Future Features in Final Cut Pro X

Posted on by Larry

[ Updated April 18, 2012, to clarify some wording after a second conversation with Apple. ]

I had an on-the-record meeting with Apple this morning in Las Vegas, the day before the start of the 2012 NAB Show — along with a preview of future FCP X features, which I’ll talk about at the end of this blog.

NOTE: We also covered some amazing third-party announcements coming at NAB this year. I’ll have more on that later this week, after the NDA expire at a variety of press conferences later today and tomorrow.

SOME BACKGROUND

When Apple was preparing to launch FCP X, they told me that the new architecture of the software, combined with the flexibility of the Mac App Store would allow for much more rapid updates to the program. However, while the releases were planned well in advance, there is no significance to the alternation of feature (10.0.1 and 10.0.3) with, essentially, bug fix (10.0.2 and 10.0.4) releases. In other words, don’t read too much into this alternating pattern of features and bug fixes. However, do keep in mind that Apple has updated FCP X four times in less than a year since its initial release.

Apple stressed that FCP X is a long-term project and that they are fully committed to it. (In other words, because I asked, there is not a Final Cut Pro 8 waiting in the wings.) Apple views Final Cut X as the future of video editing.

Also, if you look at the features Apple has added since FCP X first released, Apple has almost exclusively focused on adding features for the professional market: Roles, Multicam, broadcast monitoring, etc.

I asked what the benefits were to using the Mac App Store for distribution of updates, and was told that the biggest benefit was that the Mac App Store license allows Apple to deliver both bug fixes and feature updates, unlike Software Update.

NOTE: The benefits of using the Mac App Store for updates to video editors are something I want to learn more about in a future conversation with Apple. I’ll have more to share with you then.

Apple also highlighted the workflow at Leverage which uses FCP X.

* The show shoots on RED in Portland, Oregon.
* Ships hard disks down to LA for editing.
* RED files are transcoded to ProRes Proxy for editing.
* The show is edited in FCP X
* X2Pro (from Marquis Broadcast) converts the files to ProTools for audio sweetening.
* XML exports from FCP X are sent to DaVinci Resolve for color grading
* Final conforming of audio and video is done in FCP X
* Final delivery is a ProRes file.

Apple also said the 10.0.4 update significantly improved broadcast monitoring performance, so they have removed the term “beta” when describing it. I specifically asked if 10.0.4 now has sufficient performance to support multicam monitoring and Apple said “Yes.”

THE GOOD STUFF

Then, Apple shared their plans for Final Cut Pro X features coming later this year (2012). Apple began providing “advanced looks” as part of the roll-out to the launch of FCP X and wanted to continue letting us know what’s coming. (I think this is a great idea, because it helps us plan.)

Here are the bullet points (none of this was demoed):

Audio mixing in FCP X is still weak. I’m looking forward to seeing what the new tools provide.

Dual Viewers is analogous to Source and Record monitors; though Apple stressed that when they implement a feature they try to do it better than it has been done before. A good example of this is their recent multicam addition. This feature would allow us to easily compare two clips.

FCP X has been able to read MXF files (think XDCAM EX), but not the native MXF wrapper that contains them. In the past, it needed to convert MXF to QuickTime. In the future, FCP X won’t need to make this conversion. Apple was quick to stress that this was not a move away from QuickTime, instead it was adding support for a common video format.

While Apple did not provide any details, I interpret “RED camera support” to mean that we would be able to edit R3D files natively, as opposed to editing R3D files as QuickTime proxies.

I asked when Apple would support retaining In and Out (Start / End) markers in clips in the Event Browser. They refused to comment, but stressed that while these were the four features they were announcing, these four would not be the only features released. Retaining Ins and Outs on clips is SO useful, I will continue to bang the drum for Apple to add these.

I asked if Apple would commit to WHEN these features would be available? They politely declined to speculate. (Sigh…)

SUMMARY

It was an interesting meeting. Apple clearly wants it known that FCP X should be considered a professional application, that development is on-going, and that they are listening to comments from users.

I tried to get them to provide hints on upcoming hardware, but no hints were provided.

I also got a sense they are working on another application to join FCP X, Motion, and Compressor. (There are several that would be very useful, we shall have to see what develops. I don’t expect anything announced immediately.)

All-in-all, it is always fun to meet the FCP X team and get a sense of what’s coming. And I wanted to share what I learned with you.

Larry

P.S. For the latest in Final Cut Pro X news, please sign up for my weekly, free newsletter: www.larryjordan.biz/newsletter/


108 Responses to Future Features in Final Cut Pro X

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  1. Marcus Moore says:

    @Alex,

    I’d love to be proven wrong, but I don’t see the flexibility in ripple/roll that you get with connected clips. You still have to manually select all the edit points in a complex timeline to maintain sequence integrity. By having a specifically defined connection point between say, a piece of video and an audio element (a gunshot perhaps) on the moment of sync matters, then once you define that connection you don’t have to worry about anything that happens to picture affecting the audio. And none of this works without eliminating “tracks” from the equation, since the audio elements need the freedom to overlap as the visual changes. Roles need to be better organized visually in the project (timeline). But these two ideas work hand in hand and, in the end, I think will prove a lot more efficient than the current paradigm IMO.

  2. Draomin says:

    I gave it a good go…twice. Apparently Apple thinks I have several months to perhaps years while we fine tune a $300 beta program for them. It’s been many moons since this transition started and I am phasing out FCP 7 for the eventual replacement. Aside from the really, really bad public relations, any semblance of a regard for editors and the lack of a plan (we would love to hear it) there is the bad implementation of features and lack thereof as well as vital missing components. Misread? Apple’s intentions were “misread”?
    Bottom line is just that, a bottom line. Mac Pro’s and a professional editing app is really not in Apple’s future shift which is iMacs, iPads and $$ from wide demographics. If you read an occasional newspaper you can see that.
    I walk out when I am being told how to adjust my workflow and then “oh hey…almost forgot we can’t support FCP 7 anymore. Yeah, we know it works well but see…we don’t care.”
    While Apple has a perfect and uncontested right to do whatever they want, so do I. Hasta!

  3. Tom Wolsky says:

    I have to say I think retaining I/O in browser clips would be a retrograde step, if implemented as it was in legacy versions. Currently the use of favorites retains I/O while having the added benefit of being able to retain multiple selections in a single clip.

  4. Caesar Darias says:

    Breaking News!

    Apple is going into the eyeglasses manufacturing business, and they will soon start breeding seeing-eye dogs.

    That’s my conclusion after reading reports that they are going to discontinue the 17-inch MacBook Pro. They must be trying to make everybody blind by having to stare at a small screen and small letters/icons for hours at a time.

    Good job, Apple. The stock will now surely go over $1,000.

  5. Caesar Darias says:

    Sorry, Larry. I should not have tried to use satire and comment here on a topic that’s not directly relevant.

    And I guess I shouldn’t take the rumor sites too seriously.

    http://www.macrumors.com/2012/04/23/apple-predicted-to-discontinue-17-inch-macbook-pro/

  6. Craig Seeman says:

    Caesar, it seems a few rumors sites are posting that based on that one analyst. One site posts sales numbers although given that Apple doesn’t break these things out I wonder what the source is. They were something like 1.1 million 13″ MBPs, 500,000 15″ MBPs, 50,000 17″ MBPs.

    Just a bit of personally irony in that I own both a 15″ 2008 and 2011 MBP. I thought the 17″ is a little too big for portable convenience. I was upset that Apple killed the Express port on the 15″ MBP and was quite happy with the introduction with Thunderbolt across the product line, making the 15″ viable again. Perhaps others have used the same reasoning. I’ve often thought of the 17″ as sort of a desktop replacement but it’s certainly possible to use one or even two 27″ Thunderbolt displays with 15″ MBP. I have no idea as to the veracity of the rumor but the 17″ does seem to be the “odd bird.” I suspect Apple can pretty much put the same CPU/GPU power in an upper end 15″ MBP.

  7. LeoHans says:

    I don’t know why anyone has to blame Apple if 17″ MBP is not selling enough to justify manufacturing it. Apple is not a philanthropy organization.

    I do like 17″MBP, but it is expensive and too heavy. 15″ MBP with custom hi res display seems to be the best balance.

    And if you are following rumors, don’t forget that one about MBP getting retina display. Perhaps a new 15″ MBP will have enough resolution to match current 17″ MBP.

  8. Caesar Darias says:

    I understand what you’re both saying, Craig and Leo.

    I love my 17″ MBP. I was looking forward to getting a new one with the latest and greatest features, especially Thunderbolt. It would be a great fit for FCP X and my plan to learn CS6.

    I was just very disappointed when I read the articles and didn’t take a moment to think. I was trying to be humerous. I should probably leave the ha-ha’s to the pros.

  9. Marcus Moore says:

    @Ceasar

    Unfortunately, the humour in your post is TOO spot on. There are loads of people who take the vague, unsubstantiated rumours reported on certain sites, and decide they’re going to use them to stand on a soapbox about what Apple is or isn’t doing.

  10. luis says:

    hello Larry
    I wanted to ask if six to news about future updates and maybe the next can be intergrated with native support of projects will FCX Video files “AVCHD MTS” to be put directly on the timeline, and as already seen on Edius and Adobe Premier.
    I wondered why developers have not put FCX subbito already before the official release this support (MTS) born?
    thanks

    Luis

    • Larry says:

      Luis:

      I’m not quite sure what you are asking. It is my hope that what Apple is indicating is more support for native video formats – but we shall have to wait for Apple to make this possible.

      Larry

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