Apple’s brand new release of FCP X (version 10.1) is an absolutely massive upgrade that is sure to spark a lot of interest even from the most skeptical of editors. For those of you that are regular visitors of this site, you likely know that I was an early adopter of FCP X, but also regularly work with FCP 7, Avid Media Composer, and Adobe Premiere Pro nearly every day.
Like many editors I was frustrated with the lack of features when FCP X was first released, but I also saw huge potential in the software and fundamentally it made more sense to me than any other NLE out there. Over the past two years Apple has done a really great job of updating the software. From bug fixes to RED support, the software continually became increasingly more stable and feature rich, and with the release of 10.1 things have just improved by leaps and bounds. Apple has made an astonishing amount of changes in FCP X, some of which are listed below. Keep in mind there are loads of other minor tweaks to the UI, menus, and other functionality that isn’t reflected here:
- Optimized playback and rendering using dual GPUs in the new Mac Pro
- Video monitoring up to 4K via Thunderbolt 2 and HDMI on select Mac computers
- 4K content including titles, transitions, and generators
- Libraries allow you to gather multiple events and projects within a single bundle
- Easily open and close individual libraries to load just the material you need
- Option to import camera media to locations inside or outside of a library
- Automatically back up libraries to a user-specified drive or network location
- Project Snapshots let you quickly capture the project state for fast versioning
- Audio fade handles on individual audio channels in the timeline
- Add precise retime speeds by entering them numerically in the timeline
- Non-rippling retime option
- One step Replace and retime
- Custom project frame sizes
- Through edits displayed on all clip types
- Join Through Edit command removes bladed cuts to clips in the timeline
- Detach audio with Multicam clips in the timeline to manipulate audio and video separately
- Make video- or audio-only edits into the timeline with Multicam Clips as sources
- Blade and move audio in J- and L-cuts
- Ability to roll audio with J- and L-cut splits open
- Option to hide the Event browser to gain more screen space for viewing
- Native support for .MTS and .MT2S files from AVCHD cameras
- Used media indicators on source clips
- Improved performance with large projects
- Improved performance when modifying or adding keywords to many clips at once
- Easily move, copy, and paste multiple keyframes
- Option for the linear animation with Ken Burns effect
- Improved image stabilization with InertiaCam and Tripod mode
- Import photos from iOS devices
- Proxy and playback quality controls accessible in Viewer menu
- Support for portrait/landscape metadata in still images
- Effects parameters, fonts, and text size included in XML metadata
- Improved support for growing media and edit while ingest
- API for custom Share operations using third-party software
- FxPlug 3 with custom plug-in interfaces and dual-GPU support
- Share directly to YouTube at 4K resolution
So much has changed here and there is a lot to digest. From a performance standpoint FCP X is going to take full advantage of the new Mac Pro’s dual GPU’s and will very likely be the fastest NLE in the world by just about any measure. Other features like 4K monitoring/support and 4K titles and transitions are a welcome addition, but what really excites me are the smaller changes that clearly show Apple is listening to it’s users. For instance a major complaint about FCP X was the way that projects/events were set up, which has now been completely overhauled with a new ‘Library’ system. The library (which is located where your events used to be) contains both projects and events in the same bundle, and allows for a much simpler and more effective way of organizing your projects and hiding them when they’re not in use. This has also helped to clean up the interface even more by eliminating the project browser from the bottom half of the screen which is amazing. Another big complaint in the past was that saving versions of projects was cumbersome, but it’s just become so overly simple with the ‘Snapshots’ feature.
There are too many improvements to go through one by one and address them all right now – especially because I’ve only had a couple of hours working with the new software. But one major change that is worth paying extra attention to is the above mentioned library feature which is not only changing the way your projects and events are organized within FCP X, but also is finally allowing multiple editors to collaborate on the same project. The lack of collaborative editing was probably the single biggest issue that I had with FCP X, and the new system has completely fixed that problem. Rather than creating two folders in your finder (Projects and Events) FCP X now only creates a single library file which contains projects, events, media, and any other relevant project files. This new structure allows for collaborative editing in a very flexible way as you can choose to share just the projects, just the media, or both with your other editors in a very streamlined way.
In general the software feels like it has matured so much since the first version. It feels really snappy and responsive to me even when working with a 4K RED project, and the minor adjustments to the UI make it even more pleasing on the eye. A lot of small but important changes have been made as well, like the ability to create projects with custom frame sizes, and the much improved keyframe functionality. There’s still room for improvement of course though… I would like to see OMF support built in – as even though X2PRO is a great solution and pretty fool-proof, it would be much more convenient to have it built it. It would also be a huge relief for many Motion users if Apple would add a ‘Send to Motion’ feature, but as of now that hasn’t changed since the previous version. And most importantly I would like to see more changes happening in the audio department, specifically as far as having some kind of dedicated mixer that works off of roles.
All in all though, I really believe Apple has put their best foot forward here and created a product that is undeniably powerful, modern, and forward thinking. They have taken user feedback into account and addressed so many of the fundamental issues with the software, while at the same time staying true to their initial framework by keeping the functionality that makes FCP X unique at the forefront of the program. The fact that this was also a free release really says a lot. The software is only $299 to begin with, and after 2 years they could have easily asked for a paid upgrade from their users. I’m really impressed with the way this was handled and truly hope that other editors start to take FCP X seriously after this release as I honestly don’t think there is any other NLE out there that can really touch what FCP X is doing on a fundamental level. Love it or hate it, there is no denying that Apple is breaking new ground with this product and taking risks that no other NLE is taking. After two years, it looks like they’re finally starting to pay off.
If you haven’t given FCP X a shot, or if it’s been a while since you fired it up – I sincerely urge you to give it another shot. I know that learning a new software can be intimidating, but I assure you that FCP X is very logical and easy to adapt to once you approach it as a new application and not as FCP 7. The time that you spend learning it will pay off almost immediately as you’ll start to complete projects in a fraction of the time that you did in the past and editing will become fun again.
For more info visit www.apple.com/finalcutpro
And for some more reading, check out my article: Battle Of The NLE’s – Which One Will Prevail?