Final Cut Pro X Update and 30 Day Trial

Baby Steps or Big Leap Forward?

By Preston Kanak

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.

My Experiences

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.

New Features

  • 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

XML Import/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!

GPU-Accelerated Export

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.

Compressor Updates:

  • 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

Motion Update:

  • 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!



  1. Frustrating – my (Snow Leopard) machine continues to refuse to acknowledge that there is a software update available. To be honest, I’m not a serious user (by your/most standards, Final Cut Express was good enough for me before), but FCP X has had lots of crashes, and the only way I can sort out dissolves is to keep deleting the renders, and re-render again, which is time consuming and and a real pain in the posterior – hope they have sorted some of the bugs, if I can ever persuade my Mac to update to the latest version.

  2. It’s just frustrating.. I mean you spend a decade convincing editors that FCP is a viable tool compared to Avid, they finally like it, and are using FCP! and THEN you go and totally destroy what you spent a decade building.

    It’s like all of the DP’s who use film and say “I LOVE FILM”, then convince a lot of them to use the RED as an alternative and get them to say “I LOVE THE RED”, then RED comes out and says they’re only making point and shoots.

    I know it needed improvement, but I guess I’m just surprised at the total oversight on their part. But I guess that’s what happens when Your company’s main focus is making iphones. For some reason, I don’t see digidesign coming out with a new smartphone…

  3. I’m a “professional” editor (in other words I clothe and feed myself with purchases made by offering my services as an editor), and I often find myself working on different platforms (Avid, FCP, Premiere and sometimes AE). I did an official 3 day Apple course on FCP X through my agency, reluctantly preparing to embrace yet another system. While I felt FCPX did a lot of very clever, powerful things, I couldn’t agree with the idea that the new workflow was an improvement on any of the older systems.

    For a start, I’ve taught a few novices to use final cut and premiere, and I think that was damn easy (you could teach someone to edit in a day). X’s new browser system is clever, but adds more kerfuffle to project organizing- I shudder to think what sharing or moving large projects will be like. People seem to struggle enough as it is with the concept of separate media files, but keeping track of the events information is certain to make people cry. The “storyline” system I get, it reminded me a bit of how Avid behaves sometimes, but it’s so rigid and inflexible, and won’t let you organise the project in different ways, that it definitely doesn’t feel like it’s an improvement, just stubbornly different.

    I don’t get what was so wrong with the old FCP in Apples eyes? Add all the cool new features to FCP 7 and it would have been an absolute winner! At the very least, they shouldn’t have called it final cut pro. Call it “Imovie Pro” or “Super Editing Movie Fun Deluxe Pro 3000” – if they were so proud of it, it should have a stand alone name, not ridden the coats tails of a piece of software that it now bares absolutely no resemblance to.

    Perhaps I am getting old, and this program is meant for a new wave of editors. But if that’s the case, it feels like a real two-fingers up at people like me from Apple. To make matters worse, the latest incarnation of media composer is also a bit of a car crash, I’m half expecting adobe to announce Premiere has had somekind of redesign so that it will now have a completely aural interface or something crazy.

    Anyway, sorry for the rant, and no doubt I will have to start working with X in the future anyway – doesn’t mean I will be happy about it though.

  4. Re: Fullscreen mode. It’s a great way of getting a bit more real estate on a laptop, heck on my 17″ 1080p+ display its nice, on the smaller resolution machines i think it’d be really useful.

    You still have access to your menu bar, you just have to put the cursor to the top of the screen and it appears. Also, accessing your other monitors is just a 3 finger swipe away. I’m liking the modal way it forces you to work in too, removes distractions, in the same way using one app at a time on an iPad does.

    Give it a go Philip, I think you may like it more than you thought.

    One final thing on this update so far, it seems a LOT faster, and is allegedly a lot more stable. I will see as I use it, but it definitely feels better than it was, it felt sluggish even on my i7 17″ MBP (I suspected the slower but larger 750gb drive) but now feels smooth and responsive as anything, post update.

  5. Too little to late. Why bother with this software when Premiere Pro has everything I need now? It’s next iteration will likely absorb the new features Final Cut Pro X now has. Stick with Adobe and Avid.

    1. nothing is too late. is it too late for a 5dmkIII? Is it too late for a Canon Super 35mm 4k camera? Of course not! If Final Cut X evolves into something incredible, which it may, there is no way I will ignore it even though I am into Premier Pro right now.

  6. Ive always edited on premiere, and I adore CS5. I might be tempted to give it a go at least. Looks like they have fixed most of the problems. I still doubt it would ever lure me away from CS5 though.

    Anyone see the Conan O’ Brien sketch were they were poking fun of Final Cut X? It was hilarious!

    1. I hardly think adding XML import/export can be considered just a new paint color. Also, Apple has never ever added new features to FCP with x.0.x releases, so I don’t know how this is exactly painful when it’s a free update.

  7. Xsan intergration, I cut a weekly magazine program for the BBC in London, on any one programme we might have up to 5 editors working on different items. I understand one can access and share the media within events but can editors access each others cuts on the network? Can one save those cuts under a new name?

  8. Man, guys. I know. It’s just so sad when a company tries to innovate or think outside the box and flip the script. It didn’t work with OSX or the ipod or the iphone why do they think it will work here??

  9. Apple really shot themselves with this Final Cut Pro X. I just found out that my film school here at Rice University has just signed a deal to convert their entire film editing department over to the AVID system. Tragic, I must say.

  10. I also want to point out via more ranting – in the FCP X course we took, while the official Apple instructor was trying his absolute best to be positive about the software, off the record, he admitted that the release appeared to be an absolute disaster and that the software just wasn’t ready.

    The rumours were that it was Jobs who insisted on restructuring the interface, and turned to the team that made imovie to rebuild it from scratch (because of course FCP was an illegitimate child bought off Macromedia that they secretly hated!).

    We then all just started wildly speculating that maybe this redesign was to tie up with the next wave of Apple, gesture operated, keyboard-less systems (à la Minority Report) – you heard it here first!

    It’s worth pointing out the obvious – that version 1.0 software (whatever it is) is virtually never adopted by the industry, and it’s mainly Apple’s strategy of aggressively removing support for FCP 7 (which I hear is re-instated now) and the egregious marketing strategy, that has made everyone run around, screaming and crying (because we’re talking post houses with a multitude of networked suites and a load of proven editors that will rather move to another,similar system than re-train). Apple should remember that a lot of these places have After Effects systems and workflows, and moving to Premiere would be a very easy option.

    that’s the last of the ranting, I promise.

    Oh, and thanks a lot for the “like” Preston!

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