The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, Final Cut Pro X (Updated 9/20)

///Update: A new version was released today, with the updates customers were asking for. I can’t say they addressed everything, but a good handful of functionality. Hopefully most of us are happy with at the very least, an attempt to actually listen to customers.

They’ve released a free trial / free update. Dedicated update page.

I condensed the new features in a block quote.

“Final Cut Pro X 10.0.1 focuses on implementing the top user requested features” “Rich XML import and export. XML interchange gives users access to third-party workflows” “Xsan support, which includes projects and events.” “Roles, which allows you to tag tracks based on the stems you want to export.” “Custom Starting Timecode, GPU-accelerated export, Camera Import SDK and full-screen view in Lion.” via The Loop – TUAW

///End Update

The new Final Cut Pro X. Apple’s new high-end video editing solution. Built for prosumers, by professional video editors. What they didn’t disclose, was that this is actually a mid-end application. It is no longer considered the top of the line video editing application it once was.

There has been a ton of controversy over the newest installment of Apple’s High-End video editing suite, Final Cut Studio. They’ve gone in a somewhat new direction with the new Final Cut Pro X. They skipped Final Cut Pro 8, 9, and jumped right to X.

What this “X” stands for?

In this case, the “X” in Final Cut Pro X translates to being a cross between the high-end Final Cut Pro 7, and Apple’s measly low-end application iMovie, from within the iLife suite. Don’t get me wrong, you can make a good 5 minute montage with iMovie.. But if you’re looking to do something as small as a commercial, or even a tiny web advertisement, you’re out of luck. You’ll need to jump all the way up to Final Cut Pro.

FCPX takes a few interface and usability features from iMovie. The “rollover to scroll through your movie in real-time” feature, as well as its pure simplicity. I won’t get into it, all you need is a screenshot, and you will know everything there is to know about how it relates to iMovie.

Final Cut Pro has never been cheap. Running at the usual $999 for the full version, and $699 for the upgrade, you’re free to assume you bank will be broken. Especially for those who only need an extra feature or two for your iMovie app.

After the break.. We go into those gritty details. You will enjoy.

The “In-Between”

Yes, you could settle for Final Cut Express, but there’s not much lacking with that compared to Final Cut Pro. The only massive difference is that there is no ‘suite.’ There’s no Final Cut Express Studio. It’s a standalone app. You can go grab that for $299. It is still a great alternative to this day.

$299 is the price tag on the new Final Cut Pro X. Downloadable only as a standalone app. They’ve created a new version of Motion, and Compressor. (Both Version 5) Those both, are also standalone apps. There is no longer a “suite” price. You can’t even buy it in a box anymore. Mac App Store only.

Bad Aim, Apple, Bad Aim (The Bad)

Apple is aiming this application at “prosumers.” If you’re not familiar with the word, it’s a cross between “consumers” and “professionals.” (wow! valuable info!) You know, those of us that like to consider ourselves professionals when we are just kidding ourselves for confidence.

Well they just have some terrible aim, don’t they. Some people are saying that they might as well have aimed this application at the barely capable. Almost everyone in the high-end filmmaking community, (the ones I know) that always relied on Final Cut Studio for all of their work—were almost completely screwed over by Apple. I’ll explain.

At first with the release of FCPX, it was the only high-end video solution they were offering. They ditched out on selling FC Studio. They discontinued it as if FCPX was an actual upgrade. Nooo sir. Not an upgrade. More like an out and down grade.

After everyone started screaming, and Apple was about to lose out on tons of cash.. They realized they were making a huge mistake, and released FC Studio 7 back onto the market. People were diving right in to purchase the new version, downloading it, then realizing they just blew $299 on an app that is half of what it was. Oh and trust me Apple doesn’t care enough to give any refunds to people who believed they were actually “upgrading.”

Still A Beast, Though (The Good)

Don’t get me wrong—FCPX is still a powerhouse. If you purchase Motion 5 & Compressor 5, you will see a lot more integration going on. Seamless integration isn’t new to Apple, they know what they’re doing. 3 separate standalone apps, integrating even more seamlessly now, then when they’re were all together now, in a suite.

I just got my hands on it today, and after all the cracks and banter I’ve heard about it being so terrible and all—I actually started to realize that it still had potential. It’s not iMovie, It’s not Final Cut Pro. Its simply, Final Cut Pro X. It’s not an upgrade nor a sequel. It’s a new application.

The whole “new” application thing is getting to people. They want their FC Studio back, with upgraded interface and power features. (Me too!) But, we are going to have to settle with this for now. Its not the end of the world for Mac editors. Keep using your FCP 7, and those who choose to, will move on to FCPX.

Pogue, Harrington (The Ugly)

David Pogue—writer for the NY Times’ Technology section, did a huge writeup titled, “Professional Video Editors Weigh In On Final Cut Pro X.” This—in a lot of detail, described practically every feature that was in FCP 7, that is no longer, in FCPX. Then, for each of those, (and there were tons) were ways to make up for that in FCPX; ways to work around the lack of those said features.

The main problem everyone has, is the way its projects are set up. Instead of having a single file like iMovie, or a single folder with a separate folder for render files like FCP 7—it has a folder for the “events” and a folder for the project, and a folder for render files. It’s a mess. Read on for details.

The missing features aspect was correct, but not all of the work-arounds.

A Professional video enthusiast / video editor / blogger named Richard Harrington, wrote another huge post as a direct retort to Pogue’s post. He laid down the law. Some of it seemed like he was putting Pogue right in his place. But! Mr. Pogue doesn’t consider himself a professional videographer, so Harrington took it easy on him.

Seeing as I, Zakk Forchilli, like to be original.. I’m not going to recite every little thing that is FCPX is lacking compared to FCP 7. Harrington has already covered that. Check out his list—its actually quite refreshing to know this stuff. He’s a very smart guy, he knows his shit. It will give much insight.

Overall: Final Cut Pro X is a great application. It lacks many things from its predecessor, FCP 7, but it is still a great app. Apple claims to be releasing an update in the near future to address those features it’s lacking. (Hell yes!) They’re taking other steps as well to enable users to do what they could in FCP 7. Harrington can take it from here.

Readers: What are your thoughts on the new FCPX? Trash? A good, new app? Or a nice, easy leap forward?

(Sources: Richard Harrington, David Pogue, Apple)

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