Final Cut Pro X: Our Perspective

If you follow Jeremey’s tweet’s you might have seen the “Apple wooes drunk editors at NAB with iMovie repackaging” tweet earlier in the day. That was a tongue in cheek look at some of the commentary going around the web about Apple’s unveiling of the completely reworked Final Cut Pro at the FCP Users SuperMeet this year at NAB.

A short look at any editors forum will drown you in a polarized discussion with half the camp praising Apple’s sexy new 64 bit NLE, while the other half is saying Apple bypassed the pros and dropped a dumbed down amateur-directed piece of consumer software with unwanted bells and whistles like “auto color correction”.

All we can say for sure is that there isn’t enough information to form a real opinion (which won’t stop us from trying below). What happened at NAB was only unveiling, and there will be a lot more information coming out between now and June when the $299 (yep) Final Cut Pro X drops in the app store (no more box?!).

See it for yourself. Here’s the keynote from Emmanuel Pampuri’s Vimeo Channel (If this goes away, blame apple):

If these videos do go away, there are several renegade camera videos up on Youtube if you search for them. Search well, and you can piece the whole talk together.

The bullet points borrowed from

  • The name is Final Cut Pro X
  • 64 bit
  • Unlimited memory
  • Uses Open CL and Grand Central Dispatch
  • Color fully managed with ColorSync
  • Resolution independent playback system up to 4K
  • Mix & match all content in timeline without transcoding
  • No rendering, it does it in the background using every available CPU cycle
  • Can plug into cameras and edit whilst ingesting
  • Non destructive color balance on ingest
  • Stabilisation on ingest
  • Audio cleanup on ingest
  • People and shot detection
  • Range based keywording – metadata attached to part of a clip
  • Smart collections – like smart folders
  • Clip connections, primary and secondary media locking together
  • Magnetic timeline -moves audio out of the way to avoid collisions.
  • Single keystroke nesting
  • Compound clips – collapse clips into a single clip
  • Inline precision editor – simplifies trimming of clips
  • Auditioning – sampling of different versions of edits
  • ‘Skimming’ media previews when you move the cursor over
  • iMovie like filmstrip view
  • Timeline Index- an index of all the clips in the timeline
  • Sync clips with Plural Eyes style featue (Not Plural Eyes)
  • Automatic control of number of tracks – add and go when needed
  • Pitch corrected audio skimming
  • Waveforms show levels in realtime
  • Retiming in the timeline
  • One click to match color between clips
  • New advanced color correction
  • Improved keyframing, bezier paths and curve display in the timeline
  • Color & Soundtrack now in FCPX
  • Ships in June $299 on the App Store

Our thoughts:

We love 64 bit! Finally FCP can make use of all that RAM we have pumped into our machines. Kiss that blue render bar good-bye. Who wouldn’t like that?

We like the ability to mix and match any codec in the timeline without rendering, but we are concerned about what that means for ProRes. We’ve invested money in hardware engineered for ProRes, and we don’t like the idea that our new gear might be obsolete. For that matter, we’re worried that our extensive package of plug-ins is out the window as well… and we love our plug-ins. No word yet on which developers are working on plug-ins that will be ready for the June release.

Speaking of plug-ins, PluralEyes is kaput. FCPX sync’s video and audio automatically.

We are psyched about the low cost. $299 is sounding pretty good. On the other hand there is no word about the other software normally packaged as part of Final Cut Studio. Where is Motion, Soundtrack, Compressor, Color, and DVD Studio Pro? We use Compressor daily and clients still request DVD’s. Some blogs are saying that Color and Soundtrack have been integrated into Final Cut. If that’s true, we’re happy. We do most of our color correction in FCP, so the addition of higher end tools like those used in Color is a welcome addition. One click color matching sounds awesome. We’re also happy about the improved keyframing using bezier paths. We love animating in Final Cut Pro. Keep it in the software, keep it simple.

The addition of the new auto feature is causing us a little bit of stress. We don’t want our software picking color or sound choices for us. That’s our job. If these features can be turned off, that’s fine. Some of the other new features that are lighting up the web like filmstrip view and shot detection aren’t really affecting us one way or another. It will be interesting to play with them and see how they integrate into our workflow.

This is an exciting time to be an FCP editor. The tool we use every single day, on every single project has undergone a complete redesign. That’s both terrifying and exciting. We can’t wait to learn more.

The best blog we’ve read on the topic was Larry Jordan’s “The Sound of 1,700 Jaws Dropping“. We highly recommend reading it. He does a good job of reasoning the pros, cons, and unknowns.

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