Put the bungled release of Final Cut Pro X behind you. Was it introduced too hastily and without a clear migration path from past versions of Final Cut Pro? Yes. But let’s looks at the application for what it is, especially now after over a dozen (free!) updates over the last few years. During every stage of your workflow, FCPX gets out of your way and let’s you get to the art of editing.
- It’s blazingly fast. 64-bit, multithreaded, OpenCL GPU-accelerated, and boasts a resolution independent timeline (6K+ footage? no problem!). It screams.
- Native support for RED footage, Sony XAVC, H.264, AVC, MXF, etc. Built-in controls to toggle Arri Alexa footage between Log and REC709. (And FCPX contains, hands down, the best RED workflow of any NLE).
- Simply the best multicam tools of any NLE. Mix formats and frame rates; sync by timecode, audio waveform, or camera date/time, and easily manually adjust in the Angle Editor.
- Amazingly powerful metadata and search tools that allow you to quickly log hundreds of hours of footage with ease. Keyword collections are more powerful than bins: think of them like labels in Gmail, so footage can exist in more than one Keyword Collection, if appropriate. Range-based keywords allow you to label just a section of a clip (a more powerful and flexible form of subclipping), especially great for docu work. Smart Collections allow for saved searches that update automatically.
- The magnetic timeline is actually one of my favorite features. Basically, by default your editing tools are set to ripple; there’s a Position tool that reverts back to FCP7 behavior. But the strength of the magnetic timeline is that you don’t have to think about tracks and gaps and clip collisions and can just get to the art of editing. Come to it with an open mind, and I think you’ll come to see the myriad benefits.
- Roles allow you to easily categorize audio (or video). Using a product like XtoPro, you can easily output an AAF for ProTools with all of the audio organized by dialogue, music, sound effects, or whatever custom roles/subroles you create. Roles can also be used for localization, so that different languages have different subroles and can be turned off and on accordingly (no need for separate timelines!).
- Auditions let you combine multiple takes into a single clip and switch between them, even if they’re different durations. Really handy for narrowing down that best take.
- Compound Clips are a way of nesting that can be used to clean up a timeline, group a section of clips, or easily create a graphic that will be used over and over again.
- Background rendering! No more staring at that blue render bar before you can play anything.
- Built-in "PluralEyes"; sync clips with scratch track audio automatically.
- RGB color grading with ColorSync (and with a new Macbook Pro or Mac Pro with HDMI out, the ability to have broadcast out without additional hardware).
- Powerful XML support for third party application integration. Has the best DaVinci Resolve integration of any NLE.
- The ability to save and apply a bunch of different filters and effects, including any settings changed, as an Effects Preset – this is very powerful.
- A powerful 3D titler that offers nearly unlimited customization with better playback/performance than many other similar motion graphics applications.
With the 10.1 update, they drastically improved the way media management works in X with the introduction of Libraries. Libraries are essentially a combination of a classic FCP project file and an (optional) project-independent capture scratch. (And this means the end to previous FCPX shortcomings: now you can open just the project(s) you are currently working on, and close the ones you aren’t. SAN support is much improved. As always, your footage can be stored anywhere; it doesn’t need to be stored inside the Library). Libraries make organizing your media, collaborating with other editors, and archiving drop dead simple. Don’t let anyone tell you FCPX doesn’t work in a collaborative work environment. With 10.1+, I’ve done it, and it works far better than FCP classic did.
All that being said, I do have suggestions, but my list of gripes gets shorter with each release. I’d love to see the following:
- Save/recall custom window layouts.
- The ability to lock a Clip/Storyline in time, or lock an entire Project.
- Better audio mixing tools (master fader, keyframe recording).
- The ability to more easily crossfade adjacent (video-attached) audio clips (like the one-step process from Soundtrack Pro).
- Out-of-sync indicators, and the ability to re-connect audio to its video (without having to use compound clips).
- True Motion roundtripping (“Send to Motion” from the timeline, and the ability to add a Motion project to the timeline).
- Keyframeable color corrections.
- A motion tracker for secondary color corrections, titles, etc. (add Motion’s tracker into FCPX).
- Remove attributes.
- The ability to copy and paste variable retiming attributes.
- The option to display source clip timecode via the timecode generator (vs. just timeline timecode).
- The ability to add a clip from the timeline to an Audition.
- When selecting a clip in the timeline and choosing “Reveal in Browser”, if that clip exists in the currently selected keyword collection, it should keep me in that keyword collection instead of popping out to the root of the Event.
- More granular timeline search in the Timeline Index.
I would love to see these implemented. But the app as it currently stands is just as powerful as FCP7, and in many cases is lightyears beyond it. While it’s not perfect (no NLE is), I truly think this is the future of editing.