are addressed by Philip Hodgetts’ on his blog. The next installment of the Terence and Philip podcast, hosted by Phil and Terry Curren, will be focused on the new Final Cut and should be available shortly. Phil is also offering a low-cost pdf book about Final Cut Pro metadata, available here.

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8 Comments on “FCP-X Enters With a Bang”

  1. Loren Says:

    Pretty much as I feared, iMovie Pro. But as Phil indicates, it’s a first version. I’ll be driving it but not with mission critical anything. It’ll need to grow up and acknowledge the past. It makes no sense at all to eschew the thousands of archived tape libraries which need to be repurposed simply to lure in iMovie users. So I hope for a traditional log and capture panel, along with multicamn and more traditional export capabilities. And a viewer window. And the ability to arrange the workspace on two monitors…. this is an adolescent product with many good features but no user memory.

  2. James Says:

    I really don’t buy the argument that some are making that suggests that change is just painful and the lack of tape support is just moving toward the future. The industry will continue to move toward tapeless whether people still use FCP with tape workflows or not. And there are so many news, sports and non-fiction operations entrenched in FCP that may have been shooting tapeless for the last few yeas but still rely on vast archives of material on tape. Beyond that, I’m surprised there isn’t more complaining about how the only realtime output this FCPX supports is desktop mirroring on a second monitor with no option to both output and view the application across two screens. Anyone with a typical 3-monitor setup now has one that’s a paperweight.

  3. Loren Says:

    [The industry will continue to move toward tapeless whether people still use FCP with tape workflows or not]

    Yes, and vice versa! Software may go through sudden paradigm shifts; people, projects, and enterprises usually don’t.

    A curious discovery I reported elsewhere– FCPX allows you to park on a video FIELD. How’s that for retro? Avid’s had that for what? A century?

  4. ldtowers Says:

    FCP X is a philosophical shift in what Apple (not editors) believe an editing application should be.
    In a conference some time ago Steve Jobs compared traditional computers and tablets to cars and trucks by saying most people will eventually only need tablets while some would still need the added utility of a PC (Trucks)

    I think this is his/their philosophy with professional applications. Although Final Cut Pro Users wanted a better truck, with FCP, X Apple delivered a two-seater electric sports car.
    They think this will be good enough for MOST users. Yes assume they are right. It will be! But that is not the argument being made, which keeps being skirted.. Most users are NOT professional. This is NOT a professional application. It might be great for what it is, but it does not meet PROFESSIONAL needs!
    And the sorry excuse that this is a 1.0 release is terrible. A professional application, regardless of release number, would prioritize professional requirements at the expense of bells and whistles. The smug people saying things about change are quite frankly fools. Only an idiot would think that changes that make collaboration difficult to impossible are good. It is insulting to assume we are not ready or unwilling to adopt.

    The fool who complained about the whining from professional editors just proved the point.

  5. James Says:

    Highly recommend this post from the NYT’s David Pogue. Not necessarily for his commentary, which conveys a decidedly less than expert grasp on the situation, but for the comment threads… Wow.

    http://pogue.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/06/23/professional-video-editors-weigh-in-on-final-cut-pro-x/

  6. Harry Miller Says:

    How would we react if ANY application lost so much functionality in a NEW release. What if Word released without Spellcheck. “It will come in a future release.” Really?

    It was instructive to note that David Pogue was able to get his detailed answers direct from an Apple rep. That makes him and Walter Murch about the only two that have that kind of access to that information.

    The Conan video is fabulous.

  7. John Maio Says:

    Will Avid be offering a FCP7-to-MC5.5 cross-grade program again soon? I suspect there will be a lot of takers – including me.

  8. ConnerPro Says:

    Final Cut Pro X has created a number oof major advancements lately,
    cannot wait for the future!


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