At this stage, Final Cut Pro X is a 1. However, Apple has laid the groundwork for versions 2.
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Introduction It's been three years since Apple last updated its venerable Final Cut Studio 3 suite of applications. Forces are at work changing the world of video editing, and even the most hardened video-editing professionals will tell you that editing needs to evolve. First, the cost of productions has dropped drastically in the last few years.
It's not that Apple hasn't been throwing resources behind Final Cut Pro. However, it is the same reason that it took Apple six iterations of Mac OS X before the company finally managed to update the ubiquitous Finder app to 64 bits: Even iTunes, which might be considered Apple's most important application because of its syncing abilities to the iPod and iOS, is still sitting around using 32 bits. Third, like how blogging gave everyone the ability to compete with the likes of major newspapers, magazines, and publishers, YouTube, Vimeo and other online video-sharing sites are giving legions of wannabe filmmakers a platform to display their work and show Hollywood that you don't need millions of dollars to create something that hundreds of millions of people will see.
Finally, many things can be said about Apple, but one thing that the company truly embraces is change. The first iteration Mac OS X Like Cheetah, Final Cut Pro X is missing many features, some of which likely won't make it, but they lay the groundwork for a next generation of video editing.
Snow Leopard brought improved performance, enhanced support for bit applications, new tools like Grand Central Dispatch for multicore programming, and a new programming framework to take advantage of the massive power of graphics processors called OpenCL.
The original Final Cut Pro took very little advantage of any of these new leaps because it was still shackled to a year-old code base and bit Carbon APIs. The change is obvious when you look at the Activity Monitor, which shows many more threads. Even better, the native bit code now supports a practically limitless supply of RAM. We appreciate reducing paper waste, but be warned that the digital help files won't offer any images unless you are connected to the Internet.
Some of those apps have disappeared for good in the new Final Cut Pro X with only some of their functionality integrated into the app. We'll dive into these apps a bit later in the review. Final Cut Pro X also has the distinction of being the first app available for voluming licensing. Licenses for businesses and schools will be available via the Apple Online Store for quantities of 20 or more.
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Users will receive a redemption code, which they can use to download the app from the Mac App Store. Simply downloading isn't as fun as it sounds. Final Cut Pro X weighs in at 1. In addition, there is Additionally, Motion 5 weighs in at 1. This will not be fun for the eager enthusiast with a slow DSL line. Still, it's a far better and easier installation method than the previous Final Cut Studio, which required swapping out DVDs repeatedly for an hour or two.
Getting started When you first launch Final Cut Pro X, the old Final Cut loading screen is replaced by a new semitransparent load screen that let's you know this is the But what comes after that is nothing like the 10 previous versions of Final Cut. If you're wondering if we skipped a step, you're wrong. According to Final Cut Pro X's help file, you don't create a project first. Instead, you import media and manage your media first. You can, however, create a project first and import later. But it just goes to show you how much Apple believes that data-based video workflows are the future of post-production.
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New interface FCPX's new interface borrows some style elements from iMovie, which will really have many editors scratching their head. But first, multiple windows have largely disappeared. Instead of windows, like in previous versions, we now get panels. The panels have default positions, but they can fortunately be resized. For the most part, the panel locations are generally where you want them to be, but we would have preferred more customization options.
Users can specify the Viewer or the Events panels to live on secondary monitors, but it's still no match for arranging windows to whatever your project or personal preferences are. The Viewer The biggest change is the new Viewer. They have been combined into a single panel called the Viewer. In previous versions of Final Cut Pro, the Viewer loaded clips to edit or it let users manipulate the properties of a clip.
The Canvas traditionally showed the current frame of the playhead in the Timeline. Final Cut Pro X now combines both the viewer and canvas into one panel simply called the Viewer. Final Cut Pro 7 used the decades-old convention of Source and Record editing which Apple, of course, had to refer differently as the Viewer and Canvas. It traces back to the day of linear editing, when a producer or editor would load up one clip from a video deck, mark the start and stop, and then record on to a second tape.
Watching a professional editor is like watching a pianist. Loading clips, scrubbing through to find the perfect clip, marking an in point and an out point, then laying on the timeline could be accomplished without touching the mouse at all. For Apple, it's a difference of philosophy. Creating a new project Starting a new project feels a bit strange because the program does little to explain new concepts like Events.
Events are Apple's new way of describing media libraries. An event contains the actual media files of your project, as well as metadata information. When you create a new project, there are no options like resolution or codec until you select custom. By default, the app will pick a resolution and frame rate based on the first clip you use. You can select custom options, which will support most of the standard resolutions: The Other options curiously do not let you set custom resolutions. Instead, you're limited to x pixels and x pixels.
Apple says that you can use Compressor to scale and resize your videos. Again, if you have to work in a nonstandard frame rate, you're out of luck.
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As a sign from the future of where Apple wants to take video editing, FCPX supports 4K resolutions at 60 progressive frames per second. Additionally, there are options for audio and video rendering, which default to Surround Sound at 48KHz, and variable bit rate ProRes ProRes HQ, ProRes , and Uncompressed bit are also available as options, if you need those extra bits of color information or editing with an alpha channel. However, for most editors, ProRes offers a good balance between speed and drive space.
Perhaps the most unsettling behavior so far is that Final Cut Pro X doesn't let you specify where you want to save your project file in the New Project dialog box. By default, FCPX creates new projects in the root directory of whatever drive you have selected in the Project Library. This is highly frustrating. Being able to specify a location for project files is incredibly important.
For example, it's common for an editor to routinely save projects in network drives and organize by folders and subfolders. Render files are saved in the same folder as the project files. Render files are essentially media files that FCP uses to save rendered work, like effects. So even if you are diligent enough to create a new project on a separate hard drive, your render files must live in the same folder.
For Apple, it's again a difference of philosophy. Users lose some granularity when choosing a scratch disk, but they get the benefit of having a single folder that they can move around, complete with their projects' rendered media. Additionally, the program can import codecs supported by QuickTime. Instead, we just get options for importing media files and importing files from a camera. The new Final Cut Pro X really embraces a file-based workflow. The closest option might be the Import From Camera.
It's sort of an attempt at combing capture from tape and capture from memory card sources. The new import interface does support FireWire and can read mounted memory cards, as well as control playback options using the classic JKL rewind-pause-play keys. It doesn't support importing certain types of files.
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HDV is still supported, but oddly only over tape on FireWire. Apple says it is working with companies like Sony and Red to create plug-ins that will allow FCPX to be a one-stop-shop for importing video. Final Cut Pro X does have a Supported Cameras page, but it isn't as long as we'd like, nor is it completely up to date. Also, it's also not entirely obvious that some formats like P2 have to be imported through the Import From Camera option and not the Import Files option. Import options If you do have compatible files or footage to import into Final Cut Pro X, there are some great new options that give you a taste of what Apple has been working on these last three years of developing FCPX.
You can create a new event, or you can add to an existing event. Fortunately, you can select which drive you'd like to import your footage to from this dialog box. By default, Final Cut Pro X will copy over your media files and automatically organize the footage for you using Content Auto-Analysis. Not only do you get the standard metadata that FCPX would collect like frame rate, codec, resolution, and more, but it also borrows some technology from iPhoto and iMovie to automatically detect people in the shot as well as shot size.
Additionally, Content Auto-Analysis analyzes footage for color balance, audio problems, shaky footage, and even the notorious rolling shutter distortion that occurs with many CMOS-based cameras when panning. FCPX can even transcode supported footage as it imports into native ProRes as well as create small proxy media files, if you're working on a low-power machine.
Other smart features include the ability to intelligently group mono or stereo audio channels and remove silent audio channels. Event Library The Events Library organizes your media in a tree with the main branches being the hard drives connected to your system. There are many things in the above sentence that might make a few people unhappy, but fortunately, you can import footage into your local Event Library without having to copy over gigabytes of data.
Final Cut Pro X will create links to your remote media. Just be sure to deselect the copy files to FCPX's events folder, otherwise the media will be copied to whatever drive you have set up for your events. Previous versions of Final Cut Pro X had fairly limited metadata abilities. You could comment and mark a clip as a good or bad take, but the new FCPX brings metadata into the world of Google.
When importing footage, Smart Collections will automatically create a number of premade groups based on things like whether the shot is a wide, medium, or close-up. It will also detect people and group them together. The power of the new metadata engine comes from its extensibility. Users can now create their own keyword tags, and even tag-specific sections of clips using custom keywords.
All this tagging and metadata becomes incredibly powerful when you realize that Final Cut Pro X adds search capabilities. For example, a user can tag all the footage of an interviewee, and then perform a search query looking for medium-only shots for that interviewee. Loggers and assistant editors will be much happier. Apple also says that the metadata engine will be extensible via third-party plug-ins, so it won't be too far from the day that we see plug-ins that transcribe and auto-sync transcripts to video.
One project, one timeline As you discover the quirks of the new interface, one thing that might not be so obvious is that there is exactly one timeline or sequence to every project. That might sound natural for amateur video editors, but it's a major change for professionals. Editors routinely duplicate sequences in the same project, so that if you have to go back to a previous version because the new sequence just didn't work out, it's right there.
For now, Apple says that if you want to create a snapshot of the current sequence, you can use the Duplicate feature in the menu bar, which creates a new copy of your current project. Fortunately, projects are easily viewable from the Project Library. While many will be upset that projects can only contain a single timeline, Apple has really rethought the old track-based timelines, and in the process created some innovations that might make the lack of multiple timelines more palatable.
Final Cut Pro X's most touted feature has got to be the new Magnetic Timeline and all the features that build off of it. Tracks have disappeared, and instead we have what Apple calls "lanes. Like lanes of traffic, clips automatically make room for one another when you move them on the timeline, so you never have to worry about accidentally overwriting a track of audio or video. It's magnetic because clips automatically ripple i. New and amateur video editors will absolutely love the Magnetic Timeline, but it is going to take some time and practice before you see many professional editors embracing it.
Most professional editors won't admit it, but we do spend too much time making room for clips we want to insert, closing up gaps and keeping everything in sync. Admittedly, we find ourselves itching to press the T key for the Track tool to make some space in the timeline. By just double-clicking on the border where two clips meet, the Inline Precision Editor will expand the clips to show all the footage available in the outgoing and incoming clips.
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As many gripes as we might have with the loss of separate Viewer and Canvas windows, the Inline Precision Editor is a much better view of footage than Trim Mode. You can now easily see how much more footage you have left in each clip. Once you have extended or decreased the selection, the timeline ripples all the changes through the sequence, keeping everything in sync. In previous Final Cut Pro apps, you would have to tediously separate out the clips from a sequence before moving them around.
Now, with Clip Connections, you can have multiple pieces of video, title and audio move around on the time line and remain perfectly in sync. In large projects, once you've finished a complex scene or segment, you can now group all the audio, title, and video clips together to act as a single massive clip. It's a bit like nested sequences, but much easier to use. Effects can be applied as a whole onto Compound Clips, and video can even be retimed as one giant clip. All the while, they remain perfectly in sync.
Apple says editors won't have to create multiple sequences for each scene, but can use compound clips instead. Auditioning Often, an editor will be the only individual who has seen all the footage, and by the time directors and producers join edit sessions, an editor will have likely laid out the core elements and structure of a video piece.
Inevitably, though, the producer or director will want to see alternate takes. And pulling apart a sequence to slip in an alternate clip is a major headache. Auditioning will alleviate much of that pain. Editors can try out alternate takes by simply marking an in and an out on alternate clips, drag them onto the existing clip on the timeline, and select "Add to Audition. Effects Because virtually every part of the Final Cut Pro X application is different from its predecessor, it probably isn't a surprise to many that your old bit Final Cut Pro 7 plug-ins won't work with the new FCPX.
That's not to say that Apple is giving up on the third-party plug-in community. In fact, it's relying on it heavily to fill in some missing features. Final Cut Pro X comes complete with a new plug-in architecture that is bit from the start, called FxPlug 2. Developers can access the full specification, on Apple's Developer Web site, and it's been rearchitectured to take advantage of the new high-performance, multithreaded, floating-point rendering engine.
The work that Apple has put into the new rendering engine really shows. Effects can be applied in real time and require little to no rendering. You may see some resolution drops and a few frames here or there, but in our tests it stayed close to real-time performance. Applying effects has never been easier.
Instead of dragging and dropping effects and taking a coffee break to wait for it to render, you can simply press play in the timeline and try out different effects and looks in real time by hovering over the effect in the Effects Browser. Performance There might be a lot to get used to when it comes to the changes to the user interface and missing features, but one area where the new Final Cut Pro X deserves universal praise is performance.
All the while, we were applying real-time effects and color corrections to untranscoded, p H. Be careful, though, and don't assume that every Mac that Apple has released in the last few years is OpenCL-capable.
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Part of Final Cut Pro X's new performance increase comes from background processing. While you're pondering your next edit, FCPX will use those down cycles to execute a number of different tasks including transcoding, content auto-analysis for stabilize shaky footage, or removing background noise from audio. Final Cut Pro X even includes a Background Task window, which shows you exactly what FCPX is doing and even offers some manual controls like pausing or canceling a background process.
The new Final Cut Pro X is undoubtedly much faster than its predecessor, but it still maintains high picture quality throughout its rendering engine. The new rendering engine is floating-point based and uses a much wider color space, meaning you could blow out the highlights in one effect and bring back detail into the image with another effect. Unfortunately, all that exceptional color management goes to waste because as of right now, Final Cut Pro X doesn't support monitoring on professional broadcast monitors. Still, it's quite a disappointment that for now, Final Cut Pro X users will have to trust their computer monitors and know that it probably won't look the same once it hits a real television set or gets projected in a screening room.
Motion 5 Many video professionals have been wondering for years when Motion would step up into the big leagues of compositing after it shuttered its Academy Award-winning Shake compositing program. While the new Motion 5 inherits Final Cut Pro X's new look and high-quality rendering engine, it is not Shake for mere mortals.
And Apple says it's not intended to be. Motion graphics designers can now set up Smart Motion Templates with editable parameters that can be "rigged" together. For example, a motion graphics artist can give motion graphic titles several variations with different colors and font sizes that work together. Editors can adjust these rigs with simple sliders, pop-up menus, or check boxes. Motion 5's new Smart Motion Templates are also more intelligent than their predecessor. Artists can now define intro animations and out animations, but leave a flexible title "body" to fit the correct timing in the middle.
The days of slicing motion graphics and fading between the two to extend a title that just wasn't long enough to cover an edit are over. The most useful improvement to Final Cut Pro X motion graphics is that you can now edit the text right in the Viewer panel. No more opening up a title's controls in the Viewer, changing a bit of text, and then clicking somewhere else on the timeline for your text to update. Primatte is gone from the package, but Apple says that the new chroma keyer is better than ever.
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It utilizes the same bit high-quality rendering engine, and our limited testing shows it to be at least on par with Motion 4's Primatte keyer. For the most part, it looks a lot like its previous incarnations, but Apple has cleaned up some of the interface, mostly by getting rid of all those extra Compressor presets that most people only ever used in a blue moon. Considering Final Cut Pro X lost support for laying off video to tape, it's even more important that editors have a compression tool like Compressor 4 to upload files to YouTube, Vimeo, FTP, or whatever future platform, though admittedly FCPX builds some upload functions right into the menu bar.
The moniker is a bit misleading, however. Compressor 4 does not gain the ability to encode live video streams. HTTP live streaming is still file-based, but it does make it a lot easier to generate multi-bit-rate H. M3U playlist. Check out the video below to see how and why I made the jump. BTW, did I mention the software is free? Click here to download. I wanted to say my final good bye to my old friend FCP 7. You helped me build a business, a career and was my main tool in my post toolbox.
Thx you for everything. You will be missed, my friend. Or post to your blog and anywhere else you feel it would be a good fit. Get Social with Indie Film Hustle: Indie Film Hustle Twitter: IFH Podcast Podcast: