Final Cut Pro X – One Year Later…

Posted on by Larry

June 21, 2011. Apple released Final Cut Pro X and our industry changed overnight.

It’s been a year since that release, and I’m interested in your comments on the impact, if any, that Final Cut Pro X has had on your life – personally or professionally.

For me, Final Cut X has caused a lot of upheaval. Some good, some bad, though, overall, its been mostly good. Long-term, I’m optimistic for the software. Short-term, well, short-term has been rocky.

But I’ve written about my experience a lot over the last year. In this blog, I’d like to hear your stories. I get 200 – 400 emails a day (and, yes, I try to answer every one of them) from editors sharing their stories with me.

Now, I’d like to give you a chance to share them with all of us: “Has Final Cut Pro X made your life better, worse, or about the same and why?

GROUND RULES

I’m interested in stories from a personal perspective — both good and bad. I’m not interested in, nor will I post, stories that attack the opinions of others, nor stories that attack Apple.

I want this particular blog to be less of a dialog, and more a sharing of personal experience. I want to hear about FCP X from your perspective. Don’t talk about the industry, talk about yourself.

TO MAKE OR VIEW COMMENTS

To make or view comments attached to this blog, click the Leave a Comment text button at the bottom of this post.

As always – and especially now – I’m interested in your opinions.

Larry


42 Responses to Final Cut Pro X – One Year Later…

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  1. MalW says:

    Been an editor for a long time and with Apple and FCP for seemingly ever… perhaps switch those two around, editor forever, Apple and FCP for a long time.

    Wasn’t afraid to jump in and try FCPX when it was released (quite excited) and saw many benefits. HOWEVER, the essential features lacking out-weighed the good stuff, pure and simply, and I have edited mainly since on FCP7 and Premiere, the latter being excellent for RED Epic raw files.

    I teach others at times on FCPX and am happy to extoll some of its simple virtues, but for me personally, it’s sitting there in the shadows (being updated as updates arrive) and being kept at arms length. For how long, I’m not sure, but fundamentally it’s in the corner, I watch it closely, it watches me back, but time stands still for no-one, and I need to get complex work done now. It’s been a year now. That’s a long time really.

  2. Clark says:

    Five or six years ago we were a video post house with several Avid systems. Before then, Final Cut was seen by many as something to make “wedding videos.” But, FCP (version 6 I believe) zoomed past Avid in many ways, especially in terms of mixing resolutions and frame rates (it took Avid at least 2 years to catch up with this show stopping feature), so we switched completely to FCP. And we’ve come to enjoy it.

    I’ve given FCP X the benefit of the doubt for a year to get their act together, hoping it might be upgraded ‘for us pros,’ but it really hasn’t. I was hoping they would. I need rock solid current systems that work professionally and won’t just decide to ‘give it up’ again for pros and blindsiding us in the future. I am no longer ‘waiting’ and ‘hoping’ that ‘maybe’ they’ll come around within the next few years…I’m not that patient (or gullible) anymore.

    Now that Avid works on Macs AND with our current AJA cards, it’s a no-brainer on our end. It will require training and switch-overs and such, but at least we’ll be back with a professionally-minded company (and we’re not trying to piecemeal a pseudo-pro system together that ‘kind of’ gets the job done).

    Thanks for a good six years, FCP…we’ll miss you.

  3. Colin Powers says:

    Interesting that no one here says that they switched (or returned to) Avid.

    Frankly, we’ve been too busy in the last year to stop everything to learn a new software of dubious value. Still cutting on 7, thankful for it’s strengths and dealing the its issues.

  4. Mike Jones says:

    I started with a G3 and Avid Cinema, dabbled with iMovie, then to FCP Studio and never looked backed. I was shocked when I saw that Apple had turned FCP into a glorified iMovie. After downloading the free trial of FCPX and jumping in I am sold! All the annoying and tedious things about Final Cut are gone and all the great things are still there plus more.

  5. Scott Garcia says:

    Early last year a question popped into my head. Will I ever be that guy who has to ask my son to show me how to work some new gadget or software in the future?
    My dad taught a graphic arts class. He started teaching it in 1985. He had a litho camera and a dark room and a letter press and offset presses and light tables and a linotype machine. In the late 80’s he brought in Macs and Aldus Pagemaker and a laser printer. In the early 90’s he got a video toaster. Around that time I took his class as a senior in high school. After that the industry changed to NLE and for some reason, kina left him behind. I became a video producer at my church and found myself constantly teaching him how to do things.
    I am constantly steeped in new technology. I stay on the lookout for what’s coming up. My livelihood requires that stay tech savvy. That’s why that question bugged me, will I ever fall behind the current tech and find myself at the mercy of my son to hand hold me through the future as my own father did? Like many in my father’s generation, I thought it wouldnt happen to me.
    Then last summer, FCPX came out. It changed everything. I bought it the first day and quickly found myself at a loss. It didn’t make sense to me. I had previously avoided iMovie with a passion because it seemed foreign and I didn’t need to use it because I had FCP7. But there I was facing its workflow structure. There were two other editor friends I had working with me who are reactionists by nature who whined and complained. One dug his heals in and said he’s sticking with FCP7 and the other abandoned ship to Premiere.
    It was at that moment when I realized, “this is where it happens.” This is the moment when I chose to cling to the old ways and end up ten years from now being led by the hand of my 20 year old son as he tries to explain how to use this new gadget because I got left behind. It happened to my father and I was determined that it will not happen to me.
    So I embraced FCPX. I found this blog and Larry’s videos and bought the whole set. I watched them all and dove head first into this new way of thinking. I still had old projects in FCP7 that I worked on and still used it to capture clips using my Decklink card, but any new project I started in FCPX. I shoot exclusively now with HDSLRs so FCPX was a dream compared to FCP7. It just took Larry’s videos to help wrap my head around this new workflow.
    I edit so much faster in FCPX than I do in 7. OMG I love compound clips. We mostly shoot interview videos using dual system audio so FCPX owns this workflow. I can import the audio and video files and just tell them to synchronize and like magic it’s done. I go into that compound clip and adjust the audio and color correct the video. Then I reject and hide the original files and edit with the new compound clip. I only have to align the audio once and edit using that compound clip as a my source. My other friend on FCP7 is still editing and then using plural eyes to sync each clip individually on his timeline after the fact. I find myself in FCP7 every once in a while realizing how slow it’s workflow still is.
    Also, I just want to address this “professional” thing. I’m a professional video editor. I edit and create videos for a living. I’ve been doing it for almost a decade now. I know the history and have experience in the old school way of editing. But staying in that era doesn’t make someone more of a professional than someone who just got an HDSLR. Just because you still have a 25 year old deck that you need to use that FCPX doesn’t support doesn’t mean Apple is leaving behind “true professionals.” It means that Apple is trying to move the professional world forward.
    I’m not going to be left behind. I’m not going to dig in my heels and hold on to “what I know.” I’m going to be on the cutting edge of video editing. Apple has a history of dragging industries kicking and screaming into the future. “What’s this USB thingy, what happened to my ADB port!?” “Where the heck did my floppy drive go!?” “No one is going to spend that much money on a silly music player!” “Where are the hard keys? You can’t have a phone with just a touch screen!” it may sound silly but I trust Apple. They have a winning track record.
    When you are swinging on a vine, it’s hard to let go of that vine that’s holding you up. However, if you don’t let go, you can never move forward to the next vine. There comes that moment, at the end of the swing, when you must let go to grab the next vine. It’s true that you will find yourself hanging in mid air for a moment. But then you’ll lay hold of the next greatest thing and find yourself swinging away, leaving the other monkeys behind.

  6. Kirk Lohse says:

    Larry,

    First a disclaimer…I am a card-carrying, unabashed, dyed-in-the-wool, 100% Apple/Mac FanBoy! So I pretty much think ANYTHING from Apple is THE thing.

    Having said that, I was at the FCPX Sneak Preview at last year’s NAB SuperMeet. To say my excitement at what FCP was going to become was unbridled, would be the understatement of the century.

    A bit of history…I was an avid (pardon the expression) 8mm and Super8mm filmmaker back in the day, and had to give up my favorite hobby in my late adolescence as film gave way to crappy VHS camcorders and transitioning to 16mm, was simply out of my reach financially. Fast forward to 1999 and I was able to rekindle my love for the art form with the DV revolution.

    But within 2-3 years, I was again stymied by the dizzying advances in DV which again pushed cameras, hardware and software out of reach. I didn’t know – or want to know – about XMLs and EDLs and 3:2:2 Pulldown, and interlacing, etc.

    Once again, due to Mac vs. PC incompatibilities, the conundrum of a cavalcade of codecs, and now 24p, I saw my hobby being moved by the industry slowly but surely out of my reach.

    Stuck in NTSC 29.97with my trusty PD100a, I could only sit on the sidelines and watch as video production became too expensive and too complicated a proposition for a one-man-band, moonlighting as a video producer. No, I’m not a “professional” in the strictest, technical sense of the word, but I DO make my living shooting and editing video, so I believe my opinion is worth just as much as the guys who run the big post-houses.

    Fast forward to last year…FCPX revolutionizes EVERYTHING about the process, from capture (ingest) to export (share). Besides the price point of $299, the ability of FCPX to “take all comers” with respect to media and let the editor “just create” was JUST what the doctor ordered for my “post-production depression”!

    I’ve been using FCPX now since February, and when I DO have to go back to FCS6, it is PAINFUL! I am excited by the plethora of new effects and plugins being created by companies such as CrumplePop and FCPEffects, etc., and believe that FCPX has a future that is blindingly bright, and in another year or two, most will be wondering how they EVER edited video without it!

    Yes, I can understand why some of the “big” boys and girls got their feelings hurt with the initial release of FCPX, but as it turns out, Apple has addressed a number of the things about which they were wailing and gnashing teeth, and third party apps like 7toX and X2Pro have ameliorated others.

    And, I think that NEXT year, Apple will unleash a workstation that “changes everything” making FCPX a MUST for editors/producers.

    I am working now with more freedom of expression and creativity than I have in a long time. Sure, there are some things that I wish FCPX would do that it doesn’t and there are some things it does that I wish it didn’t do, but again, I think Apple IS listening and will amend the application accordingly from one update to the next.

    Think Different.

  7. Bernhard says:

    Allynn,

    in FCP-X the markers aren’t recognized either way.
    I would like to have rudimentary authoring tools in Compressor
    like those in Toast. Further a Motion project type for menue design with drop zones, imported into Compressor, and apply the movies via drag&drop.

    But this would require a new Compressor GUI too and is more of wishful thinking; and I would be glad if Compressor would recognizes FCP-X markers…

  8. Brien Lee says:

    I have been “editing” for 40 years, whether it be audio, slides and multimedia, 3/4″, 16mm film, the first Pinnacle/Premiere nonlinear combo, Speed Razer / Matrox, Sony Vegas, FCP7 suite, and now, FCPX.

    Clearly, I have never been afraid of new software. But as owner of the companies I ran (corporate contract production in the midwest) my interest in the software was always– is it easy, affordable, and trainable? I didn’t mention Avid because up until recently the only way to own Avid was to mortgage your house or have Avid loan you the money… and then you’d eventually sell your services to competitors to pay the monthly installment. Not a criticism… just a fact.

    After Speed Razor went out of business (as did our integrator) I decided I needed to be manufacturer / developer agnostic. No proprietary (ie, hyped up turnkey / hardware combo) systems. No loans. No being left out in the cold.

    First, we moved to Vegas, because of cost, non-proprietary hardware, and ease of training. My job at my company (10 employees or so) was chief R&D; once I successfully learned a system and did a successful complete project or two, I’d assign or hire a full time editor and I’d abandon the suite and go out and sell. (Knowing I could always fill in or challenge assumptions. (passive aggressive management technique!)

    I moved to FCP7 because I wanted to be on a Mac and had great success doing a DVD project on DVD Studio Pro, and had gotten all the other Apple Pro software in the bargain. When I had to make changes to the DVD, I started using FCP7, for codec reasons.

    FCP7 had professional cache, important in a business built on buzz. But it was a struggle to learn and work with, the contant rendering necessity was bothersome, although I overcame that with patience, on-line help from pros, etc.

    Now that I’m slowing down, and running less of a company in size, I’m doing my own editing again. So I tried Final Cut Pro X. It was fun to work with, and as the new releases came out, pretty reliable. I can communicate with other users pretty easily and do help out other editors who may be having trouble translating the interface.

    I felt the same joy and sense of wonder I did when I cut my first 3/4″ to 3/4″ edit, or my first non-linear edit, or the my first audio sweetening with Vegas, or the first DVD I did on DVD Studio Pro (after literally a dozen other dvd software tryouts.)

    It is a joy, and by the way, not really like iMovie at all. There is great flexibility and capability built in. And if you’re starting a turnkey production (not a post house) business today, FCPX is the smart, affordable way to go. This may not fly with established operators on the coasts, and I understand their fears.

    Bu I’m always looking for the next edge. I update early and often, and try out the new things I can afford when I can. Shooting with Canon DSLR’s and Canon Solid State HD cameras, ingestion is swift, key-wording is great, the special effects publishers are now up to speed, and I’m happy.

    Maybe a different perspective, but, well, it’s the only one I know!

    Thans for all your insight, Larry.

    Brien Lee

  9. William Hohauser says:

    After a few hints over the year and a Larry Jordan tutorial to get my brain into the color board, FCPX is the way to edit for me. This is from an editor who goes back to the original Media100 and the VideoCube. Is it perfect? Not close but neither is FCP7 or PP or AVID. The interface and clip management is superior to FCP7 and PP although AVID is still the management powerhouse. I have edited many types of projects on X from birthday greetings to web episodes to film festival programs to broadcast interviews to film trailers for 35mm film out. Once you understand the magnetic timeline (the benefits plus a couple of quirks) and few of the quick keystrokes the program moves faster than FCP7.

    It is a growing program and honestly I am still a little nervous to edit a feature documentary on it although I would certainly try. While some people have expressed issues with the sound mixing capabilities, I have found it superior to FCP7 especially in terms of useful audio filters. The program needs refinement in several areas but a it stands now, it’s working everyday in my modest business.

  10. Val Feytser says:

    My wife, Laura, and I are wedding videographers, mostly.

    I am “dedicated” editor so I’ll speak from I point-of-view often. On average we do 35 weddings per year, and about as many other projects which include birthdays, anniversaries, infomercials, commercials and such. We are nowhere near a Hollywood production house, but we love what we do and it pays our bills.

    We started our business in 2005 with a couple of Canon XL2’s (DV) and Mac G5, and the very first Final Cut Studio – I loved it. Then, we switched to shooting/editing HDV and Final Cut Studio 2, and a couple years ago we switched completely to DSLR (Canon 7D, 5DII). DSLR footage forced us to think of new workflows.

    Most of our projects were done in FCP7 so the workflow would be as follows:

    1. Capture (copy files from SD card to projects RAID) – about 500 clips totaling about 150GB per wedding.
    2. Transcode using MPEG Streamclip. Now the project folder “grew” from 150GB to 600GB. Side note: I was always blown away at how much Compressor sucked at transcoding – it was unbearably sluggish and unresponsive. I always wondered how can some guy (apparently some very smart guy) in Italy can create better software than Apple, a company which has more PhD’s working for them, and company which has more money in the bank than the US government?
    3. Cleanup Audio from Zoom H4N and Zoom H2 using Soundtrack. Cleanup means noise reduction and audio leveling.
    4. Edit in FCP7
    5. “Bake” clips that had slo-mo and other retiming and clips stabilized in motion
    6. Send timelines to Color
    7. Render/export as ProRes 422 from Color (now the project folder grew from 600GB to about 900GB)
    8. Compress 3 file formats for each timeline using compressor
    a. H264 25Mbps 1080p for archival
    b. H264 25Mbps 1080p for BluRay (I think it was MPEG2 Telestream – don’t remember exactly)
    c. MPEG2 for standard definition DVD
    9. And finally burn DVD’s using DVD Studio Pro and burn BluRay’s using Toast Titanium.

    The completed project folder would grow from 150GB to a little over 1TB.

    When FCP X came out, I bought it the same day. The main selling points were “no transcoding” and “all-in-one” solution (FCP, Color and Soundtrack) were now one! Or so I thought.

    I spent about 2 months fighting FCP X crashes. I’ve successfully completed 3 projects (2 full weddings and 1 commercial) using FCP X and I’ve lost 3 projects (2 full weddings that were almost done, and 1 short 7-min love story). Zero data was recovered from the lost projects even after spending an hour with Apple tech support. I spent hours and days installing, deleting, reinstalling FCP X, trashing preferences, resetting QuickTime components, reading blogs and tech articles about FCP X, and doing bunch of other hocus-pocus crap that an editor shouldn’t do. I think my swearing vocabulary grew more in these 2 months than in my entire life. I was falling behind and started to miss due dates. I wanted to switch back to FCP 7 but I so hated to go back to transcoding. I also hated the idea of switching to Adobe Premiere Pro too. I was Apple fan-boy for more than a decade because their software just worked. The word Adobe for me sounded too PC’ish and meant uncharted waters for me.

    With much pain and disbelief that I was actually doing it, I downloaded trial of Production Premium CS5.5. To my surprise, I didn’t have to learn anything (almost). It was Final Cut Pro 8 on steroids for me! I started to catchup on my projects, I stopped scavenging the internet for FCP X articles, I was drinking less and was getting more sleep! Aaaaaah, life was back to normal.

    I bought Production Premium CS5.5 for $850 and bought NVIDIA Quadro 4000 for Mac for $700, then I bought CS6 upgrade ($400) as soon as it came out. All in all I spent about $2000 to switch. I don’t regret a single penny I paid to Adobe because they made my life so much better. I’ve paid $1300 for Final Cut Studio, then $600 (i think) for Final Cut Studio 2 upgrade, and another $1300 for Final Cut Studio 2 for my wife’s mac. We don’t mind paying $1300 for FCP X if only the god-damned thing worked. Side not, the $300 price tag feels to me that Apple slapped it together in couple of months and released it.

    The new workflow with Production Premium CS6 is as follows:

    1. Capture (copy files from SD card to projects RAID) – about 500 clips totaling about 150GB per wedding.
    – (No transcoding needed!)
    2. Cleanup Audio from Zoom H4N and Zoom H2 using Audition. Cleanup means noise reduction and audio leveling. Side note, Audition is so much better and faster than Soundtrack! Noise reduction is ten times better than Soundtrack’s and about 100 times better than FCP X. Waveforms are rendered 100 times faster in Audition than Soundtrack. I’ve discovered 2 new tools in Audition for audio “sweetening” which I use often, depending on a project: Multiband Compressor (Broadcast & Raise Vocals) and Mastering (Subtle Clarity & Warm Concert Hall).
    3. Edit in Premiere Pro
    – No baking needed! Slo-mo and other retiming is done by replacing clips with After Effects composition. Stabilization is done directly in Premiere. Side note, Premiere’s warp stabilizer is 10 times better than FCP X’s (no, i’m not exaggerating).
    4. Color-correct in Premiere using the new 3-way color corrector (super easy and super precise). I’ve tried SpeedGrade just for the heck of it, it is as good as Apple Color, I would argue that maybe even better, but that doesn’t matter for my workflow because I don’t use it. I would definitely use it if I was grading Transformers movie, but not a wedding video.
    5. And finally burn both, DVD’s and BluRay’s using Encore. I import Premiere sequences directly into Encore without any rendering or encoding. I create a finished DVD/BluRay with menus and sequences and chapter markers using Adobe Dynamic Link, then hit “transcode now” button. While all the sequences are being transcoded in the background (using Encoder) I continue to work in Premiere on other projects.

    My project folders don’t get obese anymore. They grow from 150GB to about $250GB when I’m done. A very nice side-effect from switching to Production Premium. The “no-duh” note: it is much faster and cost effective to archive a 250GB project than 1TB project.

    Will I ever switch back to FCP X or FCP “?” in the future? I don’t know. The Apple fan-boy genes in me really want to switch, because it has been proven many times before that a company who makes hardware can write much better software than the company who only writes software. It definitely wasn’t the case with FCP X. My friends tell me that FCP X doesn’t crash anymore with all the updates, but Premiere Pro CS5.5 didn’t crash and CS6 doesn’t crash doesn’t matter what I throw at it. Also, I’ve gotten very much addicted to 3-way color corrector, warp stabilizer (as you can imagine a lot of wedding footage is run-and-gun style), After Effects 3D camera tracker for placing 3D titles (not possible with Motion), Audition, Encoder and Encore! I’ve read someone’s blog which explained that FCP X is in it’s infancy and in a few years it will be the rock-solid system just like FCP 7. I understand and agree. But, Premiere is already a rock-solid solution, in a few years it will be even better. That’s why as much as I would want to, I don’t think I will switch back to FCP X.

    To help put things in perspective, I’m using an Early 2009 MacPro with following specs:
    – 32GB RAM (OWC)
    – ATI Radeon 5870 (when I used FCP X)
    – NVIDIA Quadro 4000 (works magic with adobe software)
    – 120GB OWC SSD for OS X Lion and Production Premium CS6
    – 2x 480GB OWC SSD’s for current projects
    – eSATA 12TB external RAID for projects on hold and offline

    Larry, I ment to write a two-paragraph comment, but it ended up being a couple of chapters. I know it’s too long so don’t feel obligated to post it 🙂 Even if you don’t post it, you still will probably read it and my wife and I wanted you to know that you do absolutely amazing training videos. You have helped us grow our skill and grow our company. Thank you!!!

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