Baby Steps or Big Leap Forward?
Yesterday, Apple released it’s first major update for FCPX, one of the most controversial editing programs since my start in filmmaking.
Apple has also introduced a 30-day trial for new users, something I think should have been available since its release. What does this mean for editors? Well, I think that it shows that Apple is listening to user requests — just not at the pace that many of us would hope.
I am very new to Final Cut Pro X. I have only edited approximately 10 projects with it — finding that a majority of projects I split between Adobe Premiere CS5 and Final Cut 7. I am confident however that FCPX, with future improvements, will be my go-to program — just not yet.
Under OS X Lion, updating is very simple. Go to the App store and download from there. HOWEVER, if you are still running Snow Leopard and cannot get the update to work, you may have to delete your current version (remembering to empty trash), and then reinstall.
- Import and export xml to support third-party workflows
- Export audio and video stems as a single multitrack Quicktime movie or as separate files using roles
- Place projects and events on Xsan to improve collaboration between editors
- Set custom starting timecode for your projects
- Add transitions to connected clips in a single step
- Enable full screen video in os x lion
- Speed up delivery with GPU-accelerated export
Out of all the updates implemented, the addition of XML import/export is by far one of the best/most requested features. With this addition, third party applications will now be able to access and support FCPX project information. However, FCP7 projects still cannot be opened in FCPX because it is unable to write to the new XML format.
One of the major reasons why FCP7 projects are unable to open in FCPX is the way in which the timelines are arranged. In FCPX, you only have a single timeline with story-lines inside the single sequence in a parent/child relationship. In FCP7, you are able to create multiple tracks, which is vastly different. This is something that REALLY needs to be addressed soon if Apple hopes to pull over users to FCPX!
Multi-Stem Exports & Roles
One of the major perks of Final Cut Pro X is the the way in which metadata is built in. It makes searching through clips so much easier. This is one feature that I absolutely love about the program!
With the latest update, this function has gotten even better. You are able to use the new roles tag to label clips — dialogue, effects, music, and more — then export a single multi-track file based on your tags. Apple states that, “[y]ou can even apply Roles to video clips and graphics for a powerful new way to deliver separate files for versioning and localization”. My interpretation of this is that FCPX may now be able to be used for content management — then again, my interpretation may be WAY off! I have not played around with this new feature yet but will over the next couple days and update with my experiences.
Collaboration Between Editors
One addition that I am very interested in trying out is Xsan integration. I have not used Xsan before but for many post houses requiring access to files from the same storage device simultaneously, this addition was key.
How it Works
You can import media through Final Cut Pro X and place it directly on the SAN. Multiple users can access the same source media, and each editor can create separate projects and events on the SAN. Users can then edit from any system attached to the SAN, making it easy to move between computers and continue working.
Custom Starting Timecode
Another feature that has been added is the ability to set timecode. This is something is a necessary for working in broadcast.
Add Transitions To Connected Clips
Before, one of the most frustrating aspects of FCPX was the inability to apply transitions to connected clips. To me, it seemed like an oversight. However, with this update, you are now able to apply transitions without having to create a second storyline.
Full Screen View
My initial reaction of this addition is underwhelming. I am sure that down the road this will be optimized but at this point it don’t think I will even use it! I know many people may love this but I like instant access to my apps and top tool bar and would have much rather them spend their time developing the multi-cam function!
Apple states that this update will, “harness the power of the GPU on your graphics card to speed up foreground export”. I am curious to see if it will be a noticeable change.
Updates to Compressor and Motion
Apple has also released updates for both Compressor and Motion.
- Updates the bitrates in Cellular settings for HTTP Live Streaming
- Fixes an issue with accessing QuickTime Export Component settings in Final Cut Pro X
- Fixes an issue in which This Computer cluster does not appear when OS X is configured in Chinese
- Resolves stability issues when launching Soundtrack Pro after Compressor 4 is installed
- Adds support for dual displays.
- Fixes an issue with the import and playback of multichannel audio.
- Resolves a stability issue when navigating to keyframes at a negative time.
- Fixes an issue with incorrect text positioning when the Inspector is open.
- Provides for correct kerning between characters when applying adjustments.
- Resolves stability issues when entering an empty string in a title while in Draft Mode.
One of the biggest challenges for editors switching over to FCPX is that it is a completely new program. However, Apple has developed a PDF document to help editors switch over from FCP7. Click here to download the document.
What is Still Needed
Apple notes that both Multi-cam Editing and Broadcast-Quality Video Monitoring will be implemented in 2012. I think once these two features are added that FCPX will finally become a viable contender — at least it will be for me!
I think that Apple is definitely headed in the right direction with FCPX. Was FCPX released prematurely? Personally, I think it may have been. I do understand that because it is a new program from the ground up that some people would be unhappy — even if it had all the features that professional grade editing programs should have. Was this update a major update or just another step in the right direction? I think it is a small step in the right direction — definitely not a huge leap forward. The biggest one of all — the inability to open FCP7 projects in FCPX! NOTE: Obviously, this is my view on situation and may or may not be Philip’s perspective so take it for what it is!