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A Few Hours with the new FCPX

So I finally Purchased FCPX and Motion. Despite all the negative things about FCPX I figured why not. It can never hurt to learn an editing software. This Semi-review is only having played around with the software for a few hours.


WAY different. It isn’t just a changed shortcut key here and there or a different effect name. It feels like I am using a completely different software, which is not necessarily a bad thing. I can tell already that this will take a while for me to learn and get used to. Let’s take transitions for example. By default it has it set up so that when you add a transition, instead of using available media (like what FCP 7 did) it uses “full overlap.”

This uses the portions clips that are in the timeline instead of outside of the in/out points of that clip. So if you had to 30 sec clips placed next to each other your total run time would be 1:00 but if you add a transition (using full overlap) suddenly your run time becomes 59 sec because it takes 30 seconds from each clip to create the transition. I could see this becoming very messy. (esp. when things are synced to music or sound effects and you want to add the transition later.) Of course it is easy enough to turn off and now if there is not enough available media to create the transition ( outside of the in/out points) it will ask if you want to create a full overlap. I like that. This is just one example of completely changed NLE.

The magnetic timeline is difficult to get used to, but I think I like it. It is definitely something different and I think that if I take the time to learn it, it could be very useful.

The Bad

Okay, we all know that this version of FCPX is missing very key essentials for “professional” (really I should say broadcast) use. XML, external monitors, multi-cam, yada yada. Most of that is coming in due time. (the first update promised in Apple’s FAQ is this summer, so that means soon). A big problem that I have with this version is that there is no save button…AT ALL. Now, I understand that they are going towards versioning with Lion and all, but even in Lion there is a save option or save as new version etc. I really don’t care if my computer assures me it is going to save when I quit, I am going to save it myself anyway. It just makes me very uneasy not having a save button. I really hope this comes with a future update and works well with versioning in Lion.

Also, even though you can change what drive FCPX stores your media, it automatically puts it on the root menu or in the movies folder. Not that this is a bad thing, it just feels like I have less control over my files. Although, for many who are not as conscience of all the files that FCP does make this could be a plus, but I would like the option to put any of the files anywhere I want.

The Good

This software has so much potential in my eyes. I think the best thing about this software is how Motion is integrated within it. When you open motion you can create titles, effects, generators, and transitions for FCPX. When you save them in motion they appear in FCPX and you can use and customize this media to a degree. This is wonderful if you are creating lower thirds in motion and do not want to create a new lower third for each person. You can just make a template and change the text in FCPX. This also opens up the door for anybody to create awesome looking effects and transitions and give them to others for FCPX (there is already a lot of this going on).

Of course there is the obvious: background rendering which is very nice along with all the keywords and tagging. I haven’t experimented to much with the organization, but it looks promising. Another great feature is being able to use optical flow right in FCPX. This (although it takes time to render) creates great slow motion playback.

The ease of use with DSLR and internet media is wonderful. I can start to edit the H.264 files as it transcodes the footage to ProRes. Awesome. Plus having a built in plural eyes (haven’t tested out the audio syncing yet) is a must for doing sync sound.

Will I use it?

If I was offered a job that was more than a 5 minute commercial and I had to edit it, I would not use FCPX yet. However, the majority of stuff I edit I do for free and it is going to the internet so FCPX is perfect for me. I am looking forward to getting to know this program front to back. Even if I was paid to do a job that was not broadcast I think I would use this ( of course I would have to get a little more familiar with it first). I feel that the tools this brings, even with its current shortcomings, will greatly help and speed up my workflow. Of course I do not speak for everybody because I am a one man band so to speak. I can see the magnetic timeline getting annoying, but once I get used to it I’m sure I will have no problems. I feel it will actually help my workflow.

You can download FCPX right now from the app store for $299 (provided your on a mac running snow leopard) I would also strongly recommend Motion for $49. Especially for its close integration with FCPX.